MANILA ICONIC: The Chef Sau and Tatung Dinner

The Best Manila Iconic Dinner of 2023 at Admiral Hotel Manila!

This dinner was a love letter tribute to Manila’s legendary iconic chefs: Nora Daza, Larry J. Cruz, and Aling Asiang. It was also a celebration of the modern take on Filipino food by Manila’s iconic chefs Sau del Rosario and Tatung Sarthou together with upcoming pastry chef Christian Monera.

Everyone was raving about the flavorful, well-presented dishes that told a story of Filipino cuisine. The portions were substantial, and the dinner was enjoyed with music by Tribu featuring kundiman songs and Italian opera.

My personal favorites were the pork dishes, from the individual serving of sosyal na bulalo soup to the relleno stuffed crispy pata. Chef Tatung’s ‘Balbaqua’ in polenta was also delicious, as was Chef Sau’s whole Maine lobster tail in adlai with aligue sauce (although some people found it too salty). I also loved the well-curated wine pairing from Happy Living Wines and The Wine Club.


This was the first time that these two iconic Manila chefs, Chef Sau del Rosario and Chef Tatung Sarthou, worked together to create an epic Filipino dinner that elevated our cuisine from exciting concept to flawless execution. There was a lot of tension and drama throughout the process, but these two chefs are the best in Manila, and I admire their professionalism in making the Manila Iconic Dinner a reality.

MANILA ICONIC: 8 Course Degustation
by Chef Sau del Rosario and Chef Tatung Sarthou
featuring the dessert creations of Admiral Hotel’s 
executive pastry chef, Christian Monera
July 27, 2023 5:30pm to 10:00pm


The Manila Iconic dinner was a special one-night event that was jam-packed with over 100 guests, including awesome doctors, respected foodies, special friends in the media, and beloved sponsors.

The dinner was serenaded by Tribu, a group of talented musicians who performed a beautiful program of Filipino kundiman and Italian opera.


🐷 Sisig foie gras “Pie Tee” 

The appetizers were a solid start, with Sau Sau’s signature pastry cups filled with sisig and foie gras.

🍡 Sticky cod fish balls 

The street food classic fish ball was upgraded with codfish meat and paired with a dry Kung Fu Girl Riesling, which had notes of peach, orange, and apricot.

🥚 Balut and Kwek kwek tart
🥂Charles Smith ‘Kung Fu Girl’, Riesling, 2021

A tart of balut and kwek kwek, rich in umami, is served on top of thin, crisp crostini. The combination of the creamy mousse and the crunchy thin bread is addictive.


🍲 Roasted bone marrow “Bulalo”

Each guest was served their own portion of bone marrow, accompanied by scalloped potatoes. The broth was rich and flavorful, and it was sinful to enjoy the marrow all by yourself.

The next courses were inspired by the recipes of iconic culinary personalities of Manila: Nora Daza, Larry J. Cruz, and Aling Asiang Reyes. Daza’s ubiquitous cookbook taught OFWs and the world how to cook Filipino food; Cruz was famous for his love of food and beloved restaurants like Abe and Café Adriatico; and Reyes was the matriarch of the Aristocrat restaurant chain, which is known for its barbecue and Filipino food favorites.

Pamana ni Nora Daza:

🐟 Chilean seabass ‘Pochero’, sweet potato purée
🥂 Pago Mota Chardonnay, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Chardonnay, 2018

A maki of Chilean seabass on a bed of sweet potato and broth.

Pamana ni Larry J Cruz:

🐖 Knockout knuckle “Crispy Pata”

Boneless crispy pata stuffed with relleno filling and crispy skin.

Pamana ni Aling Asiang:

🦆 Sous-Vide Moulard duck breast ‘Adobo’, foie gras
🍷 Le Fou Pinot Noir, 2021 – Pays d’Oc, France

Tender duck confit with crispy skin, served with adobo sauce and foie gras paired with a balanced Pinot noir with savory notes.

