8 must-try dishes by Chef Tatung at Diamond Hotel's Pinoy buffet

Joko Magalong

Posted at Jun 07 2017 07:08 AM | Updated as of Jun 07 2017 07:10 AM

Chef Tatung Sarthou, pictured here with his Chicken Pianggang dish, is the featured chef at Diamond Hotel's 'Philippine Archipelago' food festival. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

MANILA -- Just in time for this year's Independence Day celebration, Corniche restaurant of the Diamond Hotel takes diners in a culinary journey around the country in "Philippine Archipelago," a food festival highlighting regional cuisines running until June 12.

Renowned culinary historian, sustainability advocate, and celebrity chef Tatung Sarthou captains this gustatory trip featuring his unique take on Filipino dishes, showcasing both modern and traditional flair.

“There’s a conscious effort to really represent the regions. That’s why here, we have Tausug, we have Ilocano, we have Cebu, we have all that! Personally, we’re talking about independence, and everyone is so obsessed with ‘national cuisine,’ and sa akin kasi Filipino cuisine is an array of different cuisines around the country,” Sarthou said.

The buffet selection changes each day, while still including Corniche staples (Japanese, cheese and cold cuts, soups and salads, Western, Indian, pastry, etc.). Here are some of our must-try dishes from the Philippine Archipelago buffet.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

1. Pakwan at Kilawin ng Tuna

Sarthou is a master of kilawin. Here, he adds watermelon to the coconut-vinegar marinated tuna, adding sweetness and freshness.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

2. Kalderetang Kambing Buntut

One of the best things in the buffet is this goat dish. Goat tail is stewed ‘til tender with all the kaldereta trimmings from olives to carrots to peppers. It’s a straightforward dish packing a lot of flavor, ideally eaten with a lot of rice.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

3. Dinakdakan

What’s not to love about this Ilokano dish? Stewed then fried (or grilled) pork face (and other parts), enriched and bound by the creamy goodness of brain and calamansi-based dressing. Think amped up, extra creamy sisig.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

4. Hamonado

Filipinos love sweet things, and in this hamonado you’ve got the best of sweet (from pineapples), savory, and even a hint of acid with some additional enjoyment courtesy of the interplay of textures between the soft fat layer and the lean layer of shoulder.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

5. Chicken Pianggang

One of the chef’s specialties, he dubs it as our ‘Filipino curry.’ With blackened coconut, flavors of ginger, and not too spicy, taste this soon to be world famous dish.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

6. Embutido

A fiesta favorite! It’s not often we see this dish in a restaurant, so here’s our chance! Treated as an appetizer, you can eat this minced pork roll with ketchup and rice (my preference), or enjoy it with bites of cheese, as a Filipino cold terrine in a cheese plate.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

7. Adobo Glazed Roast Beef

While lechon is also on hand in the buffet, it’s the Adobo Glazed Roast Beef that caught our eye. Crusted with chilies and whole peppercorns, slow-cooked for six hours, perfectly pink in the middle, a slice brings you beefy goodness with only a slight adobo (soy) note. Want more of the adobo flavor? Slather on some adobo sauce (gravy), or be bold and adventurous with a dollop or two of Calamansi Mustarda — a sweet and tangy rind-heavy calamansi jelly concoction that not only cuts the richness, but makes a bite better, similar to how mint jelly does with lamb.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

8. Champorado

For dessert, Corniche always has one of the best spreads -- there’s halo-halo, various cakes, the not to be missed Diamond Hotel homemade ice creams, but for this festival, we recommend taking a bite of the Champorado Mousse. Chocolate mousse flavored with local chocolate (tablea), layered with a whipped cream topping, finished with a thin and crispy piece of fried dilis. It’s a less heavy version of the breakfast classic that doesn’t scrimp on the flavors.

Lunch or dinner is at P2,380 nett per person. For a minimum spend of P5,000, diners get the chance to win roundtrip airline tickets to Cebu. For the duration of the festival, Abel Iloco weavers and their products will be available in the hotel lobby.