South Osmena Street, known to some as the Heart of General Santos City, has been pulsating with life for the past fifteen or so years ever since a string of restos, bars and coffee shops made it their home. The latest, BluGre Cafe just had a star-studded opening.
Two weeks before that however, another new entrant in the food and beverage business opened its doors to the public ahead of Manny Pacquiao’s establishment. This time, it is a restaurant simply called as Kiko’s Family Restaurant located beside the building housing the DTI office
Kiko’s Family Restaurant is owned, managed and operated by Gary and Cherry Ocampo, a couple who loves cooking and showing off their recipes among friends, who regularly drop by to feast on their personalized take on various native dishes. Late last year, upon the prodding of their friends and families, they decided that the time has come to open up their very own dining establishment and let more people sample their kitchen creations.
I first visited Kiko’s in time for dinner one warm, stuffy night last week excited on what lies in store for me. I was a bit worried however because I knew beforehand that Kiko’s was not airconditioned and at that time, I was having a slight case of asthma. To my delight, upon entering the spacious venue, I found out that this new GenSan restaurant was properly ventilated by an open air garden on one side where an artificial drizzle cools the ground and its surroundings.
We were immediately served the Kiko’s Specialties by the Master Chef, owner Gary himself. This was his famous-among-friends’ Greaseless Fried Chicken, which I swear is comparable in taste and softness to Chickenjoy and wife Cherry‘s tender with every bite’s Beef Estofado.
Kiko’s Greaseless Fried Chicken and Cherry’s Beef Estofado
Master Chef and owner Gary hinted that he painstakingly deep-fries his chicken drumsticks for at least 20 minutes before serving it to his customers, making sure not to overcook them. The rest of the dishes from the menu which we had were a must for visitors to the Tuna Capital, and for those who are into healthy, seafood dishes – his crispy, crackling Fried Tuna Panga and his tender and savoury Grilled Tuna Belly, both served with side garnishes.
Kiko’s Fried Tuna Panga Kiko’s Grilled Tuna Belly
Then, for foodie meat lovers like me, Gary served the chicharon-like skinned Lechon Kawali, which were soooo yummy while dipped in vinegar with lots and lots of garlic was to “die” for. Then it was Gary’s very own version of the “Leche Flan” for dessert which had just the right amount of bittersweetness to it! Perfect!
Kiko’s Sinful Lechon Kawali Kiko’s Leche Flan
We couldn’t take in all that Master Chef Gary was offering, so stuffed with what was laid before us and so we promised to come back the following day, in time for lunch.
And thus, the day after we were served more of Master Chef Gary’s masterpieces: Bulalo, Bicol’s Laing (Spicy Gabi Leaves with coco milk), Seafoods Chopsuey, Steamed Pompano and Ginataang Casile (Eel in coco milk).
Of all these, I particularly love the Laing which made me eat more rice than the usual and the Guinataang Casile which had me licking my fingers and sipping the fish bones. As the Ilonggos say it, “Kanamit gid!”
Then of course, also highly recommended are the previous night’s Beef Estofado and Gary’s Greaseless Fried Chicken, which I bet will be the talk of the town once word gets around. Just give Master Chef Gary 25 minutes to prepare it perfectly for you.
Kiko’s Family Restaurant is open from 10am to 10pm. They can be found along South Osmena Street, beside the DTI office. For reservations and advanced orders, please call