Category Archives: Food & Culture

Bistro Filipino: Classic Pinoy with international flair

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
Monday, 27 August 2012

Painstaking Filipino cuisine done the traditional way harkens family food memories when matriarchs ruled the kitchen with an iron hand and maids bustled round about them. Family cooks would go to market at the crack of dawn to get their hands on choice produce and, upon their return, spend hours in the kitchen before the whole clan would gather for a weekend feast. A feast that would sustain each one of them during the deprivation come workweek.

During the weekday, an elaborate home-cooked lunch or dinner is definitely out of the question unless one gets to borrow the matriarch’s cook for a day or two. The craving for a traditionally prepared comfort Filipino food can gnaw at one and, if one were away from the hometown, it can be downright nostalgic, to say the least.

When I heard of Bistro Filipino, owned by a couple, chefs Rolando and Jackie Laudico, and their creative rendition of traditional comfort Filipino food, I was curious about how truly comforting this modern Filipino cuisine would be, if at all.

The debate among local chefs on how to present Filipino food has been raging unresolved for many years now — some holding fast and true to tradition and others defending their venture into Filipino food fusion.

I wasn’t quite sure where to put Bistro Filipino in the spectrum of this debate. Leaning on the traditionalist side of the argument, I was quite skeptical on what creativity could do to culinary traditions, and so it was with some reserve that I stepped into the restaurant at the ground floor of Net 2 Building on 3rd Avenue, Fort Bonifacio Global City.

It was the very Filipino interiors that initially struck me. The dining place did not look like the polished and stiff dining rooms of many ancestral homes, yet it was comfortingly Filipino from the chairs to the tables, the place mats and light fixtures and even the hanging woven dividers from the main table in the center of the restaurant.

When the first course of a trio of appetizers was set before me, the aroma and ingredients used was familiar alright, except that the lumpia ubod (egg roll filled with coconut heart and chorizo) was in a crisp cone and its vinegar dip was a granita; the sisig (grilled and sauteed pig’s cheeks and ears) was in a crisp, tart-shaped lumpia basket with a chaser of half a quail egg at the bottom of a shot glass; and, the lone prawn sauteed into gambas was atop its own baby pool of sauce.

I would have raised my eyebrows at the unusual though admittedly pretty sight, except that I had never mastered this small act of restrained disdain. The contrast of the hot crisp cone with the soft coconut heart with the iciness of the piquant granita swept away any doubts of the culinary creativity of Chef Rolando. The sisig made with the usual ingredients with the addition of etag (salt pork that is cured and aged underground in an earthen jar in the Cordilleras) had a distinctly cheesy taste from the aged meat. This culinary revelation of a traditional curing method in the North makes for a truly Filipino experience that opens one’s taste buds.

The next hot appetizer course was a mushroom cappuccino soup, one that I have had in many ways from different chefs, except that Chef Rolando makes it Filipino by making adobo a main component. Again adobo in a soup had me raising my eyebrows (in my imagination) as the thick, rich, salty-tangy sauce could hardly be sipped and traditionally must be mixed with lots of steamed white rice to temper its strong flavors. One sip of Bistro Filipino’s bestseller soup had my doubts flying out the window, again, as I savored the fresh pureed mushrooms marrying with the adobo flavors. I finished my soup to the bottom of the bowl, and Chef Rolando smiled as he saw me tipping it forward to get every last bit of the foamy broth.

When I spotted the dainty pandesal which were half a fist, I sighed in regret as I was trying to stay off limits simple carbohydrates. Chef Jackie caught me looking at her pandesal, and when she said it was made with butter churned from carabao’s (water buffalo) milk, I had no chance at resisting. I slathered more butter as the thought of tasting fresh churned artisanal local butter was making me feel like a true gourmand. All I can say is that contrary to my almost no-carb diet, I finished the whole roll and the pats of batter served alongside it. I had no regrets except that it left me wishing I could afford another roll.

The mesclun of salad greens, arugula, Romaine and red leaf lettuce with three kinds of mango was a cold appetizer that surprised me with the use of the dried sweet and chewy mangoes along with the expected green and ripe mangoes. It was refreshing and sweet with the tang of green mangoes providing the zing and the cashew crusted kesong puti providing the creaminess and crunch to balance the flavors.

When the main course of deboned tuna panga (tuna fish head) was presented to me, I was in for a surprise. Grilled “anything” in a high-end restaurant usually lacks the depth and flavor of charcoal-grilled seafood. I was expecting a clean-tasting, modestly tasty ceramic or gas grilled tuna. Instead I was confronted with the bold flavors of true charcoal grilled tuna panga with all the moisture intact that it flaked to the bite and all the citrusy flavor singing through the classic soy calamansi (calamondin) marinade.

The buro sauce (fermented rice) lent its earthy tanginess to the rich tasting tuna panga, with the buro flavors accentuating the calamansi’s citrusy flavors. Making it boneless made it doubly faster to consume and I was convinced by then that Chef Rolando’s creativity was not a con-fusion but a harkening to tradition with his own culinary flair.

The next main course, a flat iron kitayama steak atop a croquette of sweet potato mash and organic kale was a hearty foreign sounding dish except that the kitayama was a local Wagyu bred in the hills of Bukidnon and the kale was locally grown.

The penchant and passion of the Laudico couple for sourcing local ingredients to make stellar dishes was coming across loud and clear at this point. I then realized that Bistro Filipino is not just about Filipino dishes but about Filipino ingredients coming to fore in its menu that is world class in presentation and taste.

For dessert, we sampled three desserts by Chef Jackie, a panna cotta made with carabao and coconut milk, so Filipino indeed it tastes almost like maja blanca (coconut milk and corn pudding) sans the corn. The suman with latik (rice cake with coconut caramel) in a shooter. The coconut lace cookie crisp served with it instead of shredded coconut is ingenious and endearing as I usually shy away from too much coconut in a single dish. Chef Jackie manages to get me to love coconut again in this doily like cookie that crunches away the coco-shyness of my palate.

The dulce de leche cheesecake laced with creamy kesong puti (local white cheese) and sweetened with the Spanish-Filipino caramelized condensed milk is a diet killer, but as the creamy sweetness reminiscent of my mom’s dulce de leche melted on my palate, I was glad the dessert was a sampler as a portion consisted only of about three spoonfuls, the exact count for sweets for someone on a diet.

