Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Nurturing Roots: Chef Tatung Sarthou Introduces a New Menu for an Elegant Dining Experience at Tatung's Private Dining in Antipolo

Far enough without leaving the city, a dining destination awaits deep in the hills of Antipolo. Roughly an hour and a half' drive from Quezon City, Tatung's Private Dining takes your palate on an epic culinary journey of local flavors in an elegant setting for an experience remembered long after the lavish feast.

Noted cookbook author, restaurateur, TV personality and leading advocate of local cuisine Chef Myke "Tatung" Sarthou is back with another dining concept showcasing the richness and diversity of our culinary heritage. This time, it's personal as Chef Tatung invites you to his home in Antipolo for an intimate private dining experience. Take a peek at Tatung's Private Dining's new menu...

You can say Chef Tatung returns to his roots, going full circle with private dining where it all began in the early days back in Quezon City. The experience gained from his long years in the local restaurant scene culminates in a unique and much more personal and elegant private dining experience. 

Chef Tatung's own journey is reflected and chronicled in countless posts on my blog, and through the years I've been fortunate to document his evolution and growth as one of the most innovative culinary personalities with his simple approach to real and authentic flavors that continue to resonate in his latest concept at Tatung's Private Dining (for more on Chef Tatung, see my posts, The Secret's Out: Simpol Kitchen Secrets by Chef Tatung Sarthou on his recent book launch from late last year, Keeping It Simpol: Chef Myke "Tatung" Sarthou Launches Simpol The Cookbook at Pandan Asian Cafe on one of the most successful local cookbooks in the market from 2020, Southeast Asian Flavors Shine at Pandan Asian Cafe by Chef Tatung on his popular Asian-inspired restaurant from two years ago, Nostalgic Cuisine Recreated at Talisay The Garden Cafe by Chef Tatung in Maginhawa Street on his hearty and comforting local cuisine from 2019 and Chef Tatung's Refreshing New Take On Traditional Flavors on my very first dining experience with Chef Tatung way back in 2012 at Acacia Estates).

From the early days of Tatung's Garden Cafe in Quezon City and Chef Tatung's in Acacia Estates to countless restaurants later including Pandan Asian Cafe, Chef Myke "Tatung" Sarthou never stops as he unveils yet another innovative concept reflecting his passion for local cuisine with Tatung's Private Dining. An idea born out of the long quarantine experience, Chef Tatung brings his passion home to an elegant property up on the hills of Antipolo.

Just getting there is an adventure in itself taking you off the beaten track, located past the Bosoboso area of Antipolo (the exact address of the destination is revealed only to those with confirmed reservations) setting the tone for a unique and memorable dining experience. 

A flight up the stone steps slowly reveals the hidden culinary gem surrounded by lush and verdant greens, transporting you to a place seemingly miles away without leaving the city. Tatung's Private Dining in Antipolo is a culinary destination in its truest and simplest interpretation as a concept with the inimitable style of Chef Tatung. 

From the main structure, diners and guests can view the entire property glowing against the early evening sky creating a magical mood. Chef Tatung is a master weaver, orchestrating all the elements for a memorable dining experience the minute you enter his expansive yet secluded property in Antipolo. 

A welcome drink prepared with fresh guavas soothes your palate, opening it up for the sumptuous feast with Chef Tatung's new menu at Tatung's Private Dining. Meanwhile, take a walk on the elegant property... 

...and take in the calming vibe. It's hard to believe that you haven't left the borders of the metro, far away from the hectic pace of the urban race. This is what sets Tatung Private Dining apart from the usual experience, close to the city yet far enough.

Guests at Tatung Private Dining can view a variety of options for their feast, including an stunning elevated structure for al fresco dining overlooking the pools of the property...

...constructed with wood and accentuated by capiz shell windows with its comforting and warm earth tones. The sounds of nature become your playlist for a memorable dinner prepared by Chef Tatung and his team.  

Inside the main structure situated high up on a gentle slope, diners can choose other dining areas to fit any occasion or gathering. The local inspired design motif is a recurring theme at Tatung's Private Dining, reflecting both his memories and roots as a backdrop for his lavish take on local cuisine. 

