October 26, 2004 (STAR) By Joseph O. Cortes - Who doesn’t like bangus? I do, except that I always find myself always choking on a fish bone. If God designed a really mean bone, He must have put it in the milkfish. How can something so soft and savory carry within it a bone small and slender enough to slice your throat raw?

That’s why Bangus Greenhills is heaven-sent to bangus fanciers like me, however, lack the throat (but not the stomach) to survive one small fishbone. It takes the guesswork out of fishing for all those fish bones from a slice of bangus. And why not? Bangus is bangus heaven with its menu of boneless and bangus belly dishes.

When I visited Bangus a few weeks ago, I tried the restaurant’s five new bangus dishes. Read on and drool: Grilled milkfish belly with sampaloc candy sauce and crispy kangkong, garlic mushroom stuffed with bangus sisig, tofu steak with bangus sisig, bangus salad and bangus salpicao with fried kamote.

My favorite was the bangus salpicao. If you know what beef salpicao tastes like, this is twice as much fun. The bangus belly slices were so fat its flavor is all you will remember after a bite or two.

The grilled milkfish belly was just as delicious. The sampaloc candy sauce added a tangy flavor to the bangus slices, making it a perfect starter. If you choose to have bangus belly sinigang afterwards, your palate would be primed for the eating that would surely follow.

And for those looking for a different pica-pica, the garlic mushrooms and tofu steak, both with bangus sisig, are spicy choices. With a bottle of beer or two, you’re done for the night.

All the old-timers who love bangus must surely know the old Bangus restaurant from more than 20 years ago. Sisters and restaurateurs Diana de Mesa Santamaria and Erlinda de Mesa Yap touched a raw food nerve inside the throats of many gourmands when they opened their restaurant in 1982. Why shouldn’t they rejoice when the restaurant served nothing but belly and bangus belly cooked in so many different ways?

The Greenhills branch is a re-thought version of this old culinary institution. While all your favorite bangus dishes are still around, plus the five new dishes I tried, the restaurant is now more flexible, offering non-bangus items in the menu. How’s that for a well-balanced meal? There’s crispy pata, both with and without bone, sirloin tapa, rellenong manok, inihaw na baboy, chicken pork adobo, binagoongang baboy and dinuguang manok. And that’s not all. It also has a number of non-bangus sizzling items, vegetable dishes and a variety of soups, including bulalo, sinigang na hipon and baboy and baka sa bayabas.

That’s not all. The new Bangus has chic interiors designed by Santamaria’s daughters Nina Rachelle Santamaria and Anna Francesca Ong-Ante. The vivid mural on one wall represents the country’s bounties. And if you look up, there are screens that shield the light over you. And yes, they are in the shape of the bangus. But then, you are inside Bangus Restaurant, right?

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Bangus Restaurant is located at the ground floor of Connecticut Carpark Bldg. I, Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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