The pralines of Chef Jackie — all Filipino, flavored with mango, pandan, coconut, lemongrass, jackfruit, etc. — in dark and milk chocolates are melt-in-your-mouth confections that re-introduce one to the elegance in local ingredients that are highlighted in her pastry creations.

This playful ending to the Filipino dining experience of feast proportions, but presented with style and Filipino pizzazz, had me looking forward to the next time I step into Bistro Filipino. I yet have to taste the kare-kare, which I heard is slow cooked for eight hours. Until then, I’m sure I will have a whole lot more to say of classic Filipino cuisine served with international flair.

Bistro Filipino may be contacted through telephone number 856-0634/0541 or mobile number 0917800-CHEF (2433) or e-mail cheflaudico@yahoo.com.

A circle of superhero chefs

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A gustatory fantasy many foodies would most likely have is the rare experience of having great chefs from different countries coming together to prepare one special feast. Each chef would present his specialty dish from his country, and one would feel like royalty as each course is served. On second thought, the logistics of having too many chefs in a single kitchen for a single occasion raises the viability of this unique dining experience.

True to its endeavor to deliver unique dining experiences, Makati Shangri-La, Manila pulls this feat off and presents the head chefs of the hotel to showcase their superhero culinary prowess at Circles Event Café buffet during lunch and dinner from Aug. 6 to Sept. 9, 2012. Every day features a particular head chef’s creations at the daily feast at Circles Event Café; all served alongside the authentic specialty dishes of each superhero chef.

After sampling each creation of the head chefs, guests may choose to participate in the race of the superheroes to win the diners’ vote of superherodom. Each guest is entitled to a raffle stub every time they dine at Circles Event Café for a chance to hold a private event good for 30 persons at any of Makati Shangri-La’s function rooms, subject to availability.

Superhero Chef Hamed “The Hawk” Ghayedi has Monday at his helm with the flavors of the Middle East in his creations. His specialty, the kashk-e-bademjan is a quenelle of smoked eggplant puree he crafted with basil-infused olive oil, dried dill and mint leaves, tahini paste (ground sesame seeds) and sumac powder (from the flowers of the Rhus family of plants).

It makes for a startling vegan appetizer as the eggplant is remarkably velveteen in texture that one would wonder where all the seeds went. The sweetness of the humble eggplant is coaxed out by the “Hawk” with none of the usual faintly bitter aftertaste. With sautéed garlic and shallots topping the quenelle; chili threads garnishing (I can’t imagine where he sourced these) and adding the spice; and, the yogurt sauce on the side that adds just the right tartness to the quaint dish, the skill of the “Hawk” is exemplified by this single dish.

Chef Hamed is one of the hotel’s executive sous chefs, and is in charge of Circles Event Café. His 20 years of culinary experience in Iran, Oman and the United Arab Emirates promises an authentic Persian Night every Monday during the Superhero showdown.

Come Tuesday, Chef Franco “Casanova” Brodini brings out the best of his heritage with Notte Italiana. His handmade cheese ravioli in a simple butter sauce is out to win the hearts of many a diner as the al dente tender noodles almost melt in the mouth and the creamy butter swirls in the palate with the fresh porcini filling. The execution of a simple dish with a very few ingredients calls for a true master as there is no masking any mistake in the process. The perfect balance of butter and sage makes for decadent ravioli that one cannot and must not forego, especially not one from the “Casanova.”

Chef Franco is the executive chef of Makati Shangri-La, and has been creating a gastronomic array of dishes for the hotel for the past couple of years, with a culinary experience of over two decades. He was head chef in establishments in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

On Wednesdays, Filipino ingenuity comes to the fore and the Visayan might of superhero Chef Gene “D’ Higante” del Prado culminates in a fiesta of Filipino cuisine. His grilled blue marlin, known as inasal in the Iloilo, is flavored just the way it is in Bacolod and Iloilo City. The lip-smacking achuete oil basting the fish, the garlicky savoriness balanced by the sinamak, the Iloilo spiced palm vinegar are memorable. That authentic Illonggo taste comes alive in the hands of “D Higante.” The tender pako (fern) shoots provide the crunchy and refreshing flavors tossed with a fish sauce and calamansi (calamondin) vinaigrette.

Chef Gene is one of the executive sous chefs in the hotel and promises to lay out a Filipino Fiesta worth a vote for superherodom.

Thursdays are “Spice Up, India!” and Chef Sovan “Bollywood” Singh serves it up as spicy as one can take it. His chile kulche or a chickpea dish is made with a mild chili tomato sauce served with triangles of roti and pappadums, and a side of mint raita. It is another testament to how unfamiliar ingredients can turn familiar to the taste buds of the untutored, in the hands of a learned chef. The “Bollywood” introduces the spices of India in a variety of dishes to tutor even the spice shy in Indian cuisine. He balances curries, garam masalas (spice mixtures), and all kinds of chilis with meats, vegetables and condiments to present India in all its culinary glory.

Chef Sovan Sing is a sous chef at the Circles Event Café and his Indian heritage brings a lifetime and culture of experience to the Superhero fest.

Fridays are seafood days as Chef Yusuke “Seefuda” Hino cooks up the freshest catch on for the “Seafood Market.” His sampling of the Volcano, a sushi style salmon with a creamy tartar sauce, is a twist on the old favorite made indulgent with orange and black fish roe bursting with every bite along with a volcanic eruption of fine red chili.

Chef Hino comes from a family of chefs, and brings with him years of family culinary history and work experience specializing in seafood.

Saturdays see Chef Maran “The Prime” Mariapin taking on grilling duties for “Off the Grill.” High-grade steaks and barbecue selections, with favorites such as prime rib eye, lamb chops and T-bone steaks are at the mercy of his coals. The Prime’s Nonyan oxtail assam pedas with a ring of pickled pineapple with Roti Jala is a tender main that is chock-full of comfort and surprise as the piquant pineapples liven up the palate. The comfort food in the dish springs from the assam pedas, a gravy made of tamarind, blue ginger, shallots, fenugreek, turmeric, coconut paste, black pepper, kaffir lime leaves, chili and a bit of sugar.

The roti jala, a lacey net-like yellowish crepe, accompanies the oxtail, making for a truly Nonyan presentation, the crepe a usual side to curries and other savory dishes in Malaysian-Chinese cuisine.