Intermezzo: 🍨 Sampaguita Pomelo

Likha ni Chef Sau del Rosario:

Chef Sau del Rosario had a storied career since he started cooking for more than 20 years. From his upbringing in Pampanga to the United States, he then honed his culinary chops in France, Singapore, Thailand, Shanghai, before returning to the Philippines where he soon gained prominence. While he is equally adept in French and Asian cuisines, in the past several years, it’s his Filipino cooking that has become his raison d’etre, as he decided to settle back in his hometown.

🦞 Lobster Aligue adlai

I loved the whole Maine lobster tail with aligue sauce and patties, served on a bed of cheesy adlai. Some people find the aligue sauce to be salty, but I actually think it pairs well with the lobster and cuts through the cheesiness.

Likha ni Chef Tatung Sarthou:

Chef Tatung Sarthou is an award-winning Filipino Chef with a Pinoy heart in his dishes. He is also an author of best-selling books such as Simpol Dishkarte, Simpol The Cookbook, and Kitchen Secrets

🥩 Polenta beef ‘Balbaqua’
🍷 Cartlidge & Browne Merlot 2019 

The beef is served with a luscious layer of fat and meat, topped with the iconic Balbaqua sauce from Cebu, and served on a bed of polenta mash. The dish is perfectly paired with a full-bodied Merlot with a toasty oak finish. Everyone love this.

Likha ni Chef Christian Monera:

Admiral Hotel Manila – MGallery’s Executive Chef Christian Monera has been in the hospitality industry for more than 10 years. He has combined experiences working with international brands in Dubai (directly working with a master pastry and bakery chef), UAE, Abu Dhabi, Maldives, and Zambia. Chef Christian also had training and immersion in Paris, France, which helped elevate his expertise in his craft. As the mastermind of all dessert pieces of Admiral Hotel, he infuses both Filipino and European touches in every creation he makes. The art of crafting delightful French patisseries holds his heart for its rich history, authenticity, and beautiful stories.

🍧 Merienda’s Ginataang Mungo Espuma, Appas, Mangoes, Ube Halaya Cream, Toasted Kasoy
🥂 Ca’Momi ‘Heartcraft’ Sparkling White

A modern ginataang halo-halo is served deconstructed, showcasing a variety of flavors and textures.

Coffee / Tea / Infusion: 🌰 Caramel and Honey Pili Nut Tart

The pili nut tart was a surprising delight, perfectly rounding out the iconic evening with its sweet and nutty flavor.


Thank you to Kate Dychangco-Anzani of the Cebu Food & Wine Festival team for inspiring us to elevate the Filipino Food Culture to a whole new level.

Thank you to Ms. Marie Buenaobra and Mr. Quentin Renard of Admiral Hotel Manila for believing in us and making this Manila Iconic Dinner a reality.

Thank you to the entire Admiral Club team for the delicious execution and professional service! Galing!

Live an Awesome Life with Christ,

Founder & Digital Creator, Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: Our Awesome Planet is a co-founder of Manila Food & Wine Festival. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.

P.S. Sharing with you my partner Spanky’s message about the Manila Iconic dinner.


CongratulationsSau and Tatung for a truly epic and world-class dinner event that proves to the world what peak Filipino culinary is capable of: from conception to execution, our ‘Manila Iconic’ dinner was exactly that: an event that showcased the Philippines and our cuisine: classic and new.

Magnificent thanks to our venue, Admiral Hotel Manila – MGallery, and its amazing management and wonderful F&B and banquet team. Masaya Studio for a seamless and truly grand professional production. Beverage sponsors Luisita Rum, Cointreau-Botanist-Rémy Martin, Happy Living, and The Wine Club: thanks for all the generous pours! Ephesus Teatron Group Inc. and “Tribu”: for singing the songs that were the night’s exclamation point!

And most of all, to all our guests who shared the evening with us!!!

Our mission is simple: to elevate and promote the Philippines as the new Culinary Center of Asia, at par with Singapore, Bangkok, & Hong Kong.

We’re confident this is achievable!!!

The Manila Food & Wine Festival
The Cebu Food & Wine Festival
The Ilocos Food & Wine Festival
The Davao Food & Wine Festival

In very proud partnership with the Department of Tourism – Philippines, Department of Tourism NCR, and Our Awesome Planet & Resto PH

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