Philippines has a very diverse range of influences when it comes to tradition, food, and other things. When a restaurant that serves a specific cuisine opens up, it will either be a big hit or a big miss. One thing we look for cuisine specific restaurants is the authenticity. The more authentic it is, the higher chances of it being a hit. These 5 restaurants has surely hit the target!
5 Authentic Restaurants that Really Hit the Mark
5. Bar Dolci
Nicholai Go, owner of Bar Dolci
At the young age of 15, Nicholai Go started his own restaurant and food supply business. Now 23, he is studying Architecture and Fine Art at the Rhode Island School of Design. Nicholai said that the reason he put up Bar Dolci is for people to taste his mom’s cooking. His mom is a pastry chef who was trained under the best European chefs. He is not new to the restaurant business, though. His parents used to own restaurants that were serving high-end products but unfortunately, it was closed down.
Bar Dolci is a Mediterranean inspired restaurant with gelato and macaroon as their core products. One of the things that can make or break a cuisine specific restaurant is the ingredients they use. People will look for that authentic taste that that cuisine is expected to have. It’s hard to find ingredients locally when what you are serving is not a local food. Nicholai says that they strive to use mostly locally grown ingredients that pass their quality standards, or otherwise they import. Aside from quality ingredients, they use quality equipment to give their products that authentic taste.
Fernando Aracama, Chef of Aracama Filipino Cuisine
Wanting to share Filipino cuisine with the world, Chef Aracama and his partners turned a nightclub to a Filipino restaurant. He started cooking at the tender age of 7 by helping his parents cook puto and kutsinta, which they then would sell after. He went to UP Diliman to originally take up Fisheries but unfortunately, it was not a course at Diliman so he took Hospitality and Restaurant Administration. In 1988, he won a cooking competition sponsored by Nestle, and that he said is his affirmation to pursue culinary. He went to a culinary school in the US. He opened his first restaurant, UVA, in 1999 and from there, the rest is history.
Opening a Filipino restaurant is not as easy as one might think. This is the cuisine we grew up with, so we already have preferences as to how one dish must taste. As for Aracama, they rose above those expectations. Chef Aracama and his partners made sure that both Filipinos and foreigners that dine in Aracama experience the whole Filipino dining experience and get to taste as much Filipino food as possible.
3. Lugang Cafe
Katrina Hernandez, Marketing Communications Manager of Lugang Cafe
Aside from a franchise of a local fast-food chain, Katrina has no background in restaurant business. She graduated Marketing and for the last five years, she has served as the Marketing Communications Manager of Lugang Cafe. While on a trip in Shanghai, her parents discovered Bellagio Cafe and decided to franchise it here in the Philippines. They changed the name to Lugang Cafe so as not to be confused with Bellagio Hotel.
With the emergence of international restaurant franchises in the country, Katrina says that they try to offer new products so as to stay in the mix and keep up with the competition. Lugang Café doesn’t look anything like a typical Chinese restaurant. Katrina says they stayed away from the typical Chinese restaurant look so as to give their customers a modern Chinese dining experience. However, they still offer authentic Chinese food.
2. Balducci Restaurante Italiano
Vergel Gaygay, Dining Supervisor of Balducci Restaurante Italiano
Paolo Nesi, the owner of L’Opera Group, wants to share his passion for Italian food to Filipinos, which is the reason why he opened several restaurants in the country that solely offers Italian food. One of them is Balducci, which started as a deli and bar but is now a full-fledged restaurant. Balducci serves authentic Tuscan cuisine. Vergel Gaygay, the Dining Supervisor for Balducci, said that their ingredients are 90% imported to give their food that authentic Tuscan cuisine taste.
Cuisine specific restaurants should not only serve authentic food, but also give their customers a unique experience. That is one thing Balducci strives to be consistent about. Vergel says that what they want is for their customers to experience the whole Italian dining experience. He says that guests appreciate it when they are treated as family in a restaurant, he makes sure that they do just that. Vergel thinks it is the reason why they stayed in this business for that long.
1. La Vie Parisienne
David Brissonnaud, Manager of La Vie Parisienne
Hailing from France, David Brissonnaud came to Manila to manage a French wine library, bakery and deli, La Vie Parisienne. The concept of La Vie Parisienne came about when Mr. Lhuillier met up with a French entrepreneur, Louis Thevenin, and wanted to open a French consulate in Cebu. They then started importing products directly from France. La Vie Parisienne started out as a take-out-only bakery but then their customers started dining in, so they put up chairs and tables to accommodate them.
David says that all their ingredients are imported from France, but they still keep the prices affordable in order to cater to all classes and not just the upper-class ones. The problem they encountered when they first opened as a cafe of some sort is the food selection. They were surprised to see that Filipinos do not only drink at a bar, but eat, as well; unlike to what Europeans who mostly only drink in bars and dine in restaurants. As such, La Vie Parisienne now offers more French dishes, pasta, sandwiches and a large selection of French pica pica to complement their wine selection. For those who live in the south, rejoice! La Vie Parisienne will open their latest branch at Salcedo Village, Makati this coming October.
Keeping your business alive is harder than putting one up. Cuisine-specific restaurants face the problem of authenticity and adopting to the local scene. All you need to remember is to give your customers the experience of being in another country and your business will be here to stay.
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