It’s National Filipino Food Month. Here are two ways of the many ways to enjoy our country’s rich gustatory offerings.
Dine at Tatatito
In February, MC Wilson Food Group, the company behind Gringo Chicken & Ribs, Honeybon Cakes & Pastries and Tokyo Bubble Tea, opened Tatatito, a restaurant that celebrates Filipino food.
Reagan Tan, the group’s president, said, “Opening Tatatito is our way to highlight and present how amazing and delicious Filipino food is. We serve food to our customers like we serve our own family. Filipino families love to invite one other to sit down and eat together.”
This is also the reason behind the name. Tan said, “It’s inspired by the phrase ‘Tara, tara dito, kain tayo.’”
Say Tatatito fast over and over again and it does start to sound like “Tara dito.”
Tatatito serves food that’s undeniably Filipino but with delicious twists. It’s familiar and unique, comforting and satisfying.
The most popular dishes so far have been the bamboo rice chicken tinola, classic crispy pata, Sarsaparilla BBQ liempo, inasal chicken, gising-gising, Himalayan salt lechon kawali and 10-hour beef kansi soup.
Tan’s personal favorites? The tuna belly inasal, crispy binusog na pusit, pares-style US short ribs and crab palabok.
The other bamboo rice variants (squash and crab, pata tim) are worth a try, too, and the crispy binusog na pusit shouldn’t be missed. We enjoyed the baked mussels, shrimp okoy and sisig, as well.
You’ll want to try the drinks, too. The Tatatito iced tea is very refreshing and the pink fiesta gulaman is a delightful treat. They serve good coffee and all-day breakfast.
Save room for dessert—they have brazo mango, buttery sans rival, mango cheesecake and other cakes, sorbetes, kapeng barako jelly, ube buchi, super turon with ice cream and more. (Tatatito is at OPL Building, 100 Don Carlos Palanca, Legazpi Village, Makati City. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.)
Beat the summer heat with ‘sampinit’
We are ashamed to say that we had never heard of sampinit until Sebastian’s Ian Carandang told us about it. “Sampinit is an indigenous berry which grows at the foot of the mountains of Mount Cristobal in San Pablo, Laguna, and Mount Banahaw in Quezon,” he said.
This berry became the inspiration behind Carandang’s latest ice cream collection, released just in time for summer. According to Carandang, it was Dion Pullan, an environmentalist and a balikbayan from Australia, who saw the potential in this wild crop.
Pullan, who runs a farm in Quezon, succeeded in cultivating and propagating the plant, which looks similar to raspberries. “When made into a puree with the very small seeds strained out, it has an intense tartness in flavor, somewhere in between raspberries and cranberries,” said Carandang.
He used a careful application of sugar to mellow out the acidity. “I wanted to let its unique flavor shine.”
Sampinit is seasonal, and you can only harvest it from January to April. “It is picked by hand and the branches of the sampinit plant have a lot of tiny sharp thorns, which makes picking these berries a laborious and potentially painful affair,” he said.
Carandang, who loves berries (“They’re my favorite fruit after mangoes”), hopes to use Sebastian’s as a platform to introduce sampinit to people.
And he does it in a delicious way—by using hand-picked sampinit to create three frozen treats: Sampinit Season, ice cream made with the local berries and a dairy base that he created just for this flavor; the dairy-free and vegan-friendly Sampinit Sorbet, which is a mix of fresh sampinit berries, filtered water, cane sugar and “just a little glucose for texture”; and Sampinit Ice Pops.
“This collection hopes to show people the wonderful potential of this fruit. With its intense red color and unique flavor, I believe sampinit has a lot of potential in local cuisine, both in sweet and savory preparations. Imagine a sampinit vinaigrette over salads or even a sampinit sinigang with a delicate white fish or poached chicken,” he said. “I would personally love to have products like sampinit jam and sampinit juice/tea/soda be available at local supermarkets.”
Carandang thinks this could lead to the creation of a sampinit industry and result in more jobs for people. (Sebastian’s Samipinit Collection is available at The Podium and sebastiansicecream.com.)