We know that dining is a multisensory experience, but with Ilonggo cuisine, it becomes completely immersive because every bite brings with it the unique character and charm of the region’s culinary history. Chef Ariel Castañeda of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, knows this well, having been born and raised in Iloilo City and exposed to authentic Ilonggo cooking all his life. When he took over the reins of the hotel’s kitchen as Executive Chef in December of last year, he made it his mission to promote heritage cuisine not only to the visitors of Iloilo, but also to Iloilo’s younger generation by introducing creative ways of presenting heirloom recipes and serving them in a contemporary setting that’s worthy of global recognition. And his first step towards achieving this is by revamping the a la carte menu of Richmonde’s all-day dining restaurant, The Granary.
Inspired by the concept of a “modern Filipino table”, the young Executive Chef gave innovative twists to a number of well-loved and popular Ilonggo fare while retaining the essences that made them famous. For instance, the typical pancit molo would consist of a garlicky soup with wonton dumplings. In Chef Ariel’s reimagined version, the 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 makeover. The Batchoy Ramen looks like a ramen with its spring onion, nori, and seven-minute egg, but still tastes like batchoy with its broth, lechon kawali, grilled barbecue pork liver, and egg noodles.
The menu also features dishes famous for the region’s distinctive cooking techniques like the 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 annatto sauce and topped with crispy shallots that look like a festive headdress.
Native to the islands of Panay and Negros is the batuan fruit which is a common souring agent in Ilonggo cooking. Thus, it is but natural for Chef Ariel to include Sinigang sa Batuan in the menu. This rich broth which you can enjoy with shrimp, salmon, lechon kawali or beef ribs, is guaranteed to hit the spot when you’re craving for some soupy comfort. But batuan is not just for soups and entrées.
To demonstrate its versatility, Chef Ariel combined batuan compote, fresh Guimaras mangoes, goat cheese, and meringue shards to create a one-of-a-kind dessert, the Batuan & Guimaras Mango Pavlova. There’s even a batuan-flavored French macaron!
Other must-try items on the menu include Baked Talaba Bombs (fresh oysters, milk butter and garlic confit served on white lava stones), L3 or Latik, Liempo, Lukon (puree of kalabasa, coconut milk, lechon kawali, sea prawns, and market vegetables), Green Curry Seafood Adobado (flash-fried sea prawns, butterflied squid, market fish fillet and mussels in Ilonggo green curry), and many more. Richmonde’s signature dishes and local & international favorites 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 classic Ilonggo fare, we hope to bridge the gap between the past and the present,” shares Chef Ariel. General Manager Natalie Lim adds, “There is no replacing Iloilo’s treasured original heirloom recipes. We, however, believe in keeping these fresh, exciting, and interesting. This is our way of preserving the legacy of the region’s food culture.”
Indeed, every item in the new menu of The Granary is an ode to the rich culinary origins of Iloilo and an exciting preview of the future of Ilonggo cuisine. Visit The Granary now and experience a deliciously unforgettable gastronomical journey in time.
The Granary is open daily from 6am to 10pm. For inquiries and table reservations, call +6333 328 7888 or message Richmonde Hotel Iloilo on Facebook @RichmondeHotelIloilo.
Karina is not your ordinary supermom. She juggles her time bonding with her three amazing kids while being in the loop on the latest happenings in the tech and lifestyle scene. Follow me on Instagram (@digitalfilipina) regularly visit www.digitalfilipina.com for daily dose of updates not just for moms but for everyone!