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threeshovelMy illogical bias against Italian food (Italian-American to be more precise) has a counterpoint, and that’s Filipino food. Yes, I have a fetish for the poor culinary underdog. I never thought I’d live to see upscale dinaguan, and yet it was happening right in front of me–in Texas, no less.

qui dinuguan

Said pork blood stew, hadn’t lost its deep brown sheen in translation (there’s a reason why trickster adults tell kids dinaguan is chocolate). Yet despite the rich funk, the dish of sauced pork cubes, gnocchi and black trumpet mushrooms wasn’t heavy in the least. Some of this had to do with the small plates being small.

This might not be a selling point for most–especially if you’re a local and not a gluttonous queso-swilling, barbecue-snarfing monster of a tourist–but the portions were perfect after a day of cramming in more meals than ration would dictate.

qui madai

Keeping with the light theme, I tried two raw fish preparations, one more successful than the other. I’ll admit I was drawn to the madai (sea bream) mostly because it featured chapulines, but the fish coupled with daikon was so mild that the legless grasshoppers and hojiblanca olive oil added very little. The rolls tasted as white as they looked.

qui kinilaw

The take on kinilaw with amberjack and a hit of spice, was equally pristine yet had more presence.

qui rabbit

Rabbit was the most New American or maybe I’m reacting to the soft-yolked egg. That’s mizuna, not kale, though, with a carrot sauce and bottarga created from uni. Apparently, Qui has also used uni bottarga along with a corn nut dust on corn on the cob, which sounds awesome. I didn’t really notice it in this dish, though.

qui cheddar cheese ice cream

I don’t want halo-halo unless it contains something ube-flavored and Grimace purple, so it had to be the cheddar cheese ice cream sandwich, which may or may not be a nod to Texas’ cheese dip bounty  (cheddar ice cream, common in the Philippines, is called queso/quezo). The aged cheese was tempered by the addition of goat’s milk cajeta and peanut praline, ending the meal on the same surprising and delicate note that emerged as Qui’s modus operandi.

Qui * 1600 E. Sixth St., Austin, TX

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