Barrio Fiesta at Puso Bistro & Bar

By Aissa A. Dela Cruz |April 13,2018 - 09:56 PM

Sinigang Station

CREATIVITY, innovation, reinvention are probably the key words to sustain the vibrancy of restaurants.

And this is the very reason why the chefs are constantly challenged. Their culinary careers are always on the move, gaining that needed exposure and experience along the way. And Quest Hotel & Conference Center of Cebu

Executive Chef Danilo “Danny” Gonzales who assumed his post last May 2017, brings 20 years of his expertise and experience to please the palates of diners of Puso Bistro & Bar.

A Tagalog who hails from Calatagan, Batangas, Chef Danny is an HRM graduate who started his culinary career as dish-washer and Commis in the kitchen of Punta Baluarte and worked his way up, including working in Manila and Jeddah in the Middle East.

He came to Cebu as Sous Chef of Plantation Bay Resort and as Executive Chef of exclusive Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa in Panglao, Bohol.

“Flavors by the Day” is the latest culinary offering at the Puso Bistro & Bar. There is Barrio Fiesta (Filipino food) on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; World’s Recipes on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays; Asian Classics on Fridays.

Filipino food is closest to my heart, growing up in a Manila household where my grand folks and parents were fastidious about its preparation. Sinigang and Adobo are classic Filipino favorites.

The late food historian and authority Doreen Fernandez argued that, instead of Adobo, Sinigang is the dish most representative of Filipino Taste. The most widespread souring agent is the green tamarind or sampalok.

Young sampalok leaves also impart a sour flavor. Other fruits can be used such as kamias, green mango, unripe pineapple and santol and ripe  native guavas.

Chef Danny’s “Make your own Sinigang” Station offers a choice of sampalok or “hilaw na mangga” to sour shellfish (tahong and punao), shrimps, fish (mahi-mahi and lapu-lapu) and pork cooked in front of guests. I added spicy chilis to my shellfish sinigang.

His classic Adobo has three choices of meat: chicken, pork and beef. Being a Batangueño, beef is popular due to its cattle industry. Bulalo (boiled beef shank) is one of the popular dishes of Batangas.

Chef Danny introduced his Quest Seafood Paella using “kasubha” or poor man’s saffron grown locally priced for its oil, a mix of glutinous and
California rice, chorizo Bilbao, tomatoes and his secret ingredient “bahalina” or fresh unfermented tuba. Quest’s Flavored Puso, a signature dish, comes in different flavors: adobo, humba, caldereta. One cannot miss the classic Lechon.

But I was not too happy without the liver sauce. I was completely surprised when Executive Sous Chef Cyril Dinsay presented a bottle of Mang Tomas Sauce, obviously just purchased.

Talk of service that certainly goes out of its way to please guests

Other typical dishes include street food like Kwek Kwek (battered quail eggs and deep fried) and crispy Chicken Skin, Beef Caldereta, Humba, grilled meats and seafood.

Pastry Chef Niño Compuesto prepared native Kakanins (glutinous rice delicacies) popular in Luzon. Alupi (acronym for asukal, lube, pilit), a signature dessert of Puso Bistro, is similar to kalamay with young coconut strips and mascovado sugar.

Instead of wrapping this in banana leaves, Chef Niño uses coconut leaves woven like the puso container.

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