“Imagine an old colonial house made of solid wood and stone, cathedral ceiling and adorned with exquisite carvings by skilled Filipino artisans. This old mansion located in the quaint neighborhood of Little Baguio in San Juan has been carefully renovated and restored to become the beautiful setting for a unique restaurant called Bulan. It offers the finest European cuisine, the first of its kind in the Philippines and more likely the first in Southeast Asia. ” *
Happy Valentines Day! I must admit that I’m not as harassed by V-day than before. I remember planning for a surprise Tagaytay picnic for lunch during office hours. Of course, you need to have everything in place: the red roses, the valentines gift, chocolates, love cards, and I have to buy a picnic basket (the ones you see in the movies). As they say — what counts is the effort. These days, I realized that Valentines is a marketing hype and an excuse to increase prices on this love day. For me, every moment that you are together should be a Valentines day and the 14th of February simply becomes an occasion for us to try out those expensive new restaurants.
On V-day, we decided to try out Bulan (meaning Moon in Indonesia). This European Cuisine cum Antique and Arts Place in Little Baguio, San Juan just recently opened last Feb. 5 and will have its grand opening on March 15. “The restaurant features exotic Asian decor and furnishing. Hardwood flooring along with stone walls and magnificent chandeliers from India supply the warm setting that showcases the finest, most exquisite Asian art and furniture.”* The restaurant is owned by Marlene Aquilar (sister of the Freddie Aguilar and multi-awarded art book publisher). The Master Chef, Antonio P. Aguilar, is a “Filipino who lived and worked as a master chef in Europe for over 15 years. He holds European culinary awards and has taught European cuisine in Sweden. “*
I must admit that we were intimidated by the beauty of the place and its nice ambiance amidst the antiques. The restaurant setting is in a 3 storey mansion in San Juan that used to be a showroom for Jo-Liza’s Arts and Antiques. The food was ridiculously expensive and my wife was not happy about the food. Imagine P1,000 for a main course and everything else was around P500/ soup/ salad or pasta and the food was not even close to Antonio’s in Tagaytay. Although, they admitted that this is the first time that they served a huge group and they are still fine tuning their kitchen operation.
It also has a snobbish oldies crowd ambiance — or you could say old rich. Marlene Aguilar was there entertaining her guests and did not even bother to welcome other patrons. You would feel that if you complain about the food and how expensive it is, they would tell you that you’re a sour grape and you’re not rich enough to be their target market. Their P1,000+ seabass tasted like grilled hard tanguingue, and it was replaced by cod that was also mushy raw — (I’m glad that they did not let us pay for it). The service people were very nice (thank you!). Sometimes, you might see Freddie Aguilar dining with his friends, as we did last night.
Overall, this was a good place to impress your special someone. I wouldn’t go back in Bulan not unless OAP readers would rave about their food.
Checkout this BULANtines Day experience…
The centerpiece of Bulan is this antique hardwood bar. “The counter is inlayed with a pattern of alternating ebony and ivory at its perimeter. The center of the counter is inlayed with bird and butterfly designs made of ebony and bone. The yes of the birds and butterflies are set with amethyst, peridot, and ruby!”
This is the perfect place to reserve, the table right beside the bar. Be mesmerized by the chandeliers from India which comes in Green, White, and Blue colors.
As you go up the stairs, you see the wine collection and this mezzanine table setting which gives you an eerie feeling. Or maybe, it is just the black napkin.
As you go up further, the third floor can seat a few more guests and they were fully booked for that night. Perhaps, one of the reasons for you to go up these stairs is to see the magnificent bathroom doors.
Bulan’s European Finest Cuisine Menu:
Cioppino (P380++). A Seascape of prawns, mussels and fish fillet with Sauvignon, saffron and lemon. I love the creamy sauvignon sauce and perfect blend of the seafood ingredients. My wife finds it too salty.
Tolkelberg (P495++). Our Home Made duck liver pate enhanced with the mushy aroma of almond dressing. We heard that this is the favorite of Marlene. The duck liver pate is smoother and more refined in taste. Honestly, we are not sure how to distinguish a good home made pate from a canned one.
Grilled Seabass (P880++) with potatoes and vegetables with a choice of hollandaise, lime-sabayonne, or cream Sauvignon sauce. The vegetables are fresh, crunchy and sweet. It goes very well with the yummy Sauvignon sauce.
At first, my wife asked me, “Is seabass suppose to taste like tangingue?”. Having eaten and ordered Seabass in the fine dining restaurants I’ve been too, I’m confident on what to expect from the P1,000 peso Sea Bass. For sure it should not be hard and dry. We decided to return it and insist to get our money’s worth.
Crystal’s Flambe (P580++). A pasta Menage-a-trois. Linguine with 3 kinds of mushrooms blended with blue cheese, sprinkled with herbs and served with sour cream. One of the best mushroom pasta we have ever tasted!! The blue cheese sauce blend was very tasty, and complemented well with the rosemary herbs. You need to eat the pasta with a mushroom piece to get the best experience. How we wished all the dishes tasted as perfect as this…
Achilles (P980++). Grilled Lamb marinated in an assortment of herbs and oranges, served with ratatouille, olives and feta cheese with an undertone of massala wine sauce. The lamb meat tasted well done and ordinary.
We are starting to suspect at this point that it is either they have a problem with their source of meat/ fish or the chef is not in the kitchen!
Antonio P. Aguilar, Master Chef
Bulan, The Restaurant
No. 3 Gen. de Jesus St. near corner J. Abad Santos St.
Little Baguio, San Juan
Tel: (+632) 725-8496
From Wilson coming from Greenhills, go straight until you see Alex III. Turn right on Alex III and this should be J. Abad Santos St. Go straight for a few minutes until you see Jo-Liza Arts and Antique shop. Immediately, turn right to Gen. de Jesus St and you should already see Bulan to your left.
Bulan is by reservation only.
Bulan is absolutely NON-SMOKING.
Bulan is open everyday serving lunch, 11am-3pm and dinner 6pm to 10pm
Bulan strongly discourages its dining patrons from bringing children below the age of 12.
Most of the Arts and Antiques are for sale.
* Bulan Restaurant Marketing Brochure