When visiting a new country, the experience is never complete without immersing oneself with the local cuisine. Palermo is making it easier for Plantation Bay‘s guests to learn more about local eats with the Philippine Voyager, a 7-course tasting menu which takes the diner to an exciting culinary journey around the country.
The Philippine Voyager gives these local offerings a few spins that will surprise even the natives.
Start with Manny’s Ceviche, which is of course a kind of kinilaw. Served on half shells, it comprises thin-sliced lapu-lapu sashimi, native herbed vinegar, chilis, and a hint of tropical fruit. Don’t waste time with a fork; just bring the shells to your mouth and suck in the delectable interplay of sour, spicy, salty, and umami.
Next course is Adobo, but with a Twist: the Adobo (chicken and pork, cooked slow for hours to achieve maximum tenderness and flavor) is minced and served on deep-fried home-made bread. Again, this is finger food: just pick up the mini-squares and pop them into your mouth.
As a counterpoint to the Adobo, Plantation Bay serves a small cup of Traditional Arroz Caldo, made the old way, starting with raw rice grains, reduced chicken broth, and seasonings.
Fresh Lumpia follows, but instead of a delicate lumpia wrapper, it comes in a cone-shaped taco eaten with your hand to add to the sensory enjoyment of eating. And instead of the usual Tagalog-style sweet peanut sauce, you get Cebu-style cream sauce, which is subtly subversive – if you get used to it, you might never settle for the usual sauce again.
The fifth savory course is Kare-Kare made with beef shank and XO sauce (home-made). Plantation Bay’s Resident Shareholder Manny Gonzalez explains why: He wants to promote Kare-Kare as the Philippine National Dish. “It is one of the most distinctive beef dishes in the world; in all my travels, I’ve never encountered anything even similar; yet it is a treat to almost every palate. Like Adobo, it is widely popular, but it has no pork and hence does not offend a large segment of our population. Beef shank is more reliable and more forgiving to less-skilled cooks than oxtail, so almost anyone can make it, with less effort than the traditional recipe.”
It’s served pre-piled on three ceramic spoons (each a large mouthful). The XO sauce again was chosen for accessibility; bagoong is not (yet) ready for a mass market; so instead of flogging a losing horse, Plantation Bay opted for XO (made in-house), which already appeals to an international audience. (And in case you’re wondering, Plantation Bay also serves “real” Kare-Kare a la carte, and claims it’s the best in the world; this one comes with bagoong and uses meaty US oxtail and made-from-scratch peanut sauce.)
The final savory course is Pansit Malabon outstanding. Crunchy, fat, rice noodles, chicharon flakes, and an intense sauce. Yum!
To wrap up the feast, a super-charged halo-halo! No shaved ice, and instead Plantation Bay’s extra-creamy Home-Made Langka Ice Cream, and the most Halo-Halo tasting Halo-Halo ever.
The 7-course Philippine Voyager is available at Palermo every Tuesday and Friday. Visit Plantation Bay in Marigondon Lapu-lapu City. For reservations and inquiries, you may phone them at 63-32-5059800.