Our Awesome Planet

Our Awesome Planet

August 19, 2010

Marko Batricevic's Balkan Express!

August 19, 2010

Marko Batricevic's Balkan Express!

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The "Beef Fingers Burger" of Balkan Express

Serbian cuisine is relatively unknown in Manila. Thanks to Balkan Express, foodies can now discover what it is, particularly the meat-based dishes that both Filipinos and Serbians would love. :)

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Serbian owner Marko Batricevic is surprisingly young. He will actually just be graduating from one of the best universities in Manila -- De La Salle University. Some people might recognize him as part of the UAAP team that won the 2007 UAAP Basketball Championship for La Salle. (Animo La Salle! :) )

Living in Manila for 7 years, despite the fact that he has a girlfriend in Serbia, he decided to stay in Manila and created Balkan Express to offer their hometown cuisine to Filipinos. His brother Martin is the one who cooks the Serbian dishes.

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Balkan Express Menu

The interiors are quite simple. Marco plans to put up pictures of his home country so that people can learn a bit more about Serbia and its culture while they wait for their food. They don't pre-cook the food, so you have to wait for a while for your orders.

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Goulash (P230). Internationally popular stew made of lean beef, onions and paprika, served with noodles... 150g of lean meat + noodles.

This beef soup is quite clean-tasting with a little bit of spice. The beef has no fat and is very soft.

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Balkanski Kebab (P330). Serbian barbecued chicken kebab (320g) wrapped in bacon, served with jasmine rice.

At first, we thought this would be quite unique because we hadn't heard of any other Manila-based resto offering a chicken skewer wrapped with bacon. However, the chicken turned out to be ordinary-tasting and just wrapped in normal bacon.

What I did like about the servings in Balkan Express was that they're always served with raw vegetables. Their food reminded us of some Greek dishes.

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Chicken "Batak" (P290). Grilled boneless chicken thigh stuffed with mozzarella cheese, served with jasmine rice.

This one also tasted like the usual grilled chicken, just with cheese on top. If it was served in any other restaurant, you wouldn't think that it was a Serbian dish. The meat did taste clean too, but it was bordering on bland.

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Stuffed Pljeskavica (P320). Grilled Serbian hamburger (150g) served with homemade sauce, tomato, lettuce, onion and french fries.

Order the beef versus the chicken, because their beef is quite unique. Although the beef has the taste and texture of preserved meat, they actually make the beef patties fresh from ground beef. It is tender all the way, with just a little bit of fat.

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We ordered the beef stuffed with oozing cheese inside.

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Cevapcici (P180). All-time favorite Balkan dish made of grilled minced meat (P150g) served on a burger bun with homemade sauce, tomato, lettuce, onions and french fries.

This uses the same type of beef but presented in burger form. The meat is formed into little "fingers", each one packed with soft, lean meat.

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Dihya Joshua didn't hesitate to grab it and took a big bite. He loved it!

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Overall, it's an interesting introduction to Serbian cuisine. After paying an average of P360/person, we felt that it was a bit on the expensive side, though. I guess you are paying for the exotic factor. Nevertheless, we would still recommend it to foodies who are looking for something different in the metro.

Balkan Express
87 Jose Abad Santos St., corner Mons St.
Little Baguio, City of San Juan
Telephone: +632 33-00-945
Open from 11:30am - 11:00pm

From Wilson St. in Greenhills, turn right at P. Guevara, and another right at Mons St. You'll see Balkan Express on your right, at the corner of J. Abad Santos.

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Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. We paid for our meals and we are not connected in any way with the owners (well, we are both products of the Best School in the country :) ).

P.S. There are two dishes that are uniquely Serbian that you have to order at least one day in advance:

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Musaka (P195) - Layered oven casserole dish made with shredded potato, ground beef (P250g), eggs, yogurt, milk and onions; made-to-order dish, one day before...

Butkice (P1,400 for 1 kilo) - Oven-baked pork knuckles served with baked potato and carrots; made-to-order dish, one day before, good for 3-5 persons. You can order half kilo at P700, good to share for 2-3 persons.

We will go back to try these 2 dishes. Instead of ordering the chicken dishes, order the ones mentioned above.

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