Chef Maran is an executive sous chef in the hotel, who has also earned years of culinary experience in various parts of the world, specializing in various cuisines.

For Sunday, the family day, Sunday Big Brunch is made even more festive with the creations of Chef Anthony “The Bruncher” Collar. His orange cake with clotted cream served with a praline and a dark chocolate strip is a dieter’s heaven as his cake is flourless. The ground almonds marry well with the orange liqueur in the cake with the pure chocolates adding another dimension of bittersweet luxury to his dessert plate.

The “Bruncher’s” breakfast favorites are also at the buffet on Sundays. Chef Collar is the hotel’s area executive pastry chef.

For inquiries and reservations, please call the Restaurant Reservations and Information Center at 813 8888 extension 71899 or e-mail rric.slm@shangri-la.com.
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Manila Hotel’s Mid-Autumn Festival

by Gabrielle Borromeo & Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in Daily Tribune Life
September 13, 2011

If reading transports you to places you have never been to, eating during the Mid-Autumn Festival ushers you into worlds of culture, politics, spies and encrypted messages in times of war.

The Mid-Autumn Festival in the Manila Hotel’s Mabuhay Palace is not only the time of bountiful harvest, it is also a celebration of how the Chinese won the war by moon cake courier when they coincided the uprising against the Mongols with the moon cake festival. Chinese legend and lore has it that military tactics to resist the might of the Mongolian invasion were employed by disguising inscriptions on the moon
cakes 3,000 years ago.

Among the Chinese, it is the second most awaited festival next to the New Year. Manila Hotel’s Executive Chinese Chef Sun Bing and his team prepared a grand Cantonese feast for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which runs from Sept. 2 to
14. In keeping with tradition, dinner includes a moon cake dice game called Pua Tiong Chiu when the moon rises in its full splendor. This fun-filled dice game pumps the adrenaline of every player, as they wish and pray with every
roll of the dice that the combination of the dice spells out good fortune and the grand prize. Not to fret as almost every showing of a die of four wins a consolation prize.

The grand feast begins with an appetizer of Beijing-Style Roast Duck (One-way) much like a mini Shawarma with the thin pancakes and moist duck meat and a crunch of savory skin. The leek slivers and dash of hoisin sauce highlight the
succulent roast.

The Pan Fried Crabmeat Egg Whites with Crispy Conpoy Wrapped in Fresh Lettuce puts to the test your culinary know-how on how to handle the dish. The fragile mound of crabmeat sits inside a wide cup of lettuce and topped with fine shredded green and red bell peppers. It is best to roll the sides of the fresh lettuce to cover the crabmeat and bite into it like a wrap. The moist, delicate crab is light with the frothy egg whites circling the palate with its mousselike texture.

The first main course, Mabuhay Palace Chicken, is served two ways. The first way is done by blanketing a chicken fillet
on one side with deeply fried chicken skin and the other side crusted with black sesame seeds. In this way, an ordinary chicken is elevated to a juicy fillet with the crunch of the sesame seeds and the crispness of the
chicken skin. It is a cunning surprise of a dish executed by chef Sun Bing and executive sous chef Josephine Candelaria.

The second way is a spicy chicken sauté with cashews. The Mabuhay Palace chefs adjust the spiciness according to the nationality of the diners, executive sous chef Candelaria shared, as the level of desired spiciness depends on which country the diner hails from.

The piece de resistance is the split-steamed Live Pit Lobster. It is served with handmade wheat noodles cooked simply to highlight the fresh lobster meat drizzled with the orange Mabuhay Palace Supreme Sauce. Each scoop of the lobster is a taste of luxury and celebration, a toast to the bountiful harvest of the season.

The Fried Live Dragon Head Garoupa in Thai Chili Sauce is another showstopper as the scored flesh of the fish stands out in crisp cubes coated with Thai mango sauce and garnished with strips of sweet fresh mango. The spice of the sauce hits the end of the palate as the tender crispy fish beckons for another bite.

Braised Bailing Mushroom and Fish Maw ends the savory festive dishes that symbolize good luck and bounty and signal the entry of the sweet array of moon cake delicacies
dreamed up by chef Sun Bing and executive sous Chef Candelaria.

The confection selections are: Mango and cheese with salted yolk; Pandan (screwpine) with dark Malibu chocolate praline; Jasmine tea with dark hazelnut chocolate praline; Premium white lotus with watermelon seeds and salted yolk; and
the Mabuhay Palace signature moon cake with assorted nuts and dried cranberries.

The Mabuhay Palace is at the ground floor of the Manila Hotel, One Rizal Park, Manila City.

HOT, HOT, HOTTER: A Szechuan food trip

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
July 10, 2011

Just when I thought that peppercorns were all the same, whether green, black, red or white, with slight variations of spiciness, I discovered the famed Szechuan “pepper.” The Szechuan spice, native to the Szechuan province of China, is actually a berry of a tree of the rue family, and not a pepper at all. The resemblance of the form of the dried berry to peppercorns has perpetrated the myth of the Szechuan “pepper.”

The spice of the common peppercorns, no matter how much of it one uses, is nowhere near the scale and body of hotness that a Szechuan berry imprints on your tongue and mouth. Szechuan berries are rust in color, with thin stems. The rough husk of the dried berry is the source of spiciness and not the brittle, black, pepper-like seed inside it.

As an added incentive to venture into spiciness, the berries are known to have medicinal effects and are claimed to be used as a toothache remedy (the Szechuan tree is called by others as a Toothache Tree) and is used to heal wounds. It is also claimed that the berries are stimulative and used as a blood purifier and digestive. Indeed, these are good enough reasons to sample the legendary heat of Szechuan cuisine.

At the launch of the Szechuan Food Festival at the Xin Tian Di Restaurant of the Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila, I did not pass up the chance to experience whole fresh and dried Szechuan berries, still on its stems, and its spicier version, ground Szechuan berries, with a hotness scale you can detect just from inhaling its aroma.

“Szechuan, a Great Cuisine of Asia” was featured last July 15, and those who will discover this cuisine will find that the Szechuan berry on a hotness scale imparts medium heat with a lot of punch. It does not just provide heat as the spice comes with a fragrant citrus profile and produces a tingling sensation beginning at the point when the berry touches your palate and steadily envelopes it in sweet heat.

