LATIN American food can be best described as unique yet familiar. What gives it its distinct flavor are the spices used before and during cooking, and the condiments that are served alongside the cooked dish. Bringing some of the regional specialties from that part of the globe to Cebu is Brasas.
Brasas in English means “red hot charcoal,” which hints of what one can expect to find here—mostly char-grilled meat. Located at the Meerea High Street along Ouano Ave., North Reclamation Area, Mandaue City, Cebu, this 28-seater branch is the first outside Manila, offering Latin American street fare since February of this year.
Developed by its chef who’s a Colombian native, here are 10 of Brasas’ dishes that both the curious and epicures will love:
Picadillo soup. Hearty and savory, this tomato-based soup is loaded with chunks of braised beef brisket, carrots, and green peas, topped with fried tortilla strips and pico de gallo (salsa fresco).
Ensalada de la casa. Seasonal greens are tossed with julienned jicama, tomatoes, and tortilla strips in a lime-cilantro dressing that’s zesty and delicious.
Picada sampler. This consists of Brasas’ bestselling appetizers: patacones or fried plantain chips topped with pulled pork, cheese, and pico de gallo; empanadas stuffed with pork, served with aji, a dipping sauce made of tomatoes, cilantro, hot peppers, and onions; and coxinhas or Brazilian pork croquettes. The sampler comes with a chipotle cheese sauce, too.
Wraps. One’s choice of meat—carne asada, pollo asado, spicy carnitas or chivito (a combination of the three)—is layered with sautéed onions, pimiento, slaw, fried tortilla strips, and pica de gallo, all wrapped in a soft flour tortilla, and served with nachos. One better prepare for a texture and flavor collision in his mouth.
Burrito. Almost exactly the same as Brasas’ wraps, but this one has refried beans and Spanish rice which make for a seriously satisfying meal.
Pulled pork sandwich. This bad boy is brimming with a juicy filling of smoked pulled pork, sautéed onions, ooey-gooey cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.
Chivito al plato. This hefty platter of beef tenderloin steak, spicy carnitas, and pollo asado comes with tajadas or fried plantains sliced long, an egg, Spanish rice and South American slaw. The grilled goodness of the meats is elevated even more with the chimichurri sauce which explodes with fresh herby flavor and a bit of heat.
Puerco asado. A cut as simple as pork belly is made special as it is slow-roasted till fork-tender, capped with a delectable layer of fat and skin that’s crisped to a crackle. This one’s served with rice and beans, tajadas, slaw, and the incredibly flavorful chimichurri sauce.
Pastel de choclo. This dish which has the same ingredients as the picadillo soup, is blanketed with a corn (choclo) mash crust—which makes it similar to a shepherd’s pie. Everything about this is glorious, from the breaking of the perfectly browned crust revealing the meaty filling, to the flavors that envelop one’s mouth.
Lomo saltado. A Peruvian stir-fry dish, this combines marinated strips of beef tenderloin with tomatoes, onions and fries, served with rice.
In between bites, one can admire Brasas’ exposed brick wall on one side bearing South America’s map, and the graffiti mural on the other echoing his sentiments with words like “agradable” and “delicioso.” That or taking a swig of one of its beverages: house blend iced tea, mango-lime agua fresco, or craft beer from The Cebruery and Brasas’ very own Desert Fathers.
Brasas is open from Monday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and from Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 12, 2017.
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