Last weekend, I went down memory lane on an afternoon degustation of classic Filipino dishes I miss from home. To be honest, it was like physically whirling back into select moments of my life and waking up with a sweet (and savoury) bite into reality. You know that movie effect, when the actor looks like he’s rapidly floating backwards and the screen looks like everything comes to a slow motion? Yep, that bit. It was fabulous! It was cheeky!
If you haven’t heard, this new cheeky Filipino degustation popping up in the North Shore area since early this year is PILYO (or cheeky in the English parlance). PILYO has been challenging your traditional Filipino dish with its own cheeky twist. PILYO’s concept is “putting the bold and saucy into Grandma’s cooking using a playful approach whilst paying tribute to traditional flavours.”
The crew behind this modern take on the Filipino cuisine are Chefs Inigo Castillo and Morris Baco, both experienced chefs in Sydney who work passionately in an effort to bring Filipino food into Sydney’s mainstream food map and Chrissie Ablaza-Castillo, who handles the management and social marketing side of the brand.
“I think Australians will be very surprised that our cuisine is an amalgamation of Asian, American, Latino-American, and Spanish flavours, ingredients, and methods of cooking,” says Spanish-Filipino Chef and Co-Owner Inigo Castillo. “This makes our food familiar and unique at the same time. For example, it’s interesting to have a Philippine-ised chorizo with an Indian style achar, which is what we Filipinos know as longganisa at atsara. And this is something we as Filipinos should know and be proud of. Our influences come from the four corners of the globe.”
PILYO is not new to the food scene in Sydney. Operating the Purple Yam Cafe umbrella at the Cammeray Golf Club, co-owner Chrissie Ablaza-Castillo says, “We thought it’s about time we share a little bit of our heritage, so PILYO is here!
“As Filipinos, we are proud of our cuisine and are very particular about food. It is not uncommon for a Filipino to quip ‘di ganyan adobo ng lola ko! (that’s not like my grandmother’s adobo!)’, says Chef and Co-Owner Morris Baco. “We respect these recipes that are part of our tradition but at the same time we apply cooking techniques that make the dish, including its presentation, current.”
With two successful pop-up dinners, the team introduced a stand up afternoon weekend pop-up event showcasing delightful classics “merienda” (afternoon fare) presented in modern proportions which appealed to all the senses.
The batchoy tonkatsu was just as close to the classic “batchoy” one might partake from any eatery from back home. It was as traditional as it gets, with handmade noodles, chicken strips, a soft boiled quail egg, drowning in pork bone broth with lots of depth. Topped with pork crackling crumble and lots of garlic, this soup swept me off my feet!
The naked lumpiang betel leaf was two bites of heaven. We needed more! The classic lumpia of prawn and pork crepe with crushed peanuts was lifted up a notch with puffed rice, powdered seaweed and peanut sauce, wrapped in fresh betel leaves.
Atsara (pickled papaya/carrots) which is a Filipino style chutney balanced the flavours of the Lechon Kawali Bao – an open sandwich of steamed bun and crispy pork belly.
|Naked lumpia in betel leaf and Lechon kawali bao|
Chorizo de Pilyo with coleslaw, cream cheese and mango-sultana chutney was one of the highlights, served with a piece of fried cassava – which I loved!
The empanada made of sweet and savoury beef, tomato, green olives and sultanas with a piece of fried plantain and a vinegar sauce served in a pipette got everyone at our table giddy. A playful take on serving sauces!
|Empanada ni Lolo O|
|Empanada ni Lola O|
The big finish was a Filipino classic sweet brioche (ensaymada) filled with coconut jam, with three cheese ice cream and a parmesan crisp. The ice cream was sweet, salty and creamy! It was divine! I actually wanted more!
|Ensaymada with coconut jam filling and three cheese icea cream with a parmesan crisp. Sweet, salty and everything nice!|
|The queue to get some of that ice cream!|
|You scream. I scream. We all scream for ice cream!|
The portions were perfect – not too small, not too big, presented in a style that paid homage to the Filipino heritage of simple and traditional. Classic Filipino dishes with a modern take. Now that’s cheeky!
For more information on PILYO SYDNEY events, you can follow them on Instagram and Facebook.
Disclaimer: The writer was invited to attend the afternoon stand up event as a guest. The post is written based on the writer’s experience.