Just like the Katipunan started with a group of passionate individuals seeking to make a difference, newly opened “Millennial Filipino” restaurant Kartilya in Bonifacio Global City was started by a group of friends looking to start a dining revolution.
Historically, Kartilya was the guidebook of the Katipunan. It contains the rules and mandates of the revolutionary organization – the basis for everything the Katipunan did and what they believed in. In a similar vein, the restaurant Kartilya hopes to form a new standard of Filipino cuisine.
Friends and marketing colleagues Jan Paz, Paolo Misa, Lord Polintan, John Guttierrez, Masterchef Asia contestant Lica Ibarra, with Trina Ong, Michi Mendoza, and Pat Giron opened Kartilya on July 20, 2016 – just three months after they started talking about opening a business.
“We were just talking, enjoying a few beers, and we started brainstorming for business ideas and we know we wanted to do something related to food,” Jan Paz told Expat.
“We wanted a place where people can enjoy. Filipino food with its familiar flavors but with a modern twist,” Paz added.
The warm lighting, dark hardwood furniture, and local decor like the capiz panel windows lend warmth to Kartilya that’s reminiscent of many Filipino homes in the countryside.
Meanwhile, their menu features classic Filipino dishes with heirloom recipes from their families with a “Millennial Filipino” twist, thanks to Chef Lica’s playful imagination.
“Our Kare-Kare is my Lola’s (grandmother) very own recipe,” Chef Lica said. “I make sure we do it almost exactly the same way she does.”
Just like any chef, Chef Lica is naturally curious and drawn to experimenting in the kitchen. Ong and Paz relayed stories of Chef Lica bursting out of the kitchen with something new and delicious on a plate, asking them to taste it. Her natural love for food helped her create Kartilya’s menu in just two months, including research and development and multiple food tasting sessions with her co-owners.
Kartilya may just be a month old, but it is paving the way for a dining revolution of its own.
For starters, their Tostadas is the perfect way to whet your appetite for the culinary uprising that’s about to come. The Tostada is made of homemade crispy corn tortilla and topped with Kaldereta, Pulled Pork Adobo, or Sisig. You cannot go wrong with any of the three toppings. Trust me on this.
The Tostadas also pairs well with locally made bugnay wine from Proudly Promdi or any of Kartilya’s signature cocktails.
For main course, their bestselling Liempo Queso Fundido is a sure way to satisfy your meaty and cheesy cravings. The grilled liempo (sliced pork belly) is tender and well seasoned, while their creamy three-cheese mornay sauce perfectly complements the savory pork without overpowering its flavors. It’s easy to see why foodies head to Kartilya for this dish.
What is Filipino food without the Kapampangan favorite sisig? At Kartilya, their Sisig offers traditional Kapampangan flavors – as it should – but with their own modern twist: a 63-degree sous vide egg. Talk about perfectly cooked, creamy yolk gushing down and covering the sizzling chunks of pork and liver.
Another fan favorite is their Corned Beef Kansi. Kansi is a cross between Filipino staples sinigang (sour broth) and bulalo (bone marrow broth), a little sour and mostly savory. The addition of tender and flaky corned beef adds a bit of sweetness to the warm broth, while the lemongrass perfumes the dish and takes you back to Iloilo’s countryside where the dish was first made. With the rainy weather upon us, Kansi is the perfect dish to get cozy and warm.
Kartilya’s Pinoy Kebabs are huge chunks of pork shoulder skewered with onions and bell peppers and basted with their adobo sauce. The meat is tender, the fat melts the moment it touches your tongue, and the sides – homemade pan de sal with mango jam and kesong puti (white cheese) – are the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
For vegetarians, they also have the Nipa Hut Medley, which has almost all the vegetables from the Pinoy nursery rhyme Bahay Kubo tossed in tasty peanut sauce and topped with Chef Lica’s homemade bagoong (shrimp paste) Butter.
In true Filipino spirit, the main dishes mentioned above go perfectly with their Dirty Rice, which is their secret recipe fried rice. This is not your typical sinangag (fried rice) from your home. It is moist and flavorful and unlike any fried rice you’ve had before.
But if you don’t feel like eating rice, their signature Aligue Palabok is the perfect cheat day treat. The classic Filipino palabok (rice noodles with atsuete sauce) is amped up with sinfully indulgent aligue (crab fat), shrimp, smoked fish, tofu, hardboiled egg, and crushed chicharon.
About 90 percent of the dishes and its components are homemade, which is how Chef Lica exactly prefers it.
“It’s better if we make it from scratch, so we know exactly what goes in the dishes, we keep the flavors consistent, and we can put a lot more love into the dish,” Chef Lica shared with a smile.
Filipinos are known for some of the most exotic, delectable desserts and Kartilya definitely won’t be left behind.
Pinoys’ favorite childhood street side dessert gets a modern gourmet twist, thanks to Kartilya, who took Carioca (sweet rice flour balls, like mochi but firmer and more chewy) to a whole new level by stuffing it with goodies. You can choose between white chocolate, dark chocolate, or even the beloved Filipino chocolate, Chocnut.
They also have Kartilya Pop Tarts: Homemade pastry stuffed with either bananas or local mulberry jam, baked until golden brown, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with crushed colorful cereals. This is a sure hit with the young ones.
Of course, Chef Lica’s signature dish made its way from the Masterchef kitchen to Kartilya. Diners can get a taste of her winning Queso de Bola Bibingka Souffle – her delicious homage to the Filipino classic cake bibingka that is warm, creamy, and just the right amount of sweet. Their desserts go well with freshly brewed locally grown coffee from Kalsada.
Don’t get left behind. Join the sumptuous Kartilya revolution.
Kartilya is located at Two Parkade Building, 7th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. They are open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. For reservations, call (02) 893 2806.
By CHING DEE