Food was the last thing on my mind on Monday afternoon. Franzia and I met to discuss where we should go to volunteer for the relief operations. I had coffee and two bibingka (rice cake) before meeting her at Starbucks. But as we talked about what happened and what was still happening---the tragic death of people, the devastation of properties, the gut-wrenching scenes on TV with victims helplessly watching their homes destroyed by overwhelming flood water and mud, of children hanging on to their mothers' neck, the unspeakable grief of a father as he talked about the family he lost in the flood, of friends who spent all night walking in flood water to get home, I started craving for food.
Comfort food---to somehow ease the guilt I was feeling because my home was warm and dry, and my family is alright. Franzia told me about Cafe Juanita, a cozy resto in Brgy. Kapitolyo, where she had her birthday dinner.
Cafe Juanita has an extensive menu---it was difficult to decide what to order. We had the all-too familiar Molo Soup for starters, with lots of fried garlic. After the soup, I wasn't hungry anymore but decided to try a Vietnamese appetizer, Chao Tom, or grilled shrimps on sugarcane stick. A mixture of garlicky shrimp paste wrapped around a sugarcane stick then grilled. It was light and aromatic, and I loved the flavor. Served with vermicelli noddles and fresh lettuce and basil, it is eaten wrapped in crisp lettuce and basil then dipped into the addicting nouc cham (dipping sauce).
I love the idea of fresh sugarcane as a skewer with it's refreshingly sweet flavor seeps into the shrimp mixture while being grilled.
Franzia ordered Callos and steamed rice which we also shared (did I say I wasn't hungry?). The serving was generous and it was good but I still prefer Casa Armas'.
The conversation was getting interesting so we ordered Crepe Samurai for dessert. Layers of cream and mango to complete a delightful meal at Cafe Juanita.