Balkan Yugoslavian Home Cooking: Simply Genius

Staunch fans of meaty dishes and Mediterranean flavors are bound to love Balkan Yugoslavian Home Cooking at the Crossroads Building in Bonifacio Global City. Originally an express place in San Juan, Balkan has expanded into two new locations over the past two years -- the newest one squeezing into the bustling food scene at The Fort.

Balkan serves Serbian food, a type of cuisine with Mediterranean and Greek influences, and characterized by lots and lots of meat. If you’re into kebabs, grilled food, spicy dishes, and feta cheese, I have no doubts that you will instantly fall in love with Balkan—like I did!

Situated on the second floor of Crossroads, Balkan looks quite intimidating at first, with white walls and floors enhanced by fancy embellishments. The restaurant is sleek and spacious enough to do Samba rolls in, complete with nice table settings, but believe me, it’s perfectly casual. Don’t let the interiors fool you—all Balkan wants is for you to have an awesome, no-frills meal.

A quick look into their menu gave me that eternal I-wanna-eat-everything problem, so I relied on the server for advice. Since the dishes are crazily spelled and hard to pronounce, he simplified things by pointing us the dish numbers. That didn’t stop me from challenging him to read the names aloud, though. Hahaha!

They could really use some new staplers.
A good salad is always a great way to start a meal, as was demonstrated by Balkan’s Sopska Salata (PhP220). It’s a simple salad made of olives, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce and feta cheese—loads of it. We added extra cabbage and tomato salads for good measure. The Sopska Salata wasn’t as fantastic as Cyma’s Roka Salata (the best in the whole wide world, hahaha), but good enough.

I’m not a huge fan of breaded stuff that is not tonkatsu, and Balkan’s Karadjordjeva (PhP380) further attests my bias towards Japanese cooking. The breaded rolled chicken was delicious, the feta cheese stuffing tear-enducing, but after four or five bites you just get sick of it. I wish there was a more substantial side dish that would cut through the creaminess of mayo and cheese and the blandness of breast and breading.

The Stuffed Pork Loin Wrapped in Bacon (PhP380) was a better choice—but this may be a bit partial since I think bacon is heaven personified (porkified?). I could barely taste the pork loin because I was so engrossed with the yummy smoky bacon. This dish proves once again that if all else fails, bacon is the f*cking solution!

I loved the Stuffed Chicken with Tomato Sauce (PhP380): chicken breasts stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon (again!), then lavishly laden with a rich tomato sauce, so generous that it almost resembled a lasagna. The sauce is peppery and not too spicy—I found myself loading my plate with heaps of this.

If you like spicy grilled meats, you should try the Stuffed Pljeskavica (PhP330). A slab of ground beef, formed into a patty, peppered with spices, then filled with mozzarella, it’s no wonder this dish is a best-seller. Balkan calls it the Serbian burger, but to me it was more like a steak. The meat is spicy, perfect with milk cream sauce and tons of rice.

Whoever cooked this Pljeskavica can definitely enslave me for the rest of his life! This was my favorite among all the dishes I’ve tried at Balkan.

All entrees come with a choice between rice and fries, and if you regularly follow this blog, it would be obvious to you what I chose. However, I must point out that Balkan’s fries are freakin’ delicious. As if two cups of rice aren’t enough for each of us, yes, we did order extra fries (PhP70). And they were awesome. It’s hard to describe how sliced potatoes can be ridiculously perfect—you just know it when you taste it.

But while Balkan’s mains were simply brilliant, the desserts paled by comparison. The Serbian crepe—called the Palacinke—tasted like tikoy, as my friend pointed out (and to which I wholly agreed). Not that tikoy is disgusting, but if it’s priced at PhP150, then it’s definitely not worth it.

We tried two variants: the first one was filled with a tart apricot jam and the other one was drizzled with chocolate syrup, which tasted like Hershey’s (Choki Choki?). Between the two, I preferred the apricot.

Despite the lack of dessert selections, Balkan still scores high when it comes to simple comfort food executed amazingly. The simplicity of the dishes was genius, and everything felt like it was meant to truly satisfy, not just to impress. I could picture myself automatically charging towards Balkan whenever a sudden craving for perfectly cooked meats hits, paired with a cold bottle of beer. Yes, I’m definitely going back for more unpronounceable food.

Balkan Yugoslavian Home Cooking
2/F Crossroads Bldg., 32nd Ave., Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Operating Hours: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM (Mon-Thu, Sun); 11:00 AM – 3:00 AM (Fri-Sat)
Facebook: Balkan Resto
Budget: around PhP400/head; +PhP70 for a bottle of beer

Have you tried Balkan? What did you think about it?

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