Straying away from wine for one function, the International Wine and Food Society Philippines Branch recently had a sake-paired Omakase dinner at Fukudaya. Omakase means chef’s choice so we left it all up to the chef to construct the menu and make the appropriate sake pairings. All the ingredients were flown in from Japan, and in fact, even the chef, Yoichi Yoshimura, flew in from Japan to orchestrate the dinner. Also instrumental in putting it all together was Mr. Zenji Watanabe who acts as a liaison for Japanese businesses wanting to establish themselves in the Philippines.
Despite rather challenging weather conditions, The Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Degustateurs of the Chaine des Rotisseurs held its July event at the newly opened Gallery by Chele. Formerly Vask, the Gallery has combined the outlets of Vask into a larger and more conventional restaurant space occupying the former Champagne lounge and old Gallery.
Chef Chele Gonzalez still runs the place and his love for the Philippines and his insistence on using local ingredients is very much evident in the menu.
Although it was a dinner paired with wine, the welcome drink was a refreshing, but quite substantial, mango and guava mojito.
And… we’re back! My apologies for the prolonged absence. Due to some technical difficulties, we’ve had to limit ourselves to the occasional post on our Facebook Page. It seems we’ve been able to overcome the problems and so, hopefully, we can resume posting more lengthy articles on the blog.
A few weeks back, I was invited to take a look at the wine collection of the latest mega casino to open in the city – Okada Manila. I had heard about the fabulous Okada wine collection as I was myself one of the suppliers to them for their “casual” wine list. I could scarcely believe the stories I heard of hundreds of bottles of rare wines making their way to Manila to stock the cellar of the casino so, of course, I accepted the invitation.
Two weeks ago I got the opportunity to join an event of the Underground Supper Club. This is a group that does pop-up dinners every now and then. For this particular event, we were treated to a dinner by Chef Miko Calo who made a career working for various Joel Robuchon outlets after culinary school in France. Her last posting was as Junior sous-chef at Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Singapore. She is, however, back in the Philippines and intends to open her own place here. In the meantime, she does the occasional pop-up.
This dinner was done at Bakere which is on Brixton St. in Kapitolyo, Pasig and is owned by RJ Galang, Chef Miko’s cousin, and the organizer of the Underground Supper Club.
I rarely venture to the MOA area as I find the traffic unbearable. I do make an annual pilgrimage there because of the Book Fair at SMX which happened recently. This event is now so humungous that it takes an hour lining up just to get inside SMX. Taking advantage of being in the area, we decided to check out S Maison and the dining options there. After a quick look around the mall, we zeroed in on Epilogue which has a Sunday Roast promo for P 599.00++. Not one to pass up a bargain, we decided to try it out.
Epilogue bill itself a Japanese European Fine Bistro. Japanese, because the chefs are Japanese, and European because the the food is decidedly French/Italian with some Japanese touches here and there. The Japanese chefs bring the concept of Kodawari or meticulousness to their craft, and in shows in the dishes they create.
The restaurant itself is quite stunning. The front has a showcase of cakes and pastries with a long bar to the right. The interiors may seem subdued, but look up at the ceiling and it’s a riot of colors in what looks like stained glass. There’s also an open kitchen where you can see all the action taking place.
I recently learned that Old Manila, the Manila Peninsula’s flagship restaurant, was helmed by a young Filipino chef. I can’ even remember a time when the major dining outlet of a hotel here was headed by a Filipino, so I thought it would be good to investigate. I booked dinner for myself and Jocel and we had an outstanding meal at a not too extravagant price (for a 5 star hotel, that is).
Old Manila is now headed by Chef Allan Briones who worked for some years under the original Bad Boy Chef Marco Pierre White. Upon returning to the Philippines, Chef Allan first worked at the Peninsula’s Banqueting department until an opening at Old Manila gave him the opportunity to do his real passion which is fine dining. The reworked menu now has about half his creations while retaining half of the usual standards (mostly grilled items). He intends to expand his influence by putting more of his creations on the menu.
Since we wanted to get a sense of Chef Allan’s cooking, we went whole hog and ordered appetizer, soup, main course, and dessert.
To start us off, we had a mildly-flavored olive oil panna cotta.
We took another trip to Tokyo in June, this time to visit a couple of museums and see my niece Gita who is taking a term at Shizuoka University. We arrived to a rather wet Tokyo but fortunately, the next day was clear so we were able to go to Shinjuku to visit the small but highly recommended Samurai Museum.
Every Independence Day, for the last couple of years, we try to make our way to some historical sites around the city. We’ve been to Manila a couple of times, of course, but we never made it to the National Museum. This time, we made a conscious effort to go.
It was a breeze getting there; taking only about 30 minutes to get from Pasig to Manila. I was a bit wary of the parking situation, but we were able to get a slot at the driveway to the museum without too much trouble. I was quite happy to have made it here finally. The last time I was here, I was probably in Grade School!
Last Saturday, we had a chance to try one of the latest Japanese restaurants making a buzz, Kyo-to Kaiseki restaurant in Legazpi Village, Makati. There is no English signage at the entrance, just a small sign with the restaurant’s name in Japanese, so it might be a little challenging to find. But the unmistakably Japanese entrance by the Prudential Guarantee signs near the Legazpi Street end of Palanca St. tells you you’ve found it.
I was invited last Tuesday to a wine dinner featuring the wines of Chateau Beychevelle at Raging Bull in Shangri-La at the Fort. It’s been years since I’ve had Beychevelle so it was a good chance for me to get reacquainted with the wine.
The evening started with some cocktails featuring the Chateau’s generic Bordeaux blanc called Grand Bateau. We were served the 2014 which was a charming, refreshing white with hints of ripe yellow tropical fruit. Just the thing for cocktail parties. There was a trivia question about the grapes in the wine and it was answered by Shangri-La Makati Sommelier Patrick Tabhan, who recently won the first Philippine Sommelier competition. For answering correctly, he won a magnum of Grand Bateau Blanc.