Barely two months to go and December (a.k.a. the crazy Christmas season) looms upon us). The most wonderful time of the year to attend all those holiday parties, get-togethers and family reunions. My balikbayan friends and relatives always ask “where’s the best place for Filipino food?”
I can think of a few places depending on proximity but I’d definitely vote for Romulo Cafe, a place in honor of one of the greatest diplomats and statesmen in the Philippines, Carlos P. Romulo. His wife Virginia loved to entertain the members of the embassy row and it’s for this reason that the surviving grandchildren opened the resto to showcase her signature dishes.
We love how Romulo Cafe embodies the best of Philippine cuisine, a fact that’s lost on some foreigners who still don’t have an idea what Pinoy cookery is. The restaurant’s owners, Sandie and Enzo Squillantini, say they offer time-honored culinary classics but some are given a twist to give the dishes modern-day relevance.
During a recent luncheon, we got to savor some more of the Romulo Cafe goodness which makes one appreciate the irresistible elements of Philippine cuisine, a marriage of East and West. As we all know, the Philippines has been under the Spanish and Americans with a multitude of Chinese settlers so our food is reflective of these influences.
The Pako or fern fiddle salad was divine. It had cherry tomatoes, chopped red egg and fried scallions and lechon kawali bits thrown in for good measure.The greens were given a pop of flavor by a special calamansi vinaigrette.
For the appetizers, there’s Crispy Squid, a tasty Chorizo Empanada and spring rolls made from tinapa or smoked fish.
How about Shrimp Pasta With Aligue (Crab Fat) Sauce? Romulo Cafe is one of the few places in town to offer this sinful yet irresistible Filipino creation topped with parmesan cheese.
For the main course, there is US Angus Beef Steak Tagalog and Pesang Apahap which is the Pinoy version of seabass.Pesa is when the fish is steamed in ginger-infused soup with bok choy or other green vegetables and served with miso paste on the side. Our table took quite a liking to Lola Virginia’s Chicken Relleno and Guinataang Langka which is one of my favorite Pinoy veggie dishes. Romulo Cafe’s version had an abundance of shrimps that’s why the sauce was really tasty.
And of course, nothing screams ‘We’re celebrating! than the Cochinillo served with Romulo Cafe’s special Lechon sauce. The meat’s really tender and guests are well advised to order this in advance, especially during the holiday season.
Desserts in Romulo Cafe exceeded expectations. Shoutout to the Mango Pavlova filled with premium fruits like kiwi, strawberry and mango. Also couldn’t have enough of the Suman Sa Latik which was served in a shot glass with muscovado and yummy coconut milk sauce.
For more information, visit www.romulocafe.com. The restaurant has branches in Quezon City, Alabang, Makati and London, United Kingdom.