Ilustrado is the Spanish term for "learned". During the 19th century, when a person is an ilustrado, it means to say that he/she is included in the middle class and among the handful few who belong in the Filipino educated class. The Ilustrado Restaurant located in the Walled City does not necessarily mean that it only caters to those elite class even if it already welcomed and hosted several well-traveled and literally elite guests from different parts of the world. As a matter of fact, Ilustrado Restaurant is one of the most marketable wedding venue nowadays.
Last May 28, I was among the lucky and not-so-affluent ones who attended the Inaugural Feast featuring the Malolos Heritage Cuisine at this prime restaurant. History always interests me because I felt that I have lived before hence,my innate strong desire to explore historical places. If some people do not feel like anything old or rustic especially when it comes to places then I am quite different from them as I tend to read and learn more. I thought my history classes in high school were too boring to learn but since I've been to several different places and met tons of different people, my insights grew better and deeper. Ergo, having been invited at this event especially at the historic core of Manila placed great value to me. I sincerely enjoyed every minute of being in a fine dining restaurant set within a garden. Too bad it was raining a bit outside so we did not get a chance to photo shoot its vast exterior.
These ladies clad in the traditional baro't saya also known as filipiniana were present to welcome every guest that arrives in the venue. I can still remember some beautiful ladies at the top of the staircase ready to usher me and my companion that afternoon. They never ran out of smile no matter how scant it may be. Hospitality at its best was so evident. Their beauty and grace are laudable, perfect for gatherings like what I have just witnessed. Inspire not just your kababayans but tourists as well to keep them coming back.
The centerpiece with a bunch of red roses that made the round table all the more luxurious. Not to mention, the lampara and nicely printed table cloth matches all the elements inside the hall. The general appearance looks superb and very organize.
Guests of different nationality were present to grace the event.
Some elegant spaces for you to lounge while waiting for someone. It lookes so elegant and the interiors may be considered old-world but rich in value and history too.
Ilustrado Restaurant prides itself in serving heritage Filipino cuisine. Their menu are normally occupied with Spanish-Filipino favorites that greatly blends together Asian, Wetern and Continental dishes. But for that day, it was filled with Malolos Heritage Cuisine. This type of cuisine is something quite familiar to me because I get to involve myself in Bulacan fiestas particularly in Malolos where my college friend resides. Malolos is considered the 115th city in the country where Barasoain Church is located and also the site of constitutional convention. From time to time their family invites my group of friends to savor their sumptuous dishes that they are truly proud of. So rich and full of flavor. I envy my friend who lives in such a cool environment surrounded with lots of vegetation and simple living. I was glad that even I was not able to make it on their town fiesta this year, at least I got to taste several authentic dishes that salivate me big time in the recently held Inaugural Feast.
Explore the Malolos Heritage Cuisine with me and appease your thirst and hunger with their dishes from soups down to desserts and drinks.
Merienda de Prayle
In short it is Kesong Puti at Kinilaw na Bagus. The friars were known to have nibbled on these afternoon treats back in the day. A resurrection of such rich, indulgent hors d oeuvres is ecstacy.
It was a bit salty for me that one serving was enough to contain my desire to taste this nibbler first among the spread of dishes. Plating was well done. Looks so simple yet elegant.
Malolos Chowder. Rich savoury broth with an abundant array of fresh seafood. Truly reminiscent of the glory days of the town of Malolos.
Sinuwam na Mais. The classic corn chowder using local white corn.
I liked the former better because of its very flavorful take for my palate. The corn on the cob was a little challenging for me to eat but I love that the chef used the freshest catch of seafooods coupled with Japanese sweet corn I surmise, that made the entire soup creamy and oh-so-good!
These prawns are not new to me, what is all new to me was the manner they were cooked and flavored. There was such recipe as these I old myself. I got two pieces but the true hamonado flavor I found kind of inept for its overall taste. Perhaps, I just liked it better when it is simply sauteed in butter and lots of garlic. But I must say, this hamonado-flavored sugpo is better with steamed white rice.
A delightful mix of meat and vegetables rolled in wrapper and deep fried. The ingredient is welcome surprise.
I eat all sorts of lumpia be it covered or hubad. And this fried spring roll had me at first bite.
Binusog na Pusit
Also known as Stuffed Squid Supreme. A stuffed squid like no other. Sublime ingredients made available with the opening of the Suez Canal.