Chef Tatung's eclectic collection of art pieces and antiques adds to the unique character and charm of the place, taking you to another place and time. And that's just the first layer in a complex weave of colorful experiences at Tatung's Private Dining...

Inside the main dining area, Chef Tatung prepares the finishing touches for his new menu at Tatung's Private Dining. Drawing inspiration from childhood memories in Cebu and countless travels around the country, Chef Tatung's new 10-Course Menu showcases local and even little-known ingredients, flavors and preparations reflecting a rich and diverse culinary heritage. Dubbed as "Nurturing Roots," the new menu also captures the personal culinary journey of Chef Tatung that defined his career and personal style based on simple yet real flavors. The new Nurturing Roots menu will be available at Tatung's Private Dining starting August until October this year.

I recall my very first time meeting Chef Tatung more than ten years ago when I first started my food blog, and since then Chef Tatung has remained true to his vision of showcasing local cuisine from around the country in modern and inspired ways (for more on my very first experience with the culinary genius of Chef Tatung, see my post, Chef Tatung's Refreshing New Take On Traditional Flavors from way back in 2012 when I embarked on my own journey with this food blog). It's this same vision that ties the different dishes in his new menu together at Tatung's Private Dining.

The success of Chef Tatung's Simpol series of cookbooks have propelled his stature as an established culinary icon and a multi-media rock star with his TV shows and social media presence in the local culinary scene, and his engaging and warm personality continues to shine at Tatung's Private Dining. In 2017, Chef Tatung leveled up his game earning the distinction as the country's representative to the prestigious Madrid Fusion held in Spain. His culinary style, continuously shaped and refined during the past ten years since I've first met him, has evolved with a creative snapshot of the very best of local cuisine recreated in his new menu. It's also a deeply personal take bringing together all his experiences as one of the country's most recognizable chefs. This is, after all, his home. And his kitchen. 

Inside the main dining area, Chef Tatung's team prepares the first courses for his Nurturing Roots menu for a virtual culinary journey of the archipelago in each plate. The open kitchen design in the main dining room gives diners a glimpse of the creative process behind each dish while also recreating the casual warmth of dining in a friend's home. 

Glasses of wine were served at the table, as Chef Tatung recalled his journeys and inspirations behind the new menu at Tatung's Private Dining. Staying true to his own personal culinary style, his new dishes are simple, honest and straightforward delivering rich, pure and uncomplicated flavors for an authentic taste of local cuisine. But Chef Tatung injects a playful inventiveness, call it a whimsical touch, that defines his character as a chef making his dishes special.

Chef Tatung opened up his Antipolo home last May, earning raves from diners for his lavish local-inspired dishes. The new menu, Nurturing Roots, is a refreshed edition featuring different dishes for another taste of Filipino cuisine in an elegant private dining setting.  

The new Nurturing Roots menu at Tatung's Private Dining began with the Abre Gana of Kesong Puti at Ensalada, an appetizing trio of Torched Carabao Mozzarella, Ampalaya Salad with bitter gourd and eggplant and Crab Fat Butter served with warm Bonete bread. Chef Tatung's Cebuano roots is an integral part of his journey as reflected in the first course at Tatung's Private Dining, setting the tone for the rest of the evening with its bold medley of real and comforting flavors.  

The creamy flavors of the Torched Carabao Mozzarella brings subtle smoky hints for contrasting notes while the Crab Fat Butter delivers an unrestrained richness in the style of Chef Tatung. The play on pure and real flavors with all its creamy goodness is tempered by the fresh, tart and clean flavors of the Ampalaya Salad for that perfect balanced finish. The opening act in a lavish dinner teases the palate, as the chefs of Tatung's Private Dining prepared the next course...

...with another inventive spin on a regional classic from down south. The vibrant tapestry of local flavors become a palette of colors for Chef Tatung's imaginative canvas of culinary creations.  

