March 15, 2020

Updated: Crisostomo - Turn of the Century Filipino Dining

I’m pretty sure every Filipino knows Dr. Jose P. Rizal and some of his works. He is after all, the Philippines’ national hero; the government named streets, structures et al after him, so I don’t know how if anyone in The Philippines doesn’t know him is beyond me. He even has a statue in Spain and halls in other parts of the world in honor of his name. And one of his greatest works is Noli Me Tangere or Touch Me Not in English.

Noli Me Tangere was first published in Berlin, Germany in 1887 during the colonization of the Philippines by Spain, and described the perceived inequities of the Spanish Catholic priests and the ruling government. Noli Me Tangere and its sequel El Filibusterismo centers to a protagonist named Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin, a Filipino-Spanish and the only descendant of the wealthy Spaniard who spent his adolescence studying in Europe. When he got back to the Philippines he learned how his father was set up, imprisoned and later died due to the stories whipped up by the friars. Which became the turning point of him joining the revolution together with his friend Elías against the Spanish government and the Catholic church. 

I clearly remember the first few chapters of the novel centered on a lavish dinner for both the Spanish and Filipino and Mestizo elites and “who’s who” of San Diego; wherein “tinola” was served. Evidence that since back in the day, Filipinos love get-togethers, eating grand and in big groups. This is the inspiration of renowned Filipina chef Florabel Co-Yatco for her Filipino restaurant that carries the name of the main character of Noli Me Tangere: Crisostomo

Chef Florabel often ventures with French, Asian, and other continental cuisines, but just like any Pinoy, she wanted to bring the Filipino cuisine into the forefront through this restaurant Crisostomo and at the same time paying tribute to the cultures that have influenced the Filipino cuisine: Spanish, American and Japanese and Chinese. But also adding her own touch to each dish.

From the façade of the restaurant to the interiors, Crisostomo gives a nod to the Castilian influence bestowed to Filipinos. You will see stained glass, majestic chandeliers, huge paintings depicting people dressed in Spanish-era garbs, wooden long tables, chairs and wall panelings with intricate carvings and antique looking chests that you would see in some old houses. All giving you a feel as if you’re dining at your grandma’s ancestral home. 

I visited Crisostomo with my officemates for dinner as we were with our expat trainer and we wanted for her to try legit Filipino dishes that greatly resembles home cooking. Crisostomo offers an extensive selection of both traditional and modernized Filipino dishes that will surely let you get a satisfying hearty meal – a usual scene at Filipino households. And of course, their food is named after the characters from Noli me Tangere and EL Filibusterismo and significant/historical places around the Philippines. 

Crazy Sisa – crispy hito flakes with green salad.

Crispin – fried talong, tuyo, strips of tomatoes and red onions and kesong puti cubes

Caracol – kohol simmered in special gata and served with kangkong on the side.

Don Rafael – deep fried pork leg with atchara, and soy vinegar. Available in classic or hot and spicy.

Corregidor – a savory stew of pig’s blood, finger chilis, garlic and vinegar.

Valencia Lechon – quarter Cochinillo, roasted suckling pig

Kare-Kare ng Kura – stewed oxtail and ox tripe made with homemade peanut sauce served with native vegetables and shrimp paste.

La Paz Bulalo – beef shank soup with with corn, string beans and petchay.

Protacio’s Pride – baked New Zealand mussels with garlic and cheese

Binagoongan Rice – rice mixed with shrimp paste with salted egg, diced mango, tomatoes, cucumber  and onions

Bam-I Guisado – combination of pancit canton and bihon with chicharon bulaklak and lechon kawali

Halo-Halo ni Crisostomo – ube, leche flan, saging, gulaman, macapuno, kaong, nata and quezo on shaved iced

So just last month, I went back to Crisostomo in BGC with my team mates to let our British trainer try some Filipino food. We ate dishes that we tried before and havent tried yet: 

Binagoongan - fried rice with shrimp paste with salted egg

Kinilaw ni Custodio - tuna FIlipino ceviche with coconut cream

La Paz Bulalo - beef shank wit corn and pechay

Bracken Tofu - sizzling tofu

Caracol - ginataang kuhol with kangkong

De Los Santos - meat & seafood sinugba which contains: pork barbecue, liempo, chicken, pusit, bangus, tahong, inihaw na talong, and atchara

Don Rafael – crispy pata, deep-fried pork leg with atchara and soy vinegar

When we were there almost all long tables were occupied and we found most of the guests were families and friends. Obviously, Crisostomo is a place where friends and family gather to be together and eat home-cooking inspired dishes. All the dishes that we ordered were winners, you can’t go wrong with Filipino food, can you? It was a good decision we brought our foreign trainer there to introduce her to Filipino cuisine as she truly enjoyed everything, and so were we. 

7th Avenue corner 30th street,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Contact Nos: 02 6213195 / 02 6213276

For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Crisostomo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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