New eats: This fancy-looking restaurant actually offers affordable Fil-Spanish food

Angelo G. Garcia

Posted at Feb 12 2020 06:48 AM

New eats: This fancy-looking restaurant actually offers affordable Fil-Spanish food 1
The beautiful conservatory of Casa Buenas. Angelo G. Garcia

MANILA -- The newly opened Casa Buenas has a fancy air to it. The high ceilings, impressive glass and iron chandelier, and modern furniture are typical of high-end hotel restaurants. There's even a beautiful conservatory with stained glass roof and ornate glass chandelier, perfect for a romantic and intimate gathering.

Despite its intimidating looks, the Filipino-Spanish restaurant actually offers affordable eats. Salads start at P220, while a small skillet of callos costs P490. A serving of paella that's good for two to three servings starts at P1,000.

“Our objective is to invite every kind of guest. Yes, it's intimidating but the food is very affordable," explained executive chef Godfrey Laforteza.

“As soon as you come in you already feel the experience. You are already immersing yourself in a different world of cuisine. It's a full package, it's like an art, a painting,” he added

New eats: This fancy-looking restaurant actually offers affordable Fil-Spanish food 2
The comedor or main dining space. Angelo G. Garcia

Located at the ground floor of the Grand Wing of Resorts World Manila in Pasay City, Casa Buenas' interior is inspired by both Filipino and Spanish design. Machuca tiles are used on the floors while massive lattice window shutters and dividers create that traditional Filipino house vibe.

Arched wooden beams create visual interest on the ceiling. The lattice work, which is inspired by capiz windows, decorate majority of the walls.

The space is divided into sections: the Sala, which is a lounge area near the Aguador or bar; Pamilya, a long table in the middle of the restaurant; Tapas Bar; Comedor or main ding space; and the La Cupula, a conservatory.

New eats: This fancy-looking restaurant actually offers affordable Fil-Spanish food 3
Sala is a lounge area near the Aguador or bar. Angelo G. Garcia

In terms of the menu, Casa Buenas labels itself as a Filipino-Spanish restaurant but the food is more varied than anyone would expect.

“If you can see some elements there [in the dishes], I'm using Asian influences like Japanese flavors because I'm originally a Japanese cuisine trained chef, then worked my way up and explore everywhere in the world. The dishes have a Filipino touch,” Laforteza said.

Beautiful dishes

One of the most interesting dishes on the menu is called “Kumot.” It's like a deconstructed Vietnamese spring roll. Delicate rice paper is draped over a plate of vermicelli noodles with shrimps and vegetables. Then it is doused with a fish sauce dressing with peanuts.

New eats: This fancy-looking restaurant actually offers affordable Fil-Spanish food 4
Kumot is inspired by the Vietnamese spring roll. Angelo G. Garcia

“My inspiration there is the ingredients that I love that's why kinukumutan ko siya (I'm blanketing it). For me, it's a love dish,” he said.

The way the food is presented also what makes the restaurant at par with upscale dining concepts. Dishes like Kumot are plated beautifully, sort of reflecting the beauty of the interior design.

There's also a unique Shrimp “Isaw” inspired by the classic Filipino street food. The Tuna Tartare Kilawin is a fusion of Filipino flavors and Japanese techniques. The Sinulog is one of the Filipino mains, which is grilled chicken pieces served with Cebu lechon stuffing and a sauce made of herbs and aromatics used in roast pork.

New eats: This fancy-looking restaurant actually offers affordable Fil-Spanish food 5
Tuna tartare kilawin. Angelo G. Garcia
New eats: This fancy-looking restaurant actually offers affordable Fil-Spanish food 6
Sinulog is roasted chicken with Cebu lechon stuffing. Angelo G. Garcia

There's also the Coconut Pork Sinigang, a classic Filipino dish given a coconut twist.

There are also several classic dishes like gambas, callos, pizza, and paella (seafood and negra).

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Paella negra. Angelo G. Garcia

“A year and six months ago, we were brainstorming on what to do. So what the executives said, let's go classic, let's go old school. When I was young my lola would invite me to their house and they would bring out all the expensive plates, the kubyertos (cutlery), and they'd make this Filipino and Spanish food. Like now, some of the restaurants are very much concentrated on modern techniques, which is good, I'm not saying it's bad. But I think nowadays, it's so fast everybody forgets what's classic and what's comfort,” Laforteza said.

High-quality meat

One of its signature items are the high quality meat they serve. Although the restaurant sources its vegetables and seafood locally, the beef and pork are sourced from Spain, Australia, and the US.

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Grilled Iberico pork jowl. Angelo G. Garcia

The grilled Kurobuta Pork Chop is a big plate of bone-in pork chop served with java rice and mixed greens. The grilled meats included Spanish Iberico Pork Spare Ribs, Iberico Pork Jowl, US Angus Rib Eye Steak, and US Angus Tenderloin Steak.

What makes the menu truly personal for Laforteza are the dishes inspired by his family. The Garlic Noodles with Crab Meat is his version of his wife's recipe, while the Callos de Monserrat is inspired by his mother-in-law's own callos recipe.

New eats: This fancy-looking restaurant actually offers affordable Fil-Spanish food 9
Callos de Monserrat. Angelo G. Garcia

“My wife inspired me how to cook and my mother-in-law pushed me to explore the world of culinary. To make the story short, Casa Buenas is like our home and I want to pay tribute to my wife, and mother-in-law,” he shared.

The restaurant also offers tapas and a charcuterie platter of various cheeses, cured meat, nuts, fruits, and breads.

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Ube and cheese souffle. Angelo G. Garcia

For dessert, there's only three: Emparador Strudel with brandy cream, Ube and Cheese Souffle with peanut biscotti, and Tablea Chocolate Fondant topped with a quenelle of vanilla ice cream.

Casa Buenas has a lean menu and it was a conscious choice to keep everything up to standard.

“The reason why our menu is small is so everybody can concentrate on the standard of the food,” Laforteza said.