It’s time to admit that I’m a total creature of habit.
While this quirk has its share of frustrations, it’s mainly a good thing. If I see something I like, I’ll wear it a lot, use it again, order it over and over… you get the gist. That basically explains why my wardrobe staples are all in black and white, which makes dressing in the summer quite the challenge.
You’d think I would know myself better, but truthfully I only came to this conclusion recently (and amusingly, by the way), when I realized that the baristas at Brown Cup already knew I usually get a cappuccino (hot) or a white mocha java (cold), that I was on first-name basis with the barista in Starbucks (hi, Linus!) and the bartender at Politics (what’s up, Mark?), and heck the server at Dimsum Break anticipated my usual order of spicy-steamed-rice-with-plain-siomai-and-ginger-sauce-with-bottled-water.
In Ilaputi‘s case, it was The Stroganov. Because, seriously, it’s The Stroganov.
See what I mean? 😛
I have to hand it to Jan Rodriguez though. Instead of being perfectly content that I was already nursing an incurable addiction to The Stroganov, he’s continuously whipping up delicious ways to sway me into trying out other items on the menu.
And that is how I ended up eating something-else-not-Stroganov at Ilaputi one Saturday night.
Some time after Ilaputi opened its second branch at the Axis Entertainment Center along Escario Street (in which I had The Stroganov, of course), Jan messaged with an open invitation to try out their new sandwiches. Now, to be honest, I’m not a bread person, which in turn makes me not a sandwich person. It’s not that I don’t exactly like them, but far and few are the instances in which I’d actually be craving for them.
So, yes, with that and work deadlines looming, it took a while before I actually took Jan up on the offer. Big. Mistake. I really should have gone sooner!
Take it from someone who claims to not be a big fan of sandwiches: Ilaputi’s offerings are the bomb! Jan had thoughtfully had the staff prepare the noms ahead of time, so by the time we arrived, the sandwiches were delightfully warm, fresh, and ready for devouring.
My frequent food fiend Anton and I split the two sandwiches so we both could have a little bit of everything. He dug straight into his fairly straightforward Applewood and Hickory Smoked Bacon portion, while I curiously poked and prodded my Bahn Mi, shrugged, and literally stuffed in a mouthful. Oh, boy, was that a great burst of flavor. I’m no food critic but I’m fairly hard to please, and I would actually go as far as saying the Bahn Mi is the most unique and delicious sandwich I’ve ever had. Proof? I wolfed down the rest of it right away, not caring if my lipstick smeared onto the wheat bread. Take that, non-sandwich person!
On the other hand, the Applewood and Hickory Smoked Bacon sandwich was equally flavorful, but I’d say the taste is very familiar in that certain homey and comforting way, with the added twist of the apples. Mostly, I remember being all over the bacon, cooked to a crispy perfection the way I like it… and the way I’ve been trying to replicate in my own kitchen, to no avail. According to Jan, applewood and hickory are “trees of which the wood are used to smoke the bacon to give it that special aroma and flavor”. I can’t even figure out how to make my bacon crispy, so doing this myself will have to wait until then. But a girl can never have too much bacon, especially when said bacon is done rather well. More reasons to hit up Ilaputi then!
Also worth mentioning? The homemade potato chips! Ever since Formo closed and shattered my dreams of ever having a reunion with their potato crisps, I haven’t found a worthy substitute… until now. They were just the right texture with the right amount of crisp, and quite amazing when dipped into the sriracha mayo (upon second look at the menu, was the mayo supposed to be for the sandwich? We used it as a dip for the chips! No regrets though).
As the night lingered on, Anton and I debated about ordering just the chips but went for a pitcher of Down South Delight instead—sweet and refreshingly cool especially for the hot summer night, but maaaaaaybe not a good idea when split just between two persons who’ve already had alcoholic drinks prior.
Ilaputi has always been one of my all-time favorite restaurants, although I admit to not going there as often as the fancy strikes because of the location. That said, this new branch at Axis is much closer to home, more intimate, and less crowded. It only opened last month, but already I’ve been there thrice, which certainly says something. Even the staff has taken to greeting us with, “Welcome back!” Uh, here we go again.
And so I suppose, I really have no excuse to just keep ordering The Stroganov. Or the Bahn Mi. Not at this rate I’m sure I’ll frequent the place.