Filipino food

Kaon ‘ta! Everything we ate at Sipalay’s Manami Resort

Steph Arnaldo

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Kaon ‘ta! Everything we ate at Sipalay’s Manami Resort
From kinilaw de Negros, kansi, and chicken inasal, to paella and chicharon bulaklak – everything at this Negros Occidental resort was namit gid!

MANILA, Philippines – Hotel food can be a hit or miss, especially since most of those dishes come at hefty prices. There’s a lot of pressure for hotel and resort restaurants to deliver, because how good are these establishments if their food isn’t even worth coming back for? Expectations are high, especially if it’s the only restaurant available for guests to dine in.

It was bold of Sipalay’s new secluded oasis Manami Resort to open just one restaurant on its 5-hectare estate – Lingaw Restaurant. It was a risk, but it paid off; the only restaurant at Negros Occidental’s first 5-star luxury resort serves Negrense staples and Spanish favorites that are all worth making the trip back to Sipalay for.

Ka kaon ka na?

All meals – including the breakfast buffet – are meant to be taken at Lingaw’s spacious and breezy al fresco restaurant deck, where Manami’s infinity pool, its Hunas sunset deck, and the Sulu Sea are on full display while you dine.


Taken from Lingaw’s Hiligaynon meaning – “to entertain” – the restaurant aims to take guests on a “rich, regional gastronomic journey” that pays homage to Negrense culture. Conceptualized by two Negrense chefs with a knack for Spanish cuisine, Lingaw’s menu combines comfort Negrense cuisine with bold Spanish flavors, inspired by generational recipes from home. Each dish is meant to showcase the best and freshest ingredients of the region and a few internationally-sourced premium meats.

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It’s a concise menu that isn’t overwhelming, yet there’s still something for everybody here, including picky kids. The price ranges at Lingaw are very reasonable for a luxury resort, providing bang-for-your-buck quality, taste, and serving sizes. The Negrense dishes here – although elevated in their own ways – are barely touched in terms of new ingredients, spins, or twists; Manami mentioned that Negrenses are very protective and territorial of their cuisine (and rightfully so). Why fix what isn’t broken?

Namit gid! Day 1

It was only right that our welcome drink upon arrival was a refreshingly sweet sugarcane juice, proudly made from the fruits of the Sugar Capital of the Philippines’s labor.

Manami Resort curated the 3-day menu for us for both lunch and dinner, serving a good variety of Filipino favorites, Negrense must-tries, and Western-Spanish dishes. That way, we didn’t get tired of eating just one type of cuisine for a whole day straight.

They pulled out all the local stops for Day 1’s lunch, serving popular Negrense staples like Kinilaw de Negros (P420), a newfound version of my favorite Filipino raw seafood dish (also known as Philippine ceviche) that I instantly fell in love with.

KINILAW DE NEGROS. Pulling out all the stops. John Roxas/Rappler

This regional delicacy features freshly-caught tanigue cut into hefty, tender cubes, mixed with sinamak (local spiced vinegar), fresh gata (coconut milk), fresh onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a topping of soft salted egg and leeks. Perfectly sour yet tempered by the creamy coconut milk, brightened by the fresh vegetables and umami-boosted by the salted egg…this was one of my favorite dishes.

We also tried authentic Kansi (P800), the famous classic Ilonggo soup made with beef shanks, green jackfruit, chili peppers, and the sour but not acidic fruit batuan. This serves up to three.

KANSI FOR SHARING. Addictively tart. John Roxas/Rappler

I also fell in love with this comforting bulalo-sinigang hybrid – the beef shanks were tender and fall-off-the-bone; the fatty bone marrow was sinfully indulgent; and the hearty, beefy broth was made perfectly and addictively tart by fresh batuan, the region’s favorite souring agent.

FRIED CHICKEN INASAL. This one is boneless. John Roxas/Rappler

We also tried the boneless Fried Chicken Inasal, a crunchy and novel take on the popular Negrense chicken dish, served with ginger sauce and spicy cucumber atchara. The smoky, savory, and slightly tangy flavors were on point, but I personally prefer my inasal in its original char-grilled form.

