Corazon: Filipino-Hispano Cuisine

Corazon means heart in Spanish.

It was also the first name of the late former president of the Philippines – the first female president in Asia, and the person who restored democracy to the Philippines after a dictatorship.

So the word has a lot of weight for Filipinos.

Corazon Restaurant, located in the new wing of the Shangri-la Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong City, serves hearty local cuisine – food that is heavily influenced by decades of Spanish colonization, food that is bursting with flavor and richness, food that would remind Filipinos of grand family feasts at home. It’s also food that’s a worthy tribute to the former President, as the chef-owner said that naming the restaurant after her is an ode of gratitude.

Living away from the Philippines for nearly a decade, I often feel starved of this type of food – especially in Boston where the sole Filipino restaurant is outside the city. Sure, I can cook my own food, brew my own hot chocolate, but I can’t come up with these slow-cooked, often multi-step, complicated dishes. So now that I’m in Manila for an extended vacation, I’ve been enjoying lots of home cooked Pinoy meals and venturing out with family and friends to try new restaurants. Corazon is one of my favorites to date.

We started the meal with an appetizer of squash blossoms stuffed with kesong puti (local white cheese, the cheese I’ve loved my whole life), served with a chunky tomato sauce. I was smitten with this after one bite – I loved the delicate squash blossom, or bulaklak ng kalabasa (“pumpkin flower”) paired with the milky creaminess of the cheese, fried to perfection.

Then we dove right in to the main courses:

Paella Negra – squid, squid ink and fish fillet topped with garlic aioli

Lengua – braised beef tongue with mushroom sauce

Laing with Lechon Kawali – taro leaves cooked in coconut milk and chilies, topped with crispy pork belly

Bangus Belly – strips of milkfish belly cooked in soy sauce and onions

I liked all of the dishes, particularly the lengua which has always been a favorite. The laing (taro leaves taste like a cross between spinach and kale) wasn’t as spicy as I would’ve liked, in spite of the sprinkle of sili (chili), but the pork belly was crisp and unctuous.  The paella negra was sticky and rich, with the squid ink giving a savory depth of flavor.  I only tried a small bite of the milkfish, and the fish was tender, almost silky.  I liked everything about Corazon, really, from the decor to the wide selection on the menu.

I liked that they serve chichacorn (deep fried corn kernels flavored with garlic, salt, and pepper – an affordable and vegetarian take on the artery clogging chicharron, or crispy pork rinds); I liked that they offer the holy trinity of Filipino condiments: Patis, Suka, Toyo (fish sauce, vinegar, soy sauce).

I also really liked the dessert we ordered:

Suman Latik with Tsokolate – sticky rice cakes with sweet coconut jam crumbles and thick hot chocolate

The little bite size sticky cakes were served in shot glasses, dunked in luxuriously thick Filipino hot chocolate (check out my blog post on tsokolate if you’re interested in learning more). Sweet, but not too sweet; rich, but not cloying. One little glass per person was the perfect ending to a hearty meal.

I still have a couple of weeks left to spend here in Manila, and I will probably go back to Corazon again. It’s the food I always miss, from the bottom of my heart.

   

21 Responses to “Corazon: Filipino-Hispano Cuisine”

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    RJ posted January 6, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    nice review! ive never eaten in corazon but it looks interesting. you should also give namnam a try. it’s in greenbelt 2 where temple bar used to be. what’s interesting is they have a dual menu that has a traditional and creative take on Filipino dishes (Sinigang with watermelon or sizzling tokwat liempo perhaps?)!

    • Bianca Garcia replied January 7th, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Sizzling tokwat liempo!! That sounds amazing. Happy New Year, RJ!

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    The Wooden Spoon posted January 7, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Your pictures are beautiful and look delicious. Thanks for sharing part of your trip- I hope the rest of the time is wonderful!

    • Bianca Garcia replied January 7th, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Thank you so much. I’m having a great time here!

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    Joanne posted January 7, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I’ve probably never had Filipino food. Like, ever. Time to seek out a restaurant in NYC! This food all looks so good!

    • Bianca Garcia replied January 7th, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Yes there are so many good ones there! I like Jeepney in the lower ease side :)

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    dan posted January 7, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Are you taking notes? We should cook some Filipino food when you get back!

    I’ve really enjoyed some tongue in my day, but to be honest, that dish looks kinda gross.

    • Bianca Garcia replied January 7th, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Gross-looking, delicious-tasting.

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    yummychunklet posted January 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    I remember when Corazon Aquino was elected. I was a kid, and I heard of the news all the way in Arkansas.

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    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes posted January 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Looks delicious and like so much fun!!

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    Molly Galler posted January 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Love getting to see the food you ate while you were home. I’d like those squash blossoms right now please!

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    Meghan posted January 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Everything looks beautiful! This looks like a meal that is a real feast for all of the senses. Glad you are enjoying your time at home :)

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    ATasteOfMadness posted January 9, 2014 at 9:27 am

    My mom is from the Philippines, and she’s like you: she misses the food. The Filipino restaurants around where we live aren’t so great. This all looks fantastic, I’ll tell my mom to go there next time she’s in Manila ;)

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    The Squishy Monster posted January 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I need this in my life! why oh why don’t we have cuisine like this where I live!??! :(

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    Jersey Girl Cooks posted January 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Mmmmnn, everything sounds wonderful. I usually don’t like beef tongue but even that looks good to me.

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    Amy (Savory Moments) posted January 10, 2014 at 6:46 am

    What a terrific looking meal this is! I especially like the appetizer and dessert. I’ve never had beef tongue, but would definitely give that plate a try.

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    honeywhatscooking posted January 10, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Looks so good.. I wanna try filipino-hispanic food now.. it’s on my radar.
    I just learned what Corazon meant this past week since I’m watching Juan Pablo as the new Bachelor. Everyone wants to be his “corazon.”
    :-)

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    Sarah & Arkadi posted January 12, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Great post! We’ll have to try this place next time we are in Manila!

    • Bianca Garcia replied January 13th, 2014 at 8:48 am

      Definitely check it out next time. I wish I tried more desserts :)

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    Daisy posted January 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    this place looks fantastic! sounds like you are in heaven here and I can see why!

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    Jenny @ BAKE posted January 20, 2014 at 9:00 am

    wow this looks like quite a feast!

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