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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Balkan: Yugoslavian Home Cooking

Honestly, I have never been too adventurous with trying out new cuisines before I started this blog. Through the years, as a non-blogging food lover, I had already found comfort in Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Italian and American food fare. However, as a blogging foodie today, I am thankful to have met wonderful people who've inspired and convinced me to get out of my comfort (food) zone and try out other gustatory delights that other parts of the world can offer. So after going French a few weeks ago, I didn't miss the chance to try Yugoslavian this time.

Balkan Yugoslavian Home Cooking

From the same person behind Balkan Express in San Juan, Marko Batricevic -- a young Serbian living in the Philippines for almost 9 years, a fellow Lasallian, former Green Archer (who actually played in the 2007 UAAP championship team) and now a restaurateur, together with his brother Chef Martin, brings us yet another Yugoslavian (or more specifically, Serbian) food spot, this time in Legaspi Village, Makati City.

Balkan Interior Serbian Coffee

Balkan is a bigger Serbian sit-down restaurant compared to its brother, Balkan Express. Filled with reds, light browns and tied together with a slightly dim lighting, the place exudes warmth and comfort, making it an ideal place to just chill and catch up with friends after a hard day's work. There are also monochrome photos of notable people and infrastructure of Serbia which didn't only make the place look edgier, but which also added more character to the restaurant while giving us a glimpse of the owner's country of origin.

Before we started our meal, my date ordered for a cup of Serbian coffee. Being a coffee lover, he was intrigued at how Serbian coffee differs from the brewed coffee available at most coffee shops in the country. And although Balkan's cup of caffeine look no different from the ones we usually drink, we love how it had a strong coffee flavor yet had a mild distinct taste. I may not found the right words to describe it, but both my date and I loved it.

Cevapcici Platter P280

And after enjoying our drinks, the feast finally started. We first got to try Balkan's Cevapcici Platter (P280) of signature Serbian sausages made from spiced ground beef. These finger-shaped beef pieces were really good -- tender, juicy, meaty with a nice smoky flavor.

Goulash P250

We also had Goulash (P250), a Balkan classic stew with onions, paprika, lean beef and rotini pasta. Although I'm not really big on stews, the Goulash easily became one of my favorites. It was savory, slightly spicy and very comforting -- perfect to sip during the rainy days, or when suffering from PMS.

Sopska Salata P200 Sopska Salata Mixed P200

We also tried the Sopska Salata (P200), a salad made from cucumber, tomatoes, onions, olives and lettuce, generously topped with feta cheese and drenched with vinaigrette. This salad may look simple, but with fresh vegetables and loads of feta cheese, the flavor was so good.

Pljeskavica P200

After the meal starters, we got to sample the brother of the famous Pljeskavica (P200) which made use of the same meat as the one in Cevapcici, but this time, in burger form. Served using Balkan's home-made fresh bread and fries on the side, this off-menu burger was a hit.

Stuffed Pljeskavica with Fries P320 Stuffed Pljeskavica with Rice P320

We also got to try the Stuffed Pljeskavica P320 -- grilled beef burger stuffed with oozing peppered cheese. This dish can be ordered either with rice or with fries. And although this tasted similar to Cevapcici, I definitely prefer this as anything with cheese is more awesome!

Sarma P260

By now, you've probably observed that Serbian cuisine is heavy on meat. But if you're looking for some veggies to balance the carnivore in you, I'd recommend Sarma (P260) -- pickled cabbage rolls stuffed with beef, rice and spices, and served with mashed potatoes. I may not be big on veggies, but I liked this dish. It was flavorful, and the blend of the ingredients and spices was just beautiful.

Batak P290

And since all the meat dishes above are made of beef, here's something with chicken, Balkan's famous Batak (P290) -- grilled boneless chicken thigh, topped with melted mozzarella. Although this dish initially made me skeptical (You see, I like my chicken with bones since fillets tend to get overcooked and dry), a mouthful of the Batak made it my instant favorite for the night. The chicken was very tender, succulent and simply delicious!

Butkice P650

For pork, we had the Butkice (P650) -- pork knuckles cooked in a clay pot, and served with baked potatoes and carrots. The photo may not justify how good this dish was, but I can assure you, the Butkice was great! The pork meat was very tender, juicy and flavorful.

