Since the year started, I have been to Cebu thrice. The first two trips were purely for business. But on the third one, I made sure to squeeze in leisure time and touch base with connections I’ve made during a visit some years ago.
I was very excited to see Joel del Prado after finding out through Facebook that he had revived Pino. What great news!
This Pino Restaurant is no way related to the Pino in Manila. Joel del Prado’s Pino in Cebu opened in 2007 and I got the chance to dine there in 2011. Later that year, Joel left the business and it eventually shut down. But last February, Pino opened its doors once more, with Joel at the helm again. “This is my baby and I’m trying to rebuild its name,” he said of the restaurant.
To kick off its operations, Pino partnered with chef Editha Singian to come up with a buffet of Pinoy heritage recipes.
I’ve known chef Edith for quite some time. I have watched her do cooking demos for reputable brands and organizations. She is a food specialist who lends her expertise to various establishments – developing recipes and training kitchen staff to execute her concepts. I also know her as a member of the media, a contributor of Cook Magazine.
This is not the first time that chef Edith is doing something for Pino. Joel has tapped her for food festivals in the past and he trusts her 100%. In fact, he did not meddle at all while she was developing dishes for Pino’s buffet. “Full control siya. I trust her. I did not even restrict her with food cost,” he disclosed. “She’s tried and tested!,” he added.
And so far, sooooo good! People have been lining up for Pino’s buffet. At P299 for lunch and P399 for dinner, it includes salad and oyster bar, soup station, dessert station, a live cooking station, and a carving station. All home cooked heritage dishes — made well, with recipes we grew up with (no experimental cooking here).
During my visit, they had Lengua Antigua and Chicken Relleno at the carving station. I had two servings of the lengua! I knew I could only eat so much so I saved the Chicken Relleno for next time. I couldn’t skip the Dinuguan. As far as I’m concerned, there is only one way of making Dinuguan and that’s chef Edith’s way. The first time ever that I tried Dinuguan was at the vinegar lecture of the Culinary Historians of the Philippines (CHOP) last year (late bloomer!)and it was chef Edith who cooked it.
I also had Pugad ng Maya (crispy noodles topped with quail egg) Seafood lumpia, Roasted adobo, Sisig, Laing, and a serving of every other dessert on the spread. I am such a kakanin fan so I really saved space for the Tibok-tibok, Palitao, and Biko.
I was only able to take a few food photos and most of them were awful. With the crowed, it was challenging and dyahe to click away. Besides, I was too busy eating!
As I walked to and fro the buffet, I overheard diners mumbling to each other, “sarap ng food, sarap ng food”. Aba, masarap talaga!
By May, expect some changes in what Pino will be serving. The favorites from chef Edith’s line-up will be retained but there will be new additions from representatives of the Aristocrat clan, including the Adobo Queen and industry stalwart, Nancy Reyes-Lumen.
“People like their barbeque and java rice, they have been here before and on the first night that we started serving their food, we had 300 people lining up!,” Joel recalled the feedback on the Reyeses.
“People are also looking for my food like the baked scallops, bamboo rice, kare-kare, binagoongan, and crispy pata but I can’t serve them now. Not yet. The kitchen has to be prepared to do a la carte too,” explained the foodie who travels the world to eat. His social media accounts are brimming with food and wine photos. “But I want to pursue that,” Joel pointed out.
Aha! One more thing to look forward to and return to Pino for. Meanwhile, I’m going back for the buffet!
Pino is along Wilson Street, Cebu City. For inquiries and reservations, you may call (032) 505 4840.