Home and Kitchen Diaries

Haliya Adobo (with foie gras), Binalot na Cochinillo, Lumpia Dinagat—Filipino cuisine never reimagined this way

New restaurant serves Filipino food that’s so familiar yet creatively surprising

Haliya Kare kare has 24-hour slow-cooked US Angus beef brisket, asparagus, baby Baguio petchay, crispy fried talong, roasted crushed peanuts, bagoong alamang.

Haliya’s Bicol Express has seafood instead of pork.

Where do you take foreign guests if they want to taste Filipino food that’s akin to fine dining (in setting and taste), meaning not in a mall or on an eat-and-run pace? That’s often asked even in this era of restaurant boom. Hotels offer a global mix of cuisines, from European to Japanese, Thai, even Korean now, yet hardly an F&B outlet devoted solely to Filipino cuisine.

It’s not surprising then that since the end of the lockdown, diners have grown curious about and have been checking out the Haliya restaurant at Nüwa Manila at the City of Dreams, Entertainment City, Paranaque. It serves the Filipino food you love, can binge on with family and friends, and will be proud to share with guests from abroad. Cut long story short, think of kare kare and adobo reimagined, or kilawin reinvented for today’s global consumers who are into fresh and sustainable food sources, or Chichingka (combo of cheesecake and bibingka) for today’s self-indulgent palates that must sugar-up to counter the pandemic anxiety.

Haliya serves over 20 most loved Filipino dishes that showcase local and imported ingredients quite ingeniously. In keeping with Filipino dining habit, the dishes are meant for sharing—served “family style,” as we say—so they’re worth the price.

For Pampagana (starters), the choices are: Kilawing Tanigue or Filipino style ceviche of tanigue fillet with local sea urchin, fresh lato (sea grapes), cucumber and watercress; and Binalot na Cochi, a medley of shredded cochinillo (roast suckling pig) and adobo flakes on a bed of butter lettuce topped with atsara (pickled green papaya), red onion and pork liver salsa; salads, and soups like Guisantes at Malunggay. The Diarist.Ph also got to try Lumpia Dinagat—lobster and crab meat, crystal malunggay chips, calamansi aioli, aligue dip, red chili floss, lettuce.

Haliya adobo has twice-cooked chicken and foie gras.

The Pangunahing Ulam or viands are the country’s favorites—their versions as many as there are Filipinos working in their home kitchens, in their home regions. Signature dish is the Haliya Adobo, twice-cooked chicken with a twist—foie gras, grilled pineapple, shallot confit, baby bok choy, marble potatoes, set in lush adobo glaze and enhanced with golden crispy garlic chips.

Other must-try dishes include: the restaurant’s mouthwatering take on Kare Kare with 24-hour slow-cooked US Angus beef brisket, asparagus, baby Baguio pechay and fried eggplant on flavorful roasted and crushed peanut sauce and paired with finely blended bagoong (shrimp paste); Paksiw Apahap, a mélange of pan-seared local sea bass, adlai rice, okra, charred  Baguio pechay, pickled ampalaya (bitter gourd) finished with paksiw glaze; and Bistek Tagalog, consisting of slow-roasted black Angus beef tenderloin, broccoli, crispy mushrooms, sweet potato fondant, crispy onion, king mushroom, moringa powder and calamansi soy jus.

TheDiarist.ph also got to try Hilaya’s version of Bicol Express made of tahong (mussels), shrimp, local fish (lapu-lapu, tulya), sigarilyas, spicy bagoong in coconut milk, red and green chili.

Rice, a staple in Filipino dining, is served in many ways:  Binakol rice with pulled chicken inasal (grilled chicken), chayote and coconut meat; Tinapa (smoked fish) rice with aligue (crab fat) and tinapa salsa; fried rice with crispy fried garlic, and steamed rice.

For Panghimagas (desserts), there’s the Haliya signature creation—Chichingka (bibingka cheesecake served in burner pot, similar to how bibingka is done); Haliya Leche Flan, leche flan, macapuno (coconut sport), kaong (sugar palm) and brandy snap; Strawberry Taho or soy pudding with strawberry consommé, strawberry compote and strawberry pearls; and Mangga Suman made of coconut-mango suman with fresh mangoes and coconut crème. (There’s also a wide range of specialty beverages infused with local flavors and an extensive selection of premium wines, liquor, cocktails, mocktails, fruit shakes, juices.)

It’s a 40-year-old veteran—relatively young but culinary battle-tested—who’s behind these creations, Chef de Cuisine Edmundo San Jose.  He has a 24-year experience in banqueting and all-day dining restaurant operations in the Philippines and the Middle East. He was also in several pre-opening teams of five-star hotels in the Philippines and abroad. In the 10 years he worked overseas, he mastered his craft and reaped awards, particularly in live cooking competitions at the Horeca Kuwait Culinary Show from 2013 to 2015. On his first year, in 2016 as City of Dreams Manila’s Chef de Cuisine of banquets, he led a Dream Team to win the gold medal in that year’s Philippine Culinary Cup.