Jagnjetina P700

Another dish on the spotlight was the Jagnjetina (P700) which is made of imported baked lamb. The lamb meat was super tender that a spoon and a fork can already pierce through it. It was also very meaty and juicy, a really good dish which received everyone's nod for approval.

Palacinke Nutella P120 Palacinke Jam P120

And to end our meal, we had the Palacinke (P120) -- a Traditional Serbian crepe dessert filled with Nutella. Since crepe is a dessert favorite, we got to try 2 varieties of Balkan's Palacinke -- one with rich chocolate and nutella sauce, and one with a fruit jam. I didn't get to ask what jam was used, but I think it was orange or something similar.

THE VERDICT

After a night at Balkan, my inner carnivore got awakened. I didn't have an idea what Yugoslavian or more specifically, Serbian cuisine has to offer, but Balkan didn't fail to deliver. They served unpretentious, home-cooked Serbian food with simple yet bold flavors. I really enjoyed my experience with a cuisine I never even thought of trying. Even my date was pleased, and being a meat lover, it definitely passed his standards. However, I still haven't learned how to pronounce most of the names of the food items. This wouldn't hinder us to return for another visit though.

Taste - 4/5
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5


Balkan, Legaspi Village
G/F Mariposa Building, 109 Perea St.,
Legaspi Village, Makati City
Philippines
0917-5474188
Balkan Express Facebook Page

51 comments:

  1. As always, mouth-watering images! :) And from reading your post, I surmised that the images of the dishes tasted as good as they looked. Glad you had a great experience with the Serbian cuisine.

    You made me "home-sick" for Germany. Where I used to live in Hamburg (North of Germany) around the corner is a lovely Yugoslavian restaurant, which is owned by a wonderful, and hospitable Yugoslavian family. From living there for 16 years, I observed that in almost every corner of the neighbourhood you can find a Yugoslavian restaurant.

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  2. the Balkan's Cevapcici Platter looks very very delicious. the Jagnjetina looks so mouth watering din. T_T i'm hungry forever

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  3. Wow you guys ate a lot! I ate there a month ago and grabe for the first time dami namin take home ang bigat ng food. @_@

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  4. wow! pwede ko dito, more on meat sila. nagtataka na naman ko paano mo naubos lahat ng order niyo. =)

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  5. Thanks for sharing this! I love Yugoslavian dishes! I'll try this restaurant soon with my Yugoslavian uncle

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  6. being a food blogger has always something good for you -- meeting other food lovers and of course, the will to get more inclined in foodies to be able to blog something.. ;D

    in as much as i wanted to explore different Vegan foods,i still couldn't because of my studies -- hospital, school and more..you're just so lucky you have enough time to maximize what you really enjoy..

    keep blogging..keep sharing foodies..

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  7. I was thinking to make crepe since yesterday for my kids. All the food looks really mouthwatering .As a food lover I tried a lot of international food already and I m sure Serbian food is worth eating for.

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  8. the food looks good and I'm sure they taste good as well...

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  9. we've always wasnted to try this out! lagi nmn sya nadadaanan dati from work.. :)

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  10. Food names pa lang, ulam na. They're a mouthful! :)) Interesting, like most Pinoys (I guess), I'm not familiar with Serbian food. But it seems typically Eastern European. I eat meat, but I can't take lamb and goat and such. They have this funky smell that just turns me off.

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  11. Looks like yummy! Especially the one mixed with fries! I love fries <3 seems they like potatoes on their dishes. Napansin q lng hihi.

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  12. oh,my! look at those yummy foods....nakakagutom...never had yugoslavian dish before.

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  13. I never knew anything about Yugoslavian food. It's good to know na meron pala dito sa Manila. Thanks for sharing your experience, at least now I have an idea about it. :)

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  14. I hadn't heard of Marko Batricevic during the 2007 UAAP season, I only knew about him today.

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  15. Di ako mahilig sa meat, pero yung salad, ang sarap tignan :D mukhang masaya syang kainin :D

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  16. i've never tried yugoslavian dishes...

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  17. I have this habit of ordering hard to read/pronounce dishes written on the menu. I guess I'll take the whole thing in this restaurant.. haha! Nice post Sumi... mouth-watering as usual.

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  18. This makes me recall whether I have ever tried the Yugoslavian cuisine.... hmmm. I guess not. HENCE! I will drop by this place! :)) It would be a learning experience din.

