Monday, November 26, 2012

Bi-Won: Cross Cultural Dining Experience

Bi-Won is Korean for Secret Garden. No, it's not another Koreanovela that our Pinoy youth especially young girls are fond of. It's an authentic Korean restaurant located along EDSA corner P. Celle street not far from the intersection(Pasay Rotonda). They have been in operation for ten years so don't be fooled if the place looked secluded. If our young Pinays are tuned in to the Korean soap operas, we might as well appreciate their culture starting with their dishes.

Koreans are much closer to us in terms of proximity not because they are our Asian neighbors but also most of the Korean students are studying here in the Philippines. Our host, Ms. Cristina Hong told us that most Korean celebrities who went in the Philippines knows Bi-Won and dines there. Even the President dined there one time. Ms. Hong oriented us about Korean dishes that we are going to have for lunch.
Burner stove

We were led to one of their private dining area. Each room has two tables and has two burner stoves each. We were given utensils for each of us. Ms. Hong explained to us that Koreans always have spoon for the rice and chopsticks in an average meal. Not just any chopsticks. Chopsticks made of metal. Ms. Hong explained that metal utensils that was made from either gold or silver was used by Korean royalty.

For starters, we were given small servings of food that we mistook for appetizers. Ms. Hong explained that Koreans don't have appetizers but these food is eaten with the main dishes. Unlike some establishments that serves Korean food, the kimchi is prepared fresh every day.
Chef Lee and Ms. Cristina Hong

Our first taste test was the Seafood Pancake. It is served in a round serving plate. It is like an omellete but on a bigger serving. We were introduced to their Korean chef, Mr. Lee, before trying out the Bulgogi. I like how the Bulgogi was served. They put it in the stove. You might think that the Bulgogi is greasy but it's not. While heating, it drains the excess oil from the beef.
Grilling the meat

What I just found out about Korean food is that they also grill their meat. We just put the slices of meat in the stove and get it whenever we like. Their Korean noodle dish, Japchae is one of my favorites. It is like vermicelli cooked like our local pansit.

There are more of Korean dishes we haven't tried but I am sure it will be just as good. Their dishes costs around at around 300 Pesos per order. Bi Won Korean Restaurant is at the corner of P. Celle street along EDSA and it's not far from Taft avenue. If you have Korean classmates here in the city, please do tell them about Bi Won. We Filipinos can dine there too. Most of the staff are Filipinos too.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jelly-G is now in 500 Shaw Zentrum

During the opening of 500 Shaw Zentrum to the public, I saw my contact drinking milk tea with a familiar look. It also has a familiar scent. Then, in the ground level of the mall, I discovered that one of the food I blogged about has a new branch in the newly opened mall.

I was first introduced to Jelly-G milk teas after watching a movie in Glorietta, Makati. All the flavors are using natural ingredients and not artificial flavored powder. It was also my first to try a drink with grass jelly in it.

500 Shaw Zentrum is unlike any mall. Since it is very limited in capacity, it is also very selective when it comes to food establishments. 500 Shaw Zentrum has a child-friendly policy and requires their tenants to have the same policy especially in food establishments. They prefer food establishments that provides a healthy selections to the customers.

I am sure Jelly-G can conform with the policy of 500 Shaw Zentrum. This is also the first unit space that Jelly -G had since their outlets are mostly kiosks. Since it is their opening day, I bought myself a drink before leaving.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Baja Mexican Cantina: Appetizers

What do we Filipinos and Mexicans have in common? We are both converted to Christianity by our colonizers, the Spaniards. Both of us are rich in cultural heritage. We also have similarities in pop cultures. Both respective cultures loves soap operas. Even their soaps were dubbed in Tagalog and got televised locally.
Mexican restaurants are rare here in the Philippines and thus enter Baja Mexican Cantina. It opened to public way back in 2009 in its first and only branch is in Greenbelt 3. The idea to open up a Mexican restaurant manifested when co-owner Art Mendoza moved in the Philippines from California and started looking for any Mexican restaurant in the Metro. To his frustration, he ended up cooking tacos and burritos for himself.

He let his friends tried his own Mexican cooking and they were able to conceptualized and agreed that to start their own Mexican restaurant and Baja Mexican Cantina was born. Cristine Hong, one of the co-owners that hosted our food tasting, shares that Mexican food became her favorite since she tried Art's cooking.
Nancho Supreme

For appetizers, I first tried their Nancho Supreme. It is made up the usual  corn tortilla chips, guacamole and cheese, onions, tomatoes but I what I find unique in flavor was the sour cream which I never tasted in most nanchos I had before. Choices of serving the Nacho Supreme can be either regular, at 155 Pesos or Large at 215 Pesos.
Carne Asada Fries

The next appetizer I got to try was the Carne Asada Fries. It has the same list of toppings as the Nanchos. The Regular serving cost 195 Pesos and the Large serving cost 275 Pesos.
Cheese Quezadilla

Another suggestion for the appetizers are the Quesadillas. You have four variations to choose from. There's the Cheese Quezadilla, Chicken Quezadilla and its Spicy Chicken variation, and the Steak Quesadilla. For now, I got to try their Cheese Quezadilla because we were already going to try the main course. The Cheese Quesadilla is served with corn tortilla chips and Baja's original salsa sauce and it costs only 175 Pesos.

