Ilustrado: An Inaugural Malolos Heritage Feast

After I have found myself enchanted with the culture and scenery the walled city of Intramuros has to offer, it was my taste buds' turn to immerse in the rich history of our beloved country thru an Inaugural Feast at one of the most notable Filipino-Spanish dining destinations in the heart of Manila -- Ilustrado Restaurant.

Ilustrado Restaurant Inaugural Feast Ilustrado Restaurant Sinagtala Ballroom

Tucked along the street of General Luna inside Intramuros is Ilustrado Restaurant which was inspired by the educated and well-travelled Filipinos who were tagged as the enlightened elite class back in the Spanish occupation days. And today as we celebrate our well-earned liberation from the Spaniards, Ilustrado brings us a culinary tribute to commemorate one of the most significant milestones of the country.

Inaugural Feast at Ilustrado Restaurant

Having played a big role in the establishment of the first Philippine Republic, it's just fitting to pay homage to the Malolos Convention of 1898. And to bring us back to the abundant feast of the inauguration, Ilustrado Restaurant has partnered with Malolos-based artist, historian and food expert Dez Bautista to put together an Inaugural Feast highlighting the Malolos heritage cuisine which will be available from May 29 to June 30.

Ilustrado Restaurang Dining Window Table Ilustrado Restaurant Main Dining

The Inaugural Feast consists of a special menu of traditionally-rich Spanish-Filipino dishes which guests can enjoy in the cozy and sophisticated space of Ilustrado's wooden main dining room both for lunch and dinner. Luckily for myself and the date, we got to attend the media launch of this cultural treat which was held in the beautiful neo-classic-inspired Singatala Ballroom which boasted of its hand-painted dome ceiling and carved gold leaf arches.

The Appetizers

Although the ravishing interior of Ilustrado is already a feast in itself, we didn't hold our appetite for these highly-enticing Spanish-Filipino gastronomic creations.

Lumpiang Kastila

To whet our appetite, we sampled a few pieces of the Lumpiang Kastila (P210) which was a delightful mix of meat and vegetables rolled in wrapper and deep-fried to a beautiful crisp.

Hamonadong Sugpo P420

There was also a bountiful display of Hamonadong Sugpo (P420) which is an eye-catching succulent seafood treat glazed with a thick blend of sweet sauce. Even with seafood allergies, I got myself this prawn appetizer aplenty.

Merienda de Prayle P320

We also got to try the Merienda de Prayle (P320) which is an indulgent appetizer made from kesong puti (white cheese) and kinilaw na bangus (milkfish ceviche). Although I didn't go gaga for this meal starter, I actually liked the savory and tangy flavors of this friar-favorite.

Stuffed Squid Supreme P395

Challenging my allergies is another seafood appetizer -- Stuffed Squid Supreme (P395) which is also called Binusog na Pusit. Cooked to a perfect tender, these beautiful squids are stuffed with pork and an array of ingredients made available with the Suez Canal opening in 1869.

The Soups

For a warm and comforting follow-up after an exciting and appetite-whetting start, Ilustrado cooked up two hearty soup creations which hit and missed.

Malolos Chowder P250

Being a seafood lover amidst my dreadful condition, I found the Malolos Chowder (P250) really satisfying. With a thick and flavorful broth and a generous ensemble of fresh seafood and Japanese corn, my bowl of this treat was definitely a winner!

Sinuuwam na Mais P220

The Sinuuwam na Mais (P220) on the other hand, didn't win me at any rate. Although I like the creaminess of this soup, the blend of local white corn, eggplant and string beans was a little too dull for my palate. I guess I'm just not a big fan of our own corn.

The Main Course

I know it seemed that we've already eaten a lot. But after all the meal starters we went through, the real Inaugural Feast was just about to begin.

Apahap de Paterno P850

Known as a favorite of Pedro Paterno, the Apahap de Paterno (P850) is also called Pescado en Mayonesa which is steamed Asian sea bass artistically adorned with chopped vegetables. Although I liked the blend of natural flavors in this dish, I found the fish slightly overcooked.

Rellenong Manok ni Joseling P1450

We also got to try the Rellenong Manok ni Joseling (P1,450) which is a deboned whole chicken stuffed with spiced ground pork. Being a big fan of anything relleno, I quite liked the savory and succulent flavors of both the chicken and the pork stuffing.

