With an adventurous concept of doing Filipino cuisine differently, Haliya opened its doors at the Nüwa Hotel, City of Dreams, a scant six months ago. Wanting to elevate Filipino dishes by incorporating the finest of ingredients from here and abroad, and employing cooking techniques that would both invigorate and create a distinct identity for how the restaurant offers these traditional dishes, there was much to be excited about Haliya and the role it could play in culinary tourism.
Without a doubt, excellent word of mouth was heaped upon Haliya and how it was putting a veneer of fine dining on these comfort food Filipino recipes. Many were enthusiastic about how it was their new go-to when they wanted discriminating foreign guests and tourists to be familiar with, and sample, Philippine cuisine. It was modern Filipino food, made IG-worthy, and without losing any of the flavor and taste that made these dishes such all-time favorites.
The quality of the ingredients were such an integral part of the Haliya offering, that I was disappointed to learn that the Pako Salad had been removed from the menu, because the chef had been rejecting the supply being offered. Disappointed but impressed, with how stringent the kitchen was with what would be exiting their swinging doors.
As with any good eating establishment worth its salt, the menu is constantly evolving; and was happy to dine there recently and be treated to a mix of new dishes and some of the favorites that helped establish Haliya’s storied reputation. The lobster laing is one new offering, and it’s an excellent way to appreciate what’s so different about Haliya. It’s the right kind of spicy, with the creamy coconut taro leaves laing in good form, but now accentuated by tender slices of Pan-seared lobster tail. Add on tinapang isda, and crispy shredded dried pusit—and viola! Haliya has a new signature dish.
The dinuguan is served as a crispy pork roulade. So we get a tender center cut of porchetta swimming in a black bean and cocoa dinuguan sauce, and accompanied by pickle green chili, pork floss, and oyster mushroom. It’s dinuguan brought to a new dimension, and a fun way to offer crispy pork.
The Haliya adobo is their twice-cooked chicken, served with a decadent foie gras, grilled pineapple, shallot confit, baby bok choy, marble potato, garlic chips, and their adobo glaze. I loved making certain each mouthful was a mix of all these elements, as they worked so well together.
The bistek tagalog has slow roasted Angus beef tenderloin slices, festooned with broccoli, crispy kabote, a sweet kamote fondant, crispy onion, king mushroom, moringa powder, and a calamansi soy jus. If there a dish that actually strays some distance from what it’s name conjures up, it would be this version of bistek. But I’ll also admit that this was one of my favorites, and I really went to town on this dish.
Don’t go to Haliya without leaving room for their desserts. Their mango suman is served with fresh mango and coconut cream. Their Haliya halo-halo comes as a deconstructed treat so one can create one’s halo halo in a customized version. It’s perfect for those who want a little more of one or two ingredients, and the scoop of ice cream is their homemade caramelized saba saging flavor.
Their signature dessert is the Haliya chichingka, and while it’s simply made of itlog na maalat, keso, and coconut; that it’s done bibingka-style should come as a surprising treat for the unsuspecting. And don’t think this is your usual cheesecake, the fluffy texture and semi-sweet aspect of this dessert had me going back for spoon after spoon. Haliya has a true winner here.
In short, Haliya is all about trying to transport Filipino cuisine to a place where we don’t find it too often. It’s an exhilarating food journey, and defies the expectations one might harbor about how exciting eating Filipino dishes outside can be, when you could very well be served these dishes at home. Honestly, they’re what you know; and yet, they aren’t as well. And in the case of Haliya, that’s a good thing!