From Sonny Lua at Asiong’s in Cavite City: Huevos de Pescao in Tinta de Choko), fish eggs in squid ink, or bottarga al nero. Eat it on toast and you’ll feel like the Tsar. Before the revolutionaries showed up. Unfortunately it’s available only at Asiong’s in Cavite City (Sonny, you really need an outlet in Metro Manila). We get our supply from Ige Ramos, who organizes food tours to Cavite. If you want to join a food tour and try Cavite delicacies like quesillo and pansit pusit, send Ige a personal message on his Facebook page.
Chef Chris Locher of My Kitchen in Paco, Manila has not only overcome his recent health issue, he’s opened an excellent new restaurant on Jupiter in Makati. Last week Stella organized a dinner for six hard-boiled media practitioners who know that when Stella says, “You have to try this restaurant,” the only acceptable response is, “Sure!” It’s like the part in the first Terminator where the T-800 has laid waste to a club and Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor, “Come with me if you want to live.” You just go.
The restaurant is called Recess, and Chef Chris describes its menu as “eclectic comfort food”. To us, all food is comfort food, not eating food being a prime source of discomfort.
Chef Chris is probably best known for his invention of the thin pizza that you eat in strips with alfalfa sprouts and arugula rolled up in them—a genius way of making people like us eat our vegetables. He can’t use the name of his creation because it belongs to the restaurant he used to work with. At Recess, this dish is called The Original. This being the Philippines, we prefer D’Original.
The Original comes in a dozen varieties, all named after elements you can see on the ceiling designed as a stylized periodic table. We tried three of the all-day breakfast specials: the CoBe—sauteed corned beef, egg, caramelized onions and potatoes with fresh marjoram; the PoTo—finely-sliced pork tocino, red onions and salted egg; and our favorite, the TiTo—tinapang bangus bits, tomatoes, itlog na pula and fresh red onions.
We were only going to pretend to eat our greens, but it had been a sweltering day and the Recess Salad of mixed greens, grapes, apples, oranges, cherry tomatoes in a grapeseed oil dressing with caramelized almonds was so refreshing.
In fact we even tried another salad: the J50 with romaine hearts in gorgonzola, pears, a 7-minute boiled egg, and bacon. Bacon makes everything better. To think that as we trudged towards Recess on that hot night, we were telling ourselves that it was too hot to eat. We were wrong hahahaha.
At this point we could’ve ended the meal and gone home happy, but there was more. Risotto orbs—crispy fried risotto balls with two cheeses, chorizo and herbs.
A juicy tuna steak with chimichuri sauce.
The very tender Carolina-style barbecued mustard lamb ribs. Good thing there were six of us sharing the dishes, or we might’ve eaten ourselves into a food coma. The portions are good for sharing, and by “sharing” we mean “can feed two people who are not on a diet or some other deprivation plan.”
If we’d been responsible adults, we probably would’ve declined dessert. Luckily, we are not. There was lemon cheesecake,
a decadent chocolate cake that went beyond decadent,
and a light, delectable Pavlova. Next to it you see our glass—we finished most of a bottle of Chardonnay and were useless for the rest of the evening. Useless, but happy.
A meal for two consisting of one mini-size The Original, one salad, one lamb ribs and one dessert comes to about Php550 per person. With a glass of wine, add Php200. For the whole shebang described above, probably Php1,500+ per person.
Recess by Chef Chris is at 50 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati, between Paseo de Roxas and Makati Avenue. Visit their Facebook page. For reservations, call (02) 899 1818.
Will this be the supranational anthem, then?
James and Boboy were having lunch with friends in Binondo, at a noodle place called Lan Zhou La Mien. We took advantage of the comparatively light (but not by much, since everyone stayed in town apparently, and Edsa was being reblocked) long weekend traffic to drive to Chinatown.
Even with Ricky’s navigational skills (can moonlight as a taxi driver) and Noel’s GPS-reading abilities, Binondo is a maze and we stopped to ask for directions.
“Deretso, tapos kaliwa sa unang kanto, kaliwa ulit. Yung pula, siguradong makikita nyo.” Straight ahead, then left, then left. It’s red, you can’t miss it.
We had not gone 5 meters when we realized that every sign in Chinatown is red.
“Easier if he’d said yung hindi pula,” Noel pointed out.
So we asked another guy who was watching cars.
“Deretso lang, yung pula na sikat.”
By this time we were close to a hysterical giggling fit.
“What does Lan Zhou La Mien mean?” Ricky asked.
“Yung pula na sikat,” Noel translated.
Luckily we were spotted by James.
La Mien is deservedly famous for its hand-pulled noodles, which have the best texture of any noodles we’ve tried lately. Along with the Beef La Mien and the excellent steamed kuchay dumplings, the waiter brought a pair of scissors in a bowl of hot water. These scissors are not for warding off diners hovering by your table urging you to leave (It’s a small place). They are for cutting the noodles, which are very long. We stabbed at our bowls a few times, and were ready to eat.
The Beef La Mien is wonderful: delicately-flavored yet filling. We could only finish half the bowl before throwing down our chopsticks in surrender. Ricky recommends eating the la mien as quickly as possible because the noodles absorb the broth and expand.
Subtle Chinese, and only Php120.
Of course no trip to Binondo is complete without a visit to the Temple of Hopia, Salazar, winner of our Hopia Challenge.
Lan Zhou La Mien is on 818 Benavidez Street in Binondo, Manila.