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This Charming Restaurant in Sta. Cruz Laguna Is Worth The Stop

1 month ago

This Charming Restaurant in Sta. Cruz Laguna Is Worth The Stop

The restored Salonga ancestral home in Sta. Cruz, Laguna

The restored Salonga ancestral home in Sta. Cruz, Laguna

There’s a special house in  Sta. Cruz, Laguna that serves a lot of memories and heartwarming hometown cooking.

Located along the bustling main street of P. Guevarra is the Salonga ancestral home that has been standing for almost a century, silently witnessing the changes in and out of its premises. Built by Fernando and Aurora Salonga, the couple were part of Sta. Cruz’s political and high society who then hosted dinners and intimate gatherings for their inner circles and family. Aurora or Lola Auring to her loved ones, would cook her specialty dishes and jot down her recipes, which were fortunately preserved by her family.

Auring's heirloom callos cooked for at least 3 hours

Auring’s heirloom Callos cooked for at least 3 hours

During World War II, the house was then burned by guerillas. It was then rebuilt with the ground floor transformed into beauty parlor named Auring’s. During its heyday in the 1950s and 60s, the who’s who of Sta. Cruz as well as neighboring towns gathered there to gossip and glam up for their day’s activities. Some time after Auring’s passing though, the house was abandoned.

Fast forward to late 2016, Auring’s grandchildren Chefs Day and Gel Salonga reopened their ancestral house to the public, this time, as Aurora Filipino Cuisine, a fine-dining restaurant offering classic Southern Tagalog cooking and more.  Another cool fact about their restaurant is how they source their produce and goods from neighboring towns and local purveyors.

Adobo Sa Gata Na Pusit

Adobo Sa Gata Na Pusit

Ginataang Hipon sa Labong

Ginataang Hipon sa Labong

Pinalutong na Tawilis

Pinalutong na Tawilis

Menu highlights include beloved heirloom dishes from their grandmother’s repertoire like the Callos made with tender ox tripe that’s been long simmered in tomato sauce and spices. The Adobo Sa Gata Na Pusit highlights the province’s use of anything coconut in their cooking. Another dish showcasing the south’s love for coconut is Aurora’s Ginataang Hipon sa Labong. Slivers of bamboo shoots are sautèed in aromatics then made more rich with the coconut cream and fresh shrimps. Good thing tawilis (freshwater sardines) from Batangas was in season because their Pinalutong na Tawilis is also not to be missed. Savor eating it with the complementary pickled vegetables, fish head and all.

The attendants will even invite guests to the second floor were relics of the past owners  are kept and preserved through out the house.

Precious family heirlooms and photos are scattered all over the restaurant

Precious family heirlooms and photos are scattered all over the restaurant

Before you leave, do take time to enjoy the award-winning sweets and treats by Chef Gel. You really can’t go wrong with any but if you insist, we suggest the light and airy Brazo de Aurora and the Bibingka Cheesecake made irresistible with kesong puti and salted egg slices.

So, if you ever find yourself in rustic Sta. Cruz, Laguna do take a detour at Aurora Filipino Cuisine and find yourself savoring delicious heirloom cuisine as rich as its history.

 

Aurora Filipino Cuisine. 1488 P. Guevarra St., Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Call (049) 523-9014


Words and photos by Angeli De Rivera

Aurora interiors photos by Aylin Vedad courtesy of Aurora Filipino Cuisine

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