Dessert was Fria Homemade Ice Cream, which costs P250 for the Ube, Strawberry, Mango, Smooth Mess (Chocolate), Avocado, and Muscovado flavors. It costs P280 for the Ferrero Rocher, Cookie Dough, and Cookie Butter flavors. If you love Speculoos, the Cookie Butter is a must-try, which included crunchy cookie bits in the sweet, milky base. You bet we ordered it again!

CHICHARON BULAKLAK. Be still, our hearts! John Roxas/Rappler

For dinner, we had the Chicharon Bulaklak (P380) to start, and this was unlike any chicharon bulaklak I’ve ever had before. The palm-sized pork flowers sourced from Spain are twice-cooked and deep-fried for maximum crunch and oily-fatty goodness on the inside. They’re best dipped in Manami’s homemade sinamakan (Iloilo spiced vinegar), which helps cuts through the richness.

STEAK ALA POBRE. A solid steak dish. John Roxas/Rappler

We also tried the Steak Ala Pobre (P750), strips of medium-rare, grilled tenderloin (emphasis on the tender), served with garlic chips, red wine gravy, potato wedges, and crispy-fried onions. For its price, this was a solid steak dish with various components that meld together.

SMOKED IBERICO PORK LOIN. Easy to cut and soft. John Roxas/Rappler

The Smoked Tomahawk Pork Loin (P550) was also a good meat dish for its price; a huge cut of Iberico pork from Spain is grilled until easy to cut and soft, seared in a sweet-smoky, barbecue-like Spanish dry rub. It is served with crunchy garlic bits, crisp veggies, and corn on the cob.

TRUFFLE PENNE (INDIVIDUAL PORTION). Doesn’t shy away from the truffle flavor. John Roxas/Rappler

The proteins were complemented by Manami’s Crema De Tartufo Al Fungi (P550), made with penne, chunky fresh mushrooms, parmesan cheese, and a creamy truffle sauce that doesn’t shy away from the truffle flavor.

Ma’yong hapon! Day 2

To recover from Day 1’s meat-heavy meals, Day 2’s lunch was simpler and lighter, with more subtle flavors. We tried the Binakol (P650), a cozy Filipino soup – like a sweet tinola – made from native chicken cooked in coconut water with grated coconut, green papaya, leafy vegetables, garlic, onion, ginger, lemongrass, and patis.

The Bangus Sisig (P520) is Manami’s take on the traditional pork sisig, using fried bangus (milkfish), onions, bell pepper, and chili peppers, seasoned with a “special sauce” and calamansi. It tasted similar to bangus ala pobre, but the bangus bits on top were a bit drier and tougher than I expected.

STEAK FILLETO. Thinly-sliced Angus tenderloin. John Roxas/Rappler

For Day 2’s dinner, Manami organized an intimate dinner by the beach set-up, with a satisfying menu to match. We had the Filleto (P750), a platter of thinly-sliced USDA Angus Tenderloin cooked medium-rare; infused with local herbs and spices and cooked lightly in olive oil and butter until tender and mildly salted to let the high-quality meat speak for itself. Each slice goes well with the creamy roasted garlic cloves served alongside.

GREEN GODDESS SALAD. This worked well with the steak. John Roxas/Rappler

To add some freshness to the meal, the Green Goddess Salad (P400) worked well with the steak – crisp iceberg wedges with bacon bits, croutons, onions, cheese, and an herby-creamy dressing.

MANAMI CHEESEBURGER. Classic and comforting. John Roxas/Rappler

We also had the Manami Cheeseburger (P480), an American-style cheeseburger that features a thick and moist Angus beef patty, two slices of melted cheese, onion, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and a house-made aioli, served with crisp homemade potato chips. It’s a classic and comforting cheeseburger that puts emphasis on the juicy beef patty.

