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What do the Batangueños know that we don’t? How to make the perfect bowl of bulalo! We found proof at Plum, Lima Park Hotel’s resident restaurant.
In the words of Chef Paul Poblador, it's not just about the "good, pristine ingredients." The most important component to bulalo is time. This is what makes Plum's Batangas Bulalo (P690) to-die-for. Chef Paul, alongside his young team of chefs, in the spirit of the roadside carinderias who honor bulalo the same way, make sure to simmer their beef for three long hours. Its mellow, rich, flavorful, umami-packed broth miraculously multiplies the goodness of the filled-to-the-brim beef shank's delicious, creamy, bone marrow.
You should also have their Homemade Pot Stickers (P260). It's a combination of shrimp, minced pork shoulder, pork back fat, and Asian seasoning, make for a tender, crumbly, meaty, and savory filling. The real highlight, though, is how they've perfected their dough. Colored with purple yam, or ube, each vibrant dumpling is meticulously handcrafted, boiled, and pan-fried for that tender, chewy, and crunchy bite. They also garnish the dumplings with crispy, spicy, ginger chips and serve on the side a salty-sweet scallion dip and a sweet chili sauce on the side.
If you love the exciting flavors of Tom Yum but can't handle the heat most versions have, you'll love this Tom Yum Goong (P690). Succulent prawns, earthy mushrooms, and juicy tomatoes are finished off with a light broth made from tamarind, lime leaves, and other Asian aromatics.
Another of their signature dishes, to which we must admit we've quite fallen for, is their Beef Rendang (P580). Every tender and saucy bite of the stewed beef and oxtail is swirled in a creamy coconut milk reduction that sings a symphony of complex South East Asian spices.
Whichever of these Asian favorites you pick, you need to make sure to partner it with a rice dish that comes up to par. For this, you can't go wrong with their classic Thai Bagoong Rice (P280) which may be arguably ulam in itself. Every component works out to balance the flavorful bagoong: the crispy pork, the mellow omelet, the tangy green mangoes, and the slightly spicy fried shallots.
Looking for another dish that will surprise you? Try the Plum Emperor's Salad (P380) even if you don't like salads. It's that good. It's even Chef Paul's favorite dish in the menu! The cornucopia of delicious, crunchy, salty, savory, sweet, pungent, earthy, and decadent components is a long list: shrimp, smoked tinapa flakes, crispy soy dulong, red radish, onions, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and crumbled prawn crackers. But of all those ingredients, who would have known that lettuce would steal the show? Chargrilled romaine takes the whole dish up a notch!
Among the wide array of delicious Pan Asian dishes that find its home in Plum, what really stands out is their Pancit Palabok Japchae (P390). The Japanese-influenced palabok sauce-dashi-infused shrimp and aligue, the Korean noodles-al dente japchae, and the toppings, so authentically Filipino-shrimp, tinapa flakes, chicharon, leeks, and tart kamias fruit. This pancit palabok japchae is a Southeast Asian lovechild that's uniquely Plum's. It stands out not just because it's no doubt delicious, but also because how it's the best reflection of Plum itself.
As Chef Paul describes Plum's menu, it's a declaration that, "Youth is king!" The very concept of their menu was a collaborative effort from their young, talented cooks, chefs, and foodie friends. You can practically taste the giddy excitement, the passionate joy in each dish. Even when they are embracing a classic dish, they are not afraid to venture, to try, to experiment-gutsiness unique to the young.
This "Plum" vibe, a decadent, bright, intensity, permeates their décor-down to the plum stripes of the restaurant's upholstery and the view of the bright violet flowers blooming on the garden's gazebo-but most especially, their dishes-the bright plum-colored dumplings, and the inspired reimagining of Palabok.
It must be noted though, that in spite of the (deliciously rewarding) risks that Plum is willing to take, they always remain grounded. They try their best to source their ingredients locally to get the freshest. This means that they also take advantage of a lot of local ingredients. Which takes to our suggested dessert: the Barako Coffee Jelly with Mantecado Ice Cream (P 220).
Of course, you cannot and should not leave Batangas without enjoying barako coffee! Instead of a good cup of barako though (which we certainly suggest you get during the breakfast buffet), why not have it as a delicious dessert? A cross between coffee jelly in cream and affogato, every extraordinary bite will give you reason to love barako even more.
You can order the other dishes for your lunch or dinner, but breakfast can be just as special at Plum. Their breakfast menu offers a rare gem: superb braised beef. When you take advantage of Lima Park Hotel's complimentary breakfast, make sure to visit their egg station which also homes their customizable Hong Kong Noodles. When they ask you if you want braised beef with your noodles, SAY YES! Perfectly tender, salty, savoury, and sweet, every bite bursts with an indulgent beefy flavor.
So, if you're going to Batangas for an easy trip away from the city, whether for a day trip or a long vacation, make sure you set aside time to sample the best of Plum. Whether you're craving for indulgent home cooking, or an adventurous foray into your choice of Asian cuisine, Plum is bound to satisfy.
Plum is located inside Lima Park Hotel, Lipa City.