Facing the Goto Monster

After a long night of hard partying with your friends, there’s always that inevitable craving for something to chow down on, something to break the buzz with, an opportunity to put something solid in your belly. Makati does have its fair share of all-night post-gimik food stops,

but if you want something a little different from the Whistle Stops and Rufos and Family Marts, there’s a streetside restaurant you might seriously want to consider.

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Blink and you’ll miss it.

Goto Monster is located along Primo Rivera Street, a tiny affair off Kamagong. Drive by too fast and you’ll miss the turn easily. Drive too slow, you still might miss it. Smaller even than many of Manila’s carinderias, by day, it’s a one table joint which seats about ten, community-style. At night, after 10pm when the street’s security gate is closed, folding tables and chairs are set on the sidewalk and road. There is no air-conditioning, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from congregating in and around this humble temple to tripe and rice porridge.

As the name expresses, Goto Monster’s main fare is the Filipino version of congee. “I wanted to go back to our Pinoy roots,” says Jean Hill, the mastermind behind the place. “I want people to appreciate the look and the taste of food. Treat yourself where the food is worth your money.” Each bowl of goto that Jean serves is treated with respect, made fresh to order and presented with care. “I really think about the food that we serve. I see to it that people can interact with their food. Hindi lang siya sinusubo, but that people can appreciate the taste, the look, the textures.”

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A single long table for that communal feel.

Indeed, it’s difficult not to appreciate a bowl of goto when huge chunks of golden bagnet enhance it, adding a bit of crunch to the softness of the rice, a bit of a salty savory kick to the clean base. The bagnet goto is a definite favorite among the varieties, but Goto Monster has other staples waiting to be discovered. Other kinds of goto include the chicharon special and the shitake mushroom special. They also have various “silog,” like bagnetsilog (they do like their pork), which is served with a mustasa salad that’s to die for. Their take on tokwa’t baboy includes a vegetarian tokwa and talong chips.

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Tokwa’t Talong for vegetarians

And then there are Goto Monster’s wonderful desserts or panghimagas. Their homemade banana chocnut popsicle is as delectable as you can imagine, but we think their bibingka special waffle wins the prize for best thing to break your diet for. It has that traditional taste of bibingka with the salty duck egg and sweetened bukayo but looks like a waffle topped with salted caramel sauce. Deadly, delicious stuff.

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Banana Chocnut Ice Cream

“It’s a work in progress,” Hill says of her restaurant. Goto Monster is an exhibit of sorts, a project where she can apply her creative bent and personal tastes. From the delicious and surprising recipes she’s come up with to the look and feel of the place, to the community atmosphere she generates, even to the graphic designed décor and condiment labels, Hill has created a place that’s a monster hit.

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Goto Monsters of Philippine society.

On a side note, Goto Monster also has the Goto Monster Challenge, its own version of Man vs Food. Finish off their mammoth bowl of special goto, worth some 6 to 10 servings, within 45 minutes and you earn the title of challenge winner, some premium merchandise and supreme bragging rights. Losers pay the price of PhP750 and get to go home with their tails tucked between their legs.

Want to find out more? Check out Goto Monster’s Facebook page, here.

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