Your neighborhood carinderia

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

AFFORDABILITY. Variety. Accessibility. Yes, those are just some of the good words to associate with a carinderia (sometimes also spelled karenderia), an eatery selling local, home-cooked meals.

These humble looking restaurants, which trace back its origins to as early as the Spanish times, serving as a stopover point for hungry travelers, are located almost anywhere people converge, study or work. These have become engrained in local culture that it also reflects the Pinoy character to visitors.

This concept of a carinderia was taken upon by the family behind Orange Karenderia, which opened its second and newest restaurant in Lahug just three months ago.


“The main reason why I wanted to stick with the ‘Karenderia’ is it has the most un-intimidating name,” confesses Mikko Pato, one of the owners. Their first one, in service for two years now, is located in Maguikay, Mandaue City.

“I saw something missing in our food industry. If you put yourself in the shoes of foreigners or people visiting from other islands, the first thing you’ll ask yourself is where to eat.

“Eating is a huge part of the traveling experience. I believe that food is one way of identifying one’s culture, and that’s what confuses travelers going around our country. It’s that you simply cannot identify the local staple of food,” he continues.

Mikko said that whenever Cebuanos treat their non-Cebuano visitors to lunch or dinner, they would often take them to a place where lechon or barbecue is served. But for him, Cebu is more than just these food items.

“Filipino food deserves to be presented in a decent, higher setting, most especially because it is home, this is where it belongs,” he says. And that is what Orange Karenderia is all about: showcasing Filipino dishes and having everyone enjoy them.

As to the color of choice for the restaurant’s name, Mikko said it was just the favorite color of his dad. He said that no one in their family had a culinary experience. But a short course on restaurant management, which he took at the University of California, Los Angeles, for five months, provided him with a great background on the business.

Majority of their menu consists of seafood, another reflection of the country’s archipelagic character. In fact, their bestseller is their crispy tuna buntot, which is the tail of the Atlantic yellow fin tuna deep-fried to a crunchy goodness.

In fact, it was the recipient of Sun.Star Cebu’s Best of Cebu award for “Best Tuna Buntot.” It was a later addition to the menu but it instantly became a favorite among diners. Then apart from seafood, there’s the tasty “Betsy’s Garlic Chicken,” which consists of boneless chicken thigh in bite sizes pieces, glazed with their special sauce. He got the “secret recipe” from his Tita Betsy Baltazar, who had a catering business. To date, the garlic chicken has slowly become a bestseller too alongside their tuna buntot.

The interior, in fresh tangerine hues coupled with wood and metal touches, seemingly connects to the concept of fresh food out of the pots from the typical carinderias.

“The physical elements of a carinderia that you can notice inside are the ‘Pot Display,’ because the first thing you do in a carinderia is to open and see what’s inside that pot,” explains Mikko.

Cravings for tasty home-cooked meals, especially during lunch breaks or after a tiring day at work or school would always receive a “full-filling” at Orange Karenderia.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 27, 2014.


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