Hamon de Hacienda P320

One of the most memorable dishes for our lunch was Hamon de Hacienda (P320) which only hacienderos (sugar barons) get to enjoy back in the day. Prepared through hard work where pork belly is mixed with Prague powder for 3 days, rinsed and boiled with pineapple juice in the 3rd day, with drippings set aside for its sauce, I'm sure glad Ilustrado decided to include this for the Inaugural Feast.

Pata Malolena P795

Following suit is another equally satisfying dish, the Pata Malolena (P795) or Humba. Slowly-boiled to ensure tenderness, these braised pork legs were soft and very succulent. With flavored banana flowers on the side, this ensemble left us wanting for more.

Morcon Plaridel P550

We also had Morcon Plaridel (P550) which is a favorite of Marcelo H. del Pilar. Rolled with Chorizo de Bilbao and an array of assorted vegetables, these beef tenderloin slices were cooked to a juicy and flavorful main entrée.

Bringheng Malolos P995

For some carbs, we had Bringheng Malolos (P995) which is a pre-Hispanic version of the crowd-pleaser paella. Cooked in turmeric and coconut milk, and topped with chicken meat, carrots, eggs and raisins, this was a filling meal in itself though I'd still prefer paella any day.

My Plat at Ilustrado Restaurant
My first plate at the Inaugural Feast

The Drinks

The Inauguration Feast at Ilustrado was already satisfying in itself, but the whole meal was even taken up a notch because of the unique and refreshing drinks we paired with the dishes.

Pandan Tea Dalandan Juice

One of the must-try beverages at Ilustrado is probably its Pandan Tea which tasted light, sweet and oh-so-refreshing. It was aromatic too and reminded me strongly of sugarcane. We also got to sample the Dalandan Juice. While it's equally refreshing on a hot day, it's a bit too tangy to drink bottom up.

The Desserts

After all the flavorful dishes we had for main course, it's just appropriate to have equally taste bud-satisfying meal enders. So although we were already getting full, we didn't dare miss out on these sweet treats.

Loretto's Leche Flan con Manga P140

First on the desserts table was Loretto's Leche Flan con Manga (P140) which is leche flan made from the sweetest ripe Philippine mangoes. Being a mango lover, I definitely dig this sweet dessert. However, I just wish that the texture be more silky 'cause I find it too lumpy.

Dessert Plate at Ilustrado Restaurant

We also had sweet and tangy Señorita Guava (P175) which is caramelized pitted bayabas Tagalog served with fresh carabao's milk. For more meal enders, we also had a rainbow-layered kakanin and Malolos' Empanadas de Kaliskis.

Kuatros Kantos Bar and Cafe Sampaguita Ice Cream P120

Although a mainstay in Ilustrado's desserts menu, the good folks at the restaurant invited us to try their home-made Sampaguita Ice Cream (P120) as we chill in the Kuatro Kantos Bar -- Ilustrado's dim-lighted bar and cafe in one. While the beau didn't appreciate the distinct Jasmine flavor, I found myself enjoying the ambrosial taste of our Philippine national flower.

THE VERDICT

Even though I have frequented Intramuros, it was my first time to try the gustatory delights at Ilustrado Restaurant. And despite my Chinese-Filipino roots, I can proudly say that I've enjoyed the Inaugural Feast that didn't only take my palate to a wonderful culinary adventure, but also gave me a flavorful taste of the past. Truly, Malolos is not just a faraway city in the northern province, but a site full of significant history and yummy eats.

Taste - 4/5
Ambiance - 4.5/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3/5
Overall Value - 4/5


Ilustrado Restaurant, Intramuros
744 Calle Real del Palacio (General Luna St.),
Intramuros, Manila
Metro Manila, Philippines
(02) 527-3674
Official Website
Facebook Page

38 comments:

  1. everything looks good! :) I'm curious with Meryenda de Prayle.hehe. :)

    http://www.dekaphobe.com/

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  2. I dined in this place once and I get over till now how good the hamon de hacienda is!

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  3. you made me miss PINOY cuisine more!
    i have dined in ilustrado but for a wedding reception. i think it's a must try-restaurant particularly to those balikbayan. :)

    great post, once more, sumi!

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  4. Wow prices are fit for Illustrados indeed, very interesting array of dishes. An alternative place with some similar dishes would be Adarna in Kalayaan, Quezon City (https://www.facebook.com/adarnafoodandculture).

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  5. wow ganda ng interior, looks like an expensive place and everything looks so delicious! ;)

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  6. wow, it looks sophisticated indeed. Will try it out when I suddenly fancy spanish food. hehe

    That leche flan with mango is interesting :)

    Once again, great review! :)

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  7. What a great program and oh boy! those foods makes me drool. It makes my stomach noisy :-) I am glad that you are part of the inaugural :-) It sounds fun and entertaining :-)

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  8. That's a great gastronomic way to display our culture. Gutom ako tuloy.