The second course at Tatung's Private Dining featured the Visayan Tamalos with Grilled Corn Salad, a traditional savory rice staple with pork tracing its roots as far back as the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade during colonial times. Culinary influences from the historical trade route have resulted in some unique local delicacies inspired by the Mexican tamales, notably the version from Pampanga and the rich tamalos infused with pork from the Visayas (for more on this unique local dish, see my post, Flavors of Catbalogan: A Tasty Encounter with Tamalos at Orlando's Grill from the Secret Kitchens of Samar Kulinarya Tour back in 2017).  

Chef Tatung recreates the dense and silky smooth texture of the Visayan tamalos infused with the savory richness of pork for a comforting blend of flavors. The sweet and subtle smoky hints and the clean notes of the grilled corn salad add both textural contrast to the savory smoothness of the tamalos as well as fresh flavors to cut through the richness. The delicate play and balance of flavors is a signature style of Chef Tatung, showcased in the Tamalos with grilled Corn Salad.   

The third course, Lumpiang Freska, is a fresh spring roll filled with heart of palm and assorted seafood wrapped in a thin and soft squid-ink crepe laid on a rich and creamy white sauce to complete the flavors. The flavors are subtle and even nuanced, with the fresh snap of the day's freshest catch of seafood contrasting with the soft crepe.

It's been said time and again that freshness is flavor, and Chef Tatung proves it once more using the finest ingredients for pure and uncluttered notes, masterfully executed, with the Lumpiang Freska. Keeping it real and simple with just a touch of whimsy will have you eagerly awaiting with anticipation for the next round of dishes in an elegant and sumptuous yet personal experience at Tatung's Private Dining

The fourth course becomes another delectable experience in flavors and textures with the Patir featuring a fresh wrap of crisp Duck Floss served with Maranao Palapa and fresh Betel Nut Leaf. The dish takes you to the deep south, with its own unique culinary heritage and flavors. Traditionally packed and wrapped in banana leaf, Chef Tatung recreates the practice by adding a betel leaf as the wrap for the dish.

It's another unique and traditional staple that paints yet another colorful layer in the rich tapestry of local flavors from around the islands. Chef Tatung then explained the best way to enjoy the dish by gently squeezing the crisp duck floss down and gently rolling it in the betel leaf. Each bite delivers a medley of contrasting notes and textures, from the delicately crunchy duck floss with its bold savory flavors to the sweet and spicy palapa and subtle sweetness of the local sambal with just a whisper of peppery hints from the betel leaf all in one bite. 

One more bite brings the crisp textures and flavors of the duck floss punching through followed by the mildly sweet and spicy palapa condiment to balance the savory richness. The onions, mangoes, pomelo and tomatoes add sharp counterpoints to the dish. The subtle sweetness and mildly peppery notes of the betel leaf drapes the palate with its lingering notes to complete the flavors. 

Food is the best way to understand and appreciate any culture, and the dishes served and presented so far with the new Nurturing Roots menu at Tatung's Private Dining illustrates the multi-cultural diversity of the Filipino palate (for more on the pastil and palapa from the south, see my posts, Food for Thought: Taking a Deeper and Bigger Bite into the Local Food Culture with Quiapo A La Carte, Food Culture in Transit on the insightful analysis by culinary historian and writer Ige Ramos from late last year and Dining in the Next Normal: Spotted at the Ultimate Taste Test 2020 Master's Edition in Gallery MiraNila by The Blue Leaf on the specialty Pastil with Palapa by Boomer's Tribe from two years ago).

The fifth course is a savory duo of Inasal at Saksak Sinagol or mixed crop rice with garlic and Honey Glazed Slow-Roasted Pork for a hearty and sumptuous plate. Fans of Chef Tatung will remember the specialty pork dish from his restaurant in Acacia Estates (more on my first encounter with Chef Tatung's famous pork dish on my post, Chef Tatung's Refreshing New Take on Traditional Flavors from ten years ago). The rice dish is Chef Tatung's homage to the resiliency of the local food culture, with the mixed crop rice featuring a variety of root crops and plantains, pork fat, chicharon and sea salt mixed in with smashed fried garlic usually served in common households when rice is scarce. 

