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The Holy Cow Chophouse. A decent steak at TriNoMa and a great kids’ meal

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After my last food article on here about best burgers and pizza, we visited Trinoma again and were in the mood for something different. We had passed by the place a few dozen times, always seeing the giant cow standing outside, complete with wings and a halo.

American style steakhouses in the Philippines are rarely encountered. Most beef tends to be on the expensive side, and is seldom aged properly. Unless you want to spend many pesos at the Manila Hotel (or similar… Gullivers in the Great Eastern Hotel is probably the best that I’ve had here), you will most likely be disappointed. When you do find a decent place for steak, it normally arrives over cooked (Filipinos seem to really prefer well-done meat), and not very good.

Throwaway Ticket Service - The Business that works while you sleep

So, with rather low expectations, and drawn by the calling of a cold beer and steak in their outdoor tables, we gave it a try. First off, the Chophouse offers three beef origins: Australia, USA, and (very expensive) Japan. Second, Juanito was hungry and cranky, so the first thing I looked at was the kids’ meals.

HOLY CRAP!!! P350 for a kid’s meal? MY entrée was only P250!

Yep, you read that right.

HOWEVER, what is not mentioned is that it is probably the coolest kid’s meal I have ever seen at any restaurant.  First off, the portion for my two year old son would probably feed an adult (Cornflake crusted fried chicken, fries, rice, vegetables, ice cream… An awful lot for a toddler to eat). Secondly, it included a stuffed toy, a copy of the really neat giant cow standing outside.

So, what did we have?

Well, I’m always wary of steak in this country, unless I have seen it first. So, I see pulled BBQ Angus beef ribs on the menu… OK. That got me. I love American-style BBQ. I grew up on brisket in Texas (Cattlemans in El Paso is the heroin of beef), ate Arthur Bryant’s and Gates’ (burnt ends) in Kansas City regularly when I worked there. Done the Interstate BBQ in Memphis. Was born in NC, so I’ve had the real Carolina BBQ before I ever knew what a pig was (Not too much different than lechon… Gonna work on hushpuppies here real soon). I lived in Chicago and have had many a night with Carsons’ ribs. So, when it comes to BBQ, I’m well-versed and generally like it all. How was it?

Honestly, best American-style BBQ I’ve had outside the USA (To the inevitable comments about good American BBQ in the UK or Australia, only one thing to say… You’ve never been one too many Pearl beers in a shack in Houston before. Not the same thing.)… Complete with burnt ends. I was orgasmic, intoxicated, enchanted, and exhilarated. In the Philippines, no less.

Rebecca had marinated skirt steak that was… NOT cooked until shoe leather well-done (Amazing!)I tried it and it, too, was really good, marinated in Chimichurri sauce, Argentinian style.  As we were sitting there, I saw an order of NY strip proceeding to the table next to us… and it also looked really good.

The total damage: About P1,500 for everything.

Not fine dining or American steakhouse, by any stretch of the imagination, but I will say that if you want a decent meal, it is definitely worth a try. The kid’s meal alone was a real treat for Juanito… I particularly like the fact that someone obviously put some thought into offering it on the menu. So often, kids and vegetarians are completely neglected or ignored by restaurants.

 

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JohnM

John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.

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Boon
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Boon

It’s always cool to find a new restaurant that we like. Back in the U.S.A I always looked forward to a new place even though there were already so many other great ones available. However, here in the Philippines…… land of overcooked, over salted and over everything it is even more appreciated. Fortunately, things seems to be getting better at least in the bigger cities and to an extent in the Provinces by expat restauranteurs. John, if you ever have the chance to eat in a restaurant called “Moon” you might find their beef to your liking. They have tenderloin… Read more »

Rich321 (Rich Bowen)
Guest

Hi John — good article, My good friend’s father was brought to America and he quickly became the family’s “cook”. In China, out in the sticks where he lived, refrigeration was unheard of. I think that is why many countries traditionally over cook meats — in hopes that doing so will kill or at least neutralize all the bacteria from poor handling and storage. I once bought him some really good steaks. When they arrive on the dinner table he had cut them into little squares about the size of marshmallows, and cooked them into tiny cinder blocks, dry as… Read more »

Ricardo Sumilang
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Ricardo Sumilang

That Filipinos in general have an aversion for steaks cooked rare to medium-rare is a study in contradiction, given that they are not squeamish when it comes to “dinuguan”. I, on the other hand, love my prime rib almost bloody rare, but would never eat “dinuguan”. As for a New York strip, I love it seared outside, but pink inside.

