A Hidden Gem: 13 Ubay

A Hidden Gem: 13 Ubay


13 Ubay St. Comfort Dining is a 1 year old comfort food restaurant by Chef Zaza Sarmiento in Ubay St. in Quezon City that serves international food (mainly European, Italian and a few Asian dishes).  It has been featured in ABS-CBN’s TV series “Pangako Sa’Yo” in 2015 and has been popular due to their homemade Ube Halaya (purple yam) desserts such as “Ube Halaya Cheesecake” and “Ube Piyaya Ala Mode”. Eat’s a Small World was invited by Chef Zaza and her team to check out their new menu and we were glad that we went there.

13 Ubay St. Comfort Dining
Address: 13 Ubay Street, Santa Mesa Heights, Banawe, Quezon City, Philippines
Contact number: +63 2 5796484
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/13ubay/
Restaurant Hours: 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM

The place was formerly a house cum printing press. It was turned into a restaurant last November 2015. It has a modern facade and parking for almost 10 cars. Since it is located off Banawe, cars are able to park along Ubay Street.

It’s easy to locate the place. It’s just hiding along Ubay St. (a block away from the corner of Banawe and Amoranto Streets) in QC. There’s a sign on the electric post saying “This way to 13 Ubay St. Restaurant.” It is so easy to find.

Upon entering the door of the restaurant, one is greeted by a wall painted in luscious burgundy (makes you think of ordering wine for later).

A stunning mural by  impressionist/modernist  painter Naguiat and a collection of masks greet visitors. As we were climbing the stairs, I was beginning to like the place.

When we reached the dining area on the second floor, there was no question that we already fell in love with the restaurant’s interior design. We loved the lanko finish of the floor – so “hip”. Paintings, photographs, framed weaves and fabrics in various styles were all over the place.

We loved the Mediterranean inspired chairs which were either painted or left au naturel.

They serve alcoholic drinks and cocktails. We tried their “Gimansi” (made of gin, calamansi, campari, honey and dry vermouth). It was refreshing and awakening at the same time. Make sure to talk to your bartender to customize the intensity of liquor.

We were welcomed by their owner/chef Zaza Sarmiento and her mom. They told the story of 13 Ubay and how they were able to conceptualize the restaurant. They usually serve comfort food that came from ancestral recipes and they really wanted us to get a taste of what they actually cook at home when there are special gatherings, occasions or through simple family dinners.

Our menu for the day looked promising. Good thing we prepared our tummies by eating “like paupers” for lunch  because we wanted to eat “like kings” for early dinner.

As a part of the launch of their new menu, they decided to serve Filipino food to their guests. Previously, they only served mainly European and Asian cuisine. We think that this was a good move because we all know how comforting and exciting it is to eat Pinoy food like Kare Kare and  Pork Binagoongan.

Bacon Pizza – PHP 250.00

I personally call this “breakfast pizza” because the tomato-based thin crust pizza is topped with grilled bacon, egg and cheese. It’s super comforting and fabulous! Truly, a great appetizer or an afternoon snack. It was also good to know that they make their own bacon — cured and smoked for so many days to achieve the perfect homemade taste.

Cheese and Raspberry Salad – PHP 230.00

Delicious and healthy: It’s really interesting how they put the best of both worlds into one bowl. The vegetables are 100% fresh, hence, were crisp. I liked the idea that they put fresh red onions to add a spicy kick to the salad. The raspberry vinaigrette was sweet and appetizing. To conclude each bite with pleasure, they added a generous amount of fried herb cheese balls. We are definitely coming back because of this salad.

House Iced Tea – PHP 80.00

As an iced tea enthusiast, we definitely liked this blend. It’s not too sweet and has the right intensity of brewed tea. Very refreshing!

Grilled Chicken Harrisa  – PHP 370.00

This serving can be shared to around 3-4 people. The chicken meat was soft and deliciously made with hot chili pepper paste, served with pickled veggies.

Twice Cooked Ribs  PHP 320.00

The grilled pork ribs was caramelized with Tamarind catsup, producing the intense dark colour. The meat was tender and juicy, served with apple kimchi. The only concern was that the saltiness of the meat did not complement the side dish (versus what I am actually expecting) because the kimchi tasted salty as well. However, when it was eaten with steamed rice, it was perfect!

Their “Chicken and Bacon Cheese” was reminiscent of chicken cordon bleu (European dish). It tasted the way I expected it but they added a generous amount of tomato and cheese sauce which made it more unique.

At last! A Filipino dish! Their “Pork Binagoongan was made with slow roasted pork belly served with a unique bagoong (shrimp paste) that is mildly sweet and not too salty. The tomatoes and eggplants were all fresh and not too soggy. The pork was extremely tender and juicy. The combination of pork and bagoong is really remarkable to the palate most especially because of the sweet and salty flavor of the bagoong. I think this dish will bring in hordes of customers.

