Ilustrado Mirrors the Rich Filipino Heritage

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Ilustrado’s renaissance artwork ceiling design.

The Ilustrados (Spanish for “erudite,” “learned,” or “enlightened ones”) constituted the Filipino educated class during the Spanish colonial period in the late 19th century.

They were the middle class who were educated in Spanish and exposed to Spanish liberal and European nationalist ideals. The Ilustrado class was composed of native-born intellectuals and cut across ethnolinguistic and racial lines—Indios, Insulares, and mestizos, among others—and sought reform through “a more equitable arrangement of both political and economic power” under Spanish tutelage.

Inside Intramuros, Manila, along the cobbled street of General Luna (formerly known as Calle Real del Palacio), the famous restaurant Ilustrado is spearheaded by owners Boni and Rose Pimentel, maintains a glorious tradition of culinary excellence. The menu is consistently under review by a select panel of Ilustrado aficionados or patrons of long standing, together with the award-winning chefs.

General Luna (formerly know as Calle Real del Palacio)

As I was entering the shaded courtyard, I couldn’t stop gasping for the words to express my excitement now that I have set my foot on the cobbled ground where Ilustrado is visibly approaching my sight. I can feel the colonial era that was imbibing the ambiance of the place. As I walking my way to Ilustrado, I even saw a couple of guards in Katipunero outfits. This scene is taking me back to the era that played an important part of our history.

Intramuros famous cobbled ground.

Inside Ilustrado, galleries of pictures and portraits hanged by the wall and a solo framed portrait of gen. Antonio Luna is visible and evident as you walk along the aisle of the second floor of the restaurant. I was there to attend a press conference by Globe Telecom and Department of Tourism s they inked a partnership called Pinoy Homecoming.

Framed portrait of General Antonio Luna.

I have read several blogs about Ilustrado and majority of them appreciated the culinary dishes that truly represented the Filipino-Spanish heritage that is well-represented and accompanied by the great ambient of the place.

Two years ago, a new acquaintance told me that she was here and the place never changed as far as she could remember. The old Spanish style interior seems to have been remained to stay like that, though on her mind, the interiors need to have some minor renovations to improve its look without touching the feel and the authenticity of the historical era.

I was excited to try the taste of the Ilustrado menu but somehow the meal course that was prepared for us during that presscon was not the most talked about exotic, cosmopolitan and neo-classic flavors of international and Filipino cuisine. Anyway, we still get to try the Chicken Relleno (Stuffed Chicken) and Binusog Na Pusit (Stuffed Squid), which tasted good and going to that exemplary taste that I have been expecting as it is part of the Ilustrado menu.

Plate of rice, vegetables, Fish Fillet, Chicken Relleno, and Binusog Na Pusit.

The chicken has has that sweet taste complimenting the raisins and fillings stuffed on it. I have to give it a 4 stars to the Chicken Relleno. Meanwhile, the Binusog Na Pusit seems to have inconsistencies when it was cooked because there are part of it that is hard to chew and there are part that is easy to get a bite on. nevertheless, the stuffing’s were delicious and the over-all taste of the stuffed squid is just as good as the chicken. I’m giving it a 3 stars.

For desserts, I tried the Leche Flan and I thought I had a “bitin” feeling because I just grabbed two mini-slices of it. But then again, if your doctor would remind you of too much sweet, that would be bad. Good thing, I don’t need to be reminded. I can take as many sweets as much as I want. But being inside a press conference makes you feel that you need to do the covering job first, rather than enjoying yourselves with the food around. Yeah. It was “bitin”. I liked the texture of the Leche Flan, not too smooth. it has that soft bread feel when you bite the outer layer of the flan, and by the way, Leche Flan is a Filipino recipe much similar to Latin American’s milk flan or Crème brûlée from France. In the Philippines, its international name would be Filipino Custard.

Ilustrado’s Leche Flan.

Going back to the taste. I think Ilustrado’s version has little much of the egg yolk and with the right amount of milk, which is good , because that amount of ingredient will make you want to go back wanting for more. No “umay” feeling or like you never want to go back again because the taste too milky, or too sweet for that matter. I’ll give Ilustrado’s Leche Flan, 5 stars.

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Unfortunately, I could not give you details on how much is the price of each mentioned above because these were part of the buffet meal served to us during the partnership event. You can just visit Ilustrado’s website here for more details and reservations.

Food: Recommended!
Price: From Affordable to Classically Expensive
Venue: Recommended!


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