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Private Dinners by Lica Ibarra – Former MasterChef Asia Finalist & Executive Chef of Kartilya

January 22, 2017

 Generous Servings & Great Quality – There was no other way to describe it! I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to dine in the home of a Former MasterChef Asia Finalist & Executive Chef of Kartilya (a restaurant in BGC that serves classic Filipino dishes with a twist). This was my first time trying a private dinner set-up and it was indeed very unique. It's not often that one is served personally by the chef herself. Moreover, hearing the stories behind her home-cooked dishes somehow added to the delicious flavor of the food.  As Chef Lica shared that it was her first time to do a private dinner, I realized it was an enriching experience for us and for her. I am thankful that a platform such as Plato PH makes these experiences possible for people to try food in a new way. This definitely won't be the last time that we arrange a meal with them!



Photo above from Rappler


Lica Ibarra is most known as one of the Top 10 finalists for MasterChef Asia. She is also the Executive Chef of Kartilya, a Filipino Restaurant in BGC that serves classic dishes with recipes passed on from one generation to another. Another fun fact that we found out about her is that she is not only a passinate cook, but she is also a loving single mom to her son. I may have asked her how she is able to keep her good physique while at the same time, constantly serving up delicious meals. It turns out, she is also a football player during her spare time. She was definitely one to admire!




The service of Plato PH is to connect hungry customers with the best chefs and home cooks for a private dining experience. They use an online booking platform to arrange these private dinners which are cooked and served in the comfortable homes of the Filipino chefs. The chefs have the opportunity to experiment and serve up unique dishes without any restrictions! In short, they get to play with their passions for food and Plato PH finds them foodies to try it.

If you want to find out more about them, visit: Beyond the Kitchen by Plato PH





The Set-up

The venue for our private dinner was in the home of Chef Lica Ibarra. Her dining area was well lit and it was perfect for a dinner for 8. My boyfriend booked for the two of us but we didn't know the other people we were going to eat with. One of the reasons why our dinner was extra special was because we were able to meet new people through the process. The two other couples we encountered were actually fellow Atenean graduates. While waiting for each course, we got to share stories about our days in college and we found out about our common friends.


The Menu

Disclaimer: I'M NOT A FOOD CRITIC but I DO LOVE FOOD and I know how to appreciate food. I'm not one to compliment food lightly; but I must say, all of the dishes tasted above satisfactory. In terms of quantity and quality, Chef Lica's creations deserved two thumbs up. 


For our 6-Course Meal, we were served the following:


Daikon Steak

Red wine reduction | Poached egg yolk | Blue pea | Red radish

For our appetizer, we started off  with the Daikon Steak. Daikon is a white root vegetable from the radish family. The Daikon Steak topped with the poached egg was soft, flavorful and colorful! I love eggs so this automatically turned me on (not sure if it's appropriate to use that term for food but I'll use it anyway). I sliced between the poached egg and the yolk oozed wonderfully over the daikon steak. According to chef Lica, this was her amuse-bouche. An amuse-bouche is usually a small dish that showcases the personality of the chef. It is often not ordered from the menu and is usually served with complementary wine. In my case, I got white wine. It is prepared by the chef to give his/her customers a glimpse of the approach he/she has in terms of cuisine presentation.


Gambas Al Ajillo

Parsley mint oil | Salted duck egg puree | Picked sugar beet, orange & persimmon |

Smoked cheese pimiento crostini

The Gambas Al Ajillo partnered with the Smoked Cheese pimiento was a great combination. The rich flavors of the smoked cheese, the oranges and the garlic shrimp were a sensation in my mouth. The varying tastes of the food, to my surprise, meshed well together. The serving was also quite big that I was already feeling a bit full. (But only a little bit. LOL.)


Calamansi-Basil Granita

Our next dish was a palette cleanser to prepare us for the next courses. Granita is an Italian dessert which is semi-frozen and sugary. At first I thought it was sorbet but apparently it's different. The granita has a crunchier texture due to the process of how it is frozen.