“With Chef Ed helming the kitchen, Haliya pays homage to classic Filipino dishes with fresh, creative interpretations and surprising elements that redefine the Filipino dining experience to a new level,” says City of Dreams Manila Property President Geoff Andres, whose idea it was to open this Filipino restaurant at Nüwa Manila. “With Haliya, we offer something that excites the imagination of diners towards Filipino cuisine with its fresh take on some of the most loved Filipino dishes, experienced in a refined setting that evokes the country’s elegant heritage and vibrant culture,” he adds.

Haliya’s Kilawing Tanigue

Asked by TheDiarist.ph what he kept in mind in reinterpreting Filipino dishes, the hardest cuisine to reinvent in the country, San Jose said,  “When making the Haliya menu I maintain the dishes’ authentic and traditional flavors, incorporating the varied ingredients as they are used per region.

“Filipino cuisine in general is usually bold in flavors with a combination of salty, sweet, and sour.  For me, the hardest Filipino cuisine to reinvent is from the Bicol region, as a perfect balance of flavors must be achieved in using the coconut and chili as key ingredients. In reinventing the Bicol Express, I use seafood instead of pork, an innovation welcomed by our diners.

“While Filipino dishes are usually served all together during a meal, I apply modern techniques in plating, styled artistically to appeal better to the senses, making the presentation a key factor.”

Haliya pako salad

 San Jose described how he made kare kare, adobo, Bicol Express: I use the traditional way of making the kare kare sauce to maintain its authentic flavor. The US Angus beef brisket is slow-cooked for 24 hours to lock in the flavors of marinated meat.

“With the Haliya Adobo, the chicken is twice cooked:  braised, cooked old-style and once nearly tender, is seared with the oil produced during the braising. The foie gras is also seared to perfection and served in whole slices to preserve the delicacy’s integrity, making the adobo a gourmet dish.

“Using seafood like prawns, mussels, clams, squid, and grouper in the Bicol Express, instead of using pork, elevates the dish and makes it healthier. Homemade bagoong is added to the coconut cream sauce for a bolder flavor.”

Slivers of the famous cochinillo are combined with adobo flakes, jalapeño, papaya atsara, wrapped in lettuce and served with pork liver salsa

What are the dishes he’s most proud of creating or tweaking, we asked him: “First, the Binalot na Cochi, a dish that cannot be found in other restaurants. Slivers of the famous cochinillo are combined with adobo flakes, jalapeño, papaya atsara, wrapped in lettuce and served with pork liver salsa.

“Another dish that I am proud of is the Lumpia Dinagat. While the traditional lumpia is rolled, I reinvented the lumpia wrapper,  rounded it into a crust to hold the lobster and crab  meat, topped with crispy  chips of dehydrated malunggay leaves,  some red chili floss, and lettuce, flavored with calamansi aioli. The aligue dip accompaniment has become a favorite too of diners.

And of course, the Haliya Adobo, a novel interpretation of the quintessential Filipino dish. The twice-cooked chicken keeps the original adobo flavor, combined with slices of grilled pineapple, shallot confit, baby bok choy, marbled potatoes, and golden crispy garlic chips. The generous slices of foie gras elevate the national dish to a top-of-the-line gourmet adobo.”

The menu reflects the luxury integrated resort’s commitment to sustainable dining. Icon signs on the menu identify dishes that are vegetarian, plant-based alternative, and sustainable seafood. And following the Filipino custom of sharing meals, Haliya’s dishes are served family-style, meant for sharing by more than two diners.

San Jose cut his chops particularly in the Middle East. From 2006 to 2008, he was Demi Chef de Partie at Dubai’s Four Seasons Golf Club Festival City before moving to JW Marriott Hotel in Kuwait as Chef de Partie from 2008 to 2011. He worked in several dining outlets of Safir Hotel & Residences in Kuwait as Senior Chef de Partie from 2010 to 2011, and eventually as Sous Chef until 2012.

He was also part of the pre-opening team of Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa in Kuwait, and was assigned to the property’s all-day dining restaurant in 2012 before serving as its Chef de Cuisine from 2013 to 2014, and eventually as the Chef de Cuisine of the hotel’s banquet kitchen until 2016.

Situated on the ground floor of Nüwa Manila, Haliya is named after the warrior goddess of the moonlight, one of the most beautiful deities in Bicolano mythology. The 40-seat restaurant enhances the refinement of this Forbes Five-Star-rated hotel, in its menu and well-appointed interiors.

Festive mural of Yana Ofrasio at Haliya restaurant

Haliya’s interiors evoke the celebratory and rich Filipino culture.

Reflecting the rich Philippine cuisine and culture are two festive murals by Filipino muralist and painter Yana Ofrasio which incorporate images of the colorful vinta boats of Mindanao and other elements depicting the celebratory spirit of Filipino fiestas and the artist’s passion for colors.

Haliya is open Monday to Friday, 5 pm to 11 pm, Saturday to Sunday from 11 am to 11 pm. Reservations are encouraged.

For inquiries and reservations, call 8800-8080 or e-mail [email protected] or visit www.cityofdreamsmanila.com. Explore more of City of Dreams Manila’s promotional offers, rewards, or instantly check Melco Club points with the new Melco Club App, available for free download on iOS and Android. 

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up for Diarist.ph’s Weekly Digest and get the best of Diarist.ph, tailored for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *