“I wanted the people to be revitalized after eating” said Chef Giney Villar, much like how the legendary bird Adarna, where the restaurant’s name came from, would revitalize and cure people of their illness. Chef Giney traveled around the country and brought back the historical and heirloom recipes that date back to the early 1900s and recreated them for people to enjoy now. Just the thought of trying out recipes that probably our lolas used to make was enough to feed my curiosity. And the interesting twist is that Chef Giney’s a vegan. So how would those meat dishes taste without her actually taste-testing it first?
Batibot chairs, stained glass doors, vintage items and images and statues of the magical bird fill the interiors of the restaurant. It is warm and inviting much like old Filipino homes brimming with an ambiance of hospitality. It has a vintage feel without being drab or gloomy.
The dish Pinapaitan is a product of the Ilocano’s resourcefulness since the Spanish friars at that time would get the best parts of the meat and the Filipinos would be given the left-over cuts. But this didn’t stop Filipinos from cultivating their culinary creativity and create this dish from scraps. Chef Giney, though, didn’t scrimp on the flavors here. I’m not a big fan but the quality of sourness moved my spoon to keep scooping for more of the soup. The liver was even tasty.
Going far down south to the Sulu Sea Islands, the Piassok, already caught my attention — the small grilled meat and strong aroma of spices wafting in the air when it was served. There’s a definite Malay influence to this dish judging by location. It has a nice coconut mix into the flavor of its really tender meat and equally flavorful crispy spice clinging exteriors.
Saving the best for last, we have the Chicken Relleno, the recipe of which came from a 1940’s cookbook. It takes a gruelling two days to prepare this dish – deboning the chicken, stuffing it with chorizo, ham, cheese, fruits, nuts and other spices, then cooking it. It didn’t disappoint as it was really flavorful. And the sauce that came with it just heightened the flavor. It’s not just a dish for special occasions, but rather, ordering one makes any moment special.
Adarna Food and Culture Restaurant
119 Kalayaan Avenue
Quezon City Philippines
Opens 11:30am to 10:30pm (10:00pm on Sundays)