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What softened the blow of a bye-bye dinner with family and friends was saying hello to an unexpectedly delightful little bistro that serves delicious, hearty food right in our neighborhood in the South.

Bamba Bistro by Chef Tina Legarda. She had worked at Billy King’s (now-defunct) French Corner under Chef Jessie Sincioco at the Westgate in Alabang and recently at Mario Batali’s Osteria Mozza at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. She had also opened Tina’s Table, located in her own family home also in BF Parañaque, which one can book for private dining affairs, good for a minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 20.

Why “Bamba”, I wondered? I read in one blog that “La Bamba” is Chef Tina’s comfort song. Her father used to sing it to her as a child whenever she felt sad or down. And it makes sense to call her charming little brasserie that serves comforting soul food “Bamba”. The place is cozy, tight, but extremely delightful, with a semi-al fresco area for diners who wish to smoke, a small air-conditioned non-smoking section that can seat 21 diners with a sort-of view of the energetic chef at work on her masterpieces, and a bakery in one corner. Chef Tina bakes her own breads and pastries, too.

Chef Tina calls her bistro’s cuisine “international soul food”. Her cuisine covers the range of what different cultures would regard as their own psyche-soothing, comfort food that brings back happy memories of family, friendship, and good conversation (especially as the bistro refuses to offer WiFi to encourage talk). I enjoyed the food very much and tried to taste (and photograph) as many as I could before my dining companions could tuck in. Definitely worth a return visit to try the many other dishes we did not get to order, especially the burgers and the steaks.

Bamba Bistro is on Aguirre Avenue corner Arsenio Luz St. in BF Homes Parañaque. For reservations, you may call 519-7097. Or check their facebook page.