A Festive Salo-salo at KUYA J Restaurant with Jericho Rosales

I am a foodie at heart and I do appreciate a range of cuisines as well as how food was prepared. Filipino cuisine, with all it's Spanish and Oriental influences, is a fusion of exotic flavors. Comfort food for the soul. Admittedly, there are only a handful of Pinoy restos that I can claim to love and go back to. With that short list, I can safely say I've now added Kuya J resto -- a homegrown dining destination where families can enjoy a hearty Filipino feast!

Kuya J is a casual dining restaurant that offers great Filipino gastronomic delights
in a homey dining experience.

Last September 14, my blogger friends and I were invited to Kuya J Restaurant SM Megamall branch to sample their specialty Pinoy dishes and to personally meet their charming celebrity endorser.

Kuya J resto, located at the lower ground floor of SM Megamall Bldg. A, is brightly-lit and spacious, with sleek and modern interiors that remain warm and inviting to diners. What I like about their table set up is that they have options for long tables to accommodate big groups, a few round tables for family-style dining, and cozy benches on the sides for a more private seating area.

When I arrived, a drink list was offered and I chose Kuya J Fruit Shake Special, which is a blend of mango, pineapple, and more fruits which I can't recall now...basta it's good, I like it's sweet tropical flavors.

Before I share my favorite dishes, sino ba si Kuya J? 

Sam Oh was the bubbly host that evening who interviewed Jericho, chef Sheena Koseki, Winglip Chang, iKitchen, Inc. President, and Chief Operating Officer Danny Pumarega about the resto's history and what to expect from Kuya J. According to the owners, Kuya J represents the everyday Juan or Jose -- Pinoy, approachable, friendly. And the most common Filipino name starts with the letter J, so it's relatable. Just like Jericho Rosales, who embodies what a real kuya (big brother) is, someone we can look up to and emulate.

I was not in a good spot so please excuse my snapshots here. He was waaay better looking in person! =) Anyway, the treat for everyone that night was that Jericho will be table-hopping and serving some of the dishes to guests, including the most awaited Kuya J's Crispy Pata! Woohoo! Siyempre, lahat kami excited to meet him, and most importantly, to feast on the delectable dishes prepared for us by Kuya J resto.

The food was overflowing and I was so busog afterwards. Each dish was meant for sharing and it's evident that quality, care and extra attention was given to each dish from Kuya J. There were several stand-outs for me, so let me present my favorites, from appetizers to desserts.

Tara, kain na! =)

First on the table -- best-selling Grilled Scallops. We were four hungry moms in our group and they served two plates of these buttery-cheesy garlic-loaded scallops on a half shell. So addicting. Wiped out!

Chorizo Dinamitas are whole jalapeños stuffed with Cebu chorizo wrapped like a lumpia and fried. Dip in garlic-mayo. Crunchy, flavorful, spicy but not burning hot. Perfect din pang-pulutan.

Looking at this photo, I regret not finishing my share of this Lumpia Presko, a Kuya J signature dish made with sautéed bamboo shoots and crabmeat rolled in a malunggay crepe. Anything with crab is a winner for me.

Starters pa lang busog na.

Let's move on to the mains. Humbinagoongan Rice was a meal in itself with green mangoes, onions, and topped with pieces of pork humba meat. I personally prefer this Danggit Rice coz the flavor is more subtle, complementing the flavors of the other ulam. I liked the crunch of danggit bits mixed in the rice. The presentation was cute with the whole danggit sticking out, heehee!

It's all about the sauce, and Kuya J's Kare-Kare got it right, with just the right balance of creamy-nutty flavor that's unique to this dish. The sauce was smooth and not too rich, beef chunks were really tender, complemented with the assorted veggies. I was hoping to find some ox tripe though.

Who likes to eat hito? That's Tagalog for catfish. I like it fried or grilled. This Crispy Catfish, battered then deep fried, is served with two dipping sauces - sukang tuba and bagoong mayo. Sarap!

Here comes the star of the dinner table, the signature dish -- Kuya J's Crispy Pata!

Jericho joined the parade of waiters to serve this big, juicy, tender pata with crispy skin that was deep-fried to perfection! It is well seasoned so it's tasty even without the dipping sauce.

When you order Kuya J's Crispy Pata, it will be cut and chopped to smaller pieces directly at your table so you can quickly devour this mouthwatering crunchy hunk of meat. Kalimutan niyo muna ang diet! =) This is a must-order.

Watch the short video of Jericho cutting the crispy pata.

(Video clip here: instagram)

Panghimagas na!

Sweet endings to our fiesta-style dinner, starting with this classic Mango Pandan. Ripe mango and pandan gulaman cubes swimming in a cream sauce. You can't go wrong with this one.

There were several sinful desserts to choose from but I made sure I tasted Kuya J's signature Tablea Coffee Flan. This is love! Decadent, smooth and rich -- it's made with Batangas tablea and coffee caramel, sprinkled with dessicated coconut and drizzled with thick cream. Enough said.

I also sampled the velvety sweet Cebuano Mangga Cheesecake in a jar and simply ogled at this yummy-looking Fried Halo-halo with Ice Cream. Yes, hanggang tingin nalang coz hindi ko na kaya sa busog!

I must say, the menu was well thought out, with so many unique offerings and classic Filipino dishes that were given a Kuya J twist. Bravo!

To have a better appreciation of what I am talking about here, watch and drool as Jericho presents Kuya J Restaurant in his latest TVC.

Kuya J Restaurant traces it's roots to Cebu and was formerly known as Ang Kan-anan ni Kuya J. It has always been a casual dining restaurant that aims to serve flavorful Filipino food in a relaxing and welcoming setting with warm customer service. Today, Kuya J has 18 branches, with plans of opening 50 branches by the end of 2015! I'm already very happy knowing they have this branch in Megamall, and one coming soon in Greenhills -- both geographically convenient for me. =) 

Top photo with Jericho Rosales and my tablemates Jackie Go, Kelly Misa, and Michelle Martinez (photo source);
and here with more happy Nuffnang food and lifestyle bloggers at the Kuya J blogcon.

Two thumbs up to the Kuya J family. I am definitely going to bring my family here, as well as our balikbayan friends who are visiting soon!

Have you dined at Kuya J? What are your favorites? =)

@kuyajresto on Instagram and Twitter

Open from Monday - Sunday: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
SM Megamall
SM City BF Parañaque
SM City Marikina
SM City Sta. Mesa
SM City Novaliches
SM City Fairview
SM Center Pasig
SM City San Mateo
SM City Manila
SM San Lazaro
SM City Pampanga
SM City Clark
SM City San Fernando
Escario Street, Cebu
SM City Cebu
SM City Consolacion, Cebu
SM City Bacolod
SM City Dasmariñas

Note:  Top photo courtesy of Kuya J Restaurant
Group photo with Jericho courtesy of Mrs. Martize

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