Street food na pina-sosyal.

Macy contacted me and asked for a tarot reading last Friday. We finished around midnight and she offered to drive Bern and I home. I suggested we have a night cap first at Lime 88, which was really near our apartment.

I’ve heard of Lime 88 from another friend, Alvin. He also heard of it from his cousin, who said it featured street food presented in fancy ways. The restaurant’s logo describes it plainly: Street Food na Pina-Sosyal. It turned out Macy was also familiar with the place, and had been there before.

A few days before, Bern and I saw Lime 88 when we went to China Bank which was at the same street the restaurant was in. Lime 88 open at 6pm, so we could only see the restaurant from the outside back then. It was really just a house converted into an eating place.

There was a bar outside, an airconditioned section, and several outside table for smokers. When we got there, the speakers were playing various minor “alternative” hits from the 90s and 00s. The playlist sounded like it came from a mid-twenties corporate type who fancied himself as a rocker.

I contacted Leo to bring Ed and Markee over from the apartment and join us. While waiting for them, we tried some of the food and the cocktails.

Lime 88 sells decent cocktails at rather cheap prices (P60-P85 a glass). The Chocnut martini Bern got was pretty good. I forgot the name of what I ordered (was it Dare to Chill?) but it was decent: vodka, pineapple juice and melon liquer. Macy had a Jack Coke, except that she found it tasted of Bacardi rather than Jack Daniels.

We ordered their version of kwek-kwek: quail’s eggs dipped in orange-colored batter and deep-fried. Lime 88 kwek-kwek removed the food color, used tempura batter to wrap the eggs and served it vinegar and tempura dip. The eggs came in a martini glass with an orchid. Cute.

Kwek-kwek from Lime 88 Kwek-kwek from Lime 88

When the other three arrived, they also ordered several drinks and a few dishes, including a fried street food sampler, which was fish balls, squid balls and kikiam fried on bamboo sticks; the sticks were arranged radially on a large plate, decorated by teriyaki sauce (I think).

I also ordered fresh oysters soaked in youghurt and vinegar, which chopped onions and green mangoes. Those were served in small shot glasses. The dish makes for a good appetizer, except it turns out only Bern and I are willing to try raw oysters. You can’t really eat the thing from a shot glass in one go; kinilaw is too sour to be gulped suddenly.

But the point of the place is the presentation. The kinilaw would have been excellent if served on a plate to accompany pork barbecue and steamed rice, but it wouldn’t look as fancy.

The dish we all enjoyed was the tinapa pasta: tinapa flakes were sauteed in oil with garlic and onion. It was coated to penne and served with a little pesto sauce. Markee and I decided to remember how the dish was made so we could replicate it at home.

Food in Lime 88 are relatively inexpensive, though you’re actually paying more for the fancy plating more than the dish itself. The staff were a little lousy (sending Leo and Ed’s drinks to a different table causing them to repeatedly follow up the order), but friendly and accommodating (having Markee as the client will test a restaurant staff’s patience sometimes definitely).

In the end, we went there for the novelty of it all. We might go back with other friends, just so they could also be impressed with kwek-kwek in martini glasses, but it wasn’t the first place I would go to if I was looking for something more substantial.