Among life’s greatest luxuries, food seems to be on top of every Filipino’s list, and no other region takes this seriously than the Ilonggos. Home to the Philippines’ finest chefs in recent years, Ilonggo cuisine is taking the world by storm, with the culinary prowess of its acclaimed chefs, and the complex flavors and diverse ingredients they introduce to the palette. Yet, much of their celebrated dishes start as heirloom recipes that have been the soul of many traditional Ilonggo family banquets for centuries. In celebrating the landmark of the Iloilo way of life, Robinsons Place Jaro opens its doors on September 8, with a glorious spread of the region’s most sought-after tastes, proving that, indeed, the best way to a man’s heart is through his appetite. And with it are much more to love in the newest retail complex found at the center of the genteel and time-honored neighborhood of Panay Island’s most dynamic growth corners.
From the classicist façade that echoes the elegant architecture of Iloilo’s prized heritage district, to its contemporary interiors accentuated by the most modern of fittings and furnishing, the whole 2-hectare expanse of the new Robinsons Place Jaro, found in the area’s most familiar location—a stone’s throw away from the beloved Jaro Cathedral—is built on the same tasteful aesthetic of a community that seems to withstand the times.
Among lofty granite arcades, organic tiled pathways, and specially-designed lighting that heighten the warmth and drama, is a welcoming ambience that matches the most well-appointed hotels in the area, aptly framing a rich selection of retail stores and restaurants.
One of them is Iloilo’s homegrown dining concept, Ang Kamalig, the region’s benchmark restaurant, which has, for almost three decades, captured the Panay penchant for affluent flavors, generous servings, and impeccable service. Its Kadios Baboy Langka, better known to its loyal local patrons as KBL, is a comforting stew of pigeon bean and tender pork hocks that is soured by unripe jackfruit—a hearty dish that is unfound anywhere else.
Ang Kamalig’s homespun success has led it to venture to hipper, more exciting dining experiences, and with its Wild Bamboo concept, it takes diners to a fast, casual, yet authentic acquaintance with traditional Japanese cuisine. Its first flagship restaurant, also found at Robinsons Place Jaro’s podium level, is set to answer Iloilo’s cravings for golden tempura or that perfect sweet and savory blend of teriyaki.
The opening of Robinsons Place Jaro is also set to mark the return of a winning dining formula that first made its break in a Robinsons mall. Mang Inasal, the acclaimed P3 Billion food franchise built from relatively modest means by dynamic entrepreneur Edgar “Injap” Sia II in Robinsons Place Iloilo back in 2003, is still the enduring proof of the Ilonggo’s perfect marriage of culinary and entrepreneurial savvy. And the brand’s homecoming store at the new Robinsons Place Jaro cements Robinsons Malls’ commitment of fostering the success of its tenants—which it views more as business partners.
Luxury of Choice
More masterpieces of novel dining concepts and breakthrough food innovations are found on Robinsons Place Jaro’s third level, in what is suitably called the Food Gallery. The 330-seater dining convergence gather the newest players in the Ilonggo culinary scene, underlining local ingredients, revolutionary recipes, and their patrons that simply love lounging and relishing every meal.
Armed with the bountiful seafood harvest of the island, renowned local restaurant ventures Ocean City and Grillers Oyster turn the day’s freshest catch into celebrated food fares best shared with the whole family or a barrage of friends.
And they say no stop at Iloilo would be complete without a steamy bowl of La Paz Batchoy, where Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy reigns king. Ted’s is one of the pioneer of the famous Ilonggo comfort food when he started his noodle soup venture in the 1930s, and still making it with the original heartwarming viands, this time in a more refreshing, contemporary dining space.
With the Food Gallery’s mindful development of liberal space, family-friendly booth seating, and convenient access to multi-level parking and Wi-Fi hotspots, surely, the newer, more groundbreaking food players and diners can feel right at home. The Katsu-Don, founded by Chef Takuhi Kobayashi, brings the traditional Japanese rice bowl and crispy pork cutlets to a younger, more budget-conscious consumer with its affordable price points and authentic creations. Tex-Mex favorite Ninos Burritos serves delectable tacos and burritos in hearty sizes that don’t scrimp on the Latin spice and flavor. Your most favorite finger food ditches its sidebar status and becomes the main attraction at Pub Express, whose Baby Back Ribs is simply a fall-off-the-bone favorite. And sizzling diner staples just got a whole lot of sass in the hands of Ms. Hot Plate, who dishes out generous meat and seafood plates with a side of piping-hot coffee.
And by way of capping off a scrumptious meal, Robinsons Place Jaro serves up plenty more experiences that sweeten every dining deal. Its crowning glory, the five-cinema Robinsons Movieworld figures at the same level of the Food Gallery, showcasing the perfect combination of food and entertainment. For family diners with kids in tow, a baby care lounge, a day care center, and the World of Fun amusement center are found a skip and a hop away from most of Robinsons Place Jaro’s dining encounters.
Special pop-up stores peppered throughout the three-storey mall complex underlines the Ilonggo’s famous fixation for all things sugary. Buon Gelato is a home-based venture built on the creamiest renditions of the Italian frozen cream favorite. Cinnamonde prepares classical pastries from scratch daily, meant for a quick and delectable grab and go. Sweet Cravings is a dessert nook that lines up all your desired cakes and pastries in one masterful display. And Zatazza Café invites Iloilo’s café society to while away the time with the finest cups of artisanal brewed coffee, specialty teas, and healthful smoothies.
Where leisurely dining is deemed serious business, Robinsons Place Jaro stands as a testament to the Filipino’s growingly refined taste, where the familiar appetite for local fares are found side by side with global gourmet discoveries, where the long-established food players work beside novel dining concepts, and where families and friends can simply choose to select, savor, and share each gastronomic experience in a lush, luxurious, and unhurried setting. Together, Robinsons Place Jaro serves up a cornucopia of pure culinary bliss.