I used to help out my uncle in his Goto business when I stayed for awhile in Pasig at my "Mama" who is my grandmother's youngest sister so I sort of have an idea how its run and managed. It was a time when I stopped my college days because of financial problems due to the separation of my parents. I could even still remember how I ask customers what they like to put in their "lugaw," "goto," or "arroz caldo."
Until now, I couldn't still remember the differences of the three varieties of the same porridge-based delicacy that is best eaten either on it's own or with "tokwa't baboy" or what we know as tofu and fried pork together with a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and some sugar together with chopped onions. Though the porridge can be eaten with very little added ingredients, we have a choice whether to put hard-boiled eggs or the "tuwalya" or a particular kind of pork meat part called trife into our porridge. Some would put chicken or pork meat or even the chicken feet which is a favorite of many Filipinos.
I like mine with chicken, hard boiled eggs and the "tokwa't baboy" as a regular side dish. Sometimes I would eat it along with "lumpia" or spring rolls, while others can choose puto or rice cakes but I guess that's a better match for the "dinuguan" or pork blood stew.
I know that this kind of business is very profitable which is why they have popularized the term "tubong lugaw" because you can do things to the "goto" to maximize your earnings.However, it sacrifices the quality by masquerading the "goto" with spices or condiments like soy sauce and pepper. But the owners of Goto Monster says she makes sure the food they serve are top quality and not the usual type of servings that are only meant to increase profit earnings.
True enough, this not so fancy looking hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant is not what it seems. Behind that simple neighborhood aura is areal giant, rather monster, that is just waiting to be come out and expose itself to the foodie public. Frankly, many have already discovered Goto Monster, and they keep coming back for more.
Mind you, their customers are from all walks of life. They don't come for the ambiance, they come for the great food available at Goto Monster. You can see from their official Facebook page that even foreigners have frequented the place. They've even been featured in TV networks and magazines, which is proof that they are really making a scene in the food industry.
They may not be a cozy air-conditioned restaurant with classy tables and decors, but the Al Fresco setup with print out of different characters posted on their walls is quite an interesting topic for conversation. There's artwork because the owner is a Graphic Artist who conceptualized the different characters in her print out. The caricature-like face in their logo is said to be her with her mouth wide open as if symbolizing a monster appetite.
The Goto Monster logo is actually pertaining to the owner herself, Jean Hill, whose creativity is seen from her works on her prints and her dishes too.
Lots of different characters adorn the otherwise plain and ordinary glass wall. They sort of partially cover distracting hollow blocked wall of the neighbor. Since its printed in paper only so not really meant to be lost-lasting decors of the resto.
The bowls on display are the sizes of their goto. So the smallest is the white bowls, and obviously the big red bowls are for the giant "goto" challenge.
Do you dare to have one shot of lambanog?
Spices to bring out more of the taste from your goto.
If your stomach is not too sensitive against non-distilled or non-purified water, the Pandan Water is ice cold tap water filled with Pandan leaves for that added flavor.
What are my comments about her "goto?" She brings out the basic "goto" stand to an elevated level that's a lot higher than the usual. Not only are her "gotos" very filling with all those toppings like the salted egg and choice of Shitake mushrooms, trife, crispy chicken skin, and bagnet, it is also healthy because of the turmeric ginger that causes the color of her "goto."
The last time I've seen the same use was with salted eggs at the Gawad Kalinga farm where they call them Golden Eggs instead because of the color as compared t the traditional salted eggs that are red in color. They use turmeric because of the same reason that it is healthier indeed. They also have "patis" (fish sauce), "suka" (vinegar) and chili oil as additional stuff you can put on your goto or "sawsawan" or sauce for their other dishes.
I cold never do without their servings of fried tofu with choices of any four toppings since I love tofu so much. We cook tofu in several ways too back at home and we never get tired of eating it. For Goto Monster, it is not only "tokwa't baboy" that you can order.
The owner also served us with a few kinds of fresh veggie-based spring rolls with choices of "talong" or eggplant, "bagnet," mongo bean sprouts, and shitake mushrooms. Their vegetables are really fresh as felt from their crunchiness and texture. The three kinds of sauces - peanut sauce, coriander and chili oil - that you can pour on them increases their tastiness. I am not a real lover of vegetables but I managed to eat an entire plate of it. I need to know her secret recipe so I can keep on eating veggies.
Some of their drinks include the Dalandan Slush, the Pineapple Kalamansi Slush, and the Iced Salabat which I personally tried because I had a cold that day and was hoping the drink can help cure my sickness faster. Remember that "salabat" is made from ginger that is known as an effective drink for sore throats, and is said to make you a better singer too. Lol!
Well, since there were only a few of us who showed up that day, out of the 10 that I invited, only half came and some were even late, so the owner decided to skip the other meals and proceed to the dessert portion. Surprisingly, they have so many other meals choices and even the popular "silog"meals are in their menu.
They served us with three different kinds of waffle desserts of which my favorite was the Champorado waffles topped with vanilla ice cream pinipig, crispy dilis and chocolate. It is totally different and unique and I believe there isn't one like it yet at other restaurants. They also have the Banana Chocnut Waffles ala Mode, and the Bibingka Special waffles. Do they have these kind of desserts at the high-end pancake or waffle restaurants? I don't think so. I guess it's the owner's creativity that is working full time here concocting special treats for her customers.
Lastly were three types of ice cream popsicles - leche plan, bibingka and a chocolate-based iced pop. They were all yummy but I specifically liked the Leche Plan better than the other two because it was so sweet and creamy.
What really attracted me to their resto is the Man Versus Food 45 minute challenge on their Giant Goto. That's a big bowl of Goto with all the best toppings they have for only P750 and you get to win a Goto Monster t-shirt, a serving of 1 Goto per month for one year, plus the bragging right as part of the Goto Monster Hall of Fame. So far only one has won the challenge so any takers out there? My friends and I are still waiting for the best opportunity to take the challenge but we are just too busy right now. We couldn't do it on the same day we tried out the different dishes as we are obviously already full from all those dishes served.
But here's hoping we get the chance to return as we are eager to see if we can win the challenge. But I guess I should invite my friends who has a large enough belly to fit all that "goto" in one seating. 45 minutes seems a long time but many have tried and so far only one has succeeded in conquering the giant "goto."
Thank you Goto Monster for an absolutely unique dining experience. Since it's very near the Radyo 'Inquirer office where I anchor as a radio host every Saturday, I may try to drop by when I'm in the mood for some extra special "goto."