A beloved private dining restaurant from the South makes its way to Manila for more people to enjoy their food.
For the whole month of December last year, Mrs. Saldo’s temporarily closed their beloved space in Silang, Cavite and made their way to Rockwell as the first female chef-led restaurant to take residence at The Chef’s Table at The Balmori Suites.
The woman behind Mrs. Saldo’s is Rhea Rizzo. She remembers wanting to open her own restaurant at 8 years old. That dream came true when Mrs. Saldo’s opened in April 2021 and survived the Taal volcano explosion and the pandemic. Her restaurant was a bespoke private dining, way out in Cavite yet people trekked to go there despite the distance and the long wait for a reservation. The longest reservation required was two months in advance.
Rhea graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree Hotel, Motel, and Restaurant Management at De La Salle- College of St. Benilde. She continued with an associate’s degree in Culinary Arts Hotel, Motel, and Restaurant Management at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies. The Diploma in Culinary Arts and Technology Management is a comprehensive American Culinary Federation-accredited program. The program prepares its students for culinary leadership in the global market by providing them with the required competencies. Then she got her Associate’s Degree in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services at the Ateneo Center for Continuing Education. She jumped at every opportunity to take lessons from culinary schools around the world. Rhea also worked in a Michelin-starred establishment in Bangkok. She stayed in Ubud where she became raw-vegan certified. From there she explored the many food markets across Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Europe.
Rhea served their usual French-Californian fare punctuated with Asian flavors at the Balmori pop-up at the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, Makati City.
Starter standouts included the chunky and creamy baked crab dip served with sour dough and the hamachi crudo (raw Japanese amberjack) served with ikura (salmon roe) and yuzu (Japanese citrus) curd on a puff pastry.
Main must-tries were the Thai fish curry consisting of air-flown hamachi jaw in a delightfully light curry with coconut cream served with sticky rice; the Wagyu with yuzu kosho (crushed yuzu peel with chili and salt) ingeniously served with wet rice- rice in dashi broth; and the perfectly cooked (yes, that would be medium rare) Joselito presa (Spanish pork shoulder). Joselito is one of the best brands for Iberian pork. It is one of the few pigs that can be eaten medium rare. People who ordered the pork were told how it was going to be served.
The homemade cheese ice cream topped with extra virgin olive oil and lemon crumble was the most delightful desserts. As well as the toffee sticky pudding with tonka. She brought the tonka beans home from one of her trips, Anglaise (English cream), and poached pears.
Both the simplicity and complexity of her dishes prove that the cuisine she prepares is prepared by someone who is well traveled and is both knowledgeable and passionate about food.
So what do people do now that Mrs. Saldo’s pop-up is over and the craving for Rhea’s food begins? I guess go to Silang and have her food there. It is worth the journey. Do make reservations as walk-ins are not allowed.
Check out https://mrssaldos.com. The pop-up is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Sunday and on Saturday & Sunday from 8-10 AM. Only until December 31. They are open on New Year’s eve.