Lampara Lights the Way for Modern Filipino Food
Filipino food just got an unusual twist.
5883 Enriquez Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Monday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) It started with a fixation for fire, the hearth, and the call of an open flame. This is how the idea of Lampara was forged into life among a group of six friends who wanted to blaze their own food trail through Filipino cuisine. The latest addition to Poblacion sits on the second floor of a nondescript apartment building.
As soon as you enter, what catches the eye is the open and breathable space marked by high ceilings, a relaxed open veranda to catch the breeze and check out the happening nightlife below, and a little glass-house nook with a cozy Mod, '60s-vibe where you can have drinks while pretending to wait for Don Draper to arrive.
The spacious indoor-seating area also welcomes customers with warm wooden floors, distressed walls, charming knickknacks, and mismatched chairs for the tables that exude a retro-chic-but-lived-in ambience.
Owners RJ Ramos, Prince Tan, and Alphonse Sotero were schoolmates at Enderun. Now, they play the roles of Lampara’s resident masterminds in the kitchen, sharing that Lampara came about because of their deep respect and pride in Filipino food. Combining modern cooking techniques with their take on classics, the restaurant’s menu is their personal kitchen kundiman of sorts to the glorious altar that is Filipino cuisine.
Start off your meal with Lampara’s version of the humble lumpia through the Rice Cups (P220). These assorted crunchy cups of goodness are either filled with longganisa, taba ng talangka, and ubod, or a lighter mix of tofu, beansprouts, and peanuts. Both are perfect with the sinamak vinegar on the side, providing a splash of brightness and acidity to the dish. The Tofu (P180), on the other hand, is a cool starter—literally—which shows off silky chilled tofu as a delicate base for the burst of flavor on top: Savory pork floss, crispy pork bits, and pickled onions dressed with black vinegar syrup.
For the vegetable lovers (hey, it’s the New Year after all), the Ensalada (P180) is a must-try and a beautiful symphony of earthy and robust flavors, with smoky roasted eggplant, frisée lettuce, guinamos (or fermented fish paste), lato seaweed, and salted egg.
Those looking for something rich and filling won’t be disappointed with the Veal Steak (P1,200), a deconstructed kaldereta cooked for 48 hours. Succulent veal cheeks rest on a bed of tangy tomato purée, topped with crunchy potato strings that are sprinkled with carrot powder.
The Duck Leg (P680) is a three-way dish that uses all the parts of the duck. The meat is cured and then fried in its own duck fat à la confit, while the duck liver is made into a pâté that’s deliciously piped inside Lampara’s version of an empanada de kaliskis, or a flaky pastry shaped like a sombrero. Dip the pâté-filled pastry in the adobo sauce, which comes with the duck, and be prepared for an explosion of divine decadence.
The Chicken (P290) is a combination of three flavor ideas birthed from the team’s beginning stages. The result is a hefty serving of inasal-inspired half-chicken that goes nicely with its side dish of delicate green papaya ribbons tossed in three kinds of vinegar. It’s a comforting dish full of tangy notes that many Filipinos love.
There are also desserts for every type of sweet tooth at Lampara. The Melon Milk (P200) is a pastel Monet painting-on-a-plate, with delicate tones of melon cream mixed with punchy melon soda. It’s garnished with sweet sugar tuile and coconut wafers on a buttery lady-finger base. The dish is dainty and creamy and simply refreshing on the palate.
For chocoholics, the Yema & Tsokolate (P220) is a sweet dream come true with toasted condensed milk as the base for Malagos chocolate nougatine, roasted barley cream, and tablea shortbread drizzled with honey. For those who prefer a more traditional panghimagas after a comforting Filipino meal, there’s the Sticky Rice (P150), perhaps inspired by the classic palitaw; it’s filled with sweet jackfruit jam, cashew cream, and panutsa dusted with nutty sesame-seed powder.
Located right smack in the middle of Poblacion, Lampara’s top-shelf bar and cocktail menu solidly holds their own within the neighborhood with bar chow for the after-office crowd who just want to enjoy the comfortable vibe and take the edge off their day. Laurence, the head bartender, mixes up creative concoctions to fit any mood, like the Gasera ni Simoun (P380), a nod to the tragic hero of Rizal’s El Filibusterismo. The Don Papa rum-based drink mixed with spices, grapefruit juice, beer syrup, and decorated with a fresh sprig of rosemary is set ablaze like our ill-fated hero’s nitroglycerine lamp, with absinthe for a dramatic flourish.
Pana Kakana Kana (P300) is served in a brandy snifter for one to fully appreciate the lovely fragrance wafting from the spiced gin, bitters, cardamom, and black pepper mix. Gayuma ni Albano (P350) has the distinction of being named after a popular member of the wait staff. Legend has it that he was challenged to sell 30 glasses of this then-unnamed tequila-based drink with Campari topped with guyabano foam to customers and the prize would be immortal fame, with his name on the menu of one of Lampara’s most-ordered cocktails.
Asiong (P350) is a nod to the famous local gangster with a suave gin-based drink. It’s made with black currant, vermouth, and cinnamon and is best paired with the Pork Ribs (P260), thoroughly boiled and deep-fried for maximum falling-off-the-bone tenderness, and topped with pork floss and fried onions with black vinegar sauce. For cheese freaks, the Bang Bang (P180) is an explosion of flavors—dynamite balls oozing with creamy béchamel and topped with crackling tempura crisps and a spicy gochujang sauce .
Lampara may be the newest kid on the block of Poblacion’s already stellar array of restaurants and bars, but with the warm, good-vibes energy of the place and the refreshing new take they give to Pinoy ulam classics, they are on the road to bringing new light to the table of well-loved Filipino food favorites.
Photos by Marikit Singson