Sep 032014

On a roll: Sentro 1771’s fresh smoked fish spring rolls (P260) are light yet flavorful.

When chef Vicky Pacheco and restaurateur Ricky Gutierrez put up Sentro 1771 in 2002, they only had one thing in mind: to introduce the Pinoy palate to Modern Filipino cuisine by making time-honored recipes more enticing and exciting. They had no idea it would revolutionize the way diners regard and appreciate Filipino food.

In fact, a few months after its first branch opened in Greenbelt 3, Sentro 1771’s iconic Corned Beef Sinigang, lamb caldereta and Rated GG (fried galunggong fillet drenched in olive oil and sprinkled with garlic bits) were the talk of town for months. Each dish was meticulously made from scratch, served and plated hotel-style. They elevated galunggong, which had previously been perceived as the “poor man’s fish,” to a dish discriminating diners would line up for.

“Sentro 1771 actually broke the glass ceiling because at that time, Filipino food was perceived as ordinary; something served during town fiestas,” relates Ricky Gutierrez, 1771 Group CEO. “When we introduced that new category (Modern Filipino cuisine), other restaurants followed suit. All of a sudden, restos around the metro included Corned Beef Sinigang in their menu.”

But nothing came close to the original. Copycats just couldn’t replicate the flavor and texture of Sentro’s corned beef, which is cured in-house for three to five days. The broth — salty but strangely addicting — is another story.  


With the success of its Greenbelt 3 and Serendra branches, Sentro 1771 recently opened its third branch at Capitol Commons in Pasig City.

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“The Ortigas group has offered us a prime space, allowing us to build our first stand-alone destination restaurant for Sentro 1771 and to service our growing clientele in the area,” says Gutierrez.

While the menu is still built around signature dishes that have made Sentro 1771 popular, chef Vicky has introduced new food items — with Western and Asian influences — that are not only interesting but delish as well.

For an appetizer, chef Vicky takes pride in her Duck Pancakes — Peking duck served cuapao-style. Instead of rolling the meat, sliced leeks, and carrots in an egg wrapper, she created a “pouch” where one can easily stuff all the ingredients and enjoy their pancakes in an instant.

“The duck is stewed in beer, vinegar, muscovado sugar, and spices before flaking the meat. It tastes like asado. Now you don’t have to order a whole duck just to satisfy your cravings,” says chef Vicky.

The amiable chef also let us sample her Pinoy version of Vietnamese spring rolls using tinapang bangus, salted egg, mustasa, onions, and tomato; and Thai mango salad, where she used shredded green papaya instead of green mango.

“The a la carte menu is presented and classified according to the unique modern interpretation of each dish, rather than just by appetizers and entrees,” notes chef Vicky.

The garlicky lengua with mushroom salpicao melts in the mouth, while you can savor the pork belly humba (stewed in soy sauce, rum vinegar, and fermented black beans) without too much guilt because it’s sugar-free. Now, you can enjoy these dishes with a glass of Spumanti sparkling wine or red wine, as Sentro 1771 now boasts an extensive wine list.

Don’t leave the resto without ordering the Keso Flan, the no-crust cheesecake served with queso de bola and red egg.

Parang bibingka na hindi (It’s like bibingka but it’s not),” describes chef Vicky. “Vegetarian diners are very much welcome to dine here. We have a lot of non-meat dishes as well, aside from the fact that our menu is flexible.”

In terms of design, Sentro 1771 at Capitol Commons takes inspiration from the Philippines’ Commonwealth Period — which is evident in the high ceiling and windows, wrought-iron railings to the fluted architectural glass — interpreted in a contemporary manner. The ceiling and glass panels of the front door are art deco-inspired, while Filipino elements are present in the solihiya chairs and Machuca tiles. The new branch is now the benchmark for all Sentro restaurants.

For over a decade now, Sentro 1771 has brought Filipino dining to the next level — not formal, but fine.

“Normally, Filipino food is served in a casual setting, with casual service — all of the dishes served at the same time, with the cutlery on the table,” explains executive chef Vicky Pacheco, who graduated from the famed Les Roches in Bluche, Switzerland. “We’re serving reinvented Filipino food in a beautiful setting, where there’s attention to detail and tabletop presentation. That’s what Modern Filipino cuisine is all about.”

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Sentro 1771, a member of the 1771 Group of Restaurants, has branches at Greenbelt 3, Serendra, and the newly opened Capitol Commons, Pasig City.

For reservations, call 941-8277.

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