There is something intriguing about regional Filipino food. While most dishes stem from a common culinary root, different locales almost always have their own versions of certain cuisines.

Be it because of the availability of ingredients or simply because of preference, there is always a thin line that distinguishes palates across culinary borders that can spark up a healthy discussion among gourmands.

When our sister Zee talked about Kansi, describing it as a soup dish that’s a cross between sinigang (veggie and meat sour stew) and bulalo (beef bone marrow soup) without the frills, my interest piqued as my mouth watered. What sorcery can possible merge these two all-time favorite comfort food and into a pot of pure bliss? Apparently, Ilonggos hold the answers to this kitchen secret.

Basically an Ilonggo version of bulalo, Kansi is prepared much like its common counterpart albeit without the tassels (i.e. cabbage, potatoes, beans, etc.). It’s a straight up beef shank soup but with a tangy note that comes from a batuan fruit (an ingredient unique to that region) and an orange hue which is done by boiling atsuete with the broth.

No need to fly all the day to Iloilo to try a bowl of steaming hot Kansi because Pat-Pat’s in the heart of Makati will hit the spot of your Kansi craving. Originally from Jaro, Iloilo, Pat-pat’s has been doling out bowls of Kansi since 1999.

The place is as homey as it gets. It definitely has the nostalgia factor locked down with its capiz windows up top and an al fresco, Vigan-tiled dining space below.

After soaking in the comforting mid-afternoon vibe, it was time to get down to business. An order of Kansi at Pat-Pat’s comes in two variants, laman (meat) and bulalo (bone marrow). We had to try both to get a taste of what each has to offer.

An order of Kansi Laman (Php135) offers cuts of lean beef swimming in a bowl of hot soup. The Kansi Bulalo (Php155), on the other hand, serves pretty much the same aside from a humungous bone sitting Paleolithic-like on a bowl with a shivering marrow (a.k.a. god’s butter) waiting to be skewered out.

The Kansi doesn’t pussy-foot-around and offers full on hearty goodness from meat to marrow. The heaviness of the meat is balanced perfectly by the light broth that cradles the palate with a strange but vaguely familiar taste. The tanginess is not very sharp, hovering between sour and sweet, with a distinctly fruity aftertaste. Complex, but it works just fine.

Along with the Kansi, we also ordered Fresh Lumpia, Grilled Pusit, and an Ilonggo classic Chicken Inasal to get an ample breadth of what the restaurant serves.

The Fresh Lumpia (Php50 for two pieces) was a revelation. Its bland look hid a wealth of flavor with even its wrapper offering a light savor. Definitely worth a try as a starter or a welcome break from the heavy feast.

Underwhelming at first because of all the savory goodness going around, the Grilled Pusit (Php240) stole the show for me towards the end. Its kind taste, paired with thinly sliced onions and tomatoes, quietly creeps up and grows into the palate. The firmness of the squid was just right and when doused with sinamak, Iloilo’s version of spiced vinegar, makes for a very appetizing dish.

Of course, no Ilonggo dining experience would be complete without Chicken Inasal. We went with the “healthier” choice of Pecho (breast part) (Php95), but the menu also offers Paa (thigh part) (Php95) and Isol (Chicken Ass) (Php48). The Chicken Inasal was as authentic as it gets, flavor-locked and char-grilled to perfection.

Pat-Pat’s Kansi already has a huge following; from Ilonggos who miss the flavors of home to city-folks looking for a different take on a classic comfort dishes. There’s no love lost between me and my mom’s bulalo, but the warm and inviting ambiance of Pat-pat’s and their bowl of heart-warming Kansi will definitely give her recipe a run for its money.

Pat-Pat’s Kansi is located in the corner of Sampaloc and Kamagong Street, Barangay San Antonio, Makati City.

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