One more Filipino dish — their “Kare Kare” was made with the traditional Filipino recipe made of ox tail and tripe. The vegetables were fresh and I noticed that banana blossoms (puso ng saging) were cooked right. It’s a perfect match with their homemade bagoong (shrimp paste).

3 Hour Belly  PHP 280.00

The dish was made of 3 large chunks of pork belly slowly roasted for three hours. The skin was so crispy while the meat was extremely tender – and that is how it should be, after all, it was cooked for three long hours so you can imagine how tender the meat was.

It is really noticeable that the meat (from first bite) was so tender and juicy. It was served with mango vinegar as a sauce (which we noticed to be too sour). Hmmm…maybe a “toyomansi” (soy sauce with Philippine lime and a bit of chili) can be added as an option to diners. Perhaps diners can request the toyomansi from their service attendants.

Seafood Sambal  PHP 250.00

You can choose the level of spiciness for this dish. Just tell the server if you want it “mild,” “hot” or “extra hot.” Of Indonesian origin, this sauteed seafood dish was served with oriental chili paste and it was so appetizing. I love the skinless fresh shrimps and its spicy flavour.

Salmon and Capers Pasta PHP 300.00

The Penne pasta was made with tomato-based sauce with homemade smoked salmon and fried capers. We really liked salmon that is why we loved this pasta dish — not to mention the good texture of the pasta which was al dente. Now that’s what we call comfort food at its finest!

Shrimp and Chorizo Pasta PHP 210.00

As mentioned earlier, we “controlled” our lunch to give space for the culinary excursion that was about to happen later in the day so we were really hungry when the event began. So, we ordered another comfort food for dinner and that could only be this pasta specialty of the restaurant. It is NOT your usual spaghetti because they make their own chorizo. Ergo, this came as a pleasant surprise to us: the tomato sauce was not sour nor was it sweet (Pinoy style). It was rich with shrimp flavor and the not-too-salty taste of their chorizo. This was very unique and delicious. We liked it.

Ube Piyaya  PHP 170.00

One of the restaurant’s claim to fame is their ube halaya (ground and sweetened purple yam). When we were informed that they make their own “ube halaya” and that it was one of their specialty, our expectations really ran high. True enough, when they served us this  “Ube Piyaya a la mode” (which was larger than a salad plate), we were truly in agreement that their ube halaya was one of the best we have ever tasted.

Ube Halaya Cheesecake

However, I wanted to have more of this specialty of theirs just so I will be totally convinced that it is comparable, if not better, than what the nuns from you know where in Baguio have become famous for. So, we ordered this Ube Halaya Cheesecake. The texture of their cheesecake is just as dense as the New York Cheesecake we all know and the crust of this sweetie is the ideal “partner” for their halaya. So what is our comment about their ube halaya? It was AMAZING! It was so good! It’s like being in “ube halaya” heaven – to borrow that funny term. But yes, this is a MUST try. To my dear sisters in that convent up in Baguio, we think you have competition now (that is…friendly competition but of course).

This particular painting of Pinoy kids sitting in front of a graffiti-covered wall caught our attention. Smiles from innocent children – how good can that get?

The restaurant’s show kitchen not only affords diners to see how their food is prepared and how clean the kitchen is but it also gives them the opportunity to see the different stress levels experienced by the kitchen staff. To have a very orderly show kitchen is always a challenge. 13 Ubay is keeping up with the challenge. Congratulations Chef Zaza!

Kevin was so thankful to have an opportunity to have a photo with 13 Ubay’s charming and very gracious owner Chef Zaza Sarmiento.

To smokers, whose world is getting smaller by the day, 13 Ubay has allocated this open-air area for you.

It is well-ventilated and quite spacious.

At night, the same area becomes a lovely place most especially when those lights are turned on.

Whenever we review, we try as much as possible to include the restrooms as well because this IS very important to us. Most restaurants have poorly maintained restrooms and that is so, very sad because we spend very personal and quite a bit of precious times inside these rooms that it is a must that they must be at least, presentable and clean. This restaurant though has a pretty and clean toilet. We just hope that those cute little dolls stay there and no one steals them.

It was a pleasant experience to visit 13 Ubay St. Comfort Dining. We liked their new menu and the addition of comfortable and traditional Filipino foods especially the “Pork Binagoongan”. We are definitely in love with their “Cheese and Raspberry Salad” and their super popular “Ube Halaya Cheesecake.” As for my recommendations, come and visit them:

    1. If you love comfort food which are mostly made from scratch (they make their own ingredients such as bacon, sauces, syrups, vinaigrette, curry, smoked salmon and ube halaya.
    2. If you love eating dinner with friends and families in an intimate space, filled with wonderful art decorations and modern-Mediterranean fusion interior design (with good choices of ambiance music).
    3. For romantic and intimate dinners with your special someone. The food and the ambiance will definitely set the right mood

PS – they have a lot of parking spaces for their customers (for around 10 cars).

Thanks to our friend Glenn Dumlao who recommended for us to put helpful maps to our posts. This way, it will be easier for our readers to come and visit the restaurant that we are talking about.

13 Ubay St. Comfort Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato