Traditions triumph at XO 46 Filipino Bistro
In the workaday hub of business-oriented, cosmopolitan Makati is an idyllic hideaway that takes you to the core of Filipino gastronomy, the way our ancestors have experienced it (and probably wished it remained)—nothing instant, nothing hurried—lovingly slow-cooked, and every ingredient harnessed by hand, resulting in food creations that explode in flavors familiar and comforting. It’s comparable to one’s return to a lola’s ancestral home in the province, where the welcome is often fortified with a full spread of homegrown dishes that touch the soul. Welcome to XO 46 Filipino Bistro.
At the heart of the offerings representative of the rich culinary regions of the Philippines (i.e. Empanadang Bilbao Ala Vigan, a twist to the street food well-known in Ilocos, and Embutido with quezo de bola, common in central Luzon, for example) is a woman whose passion for food transcends the need for formal kitchen training: Sandee Siytangco, who brought to us Dimsum ‘n’ Dumplings and Struan and Tang’s. She’s also the food stylist behind Rustan’s SansRival magalogue and has been a columnist for The Manila Bulletin and contributor to magazines such as Travelife and Lifestyle Asia. She’s back with the advocacy of offering Filipino food as it should be. “I wanted to serve elaborate, well-thought-of dishes that are slow-cooked in a traditional Filipino kitchen that no instant mix can duplicate,” she says. “I want XO 46 to be the restaurant to bring one’s foreign guests to, simply because we have captured the feel of authentic Filipino dishes and what we call ‘hacienda service.’”
As a young lass observing and learning in her mother’s and grandmother’s kitchens, Sandee has been privy to enduring family recipes and with the help of another family member, Australia-trained nephew Chef CK Kalaw, brings these treasured culinary secrets to life at XO 46 Filipino Bistro.
“CK is just like me, masarap din kumain,” shares Sandee. “He’s a trained chef but he goes beyond putting ingredients together and making them look good on a plate,” she vouches. “It’s more important that he also enjoys what he eats, so I’m confident that his creations can be thoroughly enjoyed.”
Other lip-smacking favorites include Laing (gabi leaves in gata), Callos a la Madrilena, Binawang na Sotanghon at Manok (garlic lovers rejoice!), and Bangus Salpicao, a new flavorful take on a seafood staple. And while some of these are the exact same dinner fare at any household in the metro, Sandee is confident that even locals will come out to dine at the XO. “Nothing beats taste and consistency,” believes Sandee. “I always say slow-cooked dishes prepared in the traditional method taste very good—malinamnam. There’s not even an English equivalent to that word. Like our food, it’s truly ours.”
Office workers, families, and couples on a date often grace the Spanish-themed dining area that boasts of various ingenious uses of the capiz shell. They are happy to be called senorita or senorito and get whisked away to a distant memory of a family-shared hapag-kainan, full of food that were lovingly readied and that touch the heart.
XO 46 Filipino Bistro is at 130 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City. For inquiries on catering services and other reservations, please call (02) 553 6632.