Now serving: New Filipino cuisine

Set in a mid-century house along Mayon Street in Quezon City is Esmeralda Kitchen, a restaurant that serves what its owners Ann and Jon Añasco call New Filipino Cuisine.

A traditional house with an airy, cozy, and whimsical feel because of its modernized interiors characterized by bold prints and pops of color, it is reflective of its menu — Filipino homestyle cuisine inspired by fresh and quality ingredients and cooked using updated techniques.

Photographs by Dolly Dy-Zulueta for the Daily Tribune
Truffle cream pasta.


Chorizo gambas al ajillo.


Lemongrass buttered fish.


Shrimp lumpiang sariwa.

New Filipino Cuisine is familiar food, such as kare-kare, sisig, tinumok, and Pata Y Negra, as well as classic dishes but with a contemporary interpretation, including lechon belly, lechon sinigang, pakô salad with chicharon bulaklak, shrimp lumpiang sariwa, chorizo gambas al ajillo, and burnt coconut chicken.

“Pakô salad with chicharon bulaklak is my personal favorite and is also a crowd-pleaser. I love that though it is greens, our dressing is refreshingly delectable and there is the surprise treat of chicharon to go with it,” said Ann Añasco, who has always been commended for her extraordinary cooking.

So, she and Jon started putting a restaurant together pre-pandemic times. They named it Esmeralda Kitchen, not after any special person in their lives but after a persona they have created to reflect the kind of food that they offered.

“I wanted a name that best personifies the way I cook and the food selection that I was creating in my head — a very traditional Filipino menu but done extraordinarily. When I make a dish, even if it is a classic one, there is depth in it. I often hear from people I cook for that my cooking has a certain charm because they just keep coming back. So, I wanted a name that is reminiscent of a lola with an enigma. As I also searched for the Filipino equivalent of the color emerald, which is the prominent color of our interiors, I came across Esmeralda. It was perfect because it’s a nostalgic name with a mysterious tone in it,” Ann explains.

She adds: “I wanted it to feel like a welcoming home, a haven to relax and simply enjoy quiet conversations with people you love while eating good, familiar food, just like when you eat at your favorite tita’s house.”

Ready with the name and the menu, they started working on the look for the restaurant. Bubbly and bright, with emerald-colored sofas and dining furniture, colorful murals lining the walls, and plants everywhere.

But then the pandemic happened in 2020, just when they were ready to open, and so the restaurant had to take a backseat, with Ann and Jon responding to the lockdown by pivoting the business to a takeout place with an online ordering system. It was the only business concept that would work during the pandemic, and it did. So, Esmeralda remained that way until November 2021, when the economy started opening and the stringent rules began relaxing. Esmeralda Kitchen, with a bakery and deli component to it, finally opened as a restaurant.

“We opened the restaurant because I felt that experiencing our food would be different if it’s enjoyed in the house that matches the food. For my concept to be realized, one has to experience it completely,” says Ann.

And, now, finally, people get to do just that.

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