In my years of wandering, there had been many times when I felt severely homesick. I would miss my family back home and I would miss my friends and the way we would laugh for hours over something trivial and nonsensical.
And there were also a lot of times when I would miss the taste of true Filipino style of cooking, especially whenever I would visit a country whose culture and cuisine are so different from that of the Philippines.
When I was in Sydney last Christmas season, I spent three weeks eating fish and chips, continental breakfast, and steaks. While it was indeed filling and superb, the non-stop consumption of grease and oil made me queasy. On the other hand, I would crave for something tasty, salty and greasy when I would visit a Muslim country. During my visit to Israel, Palestine and Jordan, I only had chickpeas and lentils to eat and I lost several pounds ( I am not vegetarian) hahaha.
Filipino dishes are a good combination of sweetness, sourness, saltiness and grease, making them ideal as comfort food. No matter the season, no matter the occasion, Filipino dishes have a way of making our meals so much better and happier.
Even OFWs and Filipinos who have immigrated abroad will swear that they always crave the comfort and goodness of Filipino food.
However, for traveling bachelors such as myself, it’s not always easy to find good Filipino food. I can always come home and ask my mom and titas to cook for me, but that takes to much time and efforts.
It’s a good thing that there’s always a Via Mare branch nearby.
Serving awesome Filipino food for nearly 40 years, Via Mare Seafood Specialty Restaurant has been at the forefront of preserving the Filipino taste, and taking it to greater heights.
The restaurant did not only change the Filipino’s perception of its own cuisine, it also brought global recognition to the sophistication and complex flavors of the Philippines. Via Mare’s chef Glenda Barretto, who has been at the helm of the restaurant since its inception, and her strong belief in the Filipino cuisine’s potential to be world class is what pushed the restaurant to keep outdoing its achievements.
While other chefs and restaurants dabbled on intercontinental cuisines, Mrs. Barreto opted to nurture and modernize the Filipino taste and enhance it to make it globally competitive.
If lumpia was known as a roll, the Via Mare version had the filling wrapped in pouches held together by spring onions. The tinola was also given a fresh take by serving the soup in a carved papaya or as a flan, inspired by the Chawanmushi of Japan.
“The past 40 years is not only the story of a restaurant, it is a story of the Filipino people,” Barretto said. “Via Mare is our pride as we helped a lot of Filipinos enjoy and be proud of the cuisine that we have here, of recipes that we have enjoyed throughout our childhood, and of what Filipino fine cuisine truly tastes like.”
I had the pleasure of visiting Via Mare once again during their a recent breakfast round table session held at its Greenbelt 1 branch, and it could not have come at a more opportune time.
I have just arrived from a week-long visit and stay in Hong Kong to celebrate my birthday and there, I consumed too much dim sum and Chinese and Cantonese dishes, that at the final days of my trip, I was already longing for sinangag and adobo.
During the Via Mare breakfast, the restaurant presented all breakfast dishes that Filipino have come to love from the restaurant. Dubbed as ‘Altanghap:, an abbreviation of almusal, tanghalian and hapunan, the breakfast menu featured meals that are breakfast favorites, but can also be served at any time of the day. It was a true breakfast to remember.
They had me with their appetizer of pan de sal, with sides of corned beef, Vigan longganisa, Laguna cheese, and queso de bola.
The highlight of the breakfast session was Via Mare’s trademark crispy adobo flakes. It was really crunchy without losing the adobo flavor.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant’s version of longganisang Lucban sliced in halves, and their version of daing na bangus, served with atchara and garlic rice. They also served tuyo flakes.
Finally, any dining experience in Via Mare would not be complete with a serving of its trademark puto bumbong and bibingka. These alone, are enough to brighten your day.
This is what authentic Filipino dining is all about.
More than bells and whistles, Filipino cooking is all about good taste and Via Mare serves up amazing dishes to make every dining experience a memorable one.
I am very thankful that there are still restaurants in the Philippines that continue to uphold and preserve Filipino cooking, even when its always easy to jump on the latest food craze.
So whenever I come back from my travels, I would surely find the time to drop by Via Mare and enjoy all the familiar dishes I love and go crazy about.
SOME FACTS ABOUT VIA MARE YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Via Mare is the caterer of choice when it comes big extravaganzas. Some of the events they catered to were the 1995 Miss Universe pageant in Manila, the Papal Visit of Pope John Paul II, the 1996 APEC Summit, and the Gala of the Philippine-run of West End’s Miss Saigon among others
- It opened its first restaurant on September 5, 1975.
- All dishes served by Via Mare conforms to the highest standards of Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) to meet the discriminating taste and preference of its clientele.