I started with the pickled vegetables, Szechuan style. The mélange of tri-colored bell peppers with wild mountain Szechuan bamboo shoots was piquant, with a lingering stinging heat — one need be careful to take one slice at a time.

Curiously, the heat is not off putting as I find myself trying one pickle after another. Each sting of the Szechuan becomes quite addicting as it is not the kind that gives a headache nor does the heat go up the nostrils. The heat builds up nicely, I must say, but with a heady persistence.

As I tasted the Buddha Jumped Over the Wall soup, there was quite some heat swirling around like a thin smoke in my mouth, warm with some tingling heat, but not burning.
Legend has it that when Buddha ate the soup, it was so delicious that he jumped over the wall. With shrimps and winter mushrooms aplenty, it really is a soup that is worth a jump I had to ask for a second serving.

The non-spicy soup served to soothe my palate to prepare it for the next Szechuan dish, the Boiled Lapu-Lapu in Butter Soup. I saw the Szechuan berries with the stems on in the soup and I gingerly ate some Lapu-Lapu along with the mushrooms in the red broth, a foreboding of a lot of heat.

To my surprise, the spiciness was balanced with a sourness that unexpectedly allowed more portions to be eaten with ease. The rich butter rounded off the flavors, providing a well-seasoned tempering of the savory spicy flavor.

The star of the Szechuan launch was the Mapo Tofu, a dish familiar to every Chinese food lover. This version though was made of chicken instead of the usual ground pork, and was cooked tableside.

As the Szechuan berries were gently roasted right before my
eyes and the pungent and spicy aroma of the berries wafted to
the table, it was a gastronomic high of the senses. It looked so simple really, but the timing and astuteness required of it is a skill acquired over time and a lot of training with the spices.

As the chicken and tofu were sautéed along with other aromatics, the ginger and onion, I was excited to have Mapo Tofu in a way I probably have not tried before. And as the dish was finished by adding the sauce, I was hankering for the spiciness even if I was not sure I could handle it.

True to their promise, chefs Fei Tang, Guozhang Li and Li
Yang of InterContinental Chengdu, China, downscaled the spiciness. It was still spicy though, but spicy just enough to suit palates unaccustomed to Szechuan cuisine. I must say that Xin Tian Di’s Mapo Tofu is not the sickly sweet and salty version of the haphazard versions in hurried Chinese kitchens. It is piquant, with a hint of sweetness and a zing to it that in unmistakably Szechuan.

Next, I had the Sautéed Pork Filet “Country Style,” yet another Szechuan dish that highlights spiciness in a different way. The pork was prepared like a jerky and bacon all at once with sweetness and an earthy spiciness, but the spice from it mostly sprung from the bias cut red and green chili fingers tossed with the pork. Thus, ultra spiciness is an option, and I just had a bite each of the red and green chili.

To finish off the meal was a non-spicy dessert, although I was quite convinced by then that Szechuan sweets were also
spicy. Soft steamed rice dumplings filled with black sesame paste and coated with ground peanuts capped off the spicy
adventure I am quite eager to repeat soon.

Xin Tian Di Restaurant.
Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila is along
Ortigas Avenue, corner Asian
Development Bank Avenue, Quezon City.

A bite of genius

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

A wave of déjà vu swept over me as I watched Grappa’s executive chef Clint Nuyda prep the fresh pasta and seafood in the Gourdo’s Bonifacio Fort Strip store in a recent Ballarini cookware launch.

He not only resembled my kitchen genius brother, Benedict, with medium locks framing a tanned face, his bespectacled face bore the same intense concentration as he bent over ingredients with a transfixed gaze.

It brought me back to our Baguio kitchen where Benedict and I jostled over counter space, a sink overflowing with both our pans, pots and kitchen gadgets and the window always blowing in a fresh breeze to cool our cheflike tempers.

The aroma of a truffle cream sauce prepped for mushroom filled fresh ravioli pasta broke my reverie. As I bit into the delicate ravioli, beyond al dente perfection, as only freshly made and freshly rolled pasta dough can promise, I was stripped of all my pasta-making bravado. Having never made fresh pasta, all my stellar pasta dishes paled in comparison. I had to look at Nuyda in another light, thinking maybe he really is my kitchen genius brother, who continuous to break culinary boundaries in our home kitchen in Seattle.

The truffle in the cream was a highlight to the mushroom, a tantalizing note to the freshness of all the ingredients. Many a chef has bribed the palate with an overpowering dose of truffles, throwing all caution to the wind. Nuyda’s judicious use of such a delicate and pricey ingredient is a telltale sign of his experience with it.

He next served the capelli d’angello al salmon, with the fresh smoked salmon contrasting with tender angel hair noodles blanketed with creamy mushrooms.

It was rustic and chic all in one bite, a squeeze of lemon drawing out the fresh, briny salmon to the fore. For a finale, the prawns all lined up like letter Cs atop mashed potatoes was visually stunning and as I bit into one, saltiness, creaminess and sweetness all enveloped my palate and the Cs single handedly disappeared from my plate.

The heady feeling one gets after an exceptionally good meal had to be replicated and, as I headed to Grappa’s a couple of weeks later, I was once again stunned by Nuyda’s corn-mousse filled ravioli.

It sounded simple: make corn mousse by grating
fresh kernels from a cob, stuff it in fresh pasta and shape into ravioli then top with fresh cream and truffles. For a repeat of corn mousse pasta, I really would have to learn to make it at home since Nuyda makes different ravioli every week at Grappa’s.

If I were to indulge in a fresh pasta treat with a twist of genius, I would be better off trooping back to Grappa’s to have a taste of a new filling that Nuyda will dream up, a filling I am sure no one else has thought of.

After finishing the Hotel and Restaurant Management Extension Program at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), he worked side by side with Wolfgang Puck at the Spago’s, chef Makoto Tanaka at the Mako’s Restaurant and chef Eric Klein at the Maple Drive all in Beverly Hills. Klein brought Nuyda to the SW Steakhouse in Las Vegas, Nevada and he later returned to Beverly Hills to work with Chef Suzanne’s Goin L.A. Tavern in Brentwood and Raphael’s in Studio City. After having worked the culinary greats that side of the world, he has come back to Manila to share decades of experience and learning with local chefs.

