MANILA, Philippines – Celebrity chef Myrna Segismuno is taking her modern Filipino fare from the executive lounge of ABS-CBN to the buffet tables of The Peninsula Manila for a special food promotion at the luxury Makati hotel.
Segismundo, the managing director of Restaurant 9501, the exclusive executive dining restaurant of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., is the featured chef at The Pen’s all-day dining restaurant Escolta for the “Lasang Pinoy” food festival, which runs until June 30.
The well-loved chef, who is also the author of book “Kulinarya,” has made it her life-long mission to promote Filipino cuisine with her signature dishes such as the adobo pate.
Her modern interpretations on classic Filipino dishes proved to be such a hit among the hotel’s guests such that during the visit of ABS-CBNnews.com, the kitchen ran out of the boneless lechon well before the end of lunch service.
“It’s not fusion,” Segismundo clarified. “It’s just an improvement on presentation. I didn’t really change the dish very much.”
Indeed, the dishes on the buffet look very appetizing that it’s easy to ignore the other staples of the Escolta buffet.
There is an “action” station, which Segismundo said changes every day, where guests can watch the chefs at work. (That day, they were serving seafood kare-kare).
The carving station featured the sold-out boneless lechon, as well as the roast beef adobo. Deconstructing the traditional adobo, the meats come with a special adobo sauce and roasted garlic puree to provide the flavors usually associated with this national dish.
The buffet also includes several Pinoy barbecues, including the famous inasal. That day, the buffet also had an appetizing pork estofado that was simmering in a pot with really tender beef, lechon kawali, beef steak Tagalog and even pinakbet.
One thing noticeable about the dishes was the high quality of the meats and the clean flavors. Filipino dishes tend to have very upfront flavors, but Segismundo explained that she toned them down such as the bagoong in the pinakbet and even the soy sauce of the beef steak. One can still taste and appreciate the very Filipino tastes, but these dishes also showed great balance.
But more than the lechon or the roast beef, Segismuno is proudest of the salad bar. “People like our salads. Now we can lay claim to salads,” she said.
Indeed, one can have a meal just from the salad bar. Apart from prepared salads, guests can also make their own salads using uniquely Filipino ingredients such as pako, itlog na pula, baby okra, and others.
“There’s nothing wrong with mixing them up with all the other lettuce that you can now build your salad on,” Segismundo reminded.
To complete the Pinoy experience, Segismundo also created Filipino dressings such as the adobo vinaigrette, honey-patis, and one made with bagoong.
Segismundo also turned the classic tokwat baboy into a cold appetizer, using fresh tofu cubes topped with pork bits. The ensaladang talong with itlog na pula, according to Segismundo, was a hit among the Japanese during a tourism promotion she attended.
Other dishes in the salad/appetizer section include dulong in olive oil with chili, fresh lumpia, kesong puti salad, the classic manggang hilaw, the pako salad and two types of kinilaw (ceviche) smartly presented in small bowls, prompting the chef to say, “Filipino food can be healthy also.”
Well, there’s also chicharon, served with salsa and two kinds of local vinegar.
“We can lay claim to so many varieties of vinegar and that’s really something work talking about and developing recipes for,” Segismundo said.
Of course, no Filipino meal can be complete without dessert. That day, the buffet included ginataang mais, turon, budin (a delicacy in Quezon which is similar to bread pudding), leche flan, maja blanca and probably the best minatamis na saba you’ve tasted. Guests can also create their very own halo-halo.
To complete the experience, the hotel also came up with special coolers using kamias and guava, as well as alcoholic selections using Filipino fruits. Or you can end with a freshly brewed Batangas kapeng barako or a soothing salabat.
“Lasang Pinoy” at Escolta of The Peninsula Manila is available for lunch from Monday to Saturday at P1,450++ for adults and P860++ for children 12 and under; dinner from Sunday to Thursday at P1,550++ for adults and P920++ for children 12 and under, until June 30 only.
ABS-CBNnews.com is the news website of ABS-CBN,