Saturday, September 13, 2008

Part II: Birthday Surprise!

This week I attended a surprise birthday dinner for a very special friend, Nadia. Cecille told Nadia she wanted to take her out for her birthday but she didn't know Cecille invited all of us. Nadia tried to email us to see if we could all go. Cecille told us ahead of time to tell her that we were unable to attend so I told Nadia I had to work. I kept telling her I was sorry and that I would make it up to her. I also tried to make other plans with her so she wouldn't get suspicious.

We plan to meet at Engeline's, a Filipino restaurant, by 7:45pm. And Cecille was suppose to bring Nadia there by 8:00pm. Some of us were running late so we were all texting each other, telling Cecille to stall her from going to the restaurant. Cecille and Jeri did a great job! When all of us arrived, we sat down at a big table and waited for them with the huge menu covering our heads. I bet the waiters and waitress were looking at us strangely. Then we heard them came in asking for a table. We sat there quietly, trying not to laugh and suddenly we heard Nadia said omg and came over to hug us. I guess when Cecille told her to sit at a table next to a bunch of people covering themselves with menus, that gave it away....Nadia's face = priceless!

After all the hugging and surprise we were all hungrily looking at the menu trying to decide what to order. I love Filipino food, I usually go to the Filipino restaurants near 69 Streets! I've never been to this restaurant before but I wanted to try everything! I order a few of my favorites, starting with my favorite Filipino desert (yes, I drink/eat it before my meal):

Avocado Con Hielo (avocado with milk and crushed ice) When I first had this drink, a few years ago, I was like gross avocado as a drink, wtf? But it turns out to be so delicious! The drink is so creamy but not very thick and the milk makes the avocado taste so sweet. The milk really brings out the avocado taste! This has become one of my favorite deserts:


1) Lumpiang Shanghai: ground pork, shrimp, and vegetables wrapped in egg roll, deep fried, served with sweet and sour sauce. When you bite into these babies, the outside crust is crispy and hot and the inside is creamy! This is another one of my favorite and must have at any Filipino restaurant! We ordered 3 orders and finished it in no time!

2) Fried Calamari, the squid was dipped in batter, deep-fried and served with sweet and sour sauce. It was crispy and the sweet and sour sauce was a little spicy.

I ordered the Kare-Kare, a oxtail stew and tripe in peanut butter sauce with mixed tropical vegetables. I love this dish, thanks to my sister who introduced me to it! You probably thinking peanut butter in a stew? wtf? But the very nutty peanut taste and the stew being very creamy makes it awesome. The oxtail meat was very soft and tender, the meat slides off the bone. The portion from this place is huge! In the past, ordering from other Filipino restaurant, they usually give a smaller portion. I was happy because I ate alot and had some left to go!
Other people ordered the:
  • Pork Barbecue (2 sticks): marinated pork slices in bamboo skewers
  • Kalderetang Baka: stewed beef in tomato sauce with pepper and spices
  • Nilagang baka: beef short rib with tamarind and vegetables in broth
  • Beef Steak (Filipino Style) marinated beed with onion and vegetables
All of these were okay, the bbq on a stick wasn't as good as Ihawan (another Filipino restaurant I often go to) and it was more expensive. The meat in the kalderetang baka was very chewy but the sauce was very flavorful. The soup was kind of salty, very different from the Chinese soups which we put very little salt to preserve the natural taste of all the ingredients. The beef steak was pretty good, I think it was my 2nd best out of the entrees (my kare-kare was my #1).

After our meal, we sat around chatting and giggling. Me and Cecille was trying figure out how to surprise Nadia with her birthday cupcakes that we brought from Sugar Sweet Sunshine. We realized that we had a few problems:
  • We didn't have a lighter to light the candle...
  • How are we going to actually get the box of cupcakes from under the table and stick a candle on a cupcake without her knowing?
Me, Andy and Cecille slowly work our way to get all of these problem solved, team work baby! First, we try to signal Jen to ask the waiter for a lighter but she didn't get the cue. Cecille pretend to go ask the waiter for something and they gave her a big ass lighter used to light stoves but she hide it well behide her so Nadia (I hope) didn't notice it. Then I instructed Andy to slowly open the huge box of cupcakes from under the table. Apparently the boxed had alot of tape and was hard to open but he slowly teared it off! I slowly try to open the box of candles from under the table. I stick one candle on a cupcake that was the nearest and reachable which was one of the side cupcakes. Cecille saw it and start laughing, she whispered in my ear and told me I should've put the candle on the middle cupcake. We both started to laugh, at this point I wasn't sure if Nadia notice anything because she was siting right across from us and I thought we were being very obvious. Andy still holding the box of cupcake from under the table, I quickly removed the candle and put it in the middle cupcake and hoped that it was the middle one. After hassling with the candle, there was another problem. How the hell were we suppose to light the candle from under the table? We tried but we didn't want to burn the table so we just ended up whipping the box of cupcake out and start singing Happy Birthday to her!

We brought a variety of cupcake flavors: Sexy Red Velvet, Pistachio, Ooey Gooey Chocolate and Sunshine (yellow cake with vanilla buttercream). The cupcakes were so moist and yummi! I could eat a few at a sitting!

Good food, great friends, awesome night..... Happy Birthday Nadia!

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Engeline's, Restaurant & Bakeshop (Philippine Cuisine)
58-28 Roosevelt Ave.
Woodside, NY 11377
MTA: 7 Train to 61 Street Woodside

Sugar Sweet Sunshine:
126 Rivington Street
(between Essex and Norfolk Street)
MTA: J, M, F to Essex Street


Andy said...

Wow, just looking at those foods leave my mouth watering.

Cecille said...

OMG Mel, I was dying here with laughing while reading this. It was so much fun and you all came out... Thanks for helping me organize Nadi's day =)

Teresa said...

i'd love to try the Kare-Kare!! look soo delicious..OMG!!

Artisticpixie said...

Aww I love you guys!!! Thanks for the surprise! =)