Lumu Beerhouse & Filipino Kitchen
3/F Greenbelt 3, Ayala Avenue, Makati City
Open from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Monday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Friday to Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) Before gastropubs became all the rage in the local food scene, there was the beerhouse. Ask your favorite tito and he might even regale you with some rowdy stories of his inuman sessions, and all the fun, sometimes bawdry conversations over buckets of ice-cold beer and saucy pulutan.
It’s those casual carefree times that Chef Luigi Muhlach wants to evoke at Lumu, which is named after him but can also be read as an abbreviation for “love you, miss you.” The interiors, done by Space Encounters and an in-house team, channel a typical Filipino beerhouse and the surrounding neighborhood. Walls are covered in posters, from vintage ads to movie posters featuring his parents Aga Muhlach and Janice de Belen. They even have a replica of a sari-sari storefront at the restaurant’s al-fresco area, if you want a street-side inuman experience.
“We wanted to play around with the beerhouse concept,” says Chef Luigi. “The beerhouse is the local version of the gastropub. At a gastropub, they pair their beers with burgers or fish and chips, so I started to think ‘ano bang masarap ibagay sa beer sa Pilipinas?' And my brain went to kambing, kilawin, singulaw. So that’s our approach.”
Hardcore Kambing Sampler
From the very start, Chef Luigi knew he had to put goat meat on the menu: “Yung mga tomador na mahilig talagang uminom, kambing ang pinupulutan,” he says. Chef Luigi scoured carinderias and kambingans for the best goat dishes he could find and narrowed these down to only the classics. He embraces the distinct gaminess of the protein, and if that doesn’t turn you off, the Hardcore Kambing Sampler (P499) is a must-try. An order will get you the Lumu Papaitan, with a subtle bitterness that is surprisingly enjoyable, the Ala Eh! Gotong Batangas with a bright sourness that balances out the gamey goat meat, and the Kilawin, which is all sorts of chewy, crunchy, sweet, sour, and spicy from a mix of crispy goat skin, vinegar, onions, garlic, calamansi, and chili.
Sizzling Chicken Dinakdakan
Chef Luigi also has a penchant for raising food to the next indulgent, almost heart attack-inducing level; a prime example is the Sizzling Chicken Dinakdakan (P199), much like sisig with chopped-up pork bits plus sliced chilis, calamansi juice, and peppercorns. Already rich, creamy, and lip-smackingly savory, Chef Luigi adds crispy fried chicken skin for added crunch and all-around tastiness.
Patty’s Sinuglaw (P199) looks like the lighter option, and it does seem so once the vibrant bowl arrives on your table. A bite in, however, and you realize this sinuglaw hides quite a flavor punch. It starts your palate off with fresh and clean flavors from chunks of raw tuna, then you get to the saltier fried chicken skin, the rich brininess of the crab fat, and bursts of heat from fresh chili. Still, that’s not the only surprise in store for you at Lumu.
Chef Luigi whips up his own Mang Tomas-like sarsa for the Tomahawk Bagnet (P329), using pork liver
In a proudly Filipino beerhouse-restaurant, a platter of sausages may seem more like Western gastropub fare, but the Lumu A-Bangers Sampler (P499) will blow your mind in the best possible way. The Bicol Express sausage (or the Kupido) has a creamy coconut-y flavor, the Kansi has the distinct sour tang of the soup, the Walang Kamatayan sausage tastes so much like adobo you could probably fool someone—you catch our drift. The way Chef Luigi transforms classic Filipino viands into bangers almost seems like magic, but he shares that the technique is actually pretty straightforward: “We make them in-house, we ground the pork and pork fat, then we marinate the meat in the sauce of whatever ulam we’re making,” he shares. “For example, if it’s Bicol Express, we marinate the meat in Bicol Express sauce, if dinuguan, we use a dinuguan sauce.” Having the sausages available frozen is in the works, because you never know when the cravings for a Bicol Express sausage could hit.
Pichi Pichi Skillet
Lumu also offers refreshing drinks like the giant Sago't Gulaman Overload (P99), which you can get spiked...
...and the Mango Yakult (P85) with popping tapioca balls
Dessert may be the last thing on your mind when out drinking, but it’d be a shame to miss out on the Pichi Pichi Skillet (P225), which could be renamed comfort on a plate. Serving the cassava cake on a hot iron skillet ensures that it remains warm all throughout, while also bringing out its caramel-like notes. With a coconut cheese custard topping, this pichi pichi is melt-in-your mouth velvety, and somehow tastes like childhood, too. It may seem a strange choice for this beerhouse-restaurant, but beyond Chef Luigi’s unique little touches, Lumu is all about good ol’ fashioned Filipino grub though, yes, richer perhaps than what you’re familiar with. Pair these with beer—which you can get in Mucho (one-liter) bottles—and you’re all set for a fun night out, Cool Tito-style.
Photos by Marikit Singson