Normally, my culinary exploits are limited to certain areas, but with D behind the wheel, we're pretty much up for anything, especially if there's good food involved.
One rainy night last week, a little birdie told us about a new hole-in-the-wall that had recently sprouted up along Visayas Avenue, so we leaped at the chance to discover it.
Oliva Bistro Cafe is owned by Chef Kannan Jayaprakash Sreedevi, who also runs his own catering service. Having first tried his culinary creations at my friend Nadine's birthday last year, I already had an idea of what the cuisine would be like: tasty, tasty European food, with some Asian delights thrown in for good measure.
The Chef's Wife Salad (P195) is Chef Kannan's personal homage to his lovely wife, Denden. As expected, it's one of their best sellers, and a great starter for your meal. Complete with chicken strips, cheese, grapes, caramelized walnuts, fresh mango chunks and dill dressing, this dish manages to marry both sweet and savory in a way that does not overpower your tastebuds.
Born and raised in Kerala, India, it's only natural for Chef Kannan to showcase his talents by preparing dishes that remind him of home. The Roti Prata with Curry Sauce (P80) is a traditional dish composed of fresh, hot roti (traditional Indian flatbread) with a mildly spicy curry sauce made more flavorful with the addition of chopped onions. Being a big fan of Indian food, I would definitely recommend this dish to anyone who appreciates the simple things - like dipping bread into freshly-made curry.
This was a dish I thoroughly enjoyed. The Tandoori Chicken Tikka (P195) is composed of marinated chicken breasts grilled to perfection, served alongside portions of fresh raita (yoghurt dipping sauce) and tart coriander chutney. As soon as I bit into the succulent chicken, an explosion of spices that reminded me of mystical, far away lands greeted my tastebuds. The chutney and the raita perfectly complimented the taste of the chicken, and you can bet that these babies were gone in a hot minute.
"In my opinion, when someone says 'Oliva,' this will be the dish that reminds me of it," said D, once he took a bite of the Linguine with Salmon and Spinach in Garlic Cream Sauce (P165). In fact, he pretty much ate the whole thing! I personally loved it as well - it kind of reminded me of CPK's Garlic Cream Fettucine, one of my most favorite pasta dishes of all time (why yes, I am indeed a big fan of cream-based pasta sauces, thank you very much). In my opinion, you can't go wrong with boatloads of garlic in any savory dish. You really can't.
The Oliva Burger (P195) is good, if you're a fan of burgers. Chef Kannan makes his own patties with fresh imported beef, and it's obvious once you sink your teeth into it. It's juicy, fat and tasty - pretty much everything you'd want in a burger. I must confess that I didn't do this dish justice, because the Asian dishes as well as the pasta captivated me more.
Speaking of Asian dishes, Oliva's Hainanese Chicken Rice (P190) is great as well! Major plus points for the chicken served to you without the bones - arguably one of the more annoying things about eating Hainanese Chicken Rice, don't you think? The chicken is tender, the rice is excellent - not too sticky and perfectly flavored to suit the chicken. And of course, the abundant servings of thick soy sauce, ginger sauce and chili sauce.
What better way to end the meal than with a truly epic dessert? One of my favorite items at Nadine's party was the overflowing panna cotta, which Chef Kannan was happy to serve me. I love that it's not overly sweet, and the honey and orange rind gives it a citrusy sweet edge to cap off that amazing and heavy meal. D and I were pleased to know that there's more to Visayas Avenue than just Filipino chain restaurants. If you're ever in the area, have a meal at Oliva and tell them I sent you.
Thank you Chef Kannan and Denden for giving us such a great dining experience! We'll definitely be back again.
Oliva Bistro Cafe is located at 77 Visayas Avenue, Quezon City.