Plans of going on a tour could easily enliven someone’s spirit. Take in great food into the equation and you’ll have the perfect formula for the best thing since sliced bread.
When the global online food delivery marketplace brand, foodpanda, first conceptualized the Good Food Tour, three things were considered; to discover Grade A restaurants around a certain location and the masterminds behind their feat, highlight distinctive cuisines worthy of the public’s attention, and bring together different personalities with common love and interest for food for a whole night of appreciation and revelry. It has always been foodpanda’s greatest motivation to constantly look for the best menu in town and offer its valued patrons boundless alternatives and food choices. “The Good Food Tour actually started in Berlin, Germany last year and countless versions of it were already carried out in different countries across the globe since then and we, in foodpanda Philippines, think it’s high time that we hold our own tour here because we have so much to offer in terms of food culture,” says Iacopo Rovere, foodpanda Philippines’ Chief Executive Officer.
And what better way to kick off a food tour in Manila but to draw attention to the rich and multihued heritage of Filipino cooking. “For the first leg of the Good Food Tour, we chose 3 of the best Filipino restaurants in Greenbelt 5, Makati City. We take pride in being partners with these food hubs because they not only serve excellent, authentic Filipino dishes but they also always strive to reinvent and innovate Filipino cuisine and take it to a whole new level which are all made available and brought closer to the people through foodpanda,’ adds Iacopo. Last July 5, 13 Manila based food and lifestyle bloggers gathered to visit 3 Filipino restaurants and jumpstarted the Good Food Tour Philippines. Their first stop? Lorenzo’s Way.
Lorenzo’s Way operates under the umbrella of LJC Group of Restaurants and was named after the founder himself, Lorenzo “Larry” J. Cruz. Strolling along the ground floor, by the gardens of Greenbelt 5, it’s almost impossible not to have your eyes nailed on the refined façade of Lorenzo’s Way. The ambient lighting combined with the elegant wooden interiors could definitely make any passerby wonder what this place has to offer. True enough, our blogger friends could not stop talking about all the delectable dishes they were served during their sweet one hour visit there. LJC Group of Restaurant’s Corporate Chef and culinary genius, Chef George Lizares, wouldn’t have missed the tour for the world. It was both an honor and pleasure to hear kitchen stories and food magic straight from the horse’s mouth! Chef George presented his first dish, Knockout Knuckles, and everybody was literally in awe. Inarguably a Filipino fiesta staple, Lorenzo’s Way’s take on the customary Pinoy Crispy Pata will make you crave for more and even forget your strict diet. “We want our Knockout Knuckles to be tender enough for everybody. Its unique flavor is from some of our top secret spices which you can also enjoy in most of the other items in our menu,” declares Lizares. Then there was the Paella Valenciana which colors will leave you amazed and astounded. Topped with fresh seafoo d like squid, shrimp, and seashells with chicken meat and chorizo, this saffron-flavored rice sets the bar high for the other varieties from the competitors—and it’s not oily! They also served King Prawns Creole Hollandaise which could please any seafood lover well and it’s paired with buttered risoni and tomato. The dessert came sweet in the form of Strawberry Shortcake which was nothing short of any sort, I tell you. And the exclamation point for the lineup of dishes was the Sangria which set the mood for the rest of the evening.
Then a few steps away was the second stop for the night, Fely J’s which is also from LJC Group of Retaurants. “Fely was the mother of the founder, Larry J. Cruz,” shares Chef George Lizares who is also curating the menu for this restaurant. Stationed at the second level of Greenbelt 5, Fely J’s earth colored interiors, accentuated with huge, fine looking tables, and clear, floor-to-ceiling glass walls will certainly catch your attention. Their white and pink menu with Fely’s photo in the cover arranges for the soft, motherly image of the place. Our blogger friends started off with the appetizer, Thai Shrimps and Pomelo Salad. The goodness of this one is, to be honest, beyond words! The fresh juice from the pomelo that mixed with the vinaigrette makes for its smooth and easy aftertaste for you to enjoy. And, of course, who doesn’t love shrimps? Then the main courses were served, starting off with Beef Smores. “They must have really mastered the art of meat tendering with this one and the sauce just completes everything about it!” says Lucky Alabado of Discover MNL who is also hosting the tour together with foodpanda Philippines. Next comes the Tilapia with Sweet Plum Sauce, a fish fillet in sweet and sour sauce’s novelty. Just when everybody was already looking for the rice, an indispensable member Filipino dining ensemble, comes Fely J’s Sisig Rice. It’s so delicious, the group even asked for a third serving. The crispness of the ground pork on top of the flavorful rice makes this one the most perfect of its kind so far.
Our 3rd and last stop was Restaurante Pia y Damaso, who boasts of its authentic Fil-Spanish menu curated by no other than its warm and charming executive chef, Bambi Sy Gobio. The place is just right across Fely J’s and shares the same al fresco dining area with the latter. The glaring glass chandelier in the middle of the restaurant adds up to the Spanish colonization era vibes of the place. Soft, light, vibrant colors consisted the interiors and gave it a cozy ambience. The menu takes you back to our good old Noli Metangere and El Filibusterismo days with dishes named after some of the prominent characters from the two infamous novels. The feast began with the starter platter consisting of Almond-Stuffed Date wrapped in Bacon, Filo Tarts with Pork Asado and Chorizo Pandesal. Among the three which were all served in one, single spotless white plate, the Chorizo Pandesal stood out the most with its savory ground pork and beef patty that also has a kick of spiciness, the kind everyone would absolutely appreciate. The Bacon-Wrapped dat e was sweet and salty, the perfect cast for everybody’s starter plate! The Filo Tarts with Pork Asado were made to perfection. The filo on the outside was cooked just right and the pork asado with caramelized apple slices provide the smooth, soft finish in every bite. Next was the Chinese Lumpia Salad. This one comes minus the traditional wrapper and was served with cabbage. It also includes shrimp, pork, green beans, bean sprouts, carrots, arranque, beancurd, fried seaweed noodles, roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro leaves. Sounds and more definitely tastes like heaven for all health conscious out there! It’s impossible to miss the next dish on the menu. It’s called Placido Penitente with Mussel Cerveza Cream and in case you are still wondering where you heard of the name, yes, it’s from Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo. Its base is mainly native black rice from the Northern regions topped with fresh squid and mussel all cooked with beer. One of the latest additions in the menu is Pina Pork Cilantro, caramelized pork cooked in pineapple juice with the pungent flavor of cilantro. Another one is a classic Filipino treat prepared with a twist, Fried Chicken with Salted Egg. It comes with the sinful chicken skin and good white meat which were both made even more delicious by the salted egg. And ending the night on a high note were Toasted Ensaimada Quezo de Bola served with Tsokolate Eh and Belgian Bibingka Waffle with Home-Made Coconut Jam. It’s the dessert platter anyone would wish to have after a very satisfying meal. The Ensaimada goes perfectly with the Chocolate made from Davao tablea cacao and Malagos goat’s milk while the Belgian Bibingka Waffle tastes better with our very own coco jam.
The success of the first ever Good Food Tour in Manila reaffirms all foodpanda patrons of its commitment to unceasingly acquaint our customers with the finest restaurants, have their menus available right at the tip of their fingers, and their food delivered conveniently to their doorsteps. It also assures our dear restaurant partners that foodpanda never ceases to find new and creative ways to promote and always be of service to them.
words by Rommel Pole Bulaquina