FROM NOW until Aug. 31, one can feast on more than 60 Filipino dishes at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino Cebu’s UNO Restaurant as the hotel brings the celebrity chef duo, Rolando and Jackie Laudico, to headline the hotel’s “Feast for the Filipino Senses.” While UNO Restaurant, the all-day dining option at the sprawling 562-room hotel and casino, regularly features Filipino dishes on its lunch and dinner menus, the spread is usually a combination of other Asian and Western dishes — but for three months (the offering started in June) only Filipino food will grace the tables of the restaurant.
“Filipino food has so many flavors and variations to offer. We’re bringing a new era and new excitement for the future for Cebu as a culinary destination, not only in the Philippines but the entire world,” Anders Hollen, Waterfront Hotel and Casino Cebu general manager told the media during the launch on May 22.
Included in the spread are five kinds of roasted items — from the ever-popular lechon (roasted pig) to other animals such as goat and cow — as well as modern interpretations by the Laudicos of Cebuano delicacies such as Ngohiong, a fried spring roll which they fashioned into cones, as well as danggit macaroon (a macaroon of dried fish).
The macaroon, which was a hit during the preview, was an interesting mix of sweet and salty as the danggit mousse undercut the sweetness of the macaroon halves. And since Filipinos are known for pairing salty to sweet, take for example the combination of tuyo (another dried fish) and champorado (chocolate porridge), the macaroon is a no-brainer.
Also in the spread are balut (fertilized duck eggs) shots which the Laudicos consider one of their signature dishes — it is served in their restaurants such as Guevarra’s in San Juan City.
“Ever since we became professionals in the field, our advocacy is to really promote Filipino cuisine. We’ve been to several countries abroad, we have done several food festivals in different hotels and restaurants abroad, and it’s always Filipino flavors that we champion,” Mr. Laudico told the media during the preview.
Meanwhile, Ms. Laudico brings to the spread local kakanin (rice cakes) in the dessert section. Feast upon Filipino desserts and merienda (mid-afternoon snack) favorites such as biko and queso de bola cheesecake. But please don’t forget to get the sinful molten tableya (chocolate) cake which is served in a ramekin and made-to-order. The cake, though small, packs all the goodness from the tableya — dark, yet still sweet. And since it’s molten, it’s perfect in its half-liquid state.
With the intention of including local ingredients to the spread, the Laudicos scoured Cebu’s farmers markets, specifically the Pasil fish market.
“What I enjoyed here is I went around Cebu tasting traditional Cebuano fare. We went to Pasil and we went there at 2 a.m. We noticed that they were eating this fish stew, it’s like sinigang (sour soup) but we made it into like a bouillabaisse style. It’s called nilarang. Then there’s the balbacua (Cebuano ox tail and skin stew), the one here is more soupy. What we did is we simmer the skin, knees, feet, and we reduced the stock until it’s really rich and extra gooey,” Mr. Laudico said.
The Laudicos are very interested in bringing their newfound discoveries not only to their restaurants but to other Waterfront properties as well — they revealed that they are in talks to do the same thing in the Waterfront Insular Davao property.
The Feast for the Filipino Senses runs until Aug. 30, with lunch and dinner buffets costing P898/pax. For reservations, call (032) 232-6888 ext. 8605. — Zsarlene B. Chua