Chef Dino Datu

48 posts

Four French hands at Dusit

Collaborations are opportunities to exchange knowledge, to widen one’s view and to share the limelight. While creative collaborations usually involve contrasting styles and backgrounds, a partnership between two of the most prominent French chefs in the country can only mean one thing—a meal that’s truly one for the books.

Weekend Recipes

Christmas ham

This is my version of what looks like a Finnish Christmas Ham. While the addition of mustard and bread crumbs are from Finland, any cooked ham would do. To add a bit of sweetness (which Filipinos, including myself, love), I cooked and glazed the ham with a mixture of pineapple, molasses and brown sugar.

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition

For anyone remotely interested in food and restaurants, you’d have to be living under a rock for you to not have heard of Anton Diaz. One of the first to popularize the medium and arguably the most influential, Anton has made blogging a byword in the local food scene. While visiting restaurants and reviewing food is what Our Awesome Planet is mainly known for, they are also a popular travel blog, documenting their family adventures and sharing these with readers. The blog, as Anton himself discloses, started as a way of documenting their family journey through the years. It’s something their sons can look back to, a “record” of the milestones, the trips and the epic meals. That the public has taken to his blog and used his entries as a food guide wasn’t his initial intention.

Callos my way

My version is heavy with red bell peppers and Pimenton Dulce (sweet Spanish paprika). Of course, the “sweet” in the paprika isn’t really sugary, it’s more of a way to distinguish it from the hot kind of paprika. As I’ve said, the way I make Callos, or even Paella, is with lots of red bell peppers, cooked low and slow to form a sofrito, the base of sautéed aromatics, similar to our ginisa. As a foil to the sweet, salty chorizo and olives provide the savory component to the otherwise bland ox tripe. The spice comes from a bit of chili powder and black pepper.

Taperia Poblacion

Spanish cuisine is arguably the most influential in our local food. While the Chinese come a close second, just looking at any fiesta table, it’s easy to see that until now, our dishes still contain a heavy dose of what our conquerors brought to our shores.

Gaga for Gaja

Saying that Korean culture has made a big splash on our shores is a huge understatement. From songs to TV shows to fashion to food, South Korea hasn’t just influenced our daily lives—their culture has actually become part of the mainstream. As a chef, I’ve always thought of Korean food as an easy pleaser. Having a couple of dominant flavors and a few essential ingredients like Korean chili and miso pastes, you’d be hard-pressed to find really bad Korean food. It all seems so simple, a bit of meat or seafood, some garlic, leeks, a bit of Gochujang paste and sesame oil and you have a decent Korean dish. For me, consistency and simplicity make good eating, and with a few kitchen staples, cooking and eating Korean is pretty foolproof.

The house that peanut sauce built

Nuts are a great addition to any dish. Apart from being great sources of good fat, fiber and protein, nuts add texture and mild, but unmistakable, flavor to whatever you add it to. Nuts can also provide creaminess to dishes when ground into a paste and is a healthier and more flavorful alternative to starches when thickening sauces.

Benjarong Manila’s Thai Experience Tasting Menu: Modern Thai done right

Asian food has always been admired, replicated and adapted by Westerners to suit their tastes. Having fertile lands, more “exotic” ingredients, an endless variety of herbs and spices, and a yearlong growing season mean that we’ve always had much more to work with and enjoy. But being culturally meek and humble plus the preference to keep to ourselves have resulted in Asian food being relegated to the “take-out” type, eaten out of a cardboard box.

Bejeweled Boeuf: To soak or to sulk?

If ever a dish had a way of making papansin, or seeking attention, this would be a perfect example. I haven’t cooked or eaten Boeuf Bourguignon since cooking school, I think, which was 15 years ago. But in a span of two weeks, I have seen it being made in a movie and eaten it at a friend’s restaurant. It felt as if someone was leaving me signs, convincing me to look back and recreate on of my favorite dishes from cooking school.

La Spezia: Soulful Italian cooking at its best

Hearing the words “Italian restaurant” usually brings one thing to mind—pizza. For someone who loves bread, I’ve never developed a craving for pizza. Truth be told, the part of pizza I look forward to most is the crust. One, because it is devoid of topping and can be enjoyed as normal bread would be and, second, because by the time you get to the crust, it means you’re almost done eating. On the other hand, I love pasta, even something as simple as Aglio Oglio. If you put pasta and oil and something savory together, I’d eat it. So when a message appeared on my phone inviting me to try the food at La Spezia, I was expecting the typical—an Italian restaurant specializing in pizza, with a few pasta dishes and maybe a chicken dish or two thrown into the mix. Oh, was I mistaken.

