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Pinoy food trip in Singapore

By Vangie Baga-Reyes
Inquirer
First Posted 12:01:00 06/19/2007

Filed Under: Food, Lifestyle & Leisure, Travel & Commuting, Tourism & Leisure, Tourism

LECHON KAWALI MEETS Hainanese chicken or, bagoong meets blachan. Better still, kakanin meets kaya toast. Get the drift?

When they say Singapore is fast becoming a multi-regional hub of culture and cuisines, Philippine cuisine had better be part of it. And so, with 7,107 Flavours opening on the second level of Marina Square along the famed Raffles Boulevard shopping strip, our Filipino food can now be at par with other better-known culinary fare in the region.

7,107 Flavours is the first Filipino fine-dining restaurant in Singapore. There are some smaller canteen-type Pinoy food places around the Lion City, but not this kind of restaurant, not only serving traditional Filipino dishes in an elegant setting but also seeking to become a culture hub for Pinoys. In a corner of the friendly, cozy resto is a travel desk that highlights Filipino crafts and prime holiday spots.

?To create a more experiential medium to promote the Philippines, we?ve started a program called Philippine travel café program. (It) marries the sights, sounds and tastes of the Philippines in one product,? said Tourism Sec. Joseph Durano, who graced the opening ceremony with Department of Tourism Usec. Edu Jarque and the head of Asia-Pacific marketing team for tourism, Rica Bueno.

?It is a project where we have to find local investors because we are not in the business of running restaurants. Therefore, our success is highly dependent on finding the right partners on the market. We are very fortunate to find these investors in Singapore. Or, rather, I should say, we are very fortunate that they found us,? added Durano.

Three owners

7,107 Flavours is owned and run by three good friends, Singaporean Elaine Teh and Filipinos Noel Perdigon and Pen Villanueva.

Teh is the executive director of Octopus Holdings, which manages the most popular theme bars and clubs in Singapore like Eski Bar. Perdigon has been in Singapore for seven years now - he?s Citibank?s information security officer for the Asia-Pacific, relocated from Citibank Philippines. Villanueva runs her own travel agency in Singapore and Manila.

All three have the same passion for food, introduced by Philippine tourism attaché in Singapore Gerosel Siquian.

Exotic experiences

?It all began with a simple conversation,? recalled Teh, who was seated with Siquian while watching a Philippine fashion show in Singapore almost a year ago. ?Not having been to the Philippines, I was so pleased with what I saw that night. I also got to taste some Filipino food. I made a joking remark to Gerosel that she should take me to the Philippines.?

Siquian took her seriously, and brought her to Cebu two months later.

?That was my very first trip to the Philippines, and from then on I kept coming back to see more destinations like Palawan and Boracay. I?ve discovered the beaches, the vibrant culture and, most importantly, I had a chance to partake of Filipino food that is surprisingly quite unknown to Singaporeans,? said Teh, who has fallen in love with lechon de leche. She also eats kare-kare with bagoong for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The opening was attended by Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Belen Anota. Fashion designer Renee Salud held a mini-fashion show of Philippine traditional costumes. A cultural performance by Sindaw highlighted the occasion. Singapore-based Filipinos Rico Hizon and Pamela Wildheart emceed the evening.

7,107 Flavours gets its name from the number of islands in the Philippines. The 220-sq m restaurant can accommodate 130 diners and 30 people in its al fresco dining area. It has beautiful, modern Filipino interiors based on traditional concepts and inspired by native materials like abaca and rattan, all of it imported from the Philippines.

There are hardwood tables and rattan chairs, and fabrics like tinalak from Davao are displayed at the doorway. There are also a number of paintings depicting Philippine sceneries, plus plasma TV sets showing prime vacation spots.

The restaurant?s logo, created by topnotch visual artist Dengcoy Miel, depicts the many flavors of the Philippines, with a lady in a terno stirring the food inside a pot.

Traditional food

At the moment, the restaurant is offering buffet dining to mark the month-long celebration of Philippine Independence Day. It will start à la carte dining in July.

7,107 Flavours? menu covers traditional Filipino dishes from all regions: Cebu?s humba, bam-i guisado and escabecheng tanguigue; Iloilo?s inasal na manok, pancit molo, pata at kadyos and arroz valenciana; Davao?s grilled tuna panga and rellenong pusit; Zamboanga?s callos and guinataang curacha; Pampanga?s sisig and sugpo sa taba ng alique; Ilocos?s pinakbet na bagnet, Vigan longganisa, and igado; Batangas? beef caldereta, bulalo and bistek tagalog; Palawan?s sinigang na maya-maya sa mangga andmechado; and Bicol?s laing and gising-gising.

Being at the center of the country, Manila?s cosmopolitan atmosphere is reflected in the flavors of its food, likelechon de leche with paella, crispy pata, chicken-pork adobo and lechon kawali. The resto also serves Pinoy beer.

Filipino chefs trained by Via Mare restaurant are manning the kitchen to ensure that every dish brings out the Philippines? rich culinary heritage. Even members of the wait staff are Filipino.

?The restaurant?s patrons will also be treated to special performances by visiting Filipino musicians, as well as Singapore-based Filipino bands,? said Perdigon. ?In the evening, the restaurant will be transformed into a cosmopolitan watering hole with live entertainment for Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike.?

?We also intend to feature exhibits by masters and even upcoming artists to give them a chance to breakthrough in Singapore,? added Villanueva.



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