Food re­view

Home-style Filipino cui­sine in Manila

Paradise - - Contents -

De­signer Ivy Al­mario’s el­e­gant touch is ev­i­dent from the mo­ment you step in­side Ro­mulo Cafe in down­town Makati in Manila. Ex­quis­ite con­tem­po­rary de­sign com­ple­ments hun­dreds of black-and-white his­toric pho­to­graphs. It’s the sort of place that en­tices you to peer into ev­ery nook and cranny, won­der­ing what de­light­ful sur­prise is be­hind that screen, or around that cor­ner.

But it is the el­e­gant sim­plic­ity of home-style Filipino cui­sine that’s el­e­vated Ro­mulo to the fore­front of Manila’s din­ing scene.

Al­mario, and restau­ra­teur hus­band Yong Nieva, have cre­ated three Ro­mulo Cafes in Manila, and an­other in Lon­don.

Named after Philip­pine diplo­mat Car­los P. Ro­mula, the cafe should re­ally be named after his wife, Lola Vir­ginia. Ro­mulo takes its in­spi­ra­tion from Lola Vir­ginia’s per­son­al­ity and tal­ent as an ex­em­plary host­ess en­ter­tain­ing dig­ni­taries in Wash­ing­ton DC in the 1940s and 50s.

She in­tro­duced Filipino cui­sine to world lead­ers at a time when man­goes were con­sid­ered ex­otic in the US and serv­ing whole seafood was con­sid­ered bar­baric.

At the time, she sur­mised her con­ser­va­tive guests weren’t ready for her to serve the Filipino suck­ling pig del­i­cacy known as

le­chon. In­stead, she cre­ated a ‘less of­fen­sive’ chicken dish adapted from her grand­mother’s Span­ish recipe.

Chicken Rel­lono is a sort of meat­loaf-like stuffed chicken to please con­ser­va­tive palates of the 1950s. The fam­ily recipe has been adapted to tan­ta­lise modern palates and now takes pride of place as the sig­na­ture dish at Ro­mulo Cafe. It is sen­sa­tional.

Ro­mulo is all about en­joy­ing fine food in ex­quis­ite sur­round­ings where din­ers are made to feel like they’ve been in­vited into the pri­vate din­ing room of a close friend.

“Long lin­ger­ing con­ver­sa­tions with friends, lots of laugh­ter and gen­er­ous sec­ond help­ings are en­cour­aged,” says Nieva.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Papua New Guinea

© PressReader. All rights reserved.