Global trends say Filipino cuisine is the next big thing this 2018. Even the big names in the food world like Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern agree. And what better news is that a relatively new restaurant whipping up Filipino classics and favorites with surprises in between has become the newest addition to the lovely neighborhood that is Poblacion: enter Lobo Filipino Tavern.
A brainchild of celebrity-turned-restaurateur Kian Kazemi, Lobo is an homage to one side of his roots being his Ilongga mother. He has spent years creating and developing restaurants like Persia Grill and Kite Kebab Bar that represent his other half — it’s time to showcase his Filipino bloodline.
He doesn’t like calling it Filipino food with a twist. Instead, it his take on well-loved Filipino dishes — family favorites added with his dash of creativity, spoonful of surprise, and every ounce of passion. But this spunk translates even to the restaurant’s interiors which Kian himself mostly envisioned: wooden finishes, capiz shells, warm lighting, and local artworks all reminiscent of a traditional Filipino ancestral home.
The food is simple and honest. Lobo’s offerings do not veer away from homegrown dishes the Filipino palates are used to and familiar with. But there are surprises in between making the dining experience new and exciting.
While the servings may seem small for a family or big group, the flavors pack a lot of punch. We started off with Sinuglaw, a combination of sinugba and kinilaw, grilled pork belly on a bed of tuna ceviche in coconut vinegar, lime, and mangoes that is the definition of a medley of flavors and textures.
Next we sampled the Kesong Puti sticks, carabao white cheese that is breaded, fried, placed on sticks, and then grilled. Isn’t that super interesting? The Pork Sisig Tacos was also a great way to entice the tastebuds.
The stars of the dining table are really the bangus or milkfish (which was surprisingly big for its price!) grilled to perfection and the Tadyang ng Baka or beef short ribs slow-cooked in two ways.
It’s hard to find restaurants serving up these well-loved Filipino dishes our mothers used to prepare at home (especially for people living the fast-paced Manila life) at a good value without compromising the taste. And Lobo has done more than just that.
Complementing the flavorful mains are the vegetables which also did not fall short in terms of taste. Their Laing (taro leaves in coconut milk) with dilis (anchovies) is to die for.
It is creamy but not soggy, unlike versions in other restaurants. The Gising-Gising is also really good as the green beans stayed crunchy even when soaked in creamy coconut milk.
There are more dishes offered at Lobo and they even have menu sets so you can sample a little bit of all your homegrown favorites. Kian may even pop up sometimes and with his quirky antics to life lessons in between those bites, your time at Lobo is nothing short of surprising. What else can be more comforting than a taste of what’s familiar and a sense of adventure in one, right?
Lobo Filipino Tavern | 4898 Durban Corner Polaris Street, Poblacion, Makati City