BBQ and steak dinner for 2 adults plus a kid’s dinner for $35, John? Amazing! When does the next plane leave for the Philippines?

Papa Duck
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Papa Duck

Ricardo, John M.

I’m with you on that dinuguan. I don’t believe i will ever try it. I like my steaks medium-well, just a little pink. Don’t like all that blood. Good article John, thanks for the info about the steakhouse. Have a nice day!

sugar
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sugar

Papa Duck, John –

I like steaks too! John.. same with Papa D and Rich, good article again. I’m not sure what a good and proper steak should be.. but I like steaks not so pinkish, like half cook.. but not super hard to eat and chew.

John Miele
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John Miele

Sugar: It is funny how most kids, even in the West, like well done meat, since rarer is generally easier to chew.

John Miele
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John Miele

Papa Duck: I agree with you on the dinuguan… I know it’s healthy, but the smell while cooking is just too much for me.

Gary
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Gary

That sounds good – next time I’m near Trinoma I might check ’em out. One thing I’ve noticed here in Gensan, outside of the major chains, is inconsistency of food quality and prep. Go one time and it’s really good, go back again, and either it’s not cooked right, or the quality just isn’t good from the get-go. It’s a no-go after that for me.

Hudson
Guest
Hudson

Hey John,
You’re right about the steaks there in the philippines; thin, over-cooked, and tough as shoe leather. They do pork really well though.
Next time I’m in manila area,(Trinoma) I will try The Chophouse.
BTW: Pearl Long Necks…gotta love ’em!

Lenny
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Lenny

where exactly is Trinoma?

Steve Maust
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Steve Maust

John,
Refrigeration in Abulog? I never saw such a thing while in Bulala! But you are right about “killing the cow (or anything else) twice when cooking it! I love a good steak cooked medium rare! I am still looking for a good steak provider in Cauayan. Hope to find one someday so I can lay some steaks on the grill and have them my way! I think you found a good deal there. I always seem to pay a lot more anytime I go out to eat in Manila!

Jim
Guest

Hi John – As they say a steak is not cooked properly unless a good vet can get it back on it’s feet again. Its great to find a place to eat here that actually pleases you not just in price but to say after you’ve eaten, I truly enjoyed that. I never mind paying for food however expensive provided I’ve enjoyed it.
Kind regards.
Jim.

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Jim: That’s kind of like me… I don’t mind paying for quality. When I was a chef, the restaurant I worked for used to send me to other restaurants in order to see what the competition was doing…. Normally the Michelin-type. Though price is not an indicator of quality, those with quality always have higher prices.

AlexB
Guest
AlexB

Hi John,

Isn’t (wasn’t) there a steakhouse on Morato Ave that is (was) supposed to be a very good one? (Not sure if it is Alfredo’s). Tried that yet?

Interesting mention of Great Eastern Hotel. I remember there was a Great Eastern Hotel in Quiapo decades ago. It was sort of like pre war high rise, and was one of the better hotels in pre war Manila. I wonder what happened to that building.

Alex

Ricardo Sumilang
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Ricardo Sumilang

Alex, I wonder if you remember the name of the theatre somewhere in or near Quiapo where once, as a teen, I watched Bobby Gonzales perform, singing songs like, “Inday ng Buhay ko” and “O ang babae, pag minamahal, may kursunada’t a-ayaw ayaw…”? Also, there was a “surot”-infested burlesque theatre not far from the Quiapo church called, “Inday”. San Basti kids used to cut classes and watch striptease shows there, me including, then we would confess our sins on Friday, receive the holy communion on Sunday, and we’re pure again! LOL

AlexB
Guest
AlexB

Bobby Gonzalez? Not sure who he is or I was old enough to know him. :-)))

Ricardo Sumilang
Guest
Ricardo Sumilang

Sorry, for asking the question, Alex. I didn’t mean to age you, but when you said, “I remember there was a Great Eastern Hotel in Quiapo decades ago”, I thought you were “young” enough as I was to remember Bobby Gonzales. 🙂

Ricardo Sumilang
Guest
Ricardo Sumilang

Hey Alex, look what I found – a picture of the Great Eastern Hotel in Quiapo you were talking about. In the background, top left, is the Quiapo church. The caption read that it was adjacent to the Clover Theatre, coincidentally, the very theatre which name I was just asking about. Bobby Gonzales performed at the Clover in the early 60s. Talk about quirky coincidences!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bren/4247087818/

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Alex: The old Great Eastern is no more, but there are two others here. The one I’m referring to is in QC.

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