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  19. Sumi, you brought a Serbian express lane in front of my computer.. I want that burger,,,mmmm....hehe!=)

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  20. hmm, their Goulash looks plain. the one I had in Hungary (Budapest) was rich with potatoes and meat!

    I guess each has its own version.

    Thanks for sharing! Everything looks delectable - shawi
    http://cheaptravelforwomen.blogspot.com

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  21. Ang dami nyo order. hehehe! Type ko yata yung Balkan's Cevapcici Platter at Stuffed Pljeskavica! kaya lang ang hirap namn bigkasin. lol!

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  22. oh my...this entry made me drool! haha Haven't tried Yugoslavian cuisine though so I'm curious about the taste but the pictures here looks definitely yummy!

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  23. You're going to a different level na ha. Now it's Balkan! Let's go worldwide ahaha!. Nice entry :)

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  24. I have never been adventurous when it comes to food, but since you are one of the very few food bloggers whose authority I trust when it comes to food blogging, I'll go give Balkan a shot.

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  25. I've heard it now., and I should try it on the next time

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  26. Grabe ka makafood trip Sumi! Ang saya naman nito. Sana maging kasing galing mo ako :)

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  27. nice blog! :) welcome to me :*:*
    fallow?!

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  28. wow! never knew anything about Serbian cuisine until now! thier food is a must try--judging from the pics and your review hehe!

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  29. It's amazing how you find these places :P

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  30. Wow!! Naglaway ako... I really am a carnivore. Slluurrrp!! XD

    Awts.. nakakalungkot lang. palaging nasa Manila ang mga ganitong resto, naiinggit lang talaga ako. Owmaygulay.. :p

    Lovely pictures, ms SUmi. :)

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  31. Serbian cuisine? Haven't tried it but your food shots as always are awesome!

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  32. This is new to me and the first time I've heard about Yugoslavian cooking. Well, the way I look those foods, they seem to be delicious. I want to taste them and feel their lusciousness. I like them as I see them... :)

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  33. You are like my food genie. I was researching about Balkan last night cause I am planning to drop by it one of these days, and now here is this post. You read my mind. With those photos, now I really have to go there...

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  34. I've always been intrigued with how Serbian cuisine tastes like. Thanks for featuring this, the Butkice looks worth the try. :)

    Denise
    http://satisfyingjuansappetite.blogspot.com/

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  35. Really looks delicious but I guess - too heavy to an ordinary man's pocket just like mine. Maybe, I could try this when I get to save much.

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  36. That Cevapcici Platter looks awesome. It looks like a kabab. That place must be perfect for one hearty meal date.

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  37. i haven't tried Yoguslavian food yet but looking at the pictures, it's more like Arabian (maybe)...

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  38. Wow Its ws so wonderfull to make Yugoslavian food and i couldnt try before

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  39. nakakagutom..its 7am pa naman in the morning and la pa akong breakfast..
    they all look delish..

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  40. WOW!!! I didn't know Yugoslavian cuisine is finally here. Must try this place! Thanks for sharing, Sumi! :)

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  41. Wow that's a lot of food! Hmmmm... but love what you ordered. It makes me crave right now!

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  42. I think I love all what you've ordered but I am highly impressed with the Sopska Salata--being a vegetable-salad lover. I'd go first with this before trying out the others. Though other variants are equally enticing to try out.

    By the way, thanks for the inspiration Sumi, because of your food blog I was inspired to create my own food blog and start doing the same review (my own way). My intial plan is to showcase the foodies of the Mid-east just for you guys to have a brief info about it. Since my new food blog is still under construction I'll advise you later of the link.

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  43. Definitely, I would visit this place once I get back home. In case maligaw ako, hihingi nalang ako sayo ng sketch ng place or instruction..lols..hehehe

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  44. wow, you had the best food trip ever!

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  45. @athena
    I agree with your comments mouth watering. Considering its finger food I expect I will lick my finger after eating those food. The lamb with potatoes is my fav. I don't remember what do you had for dessert Sumi? After eating the platters and mains I don't think there is space for your dessert. HAhaha Food trip and blogging is perfect combination. Keep blogging!

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  46. I have to double check my comments. I hope it will appear on your site. Anyways I also double check about dessert. Yes! You had some crepes. hahaha Antok or gutom lang to'

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  47. It was nice meeting you there Sumi! :)

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