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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Balkan Express Facebook Page