One of my favorite dishes during the feast because you will definitely feel your stomach paunches when you have eaten at least three pieces of this stuffed squid. I want to eat more but my stomach could not handle everything. If only we were allowed to take home left over dishes, I'd certainly go for this one.
Pastel de Frayle
This is called also as Chicken Pastel, made with chopped chicken with mushrooms, carrots and potato. Mixed with cream and buttermilk. Served traditionally with a pie-crust top.
Crust was well done but the pastel was not that creamy as I'd expected.
Relyenong Manok ni Joseling
This is a Chicken Relleno dish hence, deboned whole chicken and stuffed with ground pork spiced with bell peppers, finely chopped carrots, chopped onions, raisins to name a few. A must for any feast-worthy affair.
Two thumbs up for this viand. A table must include this recipe in every Malolos feast. For me this was the crowd's favorite.
Also known as Pinoy's favorite Humba. Hind legs slow-boiled to ensure maximum tenderness. Banana flowers flavored with spices to make ot sweet, salty and utterly addicting.
Yay! This humba is my favorite that even my mom can cook as good as this dish. A five star rating, always best eaten with cooked banana flowers though I was searching for cooked and ripe saba banana slices.
Beef tenderloin slices are rolled with Chorizo de Bilbao, carrots, etc. A favorite of no less than Marcelo H. del Pilar.
Not the normal morcon that Tagalogs usually have on their table. This one is saucy and to tell you honestly, great tasting too!
Hamon de Hacienda
Tender pork belly mixed with Prague powder for three days. On the third day it is rinsed and boiled with pineapple juice. The drippings are set aside to become the sauce. Hard work and care is given to ensure the dish's luscious flavors. Only the "hacienderos" (sugar barons) of the time were accustomed to such taste.
The taste seemed so perfect but experienced a little off in flavor after it standby for while in my mouth. An after taste perhaps.
Apahap de Paterno
A well known favorite of Pedor Paterno. Pescado en Mayonea to some is debatably of French origin. Fish that is steamed and artistically adorned with chopped vegetables. Back then only wealthy were able to travel thus taste the luxuries that Spanish and French cuisine can offer.
Bayabas tagalog is caramelized without the seeds. Served with pure and fresh carabao's milk.
I am so addicted to milk most especially to fresh milk that is why milk partnered with seedless guava cups are super delicious. I can;t get enough of this.
Dayap with Pastillas
Dayap in the region has many beautiful and intricate designs. It is carved and then caramelized and finally filled with pastillas. The concoction promises to be as bittersweet as the victory of the 21 Women of Malolos who petitioned to open a night school to learn to read and write in Spanish.
Sad but true, I was not able to sample on these candies. They were easily gone.
This kakanin is actually a sapin-sapin. Do not underestimate its superficial color that when you slice this panghimagas, you will be surprised with its colorful layers. It tasted far from the sapin-sapin that I knew.
Loreto's Leche Flan con Mango
Only made during the season of the sweetest mango. Leche flan made richer, cremier and more elegant with ripe Philippine mangoes.
Never thought that mangoes could serve as a sweetener for leche flan. This is also the crowd's favorite. Refills were needed to cater to those guests having active sweet tooth that moment.
Pre-hispanic version of what known is to us as paella. While Arroz Valenciana (pronounced as "aroth") is typically served to the upper crust of the society, bringheng rice cooked in turmeric and coconut milk is served to the lower. Both play a part in fiestas and parties of grandeur.Located on the left side of the plate was what seem to be a paella. I love its aroma and overall taste. Can be eaten as is should viands are not available.
So refreshing and good for the health. In just one sip you'll know that this juice is fresh and free from adulteration. I had three glasses if my memory serves me right.
Red Wine and White Wine. Yes they are very much available but I did not attempt to taste neither of them because alcohol at this time is a big no no for me even in slight amount.
Grated cheeseball in olive oil with garlic and bacon.
Each of us got this token as a thoughtful reminder from the Ilustrado team who made our lunch time not just a hefty one but a truly delightful gastronomic experience. Now I appreciate the Malolos Heritage cuisine better and wanted to explore deeply the flourishing Philippine cuisine. In time I will taste all of them.
I'll be back at Ilustrado for more of authentic cuisines. If you have enlightened tastes then this must be the next place for you to explore and delve deeply. Do not forget to share your experiences too.
744 Calle Real Del Palacio