Pepita's Kitchen: Hayop na Degustacion

Animal is the direct translation of the Tagalog word 'hayop' in English; but like everything else that makes Filipinos interesting, the word includes different homonyms. It's a double entendre for a curse - more like a vulgar euphemism. In this case, the 'hayop' being referred to is both the animal and the other definition which is best, superior, awesome and all the other adjectives that would make one qualify for a Nobel Prize.

I'm gonna cut through all the hogwash and just start by saying that Pepita's Kitchen's Hayop na Degustacion truly wowed me.

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

Pepita's Kitchen is the brainchild of Ms. Dedet de la Fuente Santos. Ms. Dedet didn't have any formal culinary training or anything, only a few short courses, but boy can she cook! Better than most chefs I bet. For a simple layperson such as I, awards, titles or stars barely matter. I mean, I can't eat those. It all boils down to how good the food is and she is raising the bar pretty high.

When I first heard about Pepita's Kitchen, I thought that it was named after the owner. That's pretty logical, right? It was actually derived from one of the character's from Liyora's {Ms. Santos' very smart and gracious daughter} favorite cartoon Madeline; Pepito of Madeline, to be exact.

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

The table setting was impressive in all its simplicity. It's been awhile since I last saw a string of sampaguita. The ones they sell on the street nowadays are Ilang-Ilang. I stopped buying from those kids, by the way. Crude child labor? Not my scene. 

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

Pepita's Magic Potion

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

The 13-course degustation started with a drink to rouse the palate. It's a swirl of cotton candy doused with pineapple and lambanog {alcoholic drink made from coconut} mix. I didn't feel the zing of lambanog despite my low tolerance for alcohol. Not that I wanted to. It's more sour than sweet or bitter. I would've preferred it to be a little sweeter, but I guess that would deplete its actual purpose. 

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

Tendon Chips with Sinigang Dip

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

This simple pairing really amazed me. I didn't think that Sinigang would be that good in a pasty texture. The authenticity of the taste was so evident in the dip. It was so delicious and flavorful - a smidgen enlivened the deep fried beef tendon.   


Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

Hiplog is portmanteau of 'hipon' {shrimp} and 'itlog' {egg}. Actually, it was a tender and succulent tiger prawn heavily bathed in delicious salted egg with coconut milk sauce. I was longing for steamed white rice while eating this one. Preferably, five cups of steamed white rice! 

Bone Marrow

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion bone marrow

This is another genius creation by Ms. Dedet. I love bone marrows, but they can be extremely satiating, mostly due to the texture. It's like eating a chunk of lard; a delicious chunk of lard, that is. To eliminate that feel, Ms. Dedet added powderized chicharon. You sprinkle a generous amount on top of the marrow, then put a dollop of oxtail marmalade. The result is mind-altering, I tell you! 

Salad Surprise

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

After all that fat, it was a big relief to see some greens...for awhile, at least. Arugula, alfalfa, homemade yogurt cheese and sweet cashew dressing comprises this wonderful salad. The surprise? Pop rocks! I love, love, love pop rocks! Took me back to my youth and how a classmate of mine almost killed my love for pop rocks by telling me that I will die if I mix it with Coke. I still haven't tried it. I'm still wussed out by that one. 

Sipit Sarap

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

Plus points for the wonderful plating! They really took some time to match the dishes with the plates. 

I'm such a slave for crustaceans. I will shamelessly twerk for a bucket of those shelled wonders. The first thing that I liked about the Sipit Sarap {delicious crab claw} was the fact that it was already cracked. Yeah, I'm that lazy. The work was half done for me, so all I had to do was concentrate on forking out the sweet and tender meat. The sauce, oh my God, the crab fat sauce was unbelievably good! 

Lucky You

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

Lucky You is a dish composed of seasoned glass noodles and a basil. I welcome the subdued taste of this dish after all the dynamic flavors that came before. It's sort of like a 'calmer'. I like that they bombarded our palate with a couple flavorful dishes, then bring out something to calm it down and then go back to savory ones again. It's a roller coaster of tastes and textures! 

Lucky You, by the way, is named with the Pinoys' favorite instant noodles in mind: Lucky Me. 


Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion lamb caldereta

The dish is aptly named Lambada because the predominant ingredient was lamb. Originally, Lambada is, of course, known as the forbidden dance. The oldies know that very well. Us Gen-Yers need to do some Googling about it. 

Though extremely spicy, it was a really good version of the caldereta. The lamb was so tender and all the flavors really penetrated the meat. It came with one of my favorite versions of cooked rice {rice wrapped in banana leaf}.  

Cheers Palate Cleanser

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

My taste buds thanked this tamarind sorbet after that extremely spicy Lambada. Calculated timing! It had that perfect sourness to it; just enough to really cleanse the palate.

Lechon De Leche Stuffed with Thanh Long Garlic Noodles

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion Thanh Long lechon de leche

One of the two main highlights of the evening! This' really what I was heavily palpitating over! The look and the smell did not disappoint! It was everything I've ever imagined. I'm aware that I'm referring to the roasted pig like some long lost lover. It was exactly just that.

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion
Delicious wreck

But seriously, it was so delicious! The lechon itself didn't have any accompanying sauce. Why wouldn't it? It was already excellent on its own. The skin and the meat was packed with unbelievably good flavors! Their version of Thanh Long's garlic noodles was spot on! Better, I think. I dunno, It's been awhile. The noodles came with savory garlic sauce. It really amplified the whole thing to an amazing level!

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

I prefer this over the second lechon de leche simply because I find the combination more appropriate. It's a really good base and viand combo.    

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

Ham Lechon De Leche

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion ham lechon de leche

This one screams Christmas! Most of my fellow diners prefer this lechon over the Thanh Long noodles-stuffed one. The meat was more tender and the flavor was more powerful. The shredded ham stuffing had the right kind of sweetness and smokiness. I likened it to Excelente ham. 

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion ham lechon de leche

Cholesterol Sweeper

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion oatmeal with ghirardelli

I've always been fond of eating oatmeal with muscovado. I should eat it without, but it tastes too healthy {read: mashed paper quality} for me. Ms. Dedet's tweaked version gave me a whole new inspiration for this breakfast staple. It's mixed with...wait for it...Ghirardelli's White Chocolate! Do I really need to emphasize how good it was?

Guinatan Brulee

Pepita's Kitchen Hayop na Degustacion guinataan brulee

I don't know if I was just too full by the time the Guinataan Brulee was served, but it didn't pique 
my interest as much as the others.

Now these, I'll pick over Ghirardelli any day! Fine, I confess, I took a few. I wasn't the only one though. 
I don't dish out on anyone, but if you ask me via email, maybe I will.

These are just a fraction of what Pepita's Kitchen offers. They have To Go dishes apart from their extensive list of stuffed lechon de leche {you have to order 2-3 days in advance}. Their dishes were truly made to wow, I kid you not. The extra pound I gained was worth it! Really worth it!

One more thing that I liked about this experience was the setting - Ms. Santos' house in Makati. I really enjoy dinners with a private flair. The very relaxed mood afforded us to truly enjoy our food. It's rare nowadays to have this kind of setting. Everybody's into commercialism - setting up restaurants here, there, everywhere. It's a very good breather. 

We thank Ms. Santos for warmly welcoming us into her lovely home! Kudos to the team! It was indeed a hayop na experience! 

Pepita's Kitchen 
Magallanes Village, Makati City
Landline No.: (632) 425.46.0
Mobile No.: (0917) 866.06.62

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