Filipino food is a new one for me. Of all the different cuisines I’ve tasted, I hadn’t ventured into the delights Filipino food had to offer and let me say, I’m picking up what it’s putting down. A lot the food is focused on BBQ and char-grilling and I don’t hate that! Adelaide Food Central was invited to Nino’s Lamesita last night to sample their new menu offerings. All food and drink were provided free of charge.
Nino’s Lamesita is located on the ground level of the Oak’s Horizon on North Terrace, convenient now that footy season is upon us, and we’ll be looking for a feed after a game at the Adelaide Oval. It is a family owned restaurant, decked out in bright neon colours with a 80’s resort-like feel. On the wall was written a Filipino word of the week. This week was “Gusto Ko!”translating to “I like it!”, when I saw this I knew we were in for a good time.
We kicked off the night with a few cocktails – it IS the long weekend after all. The Espresso Martini was the first of its kind with salted caramel vodka. It was strong with a salty and sweet finish. It all depends how you like your coffee, and I like mine strong (just like my alcoholic beverages) earning a thumbs up from me. We also had a Miss Pia; a purple berry, coconut and Kalamansi drink paired with strawberries. The two made for a good contrast as they were so different from one another both aesthetically and in taste.
On to the food. What to order when there are so many signature Filipino entrees and you want to order them all but need to calm yourself because it’s only the entrees? Why, you order the Entree Platter of course! The Filipino Vegetarian Crepe was so fresh and light, packed with crunchy vegetables and tender tofu, and drizzled with sweet house made Lumpia sauce. The Pork Sisig was smoky and peppery while still being tender and juicy – I could really taste the onions and vinegar in this one! The Empanada was a buttery thick pastry bursting with tender vegetables and pork mince, it’s a secret family recipe this one and a must try! The Quail Egg could be likened to a scotched egg, wrapped in pork mince and deep fried. It was crispy on the outside, exploding with juicy mince one first bite and finished with a velvety soft egg centre.
We ordered Soft Shell Crab because we’re not idiots. When you see that on any menu, it’s an automatic order. I’m sure soft shell crab is the reason I exist in the world so I was interested to see how it’s done at Nino’s with a Filipino spin. It was lightly fried, crunchy on the outside with a soft fleshy inside. It was loaded with salad and a chilli plum sauce that we begged them to bottle and make available for purchase – Do yourself a favour and give it a try.
Our next dish was the Lamb Back Strap. This is a traditional Filipino dish, it’s usually served with beef but this remix dish is a nod to SA bringing the goods on the lamb front. The perfectly tender medium rare slices were draped with caramelised onions, sitting upon a mould of steamed fluffy white rice. The smokiness of the meat was contrasted well by the BBQ-esque soy and Kalamansi marinade.
We moved onto the Grilled Chicken. The chicken was charred and lean, sitting on its abundant throne of walnut and pear salad. The salad was bursting with flavour and juiciness and absolutely loaded of with the goods. Forget ordering a salad and getting one or two walnuts, this was crumble nut city. Win!
We do love our seafood so I was too excited to get stuck into our next dish: the Marinated Squid. This came served as an absolute tower of ringlet squid that was charred to perfection. It was paired with an Asian herb and vinaigrette salad that was fresh and crisp, and a chilli finish that gave an exciting burst of heat.
Our final main was the classic Filipino Adobo dish. Now this dish is usually served with chicken or beef, Nino’s will have you asking yourself “What the duck?!” The crispy perfumed duck sat on sizeable potatoes and laden with the vinegar and soy broth in which it was cooked. It definitely had a potato and gravy like feel to it and I ain’t complaining!
Right, now desserts. Hooly dooly! Our lovely host and part owner Maria recommended we definitely give the traditional Halo Halo a try. It’s an adventurous dish and I’m glad I gave it a go, if only for the experience. The only way I can describe this dish is like a Filipino parfait “EVERYBODY LOVES PARFAIT, SHREK!” It’s a real rollercoaster for the senses and offers so many different textures. Made with banana, crème caramel, coconut jelly, sweet palm seeds, shaved ice and topped with a scoop of purple ube icecream and shredded jack fruit. Ube icecream is made from taro, basically an Asian potato. When it’s eaten with the jackfruit, it really pops and is quite a different and enjoyable experience.
Our next dessert was Mamon De Leche, a crème caramel chiffon cake that was served with crème and drizzled with Kalamansi syrup which comes from the cumquat family. It has a sharp tart taste that when it’s eaten with the chiffon cake, reminded me of marmalade jam and cream. Delicious!
The Panacotta was a little creamy gelatinous mould with the perfect amount of jiggle and that subtle hint of sweetness. The lychee burst onto the scene, making the panacotta it’s bitch and taking the mango along for one delicious ride.
We also tried the Turon Surprise: jackfruit banana spring rolls. Yes, they are exactly what you think they are, and what they are is damn delicious. The spring roll pastry on the outside cracked on first bite, revealing a fruity smooth creamy inside. It was my first time trying jackfruit and I really liked the way it paired with the banana, it wasn’t overly sweet so it offers something to those who want to try the desserts but aren’t necessarily sweet tooths. For those who are sweet tooths, then I recommend you go gun-ho on dipping those bad boys into the vanilla bean icecream it came served with. No regrets.
Just when we thought it was over and we had conquered the menu, our host pulled a fast one on us and surprised us with a plate of Waffles which are straight off their up and coming breakfast menu. We didn’t fight her on it – I mean if we can put a man on the moon then we can have breakfast for dinner. Brinner! The waffles were crunchy but oh so melt in your mouth on the inside. The dish came served with tart berries and a big scoop of vanilla bean icecream. It’s not often that I go for vanilla icecream, I generally think it’s quite pedestrian but this icecream was doing things to me, rich creamy vanillary (you can find this word in the next edition of the Oxford English dictionary!) things!
We really enjoyed our time at Nino’s, I love to experience places that are run by families who are more than passionate about their native cuisine. Now knowing they are open for breakfast and are down to serve you not only your breakfast staples but also some Filipino favourites are on offer, we’ll definitely have to make a return.
Words by Kassie Affede of Big Mouth Blog
WHERE: 104 North Tce, Adelaide