Gisa(sauté), kulob (cover), pakuluan (slow cook by continuous boiling) are three of the techniques of Filipino cookery said to be derived from the ancients.
With due respect to Western and other foreign influences, this diner gives a strong vote for our cuisine, basically for flavors.
A respected European chef has commented that Pinoy cuisine is “very ethnic.” But it is this very ethnicity that makes it unique, different in texture and flavors.
Rare are the restaurants that offer authentic Filipino food, free of tweaks and supposedly “creative” innovations. Two dining places, which we have recently discovered, seek to serve authentic Filipino fare.
XO46, Heritage Bistro
Unit 1220, 2/L, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Ave. and Salamanca St., Makati City; tel. 5568143
The restaurant’s concept combines history (46 is derived from 1946, the year when the Philippines gained its independence from the Americans), tourist destinations and cuisine.
Dining area—This evokes old Spanish-era dining rooms. Chairs are made of twine, and each table has a small white lamp with filigree-like design and crystal drops.
Chargers are made of twisted raffia.
On the main wall is a video showing historical government buildings, tourist destinations like Cebu and Boracay, and appetite-whetting photographs of regional dishes.
Service—It offers the diner a culinary tour consisting of at least two cuisines.
Staff—Female staff members are garbed in black kimona worn over patadyong skirts of local weave. They wear Spanish painetas (combs) like crowns.
Suggested orders—A small platter of puto is served, compliments of the house. The kinunot is a dish popular among Bicolanos. It is cooked with the meat of young sharks, but at XO, lapu-lapu fish is used, with strips of buko (young coconut), and heavy cream.
The kare-kare platter has been tweaked, using crispy fried beef, served separately from the sauce and vegetables. This is where we thought they should remain more authentic and do the dish in the traditional way.
Desserts are named creatively, such as Malaubeng Panaginip, a two-layer offering of leche flan and halayang ube topped with coconut milk crust (latik).
Service and government charges are included in the bill. Seniors cards are honored.
Rating – 3 Spoons
2/F, Corte de las Palmas, Ayala Town Center; tel. 7722216
This is one restaurant that offers value for money, considering the prices of their offerings. Comfort Filipino meals, together with dishes that are difficult to prepare at home, such as dinuguan, are authentic. It is one of those dine-and-go places.
Dining area—Small and cozy, done in light gray, chairs are comfortable. The place gets full at lunchtime.
Service—No fuss, quick.
Staff—A young woman in white blouse and dark pants serves the diners well.
Suggested orders—Yes, the dinuguan, with a much-welcomed finger chili; the Glenda Barretto-inspired gising-gising, which wakes one’s Epicurean taste buds; the Crispy Tilapia whose half (of the flesh) is done into strips like fillets. All good.
Government and services are charged with the bill. Senior cards are honored.
Rating – 3 Spoons