Don't be fooled how the appetizers is served, it may only be appetizers but it is quite a mouthful and just as mouthwatering. These appetizers are just for starters. The main course will surely be a dining challenge which I will feature in my next post. Baja Mexican Cantina is located on the third floor of Greenbelt 3 in Makati. For delivery, just dial 87878. They can also deliver at the cinemas nearby. Just place an order and give them the the exact cinema and time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Something Old and Something New at Chateau 1771

In-the-know food players understand that the key for loyal patrons to keep coming back are the new food offerings that regularly evolve—it’s like a nurturing long term relationship that will keep both parties constantly excited. While this is true, many will agree that there’s also always something charming about the old that deserves a big come back.

Like Chateau 1771, it has managed to keep up with a reputation of serving the finest No Borders Cuisine since the 80’s back when it was still in its original Malate home.  Evoking the feel-good vibe of exquisite flavors of Swiss, Italian, and French, Chateau 1771 was able to make a winning concoction that kept foodies linger over the past two decades.

Now residing in its posh and upscale Greenbelt address, Chateau 1771 remained on top-of-mind for those who wish to experience only the finest in dining. Yes, Chateau 1771 is for people who understand that food is a crucial part of planning in every occasion that deserves a celebration. But of course, those who wish to make an ordinary day transform into something special, starting with gourmet food is the way to go. So before the year comes to a close and in preparation for Chateau's 25th year anniversary next year, Executive Chef Vicky Rose Pacheco rounds out the quarter with a new batch of dishes brining back old flavors, which will surely change the way a gourmet food is defined. Here’s a sample degustation menu that possess the gloss of luxury, an experience that’s packed with allure from all angles.

For starter, one shouldn’t miss the salmon pillows (P300 net, 2 pieces) showcasing salmon in whole new different light: bits of salmon flakes encased in golden puff pastry over mango cream sauce and basil flakes, this is a revival from the old menu wherein a more high tech way of baking it makes the waiting time shorter. Light, soft, and airy, the combination makes the texture exciting while salmon and mango makes a refreshing, palate-tickling sensation. 

There’s no denying that oyster almost tops the rank of everyone’s favorite shellfish which even Chateau Group of Restaurants CEO Ricky Guttierez couldn’t resist. There are many ways to dress these iconic shells, but Executive Chef Vicky’s version is arguably the best, highlighting the bivalves at their zenith while the soft and creamy toppings never overwhelm the briny juiciness retained inside. And at Chateau 1771, the delicate sweetness of the fresh oysters were marked as an oyster-lovers’ paradise —light quality yet filled with ordinary flavors made extraordinary from the freshly harvested oysters of Aklan, baked with butter flavored with shallots, worcestershire sauce and lemon.

Executive Chef Vicky not only was able to make a name for Chateau 1771’s all-time favorite pasta chorizo (P490) since 1988, but this time, with whole wheat spaghetti as a choice. This is definitely a stroke of a genius, holding its own as the star in this simple and healthy pasta perfection.

When doing fish for a crowd, Executive Chef Vicky found out that poaching is the best way in cooking its delicate meat, thus the birth of olive-oil poached halibut (P1070). A foolproof choice for something light and healthy, the tender halibut fillet is poached in olive oil and garlic, with precious spices such as bay leaf, thyme, shallots, and lemon zest producing a distinct aroma, finished off with tomato-orange marmalade for a light kick of citrus.  

Next comes another fish specialty, a flavorful baked ocean trout (P630), oven-baked with lemon slices and scattered with fresh thyme leaves, pecans, capers, drizzled with healthy extra virgin olive oil is a classic and clean way to enjoy fish. What’s interesting with the exotic ocean trout is its firm and thick-fleshed meat, made tasty by the fresh waters of Australia. It is always mistaken as salmon although of the same family.

Another treasured and unique dish, vanilla brick spring chicken (P660 net), is a certified organic whole spring chicken, butterflied and deboned, with a spread of vanilla bean dots, butter and garlic grilled under a brick.  While cooking under a brick slab is a technique that may seem primitive, the procedure proved to be the best way of creating a tasty and crisp texture of the skin and also makes the meat moist and tender. Plus, the vanilla bean when smeared on the skin enlivens its delicate taste and flavor, especially when paired with cauliflower two-cheese gratin (P280 net).
Vanilla Brick Chicken

Simmering pork with milk and a generous handful of herbs such as sage results in very tender and rustic yet full-flavored meat with rich, silky juices.  That’s why the milk braised pork shoulder (P450) is the perfect foil for either lunch or dinner  boasting an old-Italian technique of cooking--with one bite enough to understand why it’s often called one of Chateau 1771’s great dishes.

Another meat dish that’s worth saving up the space for is the grilled lamb cutlet (P1750). Lamb is the least of the meat that most Filipinos prefer, but Chef Vicky rejects the notion. Grilled to perfection and seasoned with a mint-walnut pesto, it’s added with roasted capsicum sauce, grilled bell peppers and marble potato salad—a unique way of sealing the flavors without the disheartening “gamey” taste of lamb which most people would shy away from. Most diners wouldn’t even thinking about spreading over the lamb with some mint jelly which makes the dish a certified big winner among Chef Vicky’s creations. 

Dessert is another work of masterpiece at Chateau 1771 not only for its superior taste and quality, but for every item’s unique homespun charm, just like the Valrhona chocolate ganache tart (P250net). Chef Vicky capitalized on the bittersweet flavor of 70% Valrhona chocolate, a quality French brand which has a deep, well-rounded, flavor and a silkier texture when mixed with French cream making this dessert quite addicting.

Chef Vicky swears by the fact that some of the tastiest, most irresistible dishes are not only about originality, nuance, and verve—most of the time, the old ones have become classics and deserves a rightful place in the new menu. So whether you’re looking for everyday gourmet food or simply has an appetite for fine food, whether you’re treating yourself or somebody else, Chateau 1771 definitely got you covered.