the adarna food and culture restaurant

when business partners chef giney villar and beth angsioco decided to open up a business in 2007, they knew right from the start that it’s going to be a filipino restaurant, but what kind of filipino food they will serve, they hadn’t decided yet. they thought it should be historical, regional, and heirloom.  but why is that? traditional ingredients are hard to be sourced, methods are laborious, and most young people prefer american, japanese and european food.

“some people say that filipino food cannot compete globally. it’s not thai, vietnamese, or japanese food,” said chef giney. she thought that filipino food is very interesting because of our colorful history: 300 years of spanish influences. she thought that our rich history, culture, and even the political changes had molded and changed on how we prepare our food. “filipino food cannot be anything but interesting,” she continued.

chef giney and beth had to do an extensive research on regional foods before opening up their business. they later found out that a lot of heirloom recipes were handed down by families that had long traditions of doing things in a particular way. some were even recorded and chef giney tested them herself. some had no record of the recipes so she had to recreate them by gathering as much information as she could possibly get and tried to replicate them based on the memories of the family.  since they had the opportunity to travel locally, they had tasted many regional foods in the philippines and that is how they’ve come up with their restaurant. they would like to think of it as their own little contribution to filipino pride.

visiting the adarna food and culture restaurant was like a walk down memory lane for me. every part of the place was filled with historical paraphernalia, each with great stories to tell. i really loved the great details the ceilings and the walls have. it’s like a local museum because of the things in it and the warm lighting, but has a homey feeling where you can meet and eat with your families and friends. chef giney was very nice and accommodating. she greeted us with a very big smile and a firm handshake, along with her very friendly and courteous staffs.

chef giney villar grew up in sta. cruz manila. she’s also a writer and she was a development worker for books. she took up diploma in culinary entrepreneurs course at the american hospitality academy, makati city.  interesting food for her are in basilan, sulu, tawi tawi. they’re different and they’re using various spices. she also liked bulacan and pampanga foods because of their wealth of the available ingredients, coupled with spanish-chinese influences. she had been to so many places in the philippines like kalinga, apayao, isabela, cagayan, nueva ecija, quirino, and nueva viscaya, just to name a few.  the biggest compliments she had received on her food came from the old people when they told her that it’s how they’d remember it. she’s not afraid to ask her clients if the food was good. she would always make sure that she only makes authentic quality food that people will like. below are just some of the dishes we’ve tried:

sigarilyas salad with bagnet bits. a manila convent recipe, with winged beans, onion, and tomato dressed in a citrusy vinaigrette, topped and sprinkled with ilocos bagnet. i really liked the crunchiness of the vegetables, also the slight sweet and sour taste of vinegar. highly recommended.

camarron rebosado.  this is the filipino version of the japanese tempura.  it’s big shimps rolled and coated with flour, deep fried until golden brown.  served with sweet-sour dip with honey texture, a very classy touch.  this was adarna’s sweet adaptation of this classic recipe and a great treat to the palate.

leyte humba.  unlike estufado, this one was made with chinese pork liempo chunks, cooked until tender and gummy in a sweetish soya sauce with spring onions, banana blossoms, black beans, shallots, and spices.  peanuts and fried saba give texture and chinese sweetness to this delightful masterpiece.

piassok.  this is a sulu native dish, beef chunks gradually cooked in smoked coconut cream milk until tender buttered and grilled and sliced before serving.  i really loved the presentation, awash in vibrant reds, greens and oranges.  very inviting.  this is a great dish for all you gata lovers.

adobong batangas.  this was shared by a granddaughter of a prominent family from batangas city.  i’m an adobo fan and this was my favorite adarna dish.  the taste of the onion leaves compliments its strong garlicky taste.  unlike your conventional adobos, surprisingly, this one has no soy sauce.

plantanillas with mangoes.  it was my first time to try this.  a pastillas cream-filled mango crepe,  made of egg yolk, flour and sugar, topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.  so mouth-watering and sweet.  a killer.  this dessert originated in pampanga, the food capital of the philippines.

the adarna food and culture restaurant doesn’t just serve good food.  they also encourage filipino tranditions and culture.  dining in this fine restaurant surely strengthens one’s patriotism and  love of country.  visit them at 119 kalayaan avenue, diliman, quezon city.  more photos

Biyaheng Pinoy

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