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  9. everything looks appetizing... but the sweet tooth that i am... i got so intrigued with the leche flan

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  10. Everything looks sumptuous! If ever I'll try their food.. Hamonadong Sugpo and Leche Flan will be the firsts on my list. =)

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  11. Hi Sumi! I don't like Filipino Spanish food kasi parang nAuumay ako pero this one made me think of trying out these dishes

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  12. That was a real feast. I am a big fan of seafood and the hamonadong sugpo really looks tempting. The stuffed squid likewise makes me drool, he!he!

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  13. ang sarap! but I bet, ang mahal!

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  14. quite expensive but the food looks great! i miss the wall tuloy (been walled for 5 yrs during college days ;)

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  15. Akala ko naman may inauguration na naganap sa isang heritage house sa malolos. lol.
    parang ang sarap lang jan ah. :D

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  16. wow! ang sarap! lalo na yung lecheflan! i didn't know about this restaurant until now lang! thanks for the heads-up. might take my family one of these days. :)

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  17. Ang ganda ng place at mukhang masarap lahat ng pagkain lalo na yung Malolos chowder at mga desserts.

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  18. Two things come into mind when I remember Illustrado: Unkept fixtures and not-so good food. I was there last December for my cousin's wedding. We saw dirty spots on the chair and table linens for starters. I guess the only viands that I liked from the reception would have to be the dessert section, and the Paella. Everything else tasted bland. Even the pasta tasted too sour for our taste. :(

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  19. You never fail to amaze me with your photos. Aside from the food, the place really looks elegant. I was most intrigued by the Sampaguita ice cream, is sampaguita edible? Lol!

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  20. We had food tasting at Illustrado for my client's wedding some 3 yrs ago. I liked their food but my client chose a different caterer.

    Hope you can visit me too at: http://www.occasionsofjoy.com/2012/06/back-to-school.html

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  21. Photos are stunning as always! I have tasted Illustrado's dishes at a Food Tasting, I think at Fernbrooke Gardens and we loved it! We are still looking forward to visiting the restaurant in Intramuros.

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  22. I've been eyeing this place ever since I was supposed to tour some friends in Intramuros. I was wondering talaga if this was worth the reviews I saw on some blog. I'm so glad that you posted about this place. :) Now I can really say that it's worth going to. :) I really want to try the stuffed squid and the malolos chowder. :)

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  23. Wow, I've never been to Ilustrado but I've heard a lot about it. I'm not a fan of Filipino food in general but I'm very intrigued by the Malolos Chowder and Senorita Guava. :D

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  24. Wow! I love the setting of that resto ;) I want to try Señorita Guava :) Mukhang masarap ;)

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  25. everything looks "yummily" good...must be pinoy food at its best!

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  26. @Mai Flores: Aww.. Sorry for having such an experience. Although I did see a dirty spot on one seat cover, the food we got to try were a mix of okay and tasty.
    @swexie: Yeah, Sampaguita is actually a kind of Jasmine which we usually enjoy in tea form.. ^^ So it's edible naman :)

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  27. Haven't been to any of the restos in Intramuros...this should be worth a visit sometime! I personally appreciate Filipino dishes :)

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  28. omg the place looks really nice. i want to try the squid supreme!

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  29. Super love the ambiance. Spain na Spain yung dining table! And the hamonadong sugpo! I want it!

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  30. When I read your blogpost, it makes me feel hungry...I like Rellenong Manok ni Joseling....

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  31. Hamonadong sugpo & Relienong Manok ni Joseling looks yummy... I want to try this affordable naman ung price... na curious tuloy ako pano nila niluto to.

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  32. oh, the dishes themselves look so illustrious (if that's ever used for food). hihihi...yum yummy looking as always!

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  33. Feasts like this appeal to me. Food and history form a highly interesting mix that fascinates many people. :)

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  34. Now I wanna grab FM and head over there. Parang ang sarap!

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  35. I wanna try all the seafood dishes they've got, the shrimp and squid look so tempting. I'll just pack a lot of antihistamines before coming in.

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  36. That Rellenong Manok and Stuffed Squid Supreme looks really nice! Would love to try Ilustado soon! The desserts looks good too *faints*

    Awesome Dining Experience @ La Cocina de Tita Moning | Hefty Foodie: Random Food Trips with Close Friends

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