Food / Lifestyle

Best Asian cuisine under one roof


Every Filipino knows what turon is—a fried banana rolled into a spring roll wrapper and dusted with brown sugar. Sometimes it is stuffed with jackfruit or sweet potato. But if we add some syrup and remove the wrapper, can we still call it turon? If not, what do we call it then?

It was a lazy yet fine afternoon. The sun was about to set and the coast of Boracay was turning into golden panorama. Meanwhile, inside the Boracay Garden Resort, we are having a naming game on what to call the afternoon’s apple of the eye—the banana snack that tasted like turon sans the crispy wrapper. One said it’s hubad na turon (naked turon), then the other quipped bananang mababa ang lipad (in reference to Freddy Aguilar’s Magdalena, who is described as Ang babaeng mababa ang lipad or literally a prostitute). After christening the poor banana with all the names that we could come up with, we decided to call it a day and look forward to another gastronomical adventure.

The only restaurant located at the heart of welcoming Boracay Garden Resort officially opened in June. It offers different Asian cuisines since its clientele is a mix of Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino. American and European are also of significant numbers. This is the main reason why the restaurant, aptly called Garden Café, offers dishes with special and interesting twists—like the naked turon.

The resort’s resident chef and food and beverage manager Mario Gatmaitan’s goal is to give diners a unique experience each time they approach the table. He makes sure that even if they offer the same entrée, it would still look and taste different. Take for example the Sinaing na Inihaw na Tilapia. Traditionally, most restaurants in Manila serve Tilapia either fried or stewed in coconut milk. Gatmaitan’s style is different—the fish is grilled before it’s cooked with coconut milk, thus giving an unconventional yet equally palatable taste. This is the same technique he does for Chicken and Pork Adobo and Balbakwa (ox tail).

Interestingly, amid having a varied market, local dishes like lechon kawali, pansit and crispy pata remain popular among the resorts guests. But of course, to adapt to its growing number of clientele, the resort launches a unique version of Japanese, Chinese and Korean dishes.

“What make these dishes different from one another are the ingredients. The flavor makes all the difference. Let say for example, Korean food are very spicy and Chinese food on the other hand have a varied selection of stewed and braised dishes, which most Filipinos are familiar with,” Gatmaitan told Manila Standard Today.

True to its objective in adapting to the taste of its growing market, Garden Café also offers different twists to its version of chicken yakitori (marinated for two or three days before it hits the grill), prawn tempura, kamameshi crab rice, shrimp hakaw, shantung black crabs, the ever-famous sam gueb sal (Korean bacon), and the stir fried noodle called japchae, among others.

Gatmaitan sees to it that they only use the finest ingredients and quality spices. For Thai and Korean dishes, ingredients are flown to the island coming from the resort’s regular supplier in Manila.

Boracay Garden, a subsidiary of Henann Resort, operator of Boracay Regency, Beach Resort and Spa and Regency Lagoon Resort, has a kitchen manned by well-trained chefs and staff. Also, the kitchen is up and running 24/7 to fulfill all the meal requirements of its guests.

“Now that Garden Café is open, we expect more walk-in guests most especially during breakfast as we serve international delights prepared by our top chefs,” says Alfonso Chusuey, the assistant to the president of the resort.

According to the young exec, the newly-opened al fresco restaurant is part of the 80-million-peso renovation plan for Boracay Garden that started in 2007. Formerly called Hotel Seraph, Hennan Resort acquired the two-hectare property and turned it into modern East Asian inspired resort that boasts a triple A rating, the highest grade for resort category in the Philippines.

“You see, Boracay Garden has a lot to offer. Apart from our finest Asian cuisines, the whole resort is purposely designed so our guests can walk around the resort leisurely. Not everybody loves the beach so we see to it that one can stay all day within the resort and still feel the luxury of having a vacation,” Chusuey ended.

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