MANILA -- Who can resist our humble adobo? The mere mention of the word can get one salivating.
Dark and deep, white and garlicky, or rich and creamy with coconut milk, our unofficial national dish delights with both simplicity and complexity.
As a recipe, the Philippine adobo is fluid, changing with every place and person that cooks or tastes it. Never boring and always changing, the adobo may have been around before the Spaniards colonized our country, but it remains to this day, a bite that can unfailingly remind one of home.
“People always ask, adobo na naman? I say, adobo pa rin!” said Nancy Reyes-Lumen, the country's "Adobo Queen" during the press preview of Adobo Nation, a month-long festival at Holiday Inn & Suites Makati's Flavors Restaurant that allows diners to rediscover the many stories of the Pinoy adobo.
“Adobo is such a big part of Filipino cuisine, we want our guests, especially those coming from abroad, to experience it, as well as how it translates to different dishes and not just the classic pork and chicken,” said Holiday Inn & Suites Makati manager Andy Belmonte. “We hope they come to love adobo as much as we Filipinos do.”
Together with the Flavors kitchen, helmed by executive chef Elmer Marquez, the buffet features the talents of Reyes-Lumen, as well as chefs Jen Seranilla and Jaja Andal.
“Adobo is always old, familiar and loved. It’s a part of your family, it’s a part of your table, it’s a part of your family story, [and] it’s part of your memories… Everybody here has an adobo story,” said Reyes-Lumen.
And indeed, from the comfortable (like adobo-filled pan de sal and fish adobo stew) to the unfamiliar (an adobo-inspired cheesecake, tamales de adobo), adobo stories both old and new are told in the spread.
“It was a challenge. They challenged me to make a dessert, adobo-inspired. I made it into a cheesecake, that is loved by everyone. The way I approached my dishes is to create something familiar, but I added adobo elements or adobo inspirations, so it’s surprising [to the diner],” said Seranilla.
“I decided to create adobo using the regional tastes which I learned in my recent travel around the Philippines. I got inspired with the Mindanao flavors and I want to incorporate the Mindanao cooking techniques and flavors in adobo,” Andal added.
“When we were creating the dishes, I told my team, 'I don’t like the same taste for any dish.' So we either have a different filling,[or] hindi lahat may toyo. My Rodrigo’s Roast only had vinegar, and I had a crust on top. Pwedeng fried, pwedeng roasted like the chicklen roulade, or burnt like the pianggang, or even in a cake! All these things, we thought about it, so you [the diner] would not taste 10 kinds of adobo na pare-pareho ang lasa,” Reyes-Lumen stressed.
Aiming to debut four new adobo dishes per week or some 30 adobos for the whole of October, the ambitious festival takes over both Flavors Restaurant’s lunch and dinner buffets, where diners can also enjoy international offerings (western, dessert, Japanese, Southeast Asian, etc.) with luscious bites of adobo for P1,825 nett.
Whether enjoyed garlic rice, bread or pasta, these dishes will make you proud to be a part of Adobo Nation.
Not your typical liver spread, this Chicken Liver Adobo Pate with Kesong Puti comes amped with adobo flavor and umami richness from kesong puti. Jeeves de Veyra
Be quick with getting to the carving station for Rodrigo’s Roast. This adobo-stewed-and-sugar crusted (ala baked ham) pork belly is undoubtedly one of the standouts of the buffet, especially doused with its adobo cream gravy Jeeves de Veyra
Tamales ala Adobo takes inspiration from Pampanga. Fried adobo floss add texture and bite to this creamy corn dish. Jeeves de Veyra
Dark as night and delicious as sin, these Adobo Tadyang beef ribs are a celebration of meat and the wonders of the grill and soy sauce. Jeeves de Veyra
Molecular gastronomy finds a place in the buffet in this palate cleanser Adobo Caviar. A hollowed out cherry tomato is filled to the brim with caviar that burst with biting adobo flavor (with a hint of fish sauce). Jeeves de Veyra
An entry in a recent cooking competition, Adobo sa Turon is a simple dish that presents the adobo in a novel way — in a fried lumpia filled with chicken adobo and saba. You can’t just eat one. Jeeves de Veyra
The adobo inspiration may be faint in the Adobo Chicken Roulade with Sisig Stuffing, but the end result is harmonious – the lightly sour and tender adobo chicken roulade cutting the liver-tinged richness of the stuffing. Jeeves de Veyra
The Adobong Tuna took me back to eating in one of the best tuna paksiw restaurants in Davao. Jeeves de Veyra
Grilled squid flecked with char, stuffed with vegetables and sauced with an adobo-garlic sauce, this dish is what beachy-dreams are made of. Jeeves de Veyra
This accessible crispy pianggang adobo is best eaten with the accompanying palapa sauce. Jeeves de Veyra
Salted egg, tomato, garlic and adobo, whether on rice or on a pizza crust, go well together. Jeeves de Veyra
Inspired by the aroma and flavor that bay leaf and peppercorns bring to the adobo, this adobo-inspired cheesecake uses both ingredients just enough to flavor and make a bite interestingly sweet. Jeeves de Veyra
Take advantage of the pasta station and have them make you this off-menu garlicky-sweet adobo pasta. Jeeves de Veyra