Look: Casa Buenas, a bahay-na-bato-inspired restaurant in Pasay
Casa Buenas is a Spanish-Filipino concept by chef Godfrey Laforteza
Feb 28, 2020
The bahay na bato is a uniquely Filipino design. Its influences reflect Philippine history: capiz shell windows, wooden balustrades and open floor plans are some characteristics that meld Spanish, Filipino and Chinese architectural traits.
Casa Buenas, a new Spanish-Filipino restaurant at Hotel Okura in Resorts World Manila, pays tribute to that edifice. Its name literally translates to “good life,” the restaurant’s interiors are a “modern impression of bahay na bato.” It has all the signature fixtures: capiz shells on the wooden lattice window dividers, solihiya furniture and hand-carved hardwood floors with Machuca tiles.
The first area you visit upon entering is, fittingly enough, the sala, a little waiting lounge with rattan seats, that sets the tone for the remaining five sections: There’s the tapas bar where you can order appetizers like cheese and charcuterie; aguador where you can order drinks; comedor, the dining area; pamilya, a long table for a large group; and la cupula, the private room. The latter is patterned after a conservatory, with glass windows overlooking a garden and a stained-glass roof with floral panels.
The restaurant also borrows from elements around the Philippines. The sinulog-roasted lechon manok is emblematic of this. Inspired by the Cebuano festival, the roasted chicken dish uses lechon stuffing.
There’s a homeyness, a domesticity to the restaurant, and not just from the interiors: many of the dishes here are family recipes. The Callos De Monserrat, a fox tripe stew, is a recipe from executive chef Godfrey Laforteza’s mother-in-law, while the garlic noodles with crab meat is a rich noodle recipe developed by his wife.
Even the dishes that aren’t connected to the chef’s family carries a sense of familial ties. The kumot, for example, is a version of Vietnamese spring rolls with Laforteza’s favorite ingredients (vermicelli noodles, shrimp, lime sauce, peanuts) swathed with rice paper, almost like, well, a blanket. The chef calls it his love plate. “Parang kinumot [ang ingredients],” explains Mae Bernardo, a representative of RWM.
The feeling that chef Laforteza conveys with the restaurant is that very same atmosphere of visiting your abuelita at the ancestral home on a Sunday, Bernardo explains. It’s an incredibly specific image, but even as someone who can’t quite relate to it, I can see it.
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