October 31, 2019

Revisiting Old Manila and Ilustrado Restaurant

Being someone who’s a self-proclaimed old-world romanticist, I just love places that transports me back to olden times when and where life was simpler and places that stirs up my imagination because of the opulent history behind it. One of the places in the Philippines where I can get that fix is Intramuros. I’ve been here a couple of times and it always makes me feel nostalgic and proud of my heritage as a Filipino with a rich antiquity and background.

Last weekend, me and a couple of friends visited old Intramuros and some of the other museums nearby for the celebration of Museums and Galleries Month where the Intramuros Administration held an Open House where most of the museums are free. Yep no entrance fees! 

Intramuros is a Latin word which means “within the walls". It is a 0.67 square kilometers historic walled area within the modern city of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Intramuros is also called the Walled City, and at the time of the Spanish Colonial Period was synonymous to the City of Manila. It was the seat of government and political power when the Philippines was a component realm of the Spanish Empire. It was also the center of religion, education and economy. The standard way of life in Intramuros became the standard way of life throughout the Philippines. 

After visiting 3 places/museums inside the walled city, we went to San Augustin church to check out the museum inside, but it was already lunchtime and it was closed. By this time, we were already famished so we looked for a place to get lunch. There were a couple of choices that comes up on Google; but we decided to go to Ilustrado, one because I’ve already tried that resto and I can attest to the goodness and quality of their food and two, they offer Zomato Gold. 

Besides the majestic old world cathedrals and structures that you can tour Intramuros, it is also filled with places where you can fulfill your foodie adventures. One of the well-known places where you can indulge in Spanish-Filipino cuisine is at Ilustrado Restaurant. Ilustrado is Spanish term for "erudite" or "learned" or "enlightened ones". Ilustrados constituted the Filipino educated class during the Spanish colonial period in the late 19th century. They were the middle class who were educated in Spanish and exposed to Spanish liberal and European nationalist ideals.

Since 1989, Ilustrado Restaurant has been building a reputation for excellent cuisine and impeccable service -- offering world-class Spanish Filipino and Global cuisines in an authentically charming old-world setting. Whenever in Manila, both local and foreign visitors find it is an indispensable stop for an experience of the country’s best features – warm hospitality, wonderful food and beautiful culture.

In the tradition of distinction founded by their parents Rose and Boni Pimentel, Beatrice and Chef Bernice who now lead the restaurant are bringing Ilustrado to the next generation with refreshed passion for Asian flavors blended beautifully with modern classics. Together with Ilustrado’s all-time bestsellers, the menu now also offers fresh selections worthy of the Ilustrado signature.

Last year, I was able to try their 29th year anniversary 8-course Degustation Menu and truly enjoyed that lunch. Now we ordered some items off the menu which included: 

Freshly Baked Breads – these hot and soft freshly baked breads were served with butter and chicken liver pate. They were so good that we even asked for a second serving which the crew happily obliged. These breads are complimentary, but they are a preview to what’s to come next and it’s only the start of our meal and we were already enjoying it!

Bagnet Kare-Kare – from the root word “curry”, this is a Filipino stew made from toasted ground rice, peanut sauce complemented by a home made sweet and spicy shrimp paste. This tasted like how your grandma would cook old-fashioned and homecooked Kare-Kare, but leveling it up with the use of Bagnet instead of the usual meat or innards. 

Sinigang na Bagnet – a Filipino sour soup. We were supposed to order the other variety which has Barramundi Collar and belly but that was not available. The use of Bagnet elevated this Filipino fave dish but I found the soup a tad too salty for my liking. I don’t know but I really like my sinigang super sour. I still enjoyed this though since I haven’t eaten sinigang for some time. 

Callos Madrilena – a hearty and extra thick version of the traditional Madrid dish. Ox stripe, garbanzos, chorizo de Bilbao, pimientos and bacon slab. This is surprisingly the dish that enjoy more. It’s quite rare that I eat callos as it is not that always available to eat. Ilustrado’s callos is one of the best that I’ve tried. 

Chicken Curry with Cous Cous – Chicken breast slices with traditional South East Asian curry served with spiced cous cous. This was easily everyone’s favorite since the curry sauce was really good. The chicken was tender and juicy as well. I love cous cous because of its texture and I haven’t had it in years, and I missed eating it. The cous cous was a great combi with the chicken curry. 

It’s a good thing that we decided to dine at Ilustrado for lunch, because we left with full tummy, and reasonable bill. We were so full and we were able to rest and gain energy for the afternoon filled with walking and visiting the rest of the museums inside Intramuros and all the other museums near it. I love that I was able to encounter the same experience just like the one I had a year back. 

744 Calle Real del Palacio (Gen. Luna), 
Intramuros, Manila
Contact Nos: +632 5273674, +63939 9206822
Email: catering@ilustradorestaurant.com.ph
Website: www.ilustradorestaurant.com.ph

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

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