Sous Vide Tomahawk Porkchop with Apples and Onions

OF all the condiments we use in local cuisine, vinegar probably takes the top spot, or at least it’s in the top two, together with soy sauce. Of all the cuisines I’m familiar with, we probably use vinegar just as much as any. From dipping to curing to pickling (atsara), from marinades to dressings (pako salad), from use as seasoning to being used as the main braising liquid (paksiw), we have learned to take advantage of suka in all its variations. The dish that I have prepared demonstrate the good use of acid to counter the richness and fattiness of pork.


The phrase “comfort food” has been loosely thrown around the food scene for some time now. While the term is supposed to be subjective (each person has his/her own comfort food), it is widely used to describe good home-style cooking or classic dishes that are easy pleasers. Comfort food may be fried chicken to some, waffles for another or a stew for someone else. Among the many dishes that may be considered as comfort food, one of my personal favorites is pasta.

Easy Pleasers

The month of June (or August, depending on which school) means the start of the school year for the majority of students in the Philippines. As a parent, it also means a break from the activities (and additional expenses) of summer. The start of school brings a little more normalcy, a bit more routine to our days. A big part of that daily routine for most moms—and a few dads—is making baon.

Tales and tastes of Cavite

LAST week I finally got a hold of the much-anticipated book on Cavite Cuisine of The Cook of Books by Ige Ramos. The multitalented Mr. Ramos has served as an editor, writer, historian, graphic designer, layout artist and much more in countless publications and books is at it again, and this time as publisher of his own passion project.

Food from our neighbors

I MUST confess that this article should’ve come out last year. But careless old me misplaced the memory card I used to take the pictures so, embarrassed as I was, I had no record of the cooking and eating session that took place. As luck would have it, the memory card I misplaced was found, and the timing couldn’t have been better.

Butter is better

ON its own or in combination with other herbs and aromatics, butter just gives any dish instant richness. The most common and my most used combination is butter, garlic and parsley. While this foolproof combination may seem cliché, the fact that it is generally well received and never fails makes it my go-to flavor combination. Whether it is used to sauté, as a spread for bread, added after cooking to top or coat a dish, or melted and spooned over meat or seafood, butter, garlic and parsley just never fails. I always spoon some melted garlic parsley butter over some large cockles.

Salt and Smoke

I DON’T think I am alone in thinking that barbecued meat is probably one of, if not the most, appetizing thing you can watch on TV. Of all the cuisines that play on the food channels, only barbecue has multiple shows on its specific cuisine. It even beats shows on burgers or pizza or TexMex on the amount of coverage it gets.

Café Inggo: Of Food and Friars

Rarely do we associate life’s pleasures with spirituality. In fact, for most of us faithful, they seem to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum. While enjoying food isn’t actually sinful, the virtues of simplicity and charity seem to go against our urge to indulge in gastronomic pleasures. But enjoying food need not equate to gluttony, and we can always find other ways to celebrate our faith and be charitable.

Party Pleasers

THE months of November and December usually mean dinner parties one after the other. Whether you’re attending a potluck or hosting, there will be instances when you will need easy dishes that feed a lot and are sure hits. Cooking for a lot of people can be daunting enough. Cooking complicated dishes only adds to the stress and can keep you from being able to enjoy the festivities. Planning ahead and keeping things simple should make for relaxed parties where everyone enjoys, even the host.

Food Park Finds

FOOD Park Finds is a series of articles that feature some of the best grub we’ve tried at food parks. Sprouting up throughout Metro Manila in the past couple of years, food parks have been known to provide would be restaurateurs a venue to try their hand at the business without having to spend millions. For diners, food parks are a fun and novel way of getting to try different cuisines in one place and at a relatively inexpensive way.

Bistro Manuel: A long awaited homecoming of sorts

Of all the lunch invitations I’ve received in my 12 years with Cook, the invite to Bistro Manuel was probably my most anticipated. The chef, Ariel Manuel, is one of the few truly legendary chefs we have locally. Along with Chefs Billy King, Tonyboy Escalante and Jessie Sincioco and, of course, Norbert Gandler, they are the few who have molded and influenced how fine dining has evolved in Manila in the last couple of decades.

Surf and Turf in Soup Form

OFTEN eclipsed by more popular soups, like tinola, sinigang and nilaga, Molo Soup or Pancit Molo is one of my favorites among local soups. I can’t think of any other local soup that mixes meats and seafood, as well as the carb component, in one dish. I come from a purely Tagalog family, Laguna on mom’s side and Bulacan on dad’s, so my love for Molo Soup is purely objective.

