Who among you remember Igi Boy back in the 80s to 90s? Igi Boy has been a household name for as long as I can remember since he happens to be the son of two famous actors in the Philippine Showbiz Industry – Aga Muhlach and Janice de Belen. Fast forward to today, Igi Boy is now a renowned chef, going by his real name — Luigi Muhlach — and is now the Executive Chef of Amacena, a beautiful and very cozy restaurant inside One Tagaytay Place.
Frankly speaking, when I first tried Chef Luigi’s cooking during a brand-sponsored cooking demo a few years back, I found it to be just ok. But considering that during that particular event their ingredients were pre-made already by the brand hosting the demo, there were some huge limitations. Hence, it would be quite unfair to judge his skills based on that alone. The second time I saw him was during our Penang trip where I was able to sample his “Aligue Express” when he conducted a quick demo. After sampling his dish in Penang, I got curious enough to try his dishes again — but this time, the way he really cooks with no constraints and restrictions by any brand or ingredient.
Feeling right at home at Amacena
Located on the ground floor of One Tagaytay Place is Amacena, a homey restaurant that reminds you more of a comfortable and cozy dining area instead of those stiff and stuffy restaurants. The place boasts of pine wood tables, wood flooring and accents that evoke a laid back feel. It can comfortably accommodate up to 40 persons with a private area good for 10.
Spectacular dishes at Amacena by Chef Luigi Muhlach
At Amacena, Chef Luigi serves Filipino food that is familiar to your palate but with a delightful twist. During my visit, he prepared a little bit of everything — something saucy, crispy, sizzling, savory and sweet… dishes to excite the palate.
Gambas con Chorizo (Php370)
Prawns and smoked chorizo Bilbao served in a hot and sizzling sauce of lemon, olive oil and garnished with cilantro. The perfect appetizer.
Honey Bagoong Wings (Php230)
I happily partnered this dish with Chef Luigi’s Kare-Kare. The chicken wings have that umami factor. Dip ‘em into the ranch sauce to balance the sweet and salty flavors.
Crispy US Beef Short Rib Kare Kare (Php1,010)
Beef ribs that have been slow-cooked for 24 hours then deep fried to give you crispy edges and a deliciously moist center. I love the viscosity of the peanut sauce which, when poured over your rice, all the more heightens one’s appetite.
Dinakdakang Chicharon (Php330)
Even if this is not the healthiest of dishes, this is definitely one of the tastiest I’ve eaten at Amacena! Pork belly, liver, chopped onions, fresh egg and mayonnaise served in a sizzling plate. Well seasoned, well textured and well thought out.
Smokin Bistek (Php260)
Any meal wouldn’t be complete without a pleasantly sweet meal ender. Amacena’s Leche Flan Turon (Php120) was a great dessert to cap off our dinner. Inside the crispy lumpia wrapper is creamy leche flan served with a scoop of ice cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup. Hot and cold combo is always a hit for me.
We also sampled Chef Luigi’s new items like this Tuna Kilawin sa Gata with Chicken Skin. This isn’t your typical Tuna Kilawin since this is served in a coconut shell and decorated with crispy chicken skin on the side. Odd, you think? Why not? Since we Filipinos dip our fried food in vinegar, why not serve it altogether, right? Oh! It also makes for a great beer match!
Packed with aligue, saffron, Vigan longganisa, chicken inasal and calamansi aioli and tiger prawns. A meal in itself and comfort food at its best.
Sadly, because of doctor’s orders, I had to ease up on some of the fatty dishes even if most of them were instant favorites! Holding back was very difficult since they all tasted wonderful. Sigh. The struggle is real. LOL!
Tagaytay has long been synonymous with road and food trips and has always been a favorite destination by many. Amacena by Chef Luigi Muhlach is slowly yet surely making its presence felt in Tagaytay’s food scene and quickly being recognized as one of the city’s must-visit restaurants.
So, when you find yourself chillin’ in Tagaytay, make sure to drop by Amacena at One Tagaytay Place. I can confidently say that Chef Luigi will blow you away with his incredible dishes. Amacena alone is truly worth anyone’s trip.
Chef Luigi Muhlach went to the Culinary Arts from the American Hospitality Academy, Makati and took up Restaurant Management at Enderun Colleges.
445 Tagaytay-Calamba Road,
Barrio Sungay West
Philippines – 4120
T: (+632) 584-4111
11AM – 10PM
How to get to Amacena by Chef Luigi Muhlach at One Tagaytay Place:
Take the Sta. Rosa Exit and turn right immediately after the expressway tollgates to take you to the Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa Road. Drive west, where you’ll pass by Paseo de Sta. Rosa, and travel all the way to the junction where Tagaytay City Market is located. Turn left at the junction toward Picnic Grove and People’s Park in the Sky. One Tagaytay Place is on the left side of the highway about 800 meters from the junction.
Via Aguinaldo Highway:
Drive straight towards Tagaytay Circle (Rotunda) then left toward Picnic Grove and People’s Park. One Tagaytay Place is on the left side of the highway about 4 km. from Tagaytay Circle (Rotunda)