For more of Nuyda’s cooking, visit Grappa’s Ristorante at second floor, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City.

Oriental grandeur at Peony Garden

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
July 29, 2011

Who would have thought that competing territorial claims over the Strait of Malacca would birth a unique Malaysian Chinese cuisine, creating Chinese origin dishes that would not even be found in all of China?

The Chinese merchants and traders’ forays into the port of Malacca in the Malayan Peninsula, a strategic trading post, brought in a flurry of Chinese immigration to Malaysia. The legendary marriage arranged by the ruling Chinese Emperor in the 15th century between Princess Hang Li Po and the Sultan of Malacca marked the entry of the first Chinese settlers in the port town of Malacca.

A unique community called Peranakan was then formed when the Chinese settlers and the Malays intermarried, creating a new way of living, thus, a new way of eating, as Chinese recipes were adapted to the available ingredients in the Malayan Peninsula.

While Chinese cuisine is originally milder compared to Malay or Indian fare, the influence of Malaysian cuisine has given a spicier touch to classic Chinese dishes. And since Cantonese food is most popular, the reinvention of Malaysian-Cantonese cuisine has become renowned not only in Malaysia, but also in all of Asia.

The Peony Garden brings us this delectable cuisine, as executed by executive chef Lee Yan Feng, offering a vibrant interplay of cultures and tastes with a festive lineup of traditional recipes that depict an exciting fusion of Chinese and Malaysian cuisines.

Lee Yan Feng was born and raised in Malaysia. After completing his Diploma in Culinary Skills at East Canton University, Lee further honed his culinary prowess when he was the Chinese chef at Gloria Maris restaurant and became assistant Chinese chef at Portman Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai,
China.

When asked what makes his recipes extraordinary, Lee says he
cooks with his heart. “Being a chef entails a lot more than just cooking a sumptuous dish. It requires a combination of hard work and determination since my goal is to contribute significantly to the culinary industry by way of developing novel concepts in food preparation,” Lee said.

The culinary intuition of Lee depicted in the old-world Chinese grandeur setting of Peony Garden with red, gold and earth color schemes, complemented with modern Chinese etched glass scenery and artifacts, heightened the experience of a nine course lauriat.

The traditional roast platter of chicken, barbeque pork, jelly fish, and century egg was itself a feast to begin with. The braised shark’s fin soup with bamboo, fish lips and sea cucumber soup and the tender Braised whole chicken with Chinese herb was a hearty introduction to the phenomenal deep-fried fish fillet with crispy oatmeal. The fish was crisp on the outside, a little chewy with the oatmeal and flaky tender to the bite. The fried shredded egg, angel-hair like strands strewn over the fillets added a savory crunch, another dimensional high to the one of a kind spectacular looking and tasting dish.

The deep fried prawn with Lee’s special prawn sauce, a sticky sweet and sour chili like blanket over the fresh plump tender prawns highlighted the seafood goodness that abounds in Peony Garden. Followed with a cold bean curd with minced pork, century egg and pickled lettuce, this palate calming calming dish, is a welcome respite after the taste buds have been keyed up by Lee’s exciting dishes.

The braised Chinese cabbage with carrot and radish vegetable, reflective of classical Chinese vegetable dishes, was crunchy and tender all in one bite. As in any lauriat, the last savory meal before dessert is always a starch. The al dente freshly made soya egg noodle with three kinds of meat was another touchdown meal to end the Malaysian- Cantonese presentation of Lee.

For dessert, a classic Cantonese favorite was served, deep-fried sesame balls with a chewy soft crisp crust of white sesame seeds encasing a rich paste of black sesame seeds.

“We are very excited and proud to present our newest selection of Malaysian-Cantonese fine cuisine. This menu revamp not only enhances our dining service, but it also gives us the excellent opportunity to present another dimension to our concept of grand Oriental dining,” says Christopher Park, Manila Pavilion Hotel’s general manager. Luther Lapuz, Manila Pavilion Hotel’s food and beverage director, also enthuses that the new menu is in keeping with the hotel’s aim for culinary excellence and delightful guest experience.

The new menu includes deep-fried taro suckling pig and roasted duck; dried scallop with winter melon and spinach in thick soup; baked chicken with shark’s fin and dried scallop in bread dough; Calmex abalone with Szechuan plum sauce; braised roasted duck and black mushroom with fried garlic in oyster sauce; stir-fried shredded beef with walnut and cashew nut served with vegetables; braised garoupa fish fillet with sate sauce and bean curd in claypot; deep-fried chinese pancake with ice cream, and cold mango tapioca.

Apart from the grand a la carte selection, the new menu also
boasts of Lee’s monthly special recommendations, four grand lauriat set menus, a live seafood selection, and 18 new sumptuous, homemade dim sum choices to choose from. Cuisine-worthy is the large aquarium housing different kinds of live seafood such as lapu-lapu, crabs,lobster, and eels, where dining guests can select the fresh catch of the day and request for a la minute Chinese gourmet creation — for it to be fried, sautéed or steamed.

For a taste of Peony Garden’s Oriental Grandeur dining, a 15
percent discount privilege on a la carte and a 10 percent discount privilege on set menus are offered daily until Aug. 31. On regular dining occasions outside of the special discount privileges offered, Gourmet Elite Plus loyalty card members get a 15 percent Peony Garden dining discount subject to the Gourmet Elite Programme’s terms and conditions.

Peony Garden is located at the third level of the Manila Pavilion Hotel and is open for lunch daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. For inquiries and reservations, call 526-1212 extension 2303 or visit www.waterfronthotels.com.ph. The Manila Pavilion Hotel is along UN Avenue corner Ma. Orosa St., Ermita Manila, Philippines.

Manila Pavilion Hotel is part of the Waterfront Group of Hotels and Casinos in the Philippines, considered as the largest, 100-percent Filipino-owned and operated hotel chain in the country.

Vietnam’s fresh, hot, divine flavors

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in Daily Tribune Life
July 7, 2011

What better way to celebrate July 12, 2011, the 35th anniversary of the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Vietnam, than by enjoying InterContinental Manila’s showcase of the best of Vietnamese food and fashion until July 14?

