While in San Pablo, I simply had to check out Kusina Salud for all the raves I’ve been hearing about its food. It didn’t seem easy going here and it’s probably a must that you have your own vehicle. Kusina is designer Patis Tesoro’s country home now converted into a crafts and culinary destination. The huge compund also houses an aviary and art gallery but since it was pitch dark when we went here, we weren’t able to view these. The overall theme of the place is “eclectic” as it hosts the owners’ antique furnitures and other collectibles gained from travels around the world.
The place was ready to close for the night when we went there but gladly I texted the resto’s mobile number to confirm my reservation. The fact that we were the last customers wasn’t an excuse to serve bad food. Everything that we ordered was simply superb. No less than chef-owner Paul Poblador (also of Salud Bistro in Baguio, now closed) was supervising the open kitchen.
My companions, Lei and Ruth of Tahanan ni Aling Meding, immediately liked the Ensaladang Haring Cezar (P140) which is Kusina’s take on good’ ol Caesar’s Salad. The difference is that the chef mixed in some Asian-style dressing, with the best part being the fried fresh Lguna white cheese (kesong puti) deep-fried in crunchy tempura batter to make the topping.
Next we had the Pusit Al Ajillo (P170)which was the perfect appetizer for the main course. The squid was certainly fresh and had the right texture. It was very spicy (which I liked) as it was cooked in sweet tomato sauce with lots of green chilies and garlic. The dish was topped with toasted pan de sal slivered again with kesong puti. Yum!
Afterwards we tried the binagoongang baboy (P205) which is your traditional pork stew mixed with native fermented shrimp paste and green chilies. We found this a bit too salty. Luckily, it had crisp-fried eggplant and petite green mango salsa which somehow offset the bagoong’s strong flavor.
I ended my meal with pandan-brewed coffee, the smell of which mesmerized me. I could have ordered their native desserts but there was no more room in our tummies.
There are only about a dozen dishes on Kusina’s list of main courses, among them the fresh fish in XO sauce, Pinoy chicken teriyaki, kare-kareng dagat, bulalo sa tanglad and kalabaw salpicao. They should all be worth trying on our next visit.
How to go to Kusina Salud (from Viaje del Sol brochure): Following Maharlika Highway which runs parallel to San Pablo City, look for a Shell gasoline station on the right side of the highway. After negotiating the blind turn beyond Shell, turn left on Bgy. Sta. Cruz road, go straight until the wooden bridge. The entrance to the restaurant is the second gate to the left after the bridge.
Open everyday from 11 am to 3 pm (lunch) and from 5.30 pm to 9 pm (dinner) Text (0921) 7726985 to reserve. Visa and Mastercard accepted.