The great Aristocrat food trip….. to San Pablo, Laguna!
The Aristocrat Restaurant on Roxas Boulevard is a great city landmark, much like the Quiapo Church or Rizal Park. But the amazement goes a notch higher when am faced with its year of birth : it was put up in 1936 which means it was there before the Second World War. If you’re looking for the oldest full-service restaurant chain in Manila, look no further. This is it!
Being in the business for so long and still drawing crowds day after day can only mean one thing: this restaurant serves consistently good food.
For instance, I don’t mind eating that Aristocrat classic – boneless chicken barbecue with Java rice and java sauce for breakfast (even though I was also envious of my seatmates’ adobo, tocino and tapa). It’s a treat that can be enjoyed 24/7, whenever the craving hits.
Had the native hot chocolate to go with my meal and I savored every sip. This was heaven in a cup – thick, rich and with just the right hint of sweetness. Try this on your next visit.
Anyway, even though my family has always dined at Aristocrat’s flagship branch in Roxas Boulevard, our blogger group had the pleasure of being invited to the resto’s out-of-town location we didn’t know about. It was in the City of Seven Lakes – San Pablo, Laguna.
Two gracious ladies from the illustrious Reyes clan (the family who owns Aristocrat) played our hosts for the day – the renowned cook & author Nancy Reyes-Lumen and Maryjo Reyes-Ferraren.
After the morning pleasantries and meet up at the Roxas Boulevard branch, we were soon after cozily seated in a van traversing the South Expressway. Hardly any traffic and at last a view of the countryside and away from the madhouse that is Manila.
On the way to San Pablo, we pass by the town of Alaminos (also in Laguna) where we saw a goat farm and a roadside stall selling bibingka or native rice cakes. I love sights or sceneries which I don’t often see in Manila
Arriving in San Pablo, the town’s Catholic church was our first stop.The Cathedral of St. Paul the Hermit has a neo-classical style and dates back to 1714.
Around the church plaza, there were vendors selling assorted items including rosaries and herbal oils. Our famous foodie companion (aka the Adobo Queen) was delighted that there was somebody selling pajo or these really small native green mangoes. She explained that they taste good being brined and turned into a salad.
Afterwards, we were off to the Aristocrat location in San Pablo City which was called Ultimart – a strip mall which had well-known franchises like Chow King, Havaianas, CD-R King, Figaro and even a Mango outlet.
The quiet environment of the mall reminded me of how laid-back life in San Pablo can be. However, Aristocrat remained full!
Here’s one fave photo I have of this trip. Capitan del barrio & Europe veteran Arpee Lazaro with a delicious plate of AMPALAYA con Carne …. hahaha! (sorry…private joke) We won’t miss eating ampalaya for anything in the world… it aids in fighting cancer, diabetes and is even rich in anti-oxidants
The seafood kare-kare (P420) was delicious. As you can see in the picture, It’s resplendent with the bounty of the sea. Also perfect now that Catholics are observing Lent and abstaining from meat.
The Aristocrat pancit canton (P350) is a house bestseller because it’s tasty and doesn’t skimp on ingredients.So yeah, diners like me get the bonus of two pieces meatballs which I think is a cute touch…. reminds me of spaghetti!
Laing! (P160) I wished this was made more spicy, but I guess the resto prefers to cater to more universal tastes.
Kaldereta (P375) – slowly-simmered Filipino-style beef stew with peppers, green peas and potatoes. Comfort food!
The Pork Barbecue (P175 for 2 sticks) brings back childhood memories. It’s the best in town!
Another best of the best, this time a dessert. Regulars simply rave about Aristocrat’s signature cake called Torta de los Reyes, their own version of chocolate sans rival! A definite must-try for first-timers. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but this one brings me to the moon and back!
Their lumpiang Shanghai or spring rolls (P260) was one-of-a-kind, with a lumpy, flavorful filling. I guess it’s what one would expect of a Chinese restaurant, with a prepping technique they only know about I learned from Maryjo that their recipes are closely-guarded family secrets and this probably accounts for Aristocrat’s longevity in the business.
Aristocrat Roxas Blvd (Open 24 hours)
432 San Andres Street, Malate, Manila
Tel. No. 524-7671 to 80
Aristocrat San Pablo City
Ultimart Shopping Plaza, M. Paulino St., San Pablo City, Laguna
Tel. No. (049) 503-1987
Jupiter (Open 24/7)
146 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air Village, Makati City
Tel. No. 895-0101 / 895-0725
Robinsons Place Manila
4th Level, Pedro Gil Wing Robinsons Place Manila, Ermita, Manila
Tel. No. 523-3923
Banawe, Quezon City
#518 Banawe St., Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City
Tel. No. 708-9772
4th Level, SM City Manila Concepcion cor. Arroceros & San Marcelino Sts., Manila
Tel. No. 521-60354 / 4804055
SM City San Lazaro
2nd Level, SM City San Lazaro,F. Huertas cor A.H. Lacson Sts., Sta. Cruz, Manila
Tel. No. 786-2664
SM Mall of Asia
Main Mall, SM Mall of Asia Central Business Park Bay Boulevard, Pasay City
Tel. No. 556-0332
THE Block at SM North EDSA
3rd Level, The Block, North Avenue cor. EDSA, Quezon City
Tel. No. 442-0149
Block 2 Lot 2 Maharlika Grounds, Rizal Highway, Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Tel. No. (047) 252-3910
SM City Dasmarinas
Upper Ground Floor, New Annex Wing SM City Dasmariñas, Cavite
Tel # (046) 424 0000