Kumbira 2013 Heritage Feature – Brew Berry Cafe’s Top 10 Adobo

Jul 29, 2013


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Of the ten Pinoy dishes included in Soo Pinoy’s “Search for the Ultimate Pinoy Dish”, perhaps the one easiest to cook but most difficult to judge would be the ubiquitous adobo.


No other Filipino dish has such commonality of ingredients in all corners of the archipelago where it is found, yet has so wide a variety of permutations and taste, making it difficult to reach a consensus which one is better than the other.


Thus the ambivalence of Ann Eviota Ato when informed of her Brew Berry Café’s selection as one of Sooo Pinoy’s Top 10 restaurants in the Philippines with the “Best Adobo.”


“Of course, I was elated we were recognized as such,” says the petite University of the Philippines at Los Baños B.S. Nutrition graduate who admits she wasn’t even aware there was such a competition or that Brew Berry was nominated. “Our adobo isn’t really the fastest moving item on our menu (that being dinuguan and kare-kare) nor has it been that remarkable with our customers (that being their lengua with white sauce).


Adobo is one of the 10 featured Filipino dishes in the “Sooo Pinoy” campaign, a joint project of Unilever Foodsolutions, Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) and Department of Tourism which bills itself “The National Search for the Ultimate Pinoy Dish.”


Unknown to Ann or any of her partners, Brew Berry Café was nominated for the “unique taste” of its adobo which was apparently good enough to merit their rating as one of the Top 10 in the Philippines.


 “A team from Unilever and PDI nominates food outlets around the country that best serve a particular dish,” said Jhao Carandang, Unilever sales executive. “For instance, Brew Berry Café was nominated among others in Mindanao and by certain criteria bested other nominees across the Philippines.”


Carandang said ‘mystery judges’ would anonymously visit nominated outlets to judge the particular dish and rank the Top 10 restos or hotels based on ‘Taste’ (balance of flavor, texture and aroma); ‘Presentation’ (creativity, use of ingredients) and ‘Value for Money’ (serving size, quality of ingredients and overall dining experience).


Ann and her partners are relatively young in the business, having started only in 2007 when they took over the operation of what used to be “Blue Berry Café”. However, armed with their collective common experience with one of the nation’s leading food chains and Ann’s extensive culinary experience in various establishments (Manila Peninsula Hotel, Philippine Airlines in-flight catering), the partners were determined to make it a success. 


Brew Berry’s Adobo is available either as “Chicken Adobo” or “Pork Abobo”.


Asked what could be the secret behind the unique taste of their adobo, Ann believes it’s her life-long penchant to keep recipes of Filipino dishes. For instance, in formulating their Kare-Kare, she looks at what’s common as well as unique in the various recipes of the dish in her collection.


“I was trained to cook the scientific way and strictly follow the ingredients, their quantity and proportion in relation to each other, as well as faithfully follow the process by which a particular dish is prepared and cooked,” she notes.


She credits her professors Dr. Barba and Dr. del Rosario for the one-on-one exams in Food Preparation they had in UPLB where they had to memorize the menu as well as the effects of temperature, the freshness of ingredients and other factors in cooking a dish.


On top of that, she and her partners also benchmark their dishes with competitors to ensure that “it’s not dejado or overwhelming” but has just the right balance that make customers come back for more.


She says Brew Berry’s adobo is “typical” in the sense that it shares most of its ingredients with those found in other parts of the city and the country such as vinegar, bay leaf, soy sauce, paprika, a “little” sugar, among others.


“It’s also moist, not dry, more of lean meat that’s firm but not mushy,” she said of the dish’s taste and consistency.


Not the least, she attributes their recognition to the cooks their kitchen who though set in their ways due to their previous experience, have also proven to be trainable and follow her “scientific way” of food preparation and cooking.


“You may have the talent and experience but most important, you must be willing to learn new things to make yourself and your dishes better,” she notes. “Attitude is most important.”



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