A couple’s love for Bicol and its rich culinary traditions gave birth to 1st Colonial Grill on April 25, 2004. Its first store is located in a structure in Bicol built during the American occupation, thus, the founders, husband and wife Mr. Elmer Boy Aspe and Dr. Rowena Aspe, named the restaurant with a recall of the colonial period.
1st Colonial Grill serves selections of unique, authentic, and delicious Bicolano food. Combining family heirloom recipes and unconventional practice in cooking local dishes, 1st Colonial Grill introduced modern twists to marry the taste of the past with the present, harnessing the finest local ingredients and spices. Its diverse culinary traditions captured the taste of locals, diners from other parts of the Philippines and across the globe.
Last year, 1st Colonial Grill opened its first store outside the Bicol Region. There’s no surprise they picked one of the go-to cities in the country, Tagaytay. The breathtaking scenery and chilly weather compliment their food!
Though I’ve tried some of their dishes when I visited Naga, I was still amazed and all giddy when we had dinner at their Tagaytay branch. Truly, you’ll come here for the good food and come back for that distinct 1st Colonial Grill experience.
Here are some of their best-sellers we were able to try:
Now, this might be a bit of a spoiler but I’ll spill it anyway. The staff sings the Bahay Kubo song whenever they serve this dish. True to its name, the Bahay Kubo Salad is made up of all the ingredients in the said song. Yes, each and every one of them!
If you like tinapa and ensalada, this fried rice is for you!
This is not your ordinary chopsuey. Since Bicolanos are fond of using gata (coconut milk) when cooking, they incorporated it in this classic dish.
I’ve eaten Bicol Express quite a lot of times already but there’s nothing like eating one from an authentic Bicolano restaurant. It’s rich in flavor, and even richer in history.
Kandingga is Bicol’s version of Bopis, but this one is spicier and more flavorful.
Since its launch, the restaurant has gained numerous awards and recognitions by different culinary circles and government awarding bodies. In 2013, 1st Colonial Grill was awarded “Albay’s Best Seal of Excellence”, “Paborito ng Bayan Award” during The Karangahan, and awarded a citation by the local government as Best Restaurant in Albay. The most prestigious of all is the Choose Philippine’s Best Panghimagas of 2016 award.
Such honors have inspired the couple to innovate more dishes that indulge local and international palates. Their mission to innovate led to the launch of its “Bicol’s Kakaibang Ice Cream” line. The most popular flavor from this line is their signature sili ice cream which was featured in The Amazing Race Asia when the show filmed in Bicol in 2010 to test if the contenders can stand its piquancy. You may choose from three levels of spiciness when ordering their Sili Ice Cream.
Other ice cream flavors include Tinutong na Bigas, Gabi, Malunggay, Pili, Kamote, Mais, Kalabasa, Pipino, Salabat, Cacao, and more. The restaurant only uses natural ingredients that are available locally to flavor its ice cream, in order help the local farmers in the region.
Manila foodies need not travel too far very soon when they're raring to try sili ice cream or craving for authentic Bicolano dishes. In August 2017, 1st Colonial Grill will open its first branch in Manila! Located in the arrivals area of Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, the new branch will captivate both local and foreign travelers with their flavors of Bicol. Also set to open within the year are branches in Robinsons Naga City and SM Legazpi City.
Bask in the goodness of authentic flavors of Bicol whether you're Bicol-bound, roadtripping to Tagaytay, or awaiting the new store opening in Manila. Masiram, Padi at Madi!