Lengua with Quinoa Risotto

Truffle oil | Mushroom cream | Purple yam puree Enokitake | Cherry tomato confit

Guilty as charged! As seen in the cover photo of this article, this dish was obviously my favorite. For those who don't know, Lengua is actually Ox Tongue; but, you won't be able to tell because it normally tastes like soft beef. Chef Lica shared to us that the Lengua recipe she prepared is actually an heirloom recipe. Her family has passed it on for generations. Aside from this, the Lengua takes at least 2 days for them to prepare because they literally cook it on top of "uling" for several hours. The hardwork in terms of cooking the Lengua certainly paid off. It was absolutely tender and the Quinoa Risotto (healthy substitute for rice) went with it perfectly. Chef Lica's favorite color is purple so she said that she just had to put some purple in the dish; hence, the purple yam puree. I won't argue because the purple yam eaten together with the Truffle Mushroom Cream was brilliant! I loved how creative she got with the food. 


Porchetta A La Mia Angelica

Mini Ciabatta | Arugula | Alfalfa | Chimichuri Alioli

For our next meal, we had the killer Porchetta. At this point, I didn't have much space left in my stomach but I just had to try it. I first tasted the Porchetta without eating it with the ciabatta first. The top was crunchy but when you get to the meat, it was really tender. It was the type of food that tasted so good that you don't even want to resist it so you just promise yourself that you'll exercise the next few days. Afterwards, I grabbed the ciabatta (Italian white bread) and put the porchetta, chimichuri and alioli sauces inside and ate it together. It was an interesting combination but I personally liked eating the porchetta on its own.


Gluten-Free Decadent Chocolate Cake

Homemade honey ricotta ice cream | Espresso Tulle Salted Caramel Sauce | Crumble

 Always save room for dessert, no matter how small that room may be! During our final course, I was feeling extremely bloated. Everything we ate was very satisfying but no meal is complete without dessert. Chef Lica told us that when she was young, she was always in charge of baking during family gatherings. Before she got interested with cooking, baking was her first love. To close our dinner, she served us with a rich chocolate cake with fudgy chocolate sauce center. I'm not a fan of chocolate in general so I wasn't expecting much. But wow,"napatirik mata ko." The warm chocolate cake while eaten together with the salted caramel & honey ice cream put me in a happy place. She definitely exceeded my expectations.


Our Token: Herb Salt

As if the excellent food wasn't enough, Chef Lica gave us some herb salt to take home. The herb salt tasted like rock salt mixed together with fresh smelling herbs. She usually sells this for PHP 80.​


 After dessert, it was now time for us to say our goodbyes. We thanked Chef Lica for the well-prepared dinner.  Overall, JB and I had a great experience. Although the intervals between the courses did take a while, the food made up for it. We also found out that Chef Lica will be doing private dinners for Valentine's Day as well. If you're interested to try this too, get in touch with Plato PH to see what arrangements can be made. All in all, the experience was really unique. I'd love to try more private dinners in the future!




1. If you also want to try Private Dining in a Chef's home, visit Beyond the Kitchen by Plato PH - Book a Chef!

There are other chefs you can try and other cuisines you can choose from.

 Photo above from their website


2. The amount you'll pay depends on the Chef you will get. Prices range from PHP 800 - PHP 2,000.

In our case, our private dining experience with Chef Lica cost PHP 2,150 per head. This may seem pricey at first, but, if you compare it to other restaurants that serve meal courses like Vask Tapas in BGC, you'll definitely see the value for money with Chef Lica's preparation. Though I must commend the taste of the food in Vask, you might want to take a visit to McDonald's right after because of the small quantity that comes along with the expensive prices.


3. Invite your friends so you can eat as a group.

The idea of dining with strangers might not appeal to everyone. Thus, if you would want a more exclusive dinner, ask your friends to join so you can dine as a group.



Time to make your own memories!

♡,  Pat







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