Date night idea: Degustation dinner

Cassandra C. Poculan
·3 min read

It’s that time of year when couples try to outdo their last Valentine’s date but somehow often end up with the usual wine and dine. For those seeking to turn date night into a multi-sensory experience and take their love of food to the next level, Sialo offers just that.

The first molecular gastronomy restaurant in Cebu, Sialo is not your exorbitantly priced, ridiculously miniscule servings on plates. It’s an entire journey that’s based on a collection of some of the chef’s favorite childhood memories, transformed into well-crafted modernist dishes through curiosity, discovery and adventure.

Molecular gastronomy may be pretty niche but it’s not a novel concept to food enthusiasts. Foams, spheres and liquid nitrogen find their place in culinary wizard Ronald Villavelez’s menu, which changes throughout the year, depending on the season or occasion. The fashion designer turned chef was able to birth an innovative kitchen for his avant-garde dishes in his atelier in mid-2017.

It’s more than just food that’s lovely to look at and a thrill to taste. Sialo emphasizes sight, sound and smell, and when a dish is unveiled on the table, the story behind it unfolds—whether told by the chef himself or his knowing staff who clearly enjoy what they do.

Chef Ronald takes local ingredients to new heights, proving that there’s no such thing as a bad ingredient, only unimaginative cooking. This is reflected in his “Piyesta sa Pasko,” one of the dishes in his 12-course Christmas tasting menu. Local beef tenderloin, which usually lacks good marbling, rendering it tough and dry, is cooked sous-vide in coffee butter so it’s flavorful and juicy. It’s then served with beer beef sauce, edible charcoal made of cassava, edible ash made of “tinigib” (a variety of corn) and miso oil, edible twigs made of beetroot sticks and aioli.

There’s also the modernist version of “tuslob-buwa” (pig’s brain gravy) that’s bathed in liquid nitrogen and comes in the form of an espuma atop salvaro, bringing a different sensation to the palate.

The “Parol,” one of two soup courses, is an artful presentation of nine kinds of fruits and vegetables made into purees, gels and powder. It is also purposely served without cutlery so the guest has to lick it off the plate.

In “Meat Kiat Kiat,” chicken liver parfait is stuffed inside Mandarin orange gel--reminiscent of liver pate with cranberry jelly--that you’re meant to cut through and smear onto homemade sourdough.

Sialo creates another unique experience in one of its desserts, the aesthetically breathtaking, surprising and exciting “Mansanas Panghimagas.” It’s a four-layer dessert that takes four days to make. It has apple and ginger jelly for its core, a white chocolate vanilla mousse layer, a white chocolate and cocoa butter shell, a mirror glaze made of turmeric-tinged white chocolate and dark chocolate soil where the apple sits on.

Guests need not worry as the pacing here is nowhere near the eternal timing of other fine-dining restaurants. Sialo is located at #829 ECL Bldg., corner F. Sotto and J.P. Laurel Sts., Brgy. Kasambagan, Cebu City. Sialo is strictly by appointment only. To secure a slot, one may message its Facebook page (@sialonewcebuanocuisine).