Denlim’s Kitchen Review by Allen Young

Meet Allen. Our friend from school. He sat between myself and Anj in Accounting class. The three of us tried to make sense of what Dr. Ibarra was saying ’til our nose bled (or was it just me?).  Allen went to Manila for a quick-ish visit recently. He is currently back in sunny but cool California.

Here is Allen’s first guest post in Sari-Sari Stories.

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Bobbie and I had originally planned to meet up for dinner to celebrate her birthday. Instead, she invited me to go along with her, her sister Rai, and Rai’s friends on an out-of-town food trip which motivated me to write this blog post.

In San Fernando or Sampernandu, Pampanga, we were welcomed into Den Lim’s Kitchen for a private 8-course dinner. After sitting in the van for about 2.5 hours, we were excited and hungry for what was in store for us.  This was Rai’s third time so I was very curious to know why she kept coming back.

Soon after we settled down onto our seats at the table, the epicurean adventure began. The following photos were hijacked from the establishment’s Facebook page.

denlim bread and spread

Warm and soft bread with spread

denlim garlic mushroom and mussels

Garlic mushrooms and mussels

denlim oriental cashiew salad

Oriental cashew salad – I liked how the chef presented the colorful salad ingredients before mixing everything. It reminded me of Burmese tea leaf salad. Delicious!  

denlim shrimp anghelita

Shrimp angelita – This became an instant favorite. I devoured eight of these fresh and succulent shrimp. The sauce was a nice balance between sweet and tangy and the sesame seeds provided an added crunch to every bite. Bobbie commented that this dish would have even been better if there was a spicy kick to it. I totally agree.

denlim pasta amore

Pasta amore – By the time this giant mound of pasta came out, the initial pang of hunger was gone, but I was eating at a good pace. Pasta lovers would surely enjoy this dish. The double fried egg topping was a nice touch, inspired perhaps by New American-style restaurants that serve pizza and pasta that way.

denlim boiled salmon and asparagus in dill cream

Broiled salmon and asparagus with dill cream sauce – This was another excellent dish. I’m not a huge fan of salmon, but I enjoyed this one. If I didn’t know it was salmon, I would have thought it was honey-baked Chilean sea bass.

denlim mammoth beef bbq

Mammoth beef BBQ – This beef was the bomb! The meat was flavorful, tender and juicy. I’m guessing the sauce was a combination of BBQ sauce, soy sauce and whatever else the chef put in the dish. The result was amazing!

denlim pugon liempo

Pugon liempo – This was the chef’s signature dish. For me it was anticlimactic because I usually avoid fatty meat. Nevertheless, I had a piece and it was good. The ampalaya sticks with fermented rice dip provided a nice contrast to the crispy and savory liempo.

denlim denlim crew

I’m grateful to Bobbie for sharing this wonderful culinary experience. We also got to spend some quality time catching up.  
denlim denlim crew2

Overall the food quality was a B+ for me. All the dishes ranged from good to great. Not only is Den Lim outstanding as a chef, the fact that he did not go through any formal training and all this started out as a hobby while in college hosting dinner with friends is even more impressive. His dinners are fully booked for the rest of the year which is a testament to the dedication, love, and passion he has for cooking along with his God-given talent.

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