Part of me feels that the amount of food you are served in the two-entree combo in the UCF Hangry Dobo area is meant to keep the college students away from the nutritional void like pizza rolls and Access Hot Pockets. The other part of me feels like it’s just fucking good food and you’re going to want a lot of it.
You will feel the love as soon as you step into the restaurant, which is located in the Collegiate Way Plaza on the corner of University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail. A smiling face and a warm welcome await you behind the cafeteria-style steam table loaded with up to 10 rotating Filipino delicacies waiting to be served with rice or pancit – the ubiquitous rice noodles made with cabbage, carrots, and flavored with Soy sauce.
If you’re Kano – the shortened version of the Tagalog slang word Amerikano – you’re likely asked if you’ve eaten Filipino food before. I encourage you to say “no” even if, like me, you are familiar with the kitchen. You’ll enjoy hearing the broad overview of every dish, from the garlic and chicken adobo to the crispy, deep-fried pork belly known as Lechon Kawali. Are you a little nervous about trying the serrano chilli braised pork shoulder with pork blood called Dinuguan? Just ask for a sneak peek before you commit. Samples are gladly given.
The $ 13 combo is the best way to try two main courses plus rice or pancit of your choice. Visit with a bunch of friends and you’ll get an overview of each offer pretty quickly. Restaurants where I could theoretically try the entire menu in one visit are a passion of mine. The combined serving is more than generous (see previous note on potentially malnourished college students) and is served preventively in to-go containers. They know you want to carry the rest home for later.
When I visited the cozy shop – the whole place can accommodate no more than 30 guests – I opted for the chicken adobo (how could I not?) And the dinuguan with rice, while my meal companion was the chicken curry and chicken kare -Kare chose. a rich, creamy peanut-based stew that coats tender chicken legs and green beans.
Though the dishes are presented soberly behind glass, the way the staff spoon the selections into the styrofoam container is an element of ceremony and awe. They make sure that there is something tasty in each serving and that the ingredients are evenly distributed in each serving: a little soft garlic, a few deep green beans, an al dente slice of carrot, a charred chilli pepper.
Hangry Dobo’s chicken adobo, the national dish of the Philippines, deserves its high status in the kitchen. It’s lacquered with sweet and tangy brown sauce that’s dotted with chopped garlic. The slow simmer allows the chicken to disintegrate tenderly, easily dismantled with the plastic utensils that the restaurant gives its guests. The raw vinegar that perks up Hangry Dobos Dinuguan, or as it is colloquially known as “chocolate meat”, will make you want to eat fork after fork again. If it’s available when you visit, don’t miss out. You will not notice a hint of this minerality that boiled blood normally imparts. Chiliheads should ask for a little more Serranos in their Dinuguan, which give the stew a pleasantly herbal taste without adding too much spiciness.
The chicken curry was very popular at the table; the sweet coconut milk sauce, spiced up with fish sauce and lots of garlic, coated with juicy chicken legs, velvety potatoes, carrots and sweet pepper slices. We also devoured the chicken kare kare. What magical spells were used to keep the green beans so pleasantly green and crisp and tender and to enable the Japanese eggplant to keep its texture and shape even in a steam table, I certainly don’t know, but I was thrilled. I was there on a weekday so the special crab curry wasn’t on the menu but I’ll be back.
For dessert, we couldn’t miss the halo halo ($ 8). While the heat index rose to 105 outside, we stayed cool and refreshed by dipping our long-handled spoons into the shaved ice cream dessert and stirring up the treats from bottom to top: sweet beans and corn kernels, purple ube sweet potato and steamed pumpkin cubes with coconut milk. Heaven. We also enjoyed the dense, fudge-like, amethyst-colored Ube cake which asked us if we could ever go back to simple brownies.
College students at UCF, Valencia, and Florida Technical College should show their student ID to receive a 10 percent discount on a meal that’s perfect for making money all week. And while the dollars and cents of the food equation make sense, it’s the gracious spirit and care that goes into eating at Hangry Dobo that makes you feel like what you’re experiencing there is more than just lunch or dinner Dinner. Dining at Hangry Dobo feels like a long, warm, lovely hug.