Take A Peek Inside The Newest Ilonggo Restaurant To Open In BGC
One of the best things about Filipino restaurants is that no matter how varied their take is on Pinoy staples, there’s always that familiar comfort you can get from them. It doesn’t matter if it’s totally deconstructed or tweaked just in the littlest way; wherever, whenever, the Filipino taste brings you back to where you want to be—home.
We sat down with Chef Rommel Hinlo, owner of Kuppa Restaurant and Café (now with four branches in Manila), Kuppa Coffee and Cocktails in Bacolod, and part of the EDSA Beverage Design group, to know just what it is they offer at their newest restaurant, the Ilonggo Food Company.
The first thing you’ll notice is the vibe of the place. It doesn’t look like most Filipino restaurants. But when you get a chance to soak it in, it makes you feel like you’re somewhere familiar. And Chef Rommel shares with us the principle behind their aesthetics, and why it makes us feel right at home.
“The design was a collaboration between the partners, Kerwin Lo, his sister Karen Tsai, myself and our architect Buji Libarnes. IFC's design is inspired by the timeless mid-20th century modern aesthetics. We want the place to make you feel at home, as if you're transported back to your Lola’s cozy sala on a beautiful Sunday get-together with the family after Church. It’s a throwback to the good ol’ years when life was simpler, slower paced where family togetherness was of the utmost importance.”
The namit list
Because this is an Ilonggo restaurant with proud Bacolodians at the helm, of course they have their local dishes down pat, starting with the Kansi. A sour-brothed soup that’s almost like sinigang, but seasoned with batuan instead of sampaloc (or sinigang mix for that matter).
If your palate is looking for something closer to your Manila taste, they also have a sinigang dish that you can order, but it’s slightly skewed towards a sweeter flavor because of the watermelon that floats right on top when they serve it to you.
A lot of their dishes are actually based on family recipes, in keeping with the tenet of family togetherness and tradition that the group has translated to their interiors, and then of course in their food.
“Evelyn’s Pork Sinigang, Porbidang Kangkong, and atchara are dishes that the mother of Kerwin and Karen would make at home. The Kinilaw is a recipe that I grew up with. It is my father’s recipe. The KBL (Kadyos, Baboy, Langka) which we will be releasing soon, was taught to me by my sister’s nanny. She’s been with us for over 43 years and is considered family. The laswa has been a staple in our family since I can remember. My grandfather would have a bowl of this really simple vegetable stew every lunchtime. This would serve as his pre-meal course,” says Chef Rommel.
Evelyn’s Pork Sinigang
Of course, these dishes shouldn’t be eaten without rice, and they offer just the right kind of it to pair with these soups—chicharon rice!
The crunchiness of the toppings complement the smoothness of whatever soup you choose to keep you warm these rainy days. They also have a sisig rice that’s a meal in itself if you’re looking for that second potaje to add to your roster.
While this next dish may not be distinctly Ilonggo, the Bakareta, Chef Rommel’s version of the classic beef caldereta stew, proves to be something that definitely stands out.
For those who feel incomplete without a vegetable dish or two at the table, you can try the monggo or the pinakbet.
Finally, don’t forget to order a cup of coffee, which is of course a specialty all on its own. Any cup comes with two pieces of homemade napoleones that have just the right drizzle of glaze on top and custard filling in the middle. Or order the extra creamy leche flan as the perfect sweet complement.
Flat white with napoleones
Ilonggo Food Company is located beside Kuppa Roastery and Café at the G/F Commercenter Building, 4th Avenue corner 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City, (0917) 827-4264
Photos by Chris Clemente