Café Jeepney hosts the Vietnamese food festival with lunch and dinner buffets, which include dishes prepared by chef Somnuk Attaworn of Charm Cham Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. The celebration is in collaboration with the Embassy of Vietnam in the Philippines headed by ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu.

Guest chef Somnuck Attaworn, a Thai national immersed in Vietnamese cuisine by profession and by affinity with his Vietnamese wife, claims that for him Vietnamese food is “one of the healthiest and most divine in the world.”

Hotel InterCon’s buffet of Vietnamese dishes represents each of the country’s regions, which are very diverse and distinct in flavor and taste. Fresh herbs, chilies and small bowls of condiments accompany most of the Vietnamese dishes. Hotel InterCon’s study of Vietnamese cuisine shows that in the North there is a preference for using more beef and black pepper to create heat, and for the central region, most dishes are spicy and colorful served in small quantities. In the southern region, the dishes incorporate fruits and hot chilies.

A different cycle of soups, hot and cold appetizers, seafood, poultry, beef and pork main dishes and desserts will be served each day of the festival. Before eating them, enjoy looking at the bright greens and oranges of the transparent rolls filled with pork and shrimp. The rice paper is chewy yet soft enough to the bite. The shrimp and pork combination is savory and fresh with the basil and mint leaves, the lettuce and chives tucked into the roll and cooked vermicelli noodles adding substance.

At the festival opening, Tran Thi Lan Hinh, spouse of ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu, regaled us with the delicacy of the flavors of Vietnamese food. Vietnamese cuisine is not too spicy, not too sweet, not too salty nor too sour. Balance, she says, is what every Vietnamese dish aims to achieve in the palate and the other senses.

The fresh rolls are, indeed, delicate, made of freshly made thin rice pancakes, which are filled with sweet shrimps, then rolled. I had one too many as I vote this my favorite cold appetizer of Vietnam — not a surprise to the Vietnamese in our table as fresh rolls were originally served only to royals in Vietnam.

Prior to this festival, my only favorite hot Vietnamese appetizer was the deep fried ground shrimp wrapped around a sugarcane stick. To my delight and surprise, I found a similar appetizer, the beef roll wrapped around a lemongrass stick. Beef tenderloin was spiced with Sriracha Vietnamese chili and oyster sauce, some sunflower and sesame oil and lemongrass, which made this appetizer hearty and filling. I had to resist eating more since there was still an array of salads I had my eye on.

The beef and raw banana salad reminded me of the heart of banana salads of Cebu, but with a twist of lemongrass and the staple of Vietnamese fresh herbs, basil and mint. The banana heart was cut crosswise across the grain instead of the shred of the Visayan version, and it came out crunchier
than usual.

Before I tried the mains, I tasted the Three-Taste Soup, with the three tastes of crab meat,pork and shrimp. This soup is very similar to the Chinese egg flower soup and a little more delicate as it is less salty.

Among the mains, the deep fried fish marinated with galangal was excellent. It was not too pungent nor overpowering, the young ginger was unmistakable yet flavoring the fish delicately. My other favorite, the stir-fried prawns with tamarind sauce, was tangy and sweetish, the sauce coating the plump shrimps generously.

Another familiar main was the deep-fried chicken wing with fish sauce. I grew up on fried chicken marinated with patis (fish sauce) and calamansi and the Vietnamese version was slightly saltier as I did not detect any citrus in the marinade.

Fruits were aplenty at the buffet and I was happy to end the meal with a refreshing round of honeydew, cantaloupe and mangoes. Café Jeepney’s lunch buffet is available Monday to Sunday, from 12 to 2:30 p.m., while its dinner buffet is available Monday to Saturday, from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Other international and local food favorites will be offered in addition to Vietnamese food.

Filipino food to the world

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
August 31, 2011

Upholding Philippine cuisine to a world that has taken to Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and even Korean foods has been an elusive quest to many a Filipino foodie. Filipino food boasts of a rich heritage of Malay, Indonesian, Spanish, Chinese and even American influences. With the passage of all these culinary influences, Filipino food has emerged with a quality all of its own and no Filipino – and foreigner
who has taken to Philippine cuisine by affinity or just for the sheer love of it – will ever displace their love for adobo (pork and chicken dish), sinigang (sour soup), pansit (noodle dish) and minatamis (sweets).

Even Filipinos who have traveled the world take pride in the sumptuous linamnam (savory) flavors that only Filipino food has, firm in the belief that Filipino food has a flavor profile that no other cuisine, no matter how sophisticated, possesses. To bring Filipino cuisine to the same forefront
that other Asian cuisines have attained remains a dream for many a Filipino foodie.

To this end, the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) collaborate on the new program Kulinarya Short Courses. Kulinarya is a component of the Cultural Tourism Program of the DoT, which is a tourism product that seeks to introduce and promote Philippine flavors to the local and international culinary scenes.

This program is part of CCA, Manila’s mission to promote Filipino cuisine in the Asian and International markets and in line with the Kulinarya Program of the Department of Tourism,” said chef Gigi Angkaw, Continuing Education Program manager of CCA, Manila. “The program is designed for domestic and international tourists who would like to experience and learn Filipino cuisine.”

The Kulinarya Short Courses will be conducted in CCA Farmer’s Market every second Friday of each month, for half day. There will be a minimum of five persons and a maximum of 15 participants per session.

“The program will start with a tour of Farmer’s Market for familiarization of Philippine ingredients. Next is a hands-on cooking demonstration where every participant will have his own work station guided by chef instructors.The fun part of food tasting and sumptuous lunch follows,” said Angkaw.

The Farmer’s Market Tour opens up a world of Filipino ingredients to the “market tourist” as the CCA chef walks the vegetable aisles to showcase native vegetables, highlighting provincial finds like pako (edible young fern), lato (grape seaweeds), luyang dilaw(turmeric), etc.

The seafood aisles is a sight to behold with shrimp and large crabs galore,fresh clams, mussels, bamboo shells and scallops, all live and kicking. A walk deeper into the middle of the market brings you to booths showcasing fresh tuna as big as sharks, laid on blocks of ice, ready to be cut for sashimi; fresh pink salmon heads headed for soup cauldrons; real maya-maya (red snapper)set apart to distinguish them from maya-maya wannabees; and mackarels of all sizes and shapes.

The market tour is not complete without passing through the meat aisles where offals are being offered for making Filipino delicacies. Sides of beef and pork hang on large hooks side by side with hamonado longganisa (sweet sausages) and garlic sausages.

