When I went to the Philippines with my friends a couple of weeks ago, my friend and her family brought us to ALL of their favourite restaurants in and around their city, San Juan. Knowing that I love all things truffle and squid ink, they brought us to a Spanish restaurant known for their truffle and squid ink paellas! For me, this was a dream come true. Talk about living luxuriously!
Calderon is a very small and narrow restaurant, with two levels and live music playing (most likely) every night. We got seated on the second level with only one other table which was great as we had our own musician serenading us throughout dinner.
The menu Pt.1
The menu Pt.2
For starters, we ordered the Salpicao (450 php/~$12 CAD) which was beef tenderloin cubes in a special marinade, sauteed in olive oil and garlic. The flavours were simple, but the dish was executed perfectly.
The tapa I would highly recommend trying here is the Lengua Con Setas ($580 php/~$16 CAD) as it’s tender slices of ox tongue cooked with a creamy mushroom butter sauce. Yup, it tastes exactly how it sounds. Creamy, velvety creamy sauce and tender pieces of beef tongue. Yumm…. So worth it. Seriously.
We chose to get the Mediana Paella Negra ($1500 php/~$43 CAD) which is essentially the Medium sized Squid Ink Paella with squid ink, squid, mussels, and prawns. The Medium size is good for 8-10 people. Having eaten a LOT of squid ink dishes in my life, I can safely say this paella had the most squid ink I’ve ever seen in an entree. The squid ink flavour was very prominent, the colour was DEEP black, and everyone looked like they came out of a horror movie after eating it as the black sauce covered our entire mouths. If you’re on a first date, DO NOT GET THIS DISH. Otherwise, who cares?! Give this unique dish a try.
The other paella I was really looking forward to was the Mediana Paella con Setas Mancheo Y Esencia de Trufa ($2,260 php/~$64 CAD). In plain English, it’s the Truffle Paella. As you can see, the dish is quite pricey but split between 8 – 10 people, it’s not too bad. The paella had mushrooms, machego cheese, asaparagus, red pepper slices, and truffle oil.
Even though I thought the dish was incredibly satisfying as a whole, my friend and her family who came just a year before said the truffle flavour was not strong enough. They said the first time they had it, the truffle smell and taste was overwhelming which made them order it again, but if it was going to be so faint, it might not be worth the price.
Service Rating: 3/5
Food Rating: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5