April 23, 2013

Restaurante Pia Y Damaso Review

Restaurante Pia Y Damaso
Chef Bambi Sy Gobio

Cheekily drawing its name from the infamous Padre Damaso, Chef Bambi Sy Gobio serves up a bold and dynamic menu that updates, twists, winks and nods at Filipino cuisine. Whilst there’s always some apprehension with contemporary iterations of traditional dishes, Sy Gobio delivers the goods with a bold palette and a knack for combining unusual flavours. Contemporary updates on classic dishes signal a cultural shift towards the more global and sophisticated. However, ingenuity, fearlessness and a deep understanding of the components of traditional cuisine are required. Thankfully, chef Bambi Sy Gobio has these in spades.

One of the greatest aspects of Pia Y Damaso is its nod to our cultural roots, particularly our Spanish traditions and dishes. Unlike other resteaus, Sy Gobio hasn’t suffered from cultural amnesia and brings back old favorites like callos, albondigas, ox tongue, pork belly and chorizo, with imported goodies from Spain like Manchego cheese combined with locally sourced, regional ingredients. The Adobo Pork and Chicken gets a crisp saucy update and Kare Kare has some new life breathed into it with meat-off-the-bone oxtail in a gorgeous peanut garlic sauce.

But it’s not just the heavy creations that catch our attention. Every single dish is an intriguing and audacious mix, from the snacks to the poultry. The Kua Pao Pandesal is a cheeky little twist on the ‘ol Sio Pao. Sugary-sweet pork belly melds nicely with the potent Asian flavours of star anise and coriander, with some added crunch from peanuts, all wrapped up in a cheeky little pan de sal bun.

Much-missed western flavor combos also make a presence on the menu. The Fig, apples, pine nuts and roasted garlic pasta, with excellent Davao-sourced goat’s cheese and caramelized onions deliver the complex sweet-savory flavor that other restaurants just haven’t caught onto. The crisp cones, loaded with crab, corn and cinammon-y tomato relish are also a delight. Ostrich steaks and the infamous Crocodile meat ‘Betrayal’ Salad ensure that you’ll have to keep coming back.

Drinks are a highlight at P200 for a gin infusion, as well as a load of fascinating concoctions. Skip the M Café’s ridiculously priced and clumsily made Hendricks Martini  (olive juice and olives with Hendricks? Hellur?). Head here for a pre-drinks drink. From black pepper, fig, orange and apricot, bay leaf and orange cardamom infused gin, as well as cinnamon, pandan and violet tea infused vodka, the drinks menu is a delight. Some interesting mixes appear, including the Damaso - an apricot brandy, black pepper gin and bay leaf gin and creme de menthe potion. Pia Alba does a reinterpretation of the once-again trendy Pimm’s with some cucumber, apples and citrus thrown in. Whilst the Serpolette’s mix of Galliano, ginger and violet tea infusion and cream is a refreshing touch.  Sy Gobio is clearly a gin aficionado, with the infused bottles strewn around the restaurant.
The desserts a full-on sugar assault with standouts like the Goat’s Milk Leche flan, sourced from Davao and the Brazo ni Doña Vicki meringue and fresh butter curd. However, it’s the Chocolate Eh that pushes all the right buttons and brings us back to our cultural heritage. If it’s too hot a day, then have them throw in the Chocolate Eh with some Goat’s milk for a milkshake that balances the rich tablea with some welcome sour notes.

There aren’t many other resteaus that possess this winning combination of imagination and creativity, yet so distinctly traditional in outlook. In that sense, Restaurante Pia Y Damaso transcends the realm of novelty. It elevates Filipino cuisine to a more sophisticated level, connecting us with our international roots and re-aligning our focus on our Spanish cultural roots - exactly where our food should be. With China at our doorstep, the incessant drone of Korean pop music and the endless invasion of US sugar and dessert factories, Filipino cultural heritage is being atomised and forgotten. Former staples like salted Bacalao and Bilbao Chorizo are a distant memory for some or even foreign ingredients to others. The casualties of our hybrid culture and colonial mentality are ironically, a loss of our colonial Spanish heritage. Yes, we have our Kare-Kares and we debate about Adobo, but all things Spanish look in danger of going the way of the dinosaur.

Thus, Restaurante Pia Y Damaso is not only the venue for a gastronomic night out - it is a standard bearer for our heritage and the continued evolution of Filipino culture. So kudos to Pia y Damaso for serving up surprising and audacious Filipino and international dishes. The menu is truly subversive. We welcome this sort of culinary cheekiness. It’s high time someone shook up our staid and stale classic dishes. So kudos to Chef Sy Gobio for a wild ride with a bold palette and rousing flavor combinations.

What: Restaurante Pia Y Damaso

Website: Restaurante Pia Y Damaso Facebook Page
Contact: (02) 729 5511
Cuisine: Subversive Filipino Cuisine
Wine:    Yes, wine and cocktails.
Average dining cost: P800-P1000 for 2 people

-  Unbelievably extensive, high quality menu with locally sourced native ingredients and excellent Spanish imports
-  Bold and exciting flavour combos - never a dull moment
-  Only restaurant making delightful, contempo twists on Filipino classics
-  The Tsokolate Eh
-  Cheeky cocktails and a collection of lovingly infused gins and vodkas
-  Finally, culinary recognition of our Hispanic
-  Excellent location and good service

-  The imported dishes, like the Ostrich steak and Chilean Sea Bass will set you back
-  Ditch the ice in the infused gins - they’re better without it
-  Smaller interior space. If it’s full, al fresco dining is in order

Some photos were taken from Restaurante Pia Y Damaso Facebook Page.
Hope this review helped. 
 Mark and Millie

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Listening to: Dystopia by Midnight Juggernauts
       Loving: my puppies
           =( : bed rest for 3 weeks!


  1. That dress looks STUNNING on you!! May I know where you got it from? :)


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