A desire to carry on Spanish culinary traditions that his father taught him led chef Miguel de Alba to open recently a new branch of Alba’s at Estancia Mall. The spacious restaurant can seat up to 170 guests in four dining areas, including a wine bar near the entrance.
De Alba has wisely stuck to familiar Spanish dishes—deliciously sticky Callos à la Madrileña, tender Lengua Sevillana, and a generous selection of paellas (Valencia, Negra, Marinara, De Bacalao and De Verduras)—eschewing any type of fusion fare.
“A lot of new Spanish restaurants now offer modern Spanish cooking. I want to show what traditional Spanish cuisine is like,” said De Alba. “In a way, by opening this new branch, we’re announcing that we are still in the game.”
His late father, Anastacio de Alba, would have been proud.
The elder De Alba opened Alba Restaurante Español over 20 years ago with branches in Makati and Quezon City, but his roots were planted in the country decades earlier. In February 1952, he first set foot in the Philippines to train the cooks at Casino Español.
Food and flair
He fell in love with the country and opened Alba Cocina Española, a five-table eatery on Isaac Peral Street (now United Nations Avenue), later moving to a bigger location on Florida Street (now Ma. Orosa Street) near Luneta.
His food and personal flair were the talk of the town and he began to expand his restaurant chain to include Alba Restaurant and Supper Club, Taberna Gitana, La Parilla, Patio Flamenco, Jardin de Alba, Alba Patio de Makati (now Alba Restaurante Español), Las Cuevas and La Mancha.
“Papa came to the country to understand the Filipino palate and please it by introducing traditional Spanish comfort food,” De Alba said.
Aside from callos and lengua, Alba’s offers Cochinillo Asado (oven-roasted suckling pig), over 50 kinds of tapas, and desserts like Canonigo or Floating Island, and Tarta de Santa Teresa (cream-filled sponge cake with almonds and topped with yema balls).
The last is a specialty introduced by the elder De Alba who hails from Avila where St. Teresa lived.
The new restaurant, as well as the Tomas Morato and Prism branches, offer daily lunch and dinner buffet for those who prefer to taste a little bit of everything.
“Competition keeps us on our toes, but we have always been clear about the direction of Alba. We serve traditional Spanish comfort food, it’s what we do best,” De Alba said.
Alba’s, Estancia Mall Capitol Commons, tel. 2534953; Tomas Morato cor. Sct. Lozano, tel. 9251912;
Westgate Center Muntinlupa, tel. 7712178; and Prism Plaza, TwoEcom Center, Mall of Asia Complex, tel. 8082326