The greater public knows Myke Tatung Sarthou as the no-nonsense chef who has a knack for keeping things ‘simpol’ in the kitchen. Through his videos on YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok, the cookbook author empowered homemakers and newbie cooks across the world.
But those familiar with the Cebuano chef’s lifelong affinity with food, the restaurants he’s opened, and the awards his cookbook has reaped know he also has an extensive knowledge on food history and complex cooking techniques.
It is this side he showcases in his excellent degustation at Tatung’s Private Dinners at his Spanish-inspired home in Antipolo. Dining there is discovering little-known Filipino ingredients and dishes, encountering new flavors, and at the same time having a really delicious, sophisticated, and satisfying meal.
Wanting to cater to more diners—especially the younger crowd, expats, and families—Chef Tatung recently opened another degustation restaurant but this time at the more accessible One Bonifacio High Street Mall in Taguig. He calls it Lore, meaning knowledge gained through study or experience. The restaurant is an embodiment of the chef’s years of research and practice. It’s also his first collaboration with serial restaurateur George Pua (Rico’s Lechon, Ogawa Traditional Japanese Restaurant, Thai BBQ, Modern China and more) and Vikings’ managing director Jackson Go.
Lore is a celebration of how far Filipino culinary history has evolved over the centuries, says the affable Mr Sarthou. It is also a statement—one that says Filipino cuisine is not only about pre-colonial or indigenous cooking but also a celebration of influences: from the West, China, Japan, Latin America to the nation’s collective palate.
“We cannot discard all of those influences. You can’t say ito lang ang Filipino cuisine—sinigang,” he says. The chef often gets invited to showcase Filipino cuisine in different parts of the world, and whenever he’s abroad, he often doesn’t have access to a lot of Filipino ingredients. “So how do you tell the story of Filipino cuisine without being dependent on our local ingredients? That’s what Lore is all about.”
While both his private dinners in Antipolo and Lore have the same goal—shine the light on Filipino cuisine—the dishes he serves in Antipolo are more homey. At Lore, he allows himself to be more playful and creative. And since he has access to premium ingredients, and his partners enable him to buy in bigger quantities, he’s able to elevate the quality of the dishes yet offer them at a good price.
The dishes are nostalgic—the flavors all so familiar yet they’re presented in very innovative ways. For instance, the homemade breads are served with a delicate lineup of spreads: a chicken galantina and raisin jam, a chicken liver pate, calamansi mostarda and tinapa butter.
The kinilaw, the chef says, harks back to his memories of when his family would buy all sorts of kinilaw from vendors in his hometown Cebu. Lore’s version of this appetizer has layers of raw tuna, sea urchin, and pickled pineapple. Balancing out the kinilaw’s tartness are crunchy sweet potato strings served on the side.
An appetizer that will remind diners of Chinatown trips of yore is the Camaron Relyeno—pork sausage stuffed with prawn—served with a sauce that’s made from haw flakes, a favorite childhood candy.
You won’t guess that the work of art in front of you is a Lumpia Fresca until you finally take a bite of the shrimps, the crab meat and turnip wrapper in a soft blanket of squid ink crepe. Slather it with the sweet garlicky sauce and you will surely relive your favorite lumpiang sariwa memories.
Chef Tatung also has a version of an old recipe from Sulipan, Pampanga. He calls it Mariscos con Sarsa Verde—smoked hamachi and seared scallops served with a “pipian sauce” made of spinach, green tomatoes and almonds. We guarantee you will want to savor every bite.
The Pato con Salsa Tsokolate is a dish inspired by a recipe from Filipina beauty queen, feminist, and journalist Purificacion “Pura” Villanueva Kalaw. It is duck done two ways—slow roasted and pulled—and served with a tablea infused sauce and a side of grilled corn salsa. Apparently, chocolate was already being used as a savory ingredient in the Philippines as early as the 18th century.
We were served a strawberry sorbetes as palate cleanser before we dove into what Chef Tatung calls “Christmas on a Plate”—coconut infused adlai grains topped with homemade jamon de Bulacan and seared foie gras. Breaking the rich, delicate flavors is the clam foam garnish which adds a hint of a briny taste to the dish. Did it feel like Christmas? You’d have to be a Scrooge not to.
A worthy finale to the degustation is the Moros y Kristianos—slow braised beef short ribs with two types of coconut sauces, one with burnt coconut and the other a white coconut gravy—followed by the familiar tastes and textures of a classic mango jubilee dessert, a cloud-like sponge cake drenched in tres leches and served with flambeed mango, lemon sabayon and vanilla ice cream.
Lore offers its degustacion in five-, seven- and ten-course sets. For the holidays, it can also serve cochinillo for those coming in a group. The feeling of satisfaction is a huge part of the Filipino dining experience, and Chef Tatung guarantees diners that both their tummies and their hearts will feel full when they come to Lore.
Lore is located at 3rd Level One Bonifacio High Street Mall 5th Avenue corner 28th Street Bonifactio Global City, Taguig City. It’s open Monday to Sunday at lunch (11am to 3pm) and dinner (6pm to 11pm). For bookings and inquiries, text or call 09778049888, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @Lore.Manila on Instagram.