WE Filipinos are certified foodies at heart. We constantly look for new flavors to try, so the food scene in Manila has become a virtual playground for restaurants specializing in different cuisines. Whatever we want to try, there is a restaurant that we can go to. But, in the end, we Filipinos will always go back to our comfort food—Filipino food—especially dishes that we grew up with and hold fond growing-up memories of.
No question about it: Filipino dishes are flavorful and delicious. But sometimes they lack presentation because they are often served family style. We have to tweak them to make them look more appetizing and, from time to time, combine techniques or ingredients to breathe new life into traditional Filipino dishes so that they do not become boring. Come to think of it, this is really how we Filipinos like our food—we crave for familiar flavors but want to find something unique and different in them at the same time.
This is where Locavore comes in. Established in 2015, the restaurant reinvents Filipino food by serving Filipino home-cooked meals with a twist. The menu is playful and innovative, and contains a lot of items that are guaranteed to catch diners’ attention.
Lechon and Oyster Sisig—Instead of the usual pork face and organs, Locavore’s version of sisig uses crispy lechon and oysters. Not the usual sisig variations such as Chicken Sisig, Bangus Sisig, Tuna Sisig or Tofu Sisig, this offering of Locavore makes an unusual but interesting combination that, yes, works beautifully on the palate.
Sizzling Sinigang—We are used to having different versions of Sinigang, which is a soup dish complete with meat and vegetables. The meat (including bangus (milkfish), sugpo (prawns), baboy (pork), baka (beef), salmon and other types of fish) differs, but is commonly combined with kangkong (water spinach), tomatoes, radish and sitaw (stringbeans). Locavore reinvents Sinigang by turning it into a sizzling dish, with the soup turned into a thick sauce and served on a hot sizzling plate.
Kimchinigang—Another variation on Sinigang, this dish adds Korean flavors into the all-time favorite Pinoy dish. It remains as a soup dish, but with the addition of kimchi (Korean preserved cabbage with spice), it takes on a Korean flavor profile.
Dinuguang Lechon—Now, this is another combination dish—of Dinuguan (blood stew) and Lechon (crispy pork belly). The pork belly is marinated and fried to a golden crisp, sliced, arranged on a platter, and dinuguan is poured over it, garnished with chicharon (pork skin cracklings). It’s definitely for meat lovers!
Ginataang Kaldereta—Yes, you read it right! Locavore’s Kaldereta (meat stew in tomato-based sauce) is richer and creamier with the addition of gata (coconut milk). Does it work? Anything cooked with gata is certainly worth a try.
Chori-silog—The Pinoys’ favorite silog (sinangag at itlog, or garlic rice and fried egg) finds another exciting variation with chorizo instead of tapa, tocino, longganisa, hotdog, daing na bangus to combine with the sinangag and itlog.
Pho-lalo—This is another multiracial intermarriage between the Vietnamese noodle soup, Pho, and the Filipino beef shank soup dish, Bulalo. It’s definitely richer and tastier.
Sugpo con Mayonesa—Usually, it is fish, specifically lapu-lapu (grouper), that is presented as “con Mayonesa” (or “with mayonnaise”), and the mayonnaise is piped artistically on top of the boiled or steamed fish. Locavore’s version has prawns in place of fish, and it is coated with mayonnaise sauce and bathed in oil. It is an interesting variation that’s worth trying.
Locavore also takes pride in its take on traditional Kare-Kare, using chicken wings instead of the usual ox tail, ox tripe and pork leg, and these are glazed with Kare-Kare sauce and buttermilk ranch dressing, then garnished with singkamas (jicama) and mango with bagoong (shrimp paste). Its version of Pinakbet also commands a steady following, as it combines locally grown vegetables—sigarilyas (wing beans), kalabasa (squash), okra, pickled ampalaya (bittergourd), talong (eggplant), zucchini and mushrooms—with bagoong broth to make a flavorful vegetable dish.
Other exciting dishes on the menu that offer slight twists to classic Pinoy dishes include Kinilaw Platter, Garlic Butter Sugpo, Mac’s Boneless Fried Chicken, Fresh Lumpia, Boneless Lechon Belly, Beef Pares Stew, Ginataang Kalabasa, and Luglog.
Aside from its delightful menu mix, Locavore boasts of a good selection of locally brewed beers, such as Joe’s Brew, San Miguel and Privo Paha, as well as excellent signature cocktails infused with local produce, such as calamansi, Batangas dalandan, Bukidnon pineapple and siling labuyo.
And, oh, if you are wondering what Locavore means, it is derived from the words local and vore, which, when combined, means “one who eats food grown locally whenever possible. True to its name, the restaurant uses local organic ingredients to prepare not just dishes but complete meals.
(Locavore is located at 10 Brixton St., Kapitolyo, Pasig City.)