The addition of root crops adds a layer of sweetness to the rice, complementing the slabs of Honey Glazed Slow Roasted Pork. And the pork remains just as good as the first time I tried it so many years ago at Chef Tatung's former restaurant in Acacia Estate. Soft with a butter-like texture, the pork releases even more flavors with each bite draping the palate with pure pork goodness.  

As we enjoyed the last few bites of the fifth course, Chef Tatung checks on the kitchen for the next dish...

...the Ginataang Isda with tender labahita draped in thick coconut sauce and served with roasted squash. The elegant presentation down to the intricate coconut foam feeds the eyes before the palate, continuing the parade of visual feasts at Tatung's Private Dining. The delicate notes of the fish are kicked up by the sweet, creamy and mildly spicy and savory coconut cream-based sauce.  

The dish offers complex notes from the briny sweetness of the fish to the richness of the coconut cream sauce combining in a seamless weave of fresh flavors. The coconut foam and the cherry tomatoes bring contrasting sweet and tart notes to the dish without overwhelming the fish. 

The 10-Course feast is served at a comforting pace that's perfect when paired with wine. And the portions are also quite generous that will leave you satisfied. 

A refreshing Sorbetes of Watermelon Calamansi Sorbet cleanses the palate before the next course...

...of Sarciado, a fork-tender Beef Shortrib a la Mechada cooked for hours with loads of onions paired with Adlai Risotto and Grilled Mushrooms. The savory finale, the dish reflects the deep Spanish connections that continue to be part of the culinary mainstream and rightfully represented in a Filipino feast. The flavors are hearty and comfortingly familiar... 

...and pairing it with the Adlai Risotto makes it a real meal with its deep and earthy notes from the mushrooms. Real and bold flavors in the distinct signature style of Chef Tatung comes alive with each of the dishes served in the new Nurturing Roots menu at Tatung's Private Dining

For dessert, Chef Tatung heads to the kitchen for the final touches on a pair indulgent sweet creations.

The Panghimagas Primera of Cassava, Yema and Quezo de Bola caps the evening on a high and sweet note...

...followed by the Panghimagas Segunda of Tablea de Cebu Cake, Cashew Nuts and Mangoes inspired by his Cebuano roots. It's the perfect ending to a culinary journey around the archipelago and a continuing story of Chef Tatung's on-going journey.

Tatung's Private Dining is a celebration of Filipino flavors, both familiar and new from the far-flung regions with its own culinary identity with each course and bite. It's an experience that begins with the drive to Antipolo for a memorable escape without leaving the city followed by dish after dish from Chef Tatung's creative mind.

Tatung's Private Dining is open Thursdays to Sundays for lunch and dinner reservations (note that reservations are strictly recommended with no walk-ins allowed). Thursday and Friday reservations require a minimum of six diners while no minimum is set for Saturday and Sunday reservations. The Private Dining Rooms can accommodate up to eight diners while the Main Dining Area can accept twenty diners. 

Prices and rates at Tatung's Private Dining start at P 4,700++ per person (without welcome drink) and P 6,000++ with welcome drink and wine pairing including Cava, white wine and red wine. For reservations, simply hit the links below or call 0956 660 5913. You may also send a message to @tatungsprivatedining on their FB Page and IG Feed. 

Chef Tatung finally comes home sharing another chapter in his journey. A homecoming of sorts, Chef Tatung opens his home featuring local dishes presented in a fresh new way at an elegant setting deep in the hills of Antipolo. Book your reservations and experience local flavors re-imagined by Chef Tatung at Tatung's Private Dining...

Tatung's Private Dining is located near the Bosoboso area in Antipolo, Rizal (exact address will only be provided to confirmed diners and appointments) roughly an hour's drive from the Cubao/Quezon City area. You may call 0956 660 5913 for inquiries and reservations. Reservations are recommended as walk-ins are not allowed. You can also visit their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/tatungsprivatedining and IG Feed at https://www.instagram.com/tatungsprivatedinner/ for more updates.

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