I was invited to have dinner at Corniche in Diamond Hotel, where their sumptuous buffet spread is located. Since Diamond Hotel is pretty far from where I live and work, it was my first time there.
Albeit the regular buffet fare which includes Chinese, Japanese, and Continental cuisine was still served, extra emphasis was placed on the special Kapampangan dishes that were created by Chef Sau… such as this appetizer Camaru & Vegetable Spring Rolls. Camaru is actually a type of cricket and for the life of me I could never eat an insect if you paid me a million pesos to… so I contented myself with snapping a photo.
Then there was Fried Catfish Fillet with Buru and Vegetables. Buru is fermented rice and I actually tried it and liked it at Sa Kanto by Il Ponticello some time ago. This one came off like fish floss, the kind of floss you find on top of breads and pastries. I couldn’t really taste the Buru though.
As was the Filipino raw fish dish kilawin, renamed as Ceviche with Pomelo. The pomelo lends the usual vinegary taste a burst of refreshing sweetness.
One of the stars of the Culinaria Capampangan Festival is definitely the Pork Sisig with Foie Gras and Organic Egg which my hubby dubbed as the best sisig he has ever eaten. Sisig is a savory dish that is usually prepared with chopped pork cheeks, ears, etc. The foie gras and organic egg adds a richness and creaminess that makes it so much more delectable.
Then there was Crispy Pata Kare-Kare with Steamed Local Vegetables. Crispy pork knuckles are stewed in a rich peanut butter-based sauce and presented with bagoong (Filipino shrimp paste) on the side. I love the fact that pork knuckles are used instead of the usual ox tail which I don’t eat.
This is the US Sirloin Bistek with Shitake Mushroom Confits. It was salty, just like the usual bistek.
Aligue (crab fat) Fried Rice serves as the sinful accompaniment to all these tasty viands.
Another very unique offering is the Whole Baby Lechon Stuffed with Curried Rice. There was only less than half of it left when I got there, hehe. It’s like eating pritchon because of the crispy lechon skin and the tender meat.
Ox Tongue Cream of Mushroom and Corn was another Culinaria Capampangan offering which I skipped simply because I don’t eat animal tongue.
Desserts are also uniquely Kapampangan. First off I tried the Halaya Ube (yam paste), Pinya (pineapple), and Mango. My lola hails from Florida Blanca, Pampanga and I must say no halaya ube comes close to the one she makes. :p
Brazo de Maiz was a divine dessert Chef Sau created. It’s kind of like Brazo de Mercedes but it’s filled with corn custard instead.
Wow, you should never leave Corniche without trying Diamond Hotel’s homemade ice cream. So rich, creamy, and sinful you can’t resist trying each flavor. My favorite flavors include Genmaicha, Banana with Palm Sugar, and Chestnut. You can actually taste the nutty Genmaicha tea, mashed bananas, and chestnut morsels. OMG. I think I instantly gained a pound just by trying a tablespoonful of each flavor.
According to Chef Sau he likes adding a twist to dishes that we’re already used to. I’m a big fan because up until now I still can’t forget the iron chef-esque themed dinner he prepared for the US Potato Board’s Thanksgiving Celebration.
G/F Diamond Hotel
Roxas Blvd. cor. J. Quintos St., Manila
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