"Pinoy but upscale."
This is what Laguna-bred chef Paul Poblador, famous for his stint in San Pablo's Kusina Salud, said when asked to describe his latest creations at Asian Flavours.
The restaurant, tucked inside the Lima Park hotel in Malvar, Batangas, marked its first year last month with a 10-course all-Filipino lunch buffet.
Unlike his dishes at Kusina Salud, which Poblador described as "Lola's cooking," the dishes at the fairly new restaurant cater mainly to expatriate professionals, some of the locals, and hopefully soon, the Manila crowd.
It was a lot like refined comfort food -- from the kalderetang bakang Batangas generously topped with green and black olives and cheese to the extensive array of innovative ensaladas.
"We want to make sure that a lot of Filipino food is served," Poblador said.
He continued, "Our items on the menu are priced very, very reasonably. We even have 'payday buffets' every 15th and 30th of the month, and we're planning to have more buffets on weekends to bring in the crowd from Manila."
A LOVE FOR GREENS
It was his good friend, Lima Park Hotel general manager Saturnino G. Belen, who convinced Poblador to turn around Asian Flavours, which used to be a plain Japanese restaurant.
The chef even named a dish after Belen -- ensalada SGB, a delicious house salad of Batangas-grown mixed greens tossed with native red onion dressing and topped with toasted adobo flakes and shaved salted duck eggs.
"Back then we didn't have a name for this dish, and when he (Belen) tried it, it became his favorite. So we decided to name it after him," Poblador explained.
Poblador has a thing for salads -- from his signature chicken teriyaki Caesar salad to the hearty mix of grilled prawn, thinly sliced beef and garden vegetables -- because he considers these a crucial part of every meal.
"These are the first things that you actually order, and appetizers like these affect the ingenuity of food," the chef said.
Beyond this, however, is a greater passion to make his restaurant well-known not only for its excellent Asian fare, but also for taking care of the environment.
Since he became Asian Flavours' executive chef last May, Poblador makes it a point to use only organic and locally sourced ingredients.
"We want to make it a green restaurant as much as possible, on top of making good food, even if it's a very complex industry," he said.
Indeed, what started as a favor for an old friend has become a serious passion.
Poblador treats his one-year-old restaurant like his own child, and just like any parent, he wants to see Asian Flavours shine and make a positive impact in Batangas and the rest of the country.
And with his proven track record as a chef, his restaurant is a culinary gem waiting to be discovered.
Lima Park Hotel
Lima Technology Center
For reservations, call (632) 981-1555 or (63917) 504-2385
KEIX'S NOTE: This piece first appeared on abs-cbnNEWS.com (Click here to view the article).