Ma’yong gabi! Day 3

For our last full day, we were treated to a grilled meat feast – the traditional Boodle Fight, presented on banana leaves and perfect for group meals. This experience used to be reserved for Manami’s boat rides, but now, guests can avail of this at the Hunas Sunset Deck starting at P1,200 per head. The rates increase, depending on the selection of meats and seafood you choose.

BOODLE FIGHT FOR LUNCH. Chicken inasal, inihaw na baboy, and bangus. John Roxas/Rappler

For its cheapest rate, we were more than pleased with our inihaw selection – perfectly grilled chicken inasal, inihaw na baboy, and bangus, all cut up for easier feasting. Rows of steamed garlic white rice and garlic java rice (the best) are at the center, topped with crispy garlic chips. One thing about Lingaw is that they really love their garlic, and thankfully, so do I! The boodle fight also had creamy salted egg ensalada, fresh fruits, and atchara (plus an extra serving of chicken oil upon request).

THE INIHAW WORKS. Grilled to tender perfection. John Roxas/Rappler

Lingaw’s litid-free inihaw na baboy was simple in marinade, grilled to tender perfection. Of course, the boneless chicken inasal was the star of the show – Bacolod’s world-famous delicacy is marinated in Lingaw’s special savory-tangy marinade, slow-grilled until every bite is juicy and moist. There was toyomansi served, but I personally didn’t need any! The boodle fight – one of my favorite meals of the trip – was humble in execution but impactful in flavors, showcasing why Negros is known for its simple but flavorful cuisine.

GAMBAS AL AJILLO. A Spanish staple. John Roxas/Rappler

Last but not least was our Spanish dinner, which was also a memorable one. We started with Gambas Al Ajillo (P400), freshly-caught shrimp, pan-cooked in olive oil with garlic and dulce de paprika. Heavier on the paprika than the garlic, this gambas dish didn’t lack in salt, spice and flavor, and the medium-sized shrimps were not dry nor overcooked.

PAN-SEARED FISH. Atlantic cod fillet. John Roxas/Rappler

We also had Pan-Seared Fish (P650), a huge slab of Atlantic cod fillet that’s pan-seared until the skin is delicately crispy, and the insides are flaky, tender, and moist. The viscous sauce underneath – the Basque-style, red Vizcaina sauce – is made from red onions and roasted red pepper puree, bringing forth peppery, smoky, and tomato-ey flavors, similar to romesco sauce. It accentuates the simple and buttery fish, moreso with a squeeze of lemon juice on top.

PAELLA MIXTA. The main event. John Roxas/Rappler

The fish was the best partner to the main event of the night – the Paella Mixta (P900), classic Spanish rice made with chunks of pork loin, chicken breast, and La Noreñense Chorizo. It’s not the most ingredient-packed paella out there, but flavor-wise, it may just be. The orange rice is moist (but not gloopy) from soaking up all that flavorful broth, and all the proteins are well-cooked and tender. The tasty and soft chorizo chunks helped to make every bite of this paella an explosion of umami-filled flavor.

Aside from the small size, it’s also available in medium (P1,300) and large (P1,800) pans.

Don’t miss out on Lingaw’s fresh fruit smoothies, coffee drinks, and hand-crafted cocktails too, which you can enjoy during Happy Hour or anytime of the day, no judgment. The Amaretto Sour (P395) of amaretto, lemon juice, sugar syrup, and egg white foam was a favorite, as well as the Manami Mojito (P365) in classic or mango, with white rum, mint, lime, and sugarcane juice.

Even just one meal at Lingaw Restaurant reinforces the well-deserved reputation of Negrense food as being among the best regional cuisines the Philippines has to offer. Even through the non-Filipino dishes on the menu, the skill and thought behind every technique and flavor is laudable. Through Lingaw’s true-to-its-roots and respectful approach to Negros’ pride and joy, you can be assured that every impressive meal at Manami Resort will satisfy. –

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.