MANILA – City of Dreams Manila sets a heavenly table for Filipino food at its newly opened restaurant Haliya at the Nüwa Hotel.
It is rare that Filipino food is featured in a five-star hotel but Nüwa makes a stylish home for Filipino food befitting of chef de cuisine Edmundo San Jose‘s classy interpretations of Filipino favorites.
Colorful Yana Ofrasio murals give a festive ambience to Haliya’s interiors, while Haliya’s dining room is a wide open safe and comfortable space for dinner with family and friends.
Multi-awarded chef San Jose brings his 24 years of experience in five-star hotel kitchens in the Philippines and the Middle East to create dishes that are distinctly Filipino, but has the extra oomph to go beyond the typical. In his first year as City of Dreams Manila’s chef de cuisine of banquets, he led a dream team to win the gold medal in the 2016 Philippine Culinary Cup.
San Jose conceptualized Haliya’s menu, taking Filipino staples and, banking on his international experience, added special ingredients to accentuate the flavors. It’s not quite fusion as San Jose shows reverence for the Filipino dish and the familiar flavors do shine through, but his dishes have a little extra flourish on the palate.
At first glance, the prices may look intimidating but do keep in mind that these are family-sized portions meant for sharing.
Here’s a sampling of the feast that awaits on Haliya’s tables:
Oysters with avocado.
Start off with some appetizers. De Guzman pairs fresh oysters with avocado adding another creamy layer of freshness to the oysters. Make sure to drizzle with a little lemon. (Photo by Jeeves de Veyra)
Shredded cochinillo and adobo flakes spiced up with papaya atsara wrapped in lettuce with zingy jalapeno and pork liver salsa on the side for those looking for a bit more heat.
A bite of Haliya’s Lumpiang Dagat gives you textures and fresh flavors in spades with bowl-shaped wrappers holding the freshest lobster and crab meat and lettuce that’s dressed lightly with calamansi aioli. The bowl is topped with a paper thin translucent malunggay chip and slivers of red chili floss. While a squeeze of grilled lemon gives it some acid, it’s the accompanying aligue dip that makes this dish a table favorite — with its sour-sweet tamarind flavor balanced with briny rich with the crab flavor (It’s so good, one can eat it with rice!).
The Kinilaw is a starter for the eyes as well as the palate. This serving of tanigue, sea urchin, sea grapes (lato), cucumber and water cress packs some heat but does open up the appetite for the rest of the meal.
Pea soup by way of Filipino flavors, this guisantes and malunggay creamy soup gets extra oomph from a perfectly cooked 63-degree egg, pops of lechon skin, and a pleasant drizzle of sunflower oil. Jeeves de Veyra
Even the sinangag was given the five-star treatment. This is garlic rice with garlic three ways — crispy and sauteed with the rice, garlic chips, and confit garlic. With San Juan’s flavor packed main dishes, you’ll easily ask for extra servings of this.
Seafood by the sea by way of Bicol (and a hint of Thai) equals this dish of mussels, lapu-lapu, clams, squid and sigarilyas cooked in coconut sauce with spicy bagoong and slivers of red and green chilies. Pass the rice!
Haliya upscales the kare-kare with tender 24-hour slow-cooked US Angus beef brisket and roasted crushed peanuts. While there’s bok choy, string beans, and fried eggplant, it was surprising to see some asparagus in the kare-kare.
San Jose said his paksiw was the most challenging dish to create for the menu. Using Pacific seabass, the chef brilliantly balances the acidity level of this dish. It’s sour but doesn’t overwhelm the buttery richness of the seafood. For hits of acid, the adlai at the bottom of the dish soaks up the vinegary sauce nicely.
Sous vide does its magic in this San Juan’s caldereta. Melt-in-your-mouth beef gets a rich tomato sauce with all the usual vegetables. Yes to more rice!
Adobo with foie gras.
Haliya’s showstopper is, without a doubt, the chicken adobo with foie gras. It’s perhaps one of the most indulgent and luxurious versions of our humble adobo. A must-try, especially if you love foie gras.
Trio of desserts.
Have an ending from Haliya’s trio of Bibingka Cheesecake, Moron, and Mango Suman with coconut cream. With vanilla smoke wafting in the air, the dish looks like a typical bibingka but inside the banana-wrapped cake is creamy cheesecake tasting like bibingka. Pair with coffee or tea. The moron is a rice cake that has a chocolate and nut center that must be consumed by dipping into caramel sauce, while the suman comes with mango inside with a dip of coconut cream milk.
Haliya gives each guest a trio of creamy milk, ube, and mango pastillas to end the meal.
Haliya is located at the ground floor of Nüwa Hotel at City of Dreams. It is open for dinner every day from 5-11 p.m. Reservations are recommended due to limited seating and restricted capacities for indoor dining. (Jeeves de Veyra)