Chef Tatung's Lore Celebrates Filipino Food and Culture in 10 Plates or Less


“There are no clichés here,” says Chef Tatung Sarthou at his newly minted Lore, the latest in Metro Manila’s burgeoning roster of swanky Filipino restaurants. If you believe that food tastes better with stories, then you’re in luck: at Lore, each plate boasts a history. And no one is a better storyteller than the affable chef, author, and host. 

It’s tempting to sit there all afternoon, and you must if you want to enjoy the full impact of the 10-course tasting menu. Despite being at the heart of a business district and on the third floor of a mall, Lore feels like being in a pastoral vacation home—In the lanai, to be exact—where languid days are spent trading memories. 


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But Lore’s story starts with Chef Tatung himself. The forest-green walls and accents made of natural materials are his signature. His menu conveys his childhood in Cebu, throwbacks to old Chinatown, and portals through various regions and points in history. 

Photo by Lore.

There is much to love about Chef Tatung’s 10-course Tapestry menu. He starts with a shared basket of homemade putok and pandesal and an assortment of spreads: chicken galantine with raisin jam, chicken liver pate, and calamansi mostarda and tinapa butter. Delicious, if not overwhelming, considering there is so much to taste but also still so much to fill up on.  

From there, Lore moves from strength to strength, with a pace more characteristic of the lunchbreak crowd than any degustation restaurant. His kinilaw, a salty-tangy display of tuna, uni, pickled pineapple, tuba, and shoestring potatoes, harks back to growing up by the seaside. The lumpia-esque camaron relyeno is a compact yet flavorful package of prawn-stuffed sausage wrapped in caul fat. It sits in a sauce made of Haw Flakes.  

Photo by Lore.

The menu nourishes the mind as much as it feeds your stomach. Through bites of the two-way duck with tablea-infused sauce, you learn that Filipinos have been using chocolate as a savory ingredient since the 18th century and you’re reminded that old Chinatown was once called parian.  

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With the class of talent in Philippine kitchens these days, it’s no longer surprising to find chefs toeing the fine line between augmenting classic dishes without distorting them. However, the veteran chef manages to inject tradition into the mix, too. He describes his bringhe as Christmas on a plate. The combination of creamy coconut-infused adlai with homemade jamon, seared foie gras, and clam foam is definitely a celebration of texture and flavor.

Photo by Lore.

Photo by Lore.

The only thing not beyond reproach is the Moros y Kristiano: slow-braised short ribs with pickled eggplants and two coconut sauces, one of which is made by burning coconut into charcoal. The beef is tender and juicy with a meaty flavor highlighted by the hash on the side. But in the manner of all great Pinoy meals, where’s the rice?  

The meal ends with a bit of theater. A mango jubilee is prepped tableside, with a chef flambéing mangoes before adding them on a mango tres leches sponge. It also comes with ice cream, mango chunks, and a crisp tuille—because after the extravagance of the nine courses preceding it, why stop now? Shrinking has never been the chef’s style.

Photo by Lore.

Photo by Lore.

Chef Tatung has always had a strong flair for Filipino food, which could be either the easiest cuisine to cook or the hardest. But as Lore confirms, his greatest skill is not in how he manages to rework time-honored traditions into a modern setting (and make them delicious), but in how his dishes reflect local culture beyond gastronomy. His repertoire is distinctly but uniquely Filipino without resorting to crutches like some elevated lechon or kare-kare.

Photo by Lore.

Like leaving the beautiful rural home of a relative, you exit this restaurant feeling the consequences of that notorious Filipino hospitality. But don’t let us spoil the ending. This is Lore you must experience for yourself.

Photo by Lore.

Lore is at 3/F, One Bonifacio, 5th Avenue corner 28th Street, Bonifactio Global City, Taguig; 0977-804-9888; [email protected]. The 10-course menu costs P4,800++. Five- and seven-course options are available.


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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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