The poultry section is another aisle altogether that features native free-range chickens. Getting a chicken deboned for a relleno (stuffed boneless chicken) is a service they provide at the Farmer’s Market, along with grinding spiced up meat and stuffing it in fresh casings.

And for a whiff of fresh aromas after a tour of raw meats, the fruit section displays the bounties of the tropical fruit farms of the Philippines: strawberries and passion fruits from Baguio; pomelo from Davao; durian from Cagayan de Oro; Quenne Anne pineapples from Ormoc; lansones from Camiguin; sweet mangoes from Zambales, Pangasinan and Cebu; and bananas from just about from everywhere.

Having a CCA chef explain the way through the market and revealing how to cook this and that ingredient as one passes through the market is a rich culinary treat that opens one’s eyes to the wonders of Philippine cuisine. Getting to cook alongside a CCA chef is another enriching culinary experience to widen one’s understanding of the staple dishes of Filipino cuisine.

Even an experienced kusinera(cook) has a thing or two to learn. Adobo is not just adobo in this short course. The adobo presented is the adobo that epitomizes the Filipino adobo as it goes through several processes of cooking – marinating, stewing then frying.

Noodle tricks are another thing to learn in the sotanghon guisado(sauteed rice noodles) demonstration. Also achieving the balance of saltiness and sourness in a sinigang is another knack that requires mastery. And making a sweet enough but not to sweet smooth maja con mais (corn pudding cum flan) is another culinary technique in the offing at the DOTCCA Kulinarya Short Courses.

The introduction of these Filipino favorites to the world and presenting them in a homestyle yet creative way opens up the culinary world to appreciate the wonders of Philippine cuisine.

For more information, call CCA, Manila at 426-4840/41; e-mail marketing@cca-manila.com; .

Swiss To The Taste

by Reggie Rullan
(Manila, Philippines)

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 00:00 Published in Life Style

The Swiss world, with its old world charm, speaks of centuries of tradition which still is true to its roots despite culinary evolutions that have taken place across the world. In celebration of 150 years of Philippine-Swiss relations, the Swiss Embassy, in cooperation with the The Peninsula Manila, celebrates Swiss cuisine from Aug. 2 to 11 with Samuel Linder, Swiss chef de cuisine of the Old Manila restaurant at The Peninsula Manila Hotel.
“Swissness: More Fun in the Philippines,” the10-day festival where Linder takes over the hotel’s kitchens, is an introduction to the varying cuisines of Switzerland’s cantons, the political jurisdictions that make up the country the same way the states or provinces do in other countries. The cantons are well represented in this food festival as Linder features national favorites that are famous all over Switzerland.

As an introduction to the Swiss festival, a three-course tasting menu was presented to the media recently in which two cheeses were offered. The Tete de Moine is a milky semi-soft, melt-in-your-mouth confection that is like a slightly sweet and salty dessert. It was shaved into flower-shaped cones using a cheese mill.

The other one, Sbrinz, served as shaved curls, is a vintage cheese that is slightly dry yet rich and sweet with age. More salty than sweet, its milkiness lingers on the palate like a savory dessert. These cheeses are only two of the over a hundred varieties made all over Switzerland, each canton having their specialties of their own.

The head of mission of the Embassy of Switzerland in Manila, Juerg Casserini, said that the quality of the milk in the Swiss mountains will always spell the difference between Swiss cheeses and those from other parts of Europe.

The first course was a smoked trout tartar and salmon trout confit. The trout was served in a savory coup of a scoop (It was literally a scoop). The smokiness of the trout broke through the creaminess and summed up in the palate in a symphony of salty, smoky, creamy and slightly tangy flavors. The piquant horseradish served alongside it made it an even subtler tasting fish mousse.

It was paired with a thin crisp rye that had a concave center to spoon the mousse and made for a stunning and quite puzzling presentation. I can’t say for sure how Linder shaped the crisp that way but I’m guessing he shaped a soft rye slice onto the top of a dome mold and baked the rye until crisp.

The salads greens of baby spinach tossed with a clear and light vinaigrette was made with clear tasting vinegar, accentuating the paper thin tangy red skinned baby radishes, which in turn was a refreshing textural counterpoint to the trout. The salad was also a fitting side to the excellent smoked trout sliced like a thick finger sized rectangular log. The freshness and quality of the smoked salmon were like orange opaque jewels to be savored as it hit one’s taste buds.

On the side, we had sourdough discs and brioche rolls which afforded a rich mouth feel experience with its moist warm dough texture. I must say that the luxurious carbohydrate intake was worth the extra calories. Fresh and well-baked bread can leave an indelible mark in a way that makes one decide to only eat bread of that caliber and foregoing other carbohydrate varieties of a lesser measure.

The main course is sous vide Swiss veal loin and braised veal breast, a duo of veal cuts prepared two ways. It was a showcase of the different textures and flavors of the meat. The medallion of the tenderloin cut was seared to create a crust around the edges leaving the center rare and succulent. The Highland malt jus was a concentrate of the meat’s drippings that provided the blanket of sweetness and saltiness to the medallion. The braised breast was akin to a beef belly with tender layers of meat and tendon and just the right amount of fat that swirled in the palate with the richness of a roast.

The mushroom chanterelles atop the braised breast added richness and luxury to the dish, the mushrooms being a rare treat as it is not available locally. The Swiss embassy and the Manila Peninsula took pains to import ingredients from Switzerland to make for a truly Swiss food festival.

The dessert, penougat, overthrew expectations of a nougat ice cream coupe as it came in the form of the classic childhood Swiss favorite — the milk chocolate Toblerone. The Peninsula in Tokyo, Japan, sent over a mold upon Linder’s request so he could fill it with nougat ice cream made with Swiss Alpine honey and dotted with the flesh of vanilla pods. The sweep of rhubarb jam on the dessert plate, the vegetable tart and sweet all at the same time, took the role of a sorbet that refreshed one to prepare for another cut of the nougat-filled Toblerone. All the elements of the dessert was a stunning showcase of the sweet treats from Switzerland.

Diners may also enjoy the famous fondue, French in origin, where potato and bread cubes are dipped into melted cheese. Rösti is similar to hash browns, another potato staple, the Swiss being known for their fondness for the root vegetable. Papet vaudois is a mash of leeks and potatoes, usually served with saucisse au chou (sausage).