Revisit, Rediscover, Bataan

The words Bataan and tourism are seldom mentioned in the same sentence, at least not until fairly recently. The Bataan Peninsula, although one of the closest provinces to Manila – it literally is across Manila Bay, isn’t really a top tourist destination. I doubt it would even make the top 20 as recent as five years ago. The province is synonymous with the Bataan Death March, one of our country’s darkest memories from World War 2. The peninsula is also popular for one of the Marcos regime’s biggest showcase of corruption and public fund wastage – the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. The circumstances around it’s planning, bidding and construction were “sketchy” to put it mildly. All told, Filipinos had to foot the bill of a useless project with a humongous debt that took 30 years to pay off.

The Slow Sizzle

Tougher cuts of meat have been making their way into the top of the culinary world. Previously unheard of cuts, like beef cheeks, are making an appearance in top restaurants the world over. Locally, lesser prime cuts, like shank and neck, even tails, have always been part of our menus. Unlike most first-world countries, we are still fortunate to have access to cooks and house help. Either that, or some households are still run by housewives. In most homes, there is usually someone who is tasked to feed the brood. Having time to go to the market and prepare and tend to the stove is a luxury most of us take for granted.

Cazuela serves Spanish Colonial Cuisine

THE cazuela is a clay pot used in cooking, it serves as a vessel for combining ingredients to make sumptuous dishes. Chefs Mon Urbano and Day Salonga had a similar idea for their newly-opened Cazuela restaurant. “We want our diners to experience the flavors of the different countries colonized by Spain. We aim to go beyond traditional Spanish fare and want to showcase dishes created because of the Spanish galleon trade,” says Chef Day.

Going Scottish on Eggs

A popular picnic food in the UK and with some variations across Europe, Scotch eggs aren’t widely known here. I’ve always wondered why, considering the two main ingredients—eggs and sausage—are universally loved foods.

Crystal Jade Dining In

CRYSTAL Jade Dining In held its Mid-Autumn Festival last month, and due to the success of the said promotion, decided to extend its special menu all through the end of October. Being fortunate to have been invited to sample their special dishes, I found a new appreciation for what contemporary Chinese cuisine can offer.

Lasa ng Republika: Cavitex food tour

RECENT biopics and historical commentaries have put Cavite’s place in our nation’s history in question. Its most famous son, our first president, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, has been called a lot of names—traitor, the first politician (as opposed to being the first president), shrewd, opportunistic, etc.

Back in Bohol

ASIDE from warm, hospitable and hardworking people, our country’s beaches are its next best assets. With thousands of kilometers of coastline, mostly still pristine and unspoiled, you’d wonder why most tourists flock to the single most crowded resort island in the country just for powdery white sand. Yes, their sand is powdery, probably some of the finest in the world. But after feeling the sand with your toes one would tend to ask…and then what?

A Better Buffet at Cucina

With buffet restaurants seemingly popping up at every mall, mall extension and commercial establishment, there is no questioning our love for eating…and eating a lot. What should be asked though is, in the fight for size and price, are we being fed well or just being stuffed senseless?

The ABC’s of Southern BBQ

There’s this newish show on TV called Man, Fire, Food. The show’s host, Chef Roger Mooking, goes around the US to experience and learn about traditional, basic ways of cooking with fire. From Spanish/Mexican barbecue pits called barbacoa (where barbecue comes from) to Argentinian-style parilla to clam bakes and Southern US whole hog barbecue, the episodes all have one thing in common—they are all cooked low and slow over fire.

Getting your game on

GAME has been used to describe meat from animals that are traditionally hunted or caught in the wild. The list of what can be considered game varies depending on where you are but, typically, game can include duck, rabbit, deer, sheep or goat, boar, buffalo, even bears. Locally, I know ducks and snipes are hunted. I remember my grandpa used to go to Zambales and Bataan to hunt snipes. It wasn’t really of any interest to me so I never asked about their hunting trips.

My Scotch eggs

A POPULAR picnic food in the UK and, with some variations, across Europe, Scotch eggs aren’t widely known here. I’ve always wondered why, considering the two main ingredients, eggs and sausage, are universally loved foods.

Who’s afraid of the oven?

WHEN I hear people say that baking is one of the most therapeutic things you can do, I can’t help but tell myself:  “What else must these people do that are so nerve-wracking that they find baking relaxing?” Just the thought of measuring everything exactly, following the recipe religiously and all the waiting that follows when you place that batter or dough in the oven and stare and stare, hoping that everything turns out alright—how is that therapeutic?

Innards, skin-nards

MY Offally good recipes are two of the more common applications of innards and off-cuts in Filipino cooking. Luckily, our cuisine still makes good use of most cuts and the innards, unlike other more squeamish countries. Even in the streets, as snacks, a myriad of innards and off-cuts are skewered, grilled and dipped in spicy vinegar, enjoyed all around the country. You are never a few corners away from a neighborhood isawan, even in the city centers.