Everything we ate at Kartilya, a new restaurant from a Pinoy MasterChef Asia contestant
MANILA, Philippines – A year after MasterChef Asia season 1, former contestant Lica Ibarra is back in the kitchen and is serving up Filipino classics right in Metro Manila.
Lica, who was one of 3 Filipino home cooks who competed on MasterChef Asia in 2015, is now the executive chef of Kartilya, a new restaurant in Bonifacio Global City.
It wasn't a project she jumped into right away, though. After the show, Lica, a single mom, went back to her job in banking: "Financially, I wasn't ready yet. But I saved up and after a year, I told myself that I cannot stay in the corporate world after having that whole experience of Master Chef Asia, sayang lang talaga (it would be such a waste)," she told Rappler on September 8.
Inspired by the Kartilya ng Katipunan – a guidebook for members of the Philippine revolutionary society of 1892 – and her family's recipes handed down from generation to generation, Lica's creations are classic with a twist.
Kartilya's menu is peppered with dishes like arroz caldo ala risotto, sinigang na taro, and Lica's ticket to MasterChef Asia, the queso de bola bibingka souffle. Others, like her lola's kare-kare, have stuck to the exact same family recipe – her lola orders the kare-kare every time she visits, just to check.
Here are a few more dishes from Kartilya, which we tried on September 8.
Pinais na alimasag (P350)
Served in crab shells, this dish of crab meat, coconut meat, and coconut cream mix was inspired by Lica's travels to Malaysia.
Liempo questo fundido (P290)
One of Lica's partners had suggested that Lica create something similar to a dish he tried in Korea, served with a cheese dip. Lica's take: pork belly with a 3-cheese mornay sauce, all torched to finish.
Corned beef kansi (P390)
Lica says her kansi, is special to her because she taught herself how to cook it from scratch, based on her memories of what it tasted like when she tried it in Bacolod for the first time. " it was one dish that I really, really, really loved. I couldn't – it was mind-blowing. The first spoon I had of kansi, I really wanted to take it home and make my own version," she told Rappler.
Kartilya's kansi, made with corned beef, lemon grass, native tomato, kamisa, jack fruit, and green finger chili all in a sour beef broth is described as a mix between bulalo and sinigang.
Boneless bangus (P390)
A dish based on a family recipe, Lica says this is how her lola would serve bangus: topped with a lot of fried garlic and ensaladang manga.
Kartilya "Dirty Rice" (P165)
Grab a bowl of plain rice to go with everything, or try the "Dirty Rice:" Kartilya's special seasoned rice with spring onions and garlic chips.
Carioca ng Kartilya (P245)
These sweet rice flour balls come with with your choice of white chocolate, dark chocolate, or ChocNut filling, served with a coconut milk dipping sauce.
Queso de bola bibingka souffle (P280)
Kartilya's signature dessert was inspired by Christmas. Lica, who grew up cooking with her lola, mom, and aunt, told Rappler that she's always the one assigned to dessert whenever they had family reunions. She decided to make something different one Christmas but still stick the usual bibingka, and she eventually created her ticket to MasterChef Asia.
It took Lica 4 tries to get the recipe right, she said, but now all it takes to try her bibingka souffle is a 15-minute wait that's totally worth it.
Home-made tostados (P195 each)
The beef kaldereta, pulled pork, and sisig tostados, each ordered separately, are great paired with with cocktails by Proudly Promdi (P220 each).
Will you be trying out Lica's creations at Kartilya? Tell us what you think of the restaurant in the comments! – Rappler.com
Kartilya is located at Two Parkade, 30th St cor 7th Ave, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. To contact them, call (02)8932806 or 09165140581.