Dining is a multi-sensory experience, but with Ilonggo cuisine it becomes completely immersive as each bite brings the uniqueness and charm of the region’s culinary history.
Chef Ariel Castañeda of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo knows this well, having been born and raised in the city of Iloilo and exposed to authentic Ilonggo cuisine his entire life. When he took over the reins of the hotel’s kitchen as executive chef in December last year, he made it his mission to promote heritage cuisine not only to visitors to Iloilo, but also with the younger generation of Iloilo by introducing creative ways to showcase heritage recipes. and serve them in a contemporary setting worthy of worldwide recognition. And his first step in doing that is revamping the a la carte menu at Richmonde’s all-day restaurant, The Granary.
Inspired by the concept of a “modern Filipino table”, the young executive chef has given innovative twists to a number of beloved and popular Ilonggo dishes while maintaining the essences that made them famous. For example, the typical molo pancit would consist of garlic soup with wonton dumplings. In Chef Ariel’s reinvented version, savory broth and diced pork and shrimp are placed inside the wonton to make a Pancit Molo Xiao Long Bao. Another soup favorite, batchoy, gets a Japanese-style makeover. Batchoy Ramen looks like ramen with its spring onion, nori, and seven-minute egg, but still tastes like batchoy with its broth, lechon kawali, barbecued pork liver, and egg noodles.
The menu also features dishes famous for the region’s distinctive cooking techniques like Linagpang na Ilonggo Inasal where slices of chicken and pork roulade are grilled and added to a Linagpang broth with blistered tomatoes; and the Dinagyang Adobo Ilonggo where chicken and pork are combined in a roulade and cooked in an annatto sauce and topped with crispy shallots that look like a festive headdress.
Native to the islands of Panay and Negros, batuan fruit is a common sour agent in Ilonggo cuisine. Thus, it is only natural for chef Ariel to include Sinigang sa Batuan in the menu. This rich broth that you can enjoy with shrimp, salmon, lechon kawali or prime rib, is guaranteed to hit the mark when you crave a little comfort food. But batuan isn’t just for soups and entrees. To demonstrate her versatility, Chef Ariel combined batuan compote, fresh Guimaras mangoes, goat cheese and meringue chips to create a one-of-a-kind dessert, Batuan & Guimaras Mango Pavlova. There is even a French batuan macaron!
Other menu staples include Baked Talaba Bombs (fresh oysters, milk butter and garlic confit served on white lava rocks), L3 or Latik, Liempo, Lukon (kalabasa puree, coconut milk, lechon kawali, sea prawns and vegetables from the market), Green Curry Seafood Adobado (sautéed sea prawns, butterfly squid, market fish fillet and green curry Ilonggo mussels), and many more. Typical Richmond dishes as well as local and international specialties are also available.
“As Ilonggos, my kitchen team and I are honored to present our own interpretation of the dishes, ingredients and flavors we grew up with to our fellow kababayans. With our modern take on the classic Ilonggo cuisine, we hope to bridge the gap between past and present,” shares Chef Ariel. Managing Director, Natalie Lim, adds, “Nothing can replace Iloilo’s original treasured recipes. However, we believe in keeping this content fresh, exciting and interesting. This is our way of preserving the heritage of the region’s food culture.
Indeed, each item on The Granary’s new menu is an anode to Iloilo’s rich culinary origins and an exciting glimpse into the future of Ilonggo cuisine. Visit The Granary now and experience a delicious, unforgettable gastronomic journey through time for yourself.
Le Grenier is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. For all inquiries and table reservations, call +6333 328 7888 or message Richmonde Hotel Iloilo on Facebook @RichmondeHotelIloilo.