The alplermagronen, German in origin, uses ingredients that herdsmen had at their disposal in their alpine cottages, usually macaroni, potatoes, onions, pieces of bacon and melted cheese.

From Italy, the pizzoccheri is an interesting fiber rich variation of the tagliatelle. It is made of buckwheat flour and cooked with greens and cubed potatoes. Polenta, a corn meal dish, is also now a staple dish in Switzerland.

The Escolta Restaurant at the The Peninsula Manila will also feature Swiss dishes with lunch and dinner buffet selections on Monday to Saturday and a magnificent Sunday brunch on August 5 with a schueblig eating contest as one of the festival highlights.

During the contest, 10 contestants will vie for an overnight stay at the The Peninsula Manila and a breakfast buffet at Escolta. The winner’s body weight difference before and after the contest will equal a donation from The Peninsula Manila to a charity.

Guests who dine in Old Manila and Escolta may win the grand prize of a roundtrip ticket for two to Zurich courtesy of Swiss International Airlines and a two night stay at the Baur Au Lac Hotel in Zurich and the Lausanne Palace and Spa in Lausanne. Other prizes at stake are Victorinox Swiss Army watches and a Victorinox Swiss Army knife, choice wines from Werdenberg International Coporation, and jewelry from Hans Brumann.

On exhibit throughout the festival at the third floor gallery is Filipino artist Manuel Baldemor’s views on Switzerland, “Timeless: Swiss Landscapes.” This collection was the result of his residency in Basel, Switzerland, in 1994, where he developed a special appreciation and affection for Switzerland.

For more Swiss treats, visit The Peninsula Manila at (632) 887-2888 or eMail

Four countries, one table: An Asian culinary journey

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Four countries, one table: An Asian culinary journey

Friday, 27 July 2012 00:00

A culinary adventure in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia all in one sitting is what the Marriot Manila’s “Flavors of Asia” is all about. Until the end of July, four chefs from different hotel properties are highlighting their culinary heritage at the Marriot Cafe buffet, each chef having his own station to showcase his country’s best cuisine.

Thailand

Thai chef Thanathorn Krobsuay from the JW Marriott Bangkok brings with him his classic specialties, tom yum goong mae nang, one of the best soups of its kind in the metro — the sweet, spicy, salty and sour broth a perfect balance of flavors with the fresh galangal and kaffir lime leaves.
He brings with him his new menu with items such as deep-fried sea bass with chili sauce, sautéed squid with pineapple and cucumber, and braised beef spiced with turmeric and coconut.

Krobsuay’s chicken in green curry with basil leaves is a testament to what a skilled chef can do with very few and very simple ingredients. The coconut sauce is heady as it is packed with the flavors of the kaffir leaves, and the richness of the sauce is the perfect foil for the eggplant slight bitterness.

The headiness and richness of the coconut cream counterweigh the judicious use of ginger and curry. The cubed tender chicken absorbs the coconut sauce and the ginger flavor. This is so good I cannot forego eating it with my nemesis, the innocent white plump rice.

Malaysia

Chef Ruhizad Muri hails from the Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel, Malaysia. Nyonya cuisine blends galangal, turmeric, ginger roots, pandan, lime, laksa leaves, lemon, lime, tamarind and green mango with shrimp paste and chilies to create a distinct Malayan flavor profile that stands out from the rest of Asia although still redolent of its culinary influences.

The grilled shrimp, lamb, beef, chicken and pork are made by Muri with authentic heat. Yet the spiciness is tempered by the sweetness and sourness of the tamarind with the crunch of ground peanuts adding texture and earthiness to the strong flavors.

Vietnam

Chef Phan Thien Hoa, a native of Ho Chi Minh City, is the chef de partie of the Renaissance Riverside Saigon. His Vietnamese spring rolls, goi cuon, is chewy soft transluscent rice wrappers filled with lettuce, mint, cilantro, julienned carrots, shrimps, tofu, chicken and beef.

The roll is refreshing and light and Hoa’s dipping sauce made with lime juice, fish sauce, a dash of sugar and garlic chili is addictive. Stopping myself from picking up one roll after another is not easy as I justify it with the thought that the roll is mostly made of the fiber of vegetables.

Indonesia

Indonesian-Javanese-born junior sous chef Dadang Wahyudi of JW Marriot Jakarta is masters the transformation of a few ingredients into stellar dishes. His pan-fried sea bass fillets lay on a platter with a turmeric ginger sauce and sauteed slivers of red bell peppers and onion. At a glance it looks like any other elegantly plated fish dish. I automatically reach for it first as fish is my preferred choice of protein while on my perpetual diet.

The subtle flavors of the turmeric, lemon, chili, shallots and ginger roll around my palate as the tender sweet fish flakes to the bite. My eyes widen as I take the flavors in and commend the set of skills that Wahyudi applied to make this excellent fish dish. Fish of this calibre deserves a special mention as it is not an everyday dining experience one can claim to have even in the most expensive of restaurants in the city.

Another Indonesian dish with a flavor profile that confounds me is the beef stew that seems like a cross between a rendang and a red curry. The meat has absorbed all the sauce’s spices from the long, slow cooking, and the richness of the dish is another diet breaker as the white rice begs to be paired with it.

Wahyudi also prepares a Balinese favorite, the bebek betutu klungkung, a duck dish that has a pungent sauce offsetting the gaminess of the crisp, fried duck fillets. It is a new take on the usual roasted duck platter and a welcome variation from the Oriental staple.

For drinks, Thailand’s lemongrass Juice, Vietnam’s nuoc chanh (lime and mint juice), Malaysia’s famous teh tarik (milk tea), and the most surprising Indonesia’s jus apolkat, an avocado chocolate drink, are all refreshing and give just reprieve to the spicy dishes.

Dessert offerings feature a sweet from the countries of said chefs. Whether it be Thai egg custard with pumpkin, sweet yet healthy and a visual treat; classic sticky rice with ripe mangoes; refreshing pandan leaf jelly; or comfort food desserts banana cake or banana in sweet coconut milk, one will find the Asian sweet that matches the craving for a sweet ending.

For inquiries or reservations, call Marriott Café at 988-9999.

Published in Life Style