Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Salu Restaurant in Quezon City Food Review: Taste the Flavors of the Philippines under one roof

The Philippine archipelago is considered a melting pot of South East Asia. So, a Filipino cuisine is prepared and cooked either with a touch of the Western and Asian culture.  Filipino dishes are cooked in a variety of ways dependent on the locale.  Note that the country is interspersed by the islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Security Blanket recently discovered a new restaurant that offers some of the best modern Filipino cuisine featuring the different dishes from the 7,107 islands in the country. Located in Scout Torillo corner Scout Fernandez Streets near Tomas Morato, Quezon City, Salu, The Filipino Restaurant is a brainchild of former actress Harlene Bautista, husband Romnick Sarmenta and Chef Janjie Ocoma a.k.a. “Lakwatserong Kusinero.” 

Salu Restaurant takes a proud look at provincial flavors and showcases the most popular regional recipes with a touch of decadent flair. With the 7,107 islands, the Filipino culinary palate is as diverse as the country's numerous dialects and Salu Restaurant aims to take customers and diners on a culinary tour that shares rich flavors from across archipelago. What Salu Restaurant does best is to highlight lesser known recipes from far-flung areas of the country that may taste foreign to Manila-based Filipinos. It also does a stellar job at elevating local household recipes to level-up into world-class level. 

The four pillars of Salu Restaurant

To say that a Filipino likes to eat is an understatement. ‘Like’ is not quite the term to use to describe the relationship between a Filipino and food. However, it does not still encapsulate the whole truth. A Filipino has a love affair with food. An affair describes a commitment, status, and a mutual understanding between two parties. In effect, a Filipino does not just have a one way relationship with the food; the food loves a Filipino too! 
Former celebrities turned entrepreneurs Romnick Sarmenta and wife Harlene Bautista

Eating is also the best family (and even among friends) bonding. Ask the children what they want to do for the weekend and the reply will most likely be, “To eat out.” For a Filipino, eating strengthens the family ties because issues of success, accomplishments, and even pains, and struggles come out over the table. Filipinos have always considered eating as a pleasure. 

Harlene Bautista welcomes guests

The special tasting dinner hosted by former celebrity loveteam Harlene Bautista and husband Romnick Sarmenta at Salu, was not only a treat for the taste buds, but also a feast for the eyes. As you step into the door of Salu Restaurant, your senses are sure to delight with its homey ambiance. It was indeed another welcome treat--it felt like coming into an old ancestral house, visiting your abuela and dining at their 'silong' (basement) or antesalaIt easily gives off the impression of the warm undeniably Pinoy hospitality. The newest dining establishment incorporates the best recipes throughout different regions in the country. I'd have to say the said restaurant is perfect to bring in balikbayan relatives or foreign visitors to enjoy and taste authentic Filipino cuisine. Those in search of a little piece of heaven on earth and epicurean gastronomic adventure need not to travel far. Salu Restaurant seems to have the best treasured recipes of the Philippine island. 

Harlene Bautista proudly says they offer some of the famous regional dishes like Luzon's Isarabasab and Hardinera, Visayas Island's Balbacua and KBL (Kadios, Baboy, Langka), while classic favorites from Mindanao includes Utak-utak, Tiyual Itim (a signature black soup) and Beef Kulma (their version of curry). 

"Salu envisions itself as the Filipino Culinary Authority,"said Chef Janjie Ocoma, the executive chef of the restaurant. "We try to explore, experiment and make sure plates can't be labeled anything other than authentic Filipino. We honor originality and give tribute to the story of each dish because that's what makes it unique and real Filipino." Such detailed and meticulous planning went into the development of every dish on the menu. "It's a creative process," Bautista added. "The dishes go through an evolution. It took us about 100 regional recipes to work on. We are still perfecting and fine-tuning. A dish can always be given a tweak and find new ways to do it. That's something that keeps our guests coming and hopefully they will approve and get the nod of each dish that goes on the menu."

Salu Restaurant's goal is to give clients and customers a different dining experience in terms of flavor, and combination of flavors that's out of the ordinary. As a foodie, I love the fact that the dishes they serve here aren't overwhelming or intimidating. It's more of comfort flavors. Once you taste it, you get familiar with its flavors and tastes right away. Unexpected but not totally unfamiliar--this could also be said about the presentation of dishes. 

The dishes are really very visually appetizing and I think a lot of people have the same thinking also. I guess at Salu Restaurant, guests must expect an elevated dining experience that is at the same time pleasantly familiar. In essence, the food is definitely traditional with some tweaks and twists but doesn't make any less authentic. Filipino food is, by nature of geography and history, varied and this is the main foundation that Salu restaurant plates their food on.

What makes Salu Restaurant different from all the other restaurants I've visited? Here guests can truly indulge themselves and get lost in time, thanks to the pleasant and relaxing Filipino inspired interiors that allows guests to feel like they are just lounging at a home in the province and not a bustling commercial establishment. It's also nice to note that they had a special area for kids to play. This is good news for Moms who would come and dine with their kids. The kids can get their hands busy at play and interact with other kids while the family awaits for their food.
The well-lighted play area made specifically with kids in mind.

Refreshing Lychee Drink

Find comfort from the debilitating hot weather with Salu Restaurant's signature lychee flavored drink. Satisfy your streetfood cravings with Salu's Chicken, Squid and Fish Balls on skewers, cheese sticks, unripe mango slices, santol (with iodized salt) and turnip sticks with their signature bagoong (fermented anchovies), and streetfood all-time favorite, Kwek-kwek (orange coated quail eggs). 

Squid balls on a skewer

Guests went gaga over this Santol skewer.

Find scrumptious interesting grub with something they call as "Likhang Salu." Highlights of the night were two of their must-try signature dishes called Binagoongang Lechon Kare-kare and Pinalutong na Sisig Hito (Sisig made from catfish). 

Binagoongang Lechon Kare-kare

Pinalutong na Hito Sisig

Watch out for other interesting dishes on their menu such as Hinurnong Manok, Salu's version of sinampalukan with a bit of smoky roasted chicken taste, Sinigang na Lechon, Pakbet Soup, and Aobong Manok sa Laing among many others. 
Diners can take a closer and more intimate taste of Filipino food. The main dishes are something not to be missed as well. Their signature Salu Salad, colors of which will remind you a rainbow or Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic novel The Secret Garden. 
Adobong Manok Laing
Pancit habhab
Salu's Salad

Salu Salad

Turmeric Rice
Salu Fried Chicken

Tiyual Itim
The dessert selection is as spectacular as the food, particularly their Mayon (named after the famous perfect shaped volcano in the Bicol region) made from molten chocolate cake with salted egg, served with chocolate syrup and chili (cayenne), slices strawberries and cubed mangoes. You should also try the often talked about Braso De Kalabasa (made with squash). 
Chocolate Syrup with chili

Salu's Mayon Chocolate Dessert

For reservations and inquiries, come and visit Salu The Filipino Restaurant at 26B Scout Fernandez corner Scout Torillo Streets, Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City. Call 921-2448. 

Disclaimer: I am not compensated for this post. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. 


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