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20 June 2018

TRB Forbidden City, a break from Chinese Cuisine in Beijing

Since there are no existing lists from The Michelin Guide nor from The World's 50 Best Restaurants about the best rated food finds and restaurants in Beijing, China, I decided to check out TripAdvisor, which has a list of the best restaurants in Beijing, for my recent trip.

One restaurant which stood out is the TRB, which has a spot at #7 (TRB Hutong) and #10 (TRB Forbidden City). Also, after hearing good reviews from my colleagues following their experience at Hulu (a new addition to the growing brands of the TRB Group in China), I decided to try out TRB Forbidden City.

A few meters off the Donghuamen (东华门) or the East gate of the Forbidden City, you will find TRB Forbidden City, which is the second restaurant branch of TRB Hospitality Group, "offering contemporary and creative European cuisine in the majestic shadow of the adjacent Forbidden City."

"One can expect a thoroughly regal culinary affair here, from the exquisitely prepared gastronomy to one of the largest wine selections in the city, coupled with our gracious and warm hospitality, the dining experience here is unmistakably befitting to the neighboring palace."

From start to finish, I can only say good things about the restaurant, and attest to their core value of their dedication to providing outstanding hospitality to each and every guest.

I went around a little past 2 in the afternoon, and was offered the Brunch Menu (which is offered until 3pm). They were very responsive to my needs. Their Brunch Menu for that day only offers the 5-course meal, but they allowed me to just take a 3-course meal as I was not very hungry.

They started me off with a complimentary glass of bubbles, and 3 kinds of fresh homemade breads (which I swear was very good as it is, or accompanied with their homemade jams).

My appetizer was the Salmon / Caviar / Grapefruit (三文鱼 / 鱼子酱 / 葡萄柚), followed by my main course, Wagyu Beef (80g) / Asparagus / Pesto / Truffle (和牛(80 克 / 160 克)/ 芦笋 / 青酱 / 松露), and for my dessert the Hazelnut / Mascarpone / Blood Orange (榛子 / 马斯卡彭 / 血橙).

My total damage was RMB228 or Php1,824 (with a RMB 30 service charge). This was definitely a culinary experience I was looking for and worth my time and money. I would definitely want to try their other dishes and restaurants when I get the time to visit again.

TRB Forbidden City
Opening Hours:
Lunch: 11:30-14:30 (Mon-Fri)/ Brunch: 11:30-15:00 (Sat-Sun)
Dinner: 17:30-22:00 (Mon-Sun)
Address: No.95 Donghuamen, Dongcheng District, Beijing China 北京市东城区东华门大街95号 Tel: +8610 6401 6676

07 June 2018

Islas Pinas, Filipino Food and Heritage Village, at DoubleDragon Plaza

Yesterday, we were able to sample the "Best of the Philippines," at the newly opened Islas Pinas in DoubleDragon Plaza at DD Meridian Park in the Bay Area. Islas Pinas, an indoor food and heritage village, is the newest tourism destination in Metro Manila featuring Filipino food all over the country, and distinct cultural, heritage, and tourist sites recreated in a 2,500 square meter space that can seat up to 700 persons.

Islas Pinas is a collaboration between the DoubleDragon Group, and Chef Margarita Forés, Asia’s Best Female Chef of 2016, whose mission is to bring Filipino cuisine to global prominence. Islas Pinas is a project that aims to inspire love for the Philippines and to cultivate patriotism by showcasing the country’s beautiful sites and diverse regional cuisines

With Asia's Best Female Chef for 2016, Ms. Margarita Fores

SINAG, the Tagalog word for ‘ray of light’ offers all-day Filipino breakfast favorites like our TAPSILOG (TAPa – salted beef, SInangag – fried rice and ItLOG – fried egg) and Batchoy, an Ilonggo noodle soup with pork offal, crushed pork cracklings and beef loin.

Sisig with rice (Php175.00) Sisig is a Filipino Kapampangan dish made from part of the pig head & liver, usually seasoned with calamansi & chili

ALAMAT or legend, tells the story of the different regions of the Philippines through its signature dishes. BILAO is coined after the woven winnowing basket where comfort snacks like pansit (fried noodles) and puto (rice cakes) are usually served, while PANADERYA offers neighborhood bakery favorites such pan de sal and kalihim. TUSOK-TUSOK, on the other hand, offers urban street food finds like barbecue on stick, isaw (grilled chicken intestine) and kwek-kwek (fried quail eggs).

Isaw, Chicken Feet, Pork BBQ, Kwek-kwek, Fish Ball / Squid Ball, Kikiam, are some of the items you'll find at Tusok-Tusok.

PANULAK or beverage is where the samalamig (cold drinks with different flavors) will be available. Lastly, PAMPANG or shore will allow guests to enjoy chosen fresh catch cooked to their preference. 

Balangay | Photo by Ferds Moncawe
Can you guess the vegetables in the popular "Bahay Kubo" song?
Balot and Penoy (unfertilized duck egg), a popular Filipino street-food by the streets of Intramuros

Islas Pinas is located at DoubleDragon Plaza, DD Meridian Park, corners EDSA Extension and Macapagal Avenue, Bay Area, Pasay City, Metro Manila. It opens its doors to the public this June 8, 2018.

06 May 2018

Burnt Ends Singapore, One of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants

People close to me know that when I am travelling, I really do my research and keep an eye out for the best restaurants and food in the destination I go to. So when an opportunity to go to Singapore came, I did not leave without trying one of the best in town -- Burnt Ends.

Recently ranked No. 12 on Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2018 (climbing up from its No. 14 rank in 2017), Burnt Ends by Dave Pynt, who also won the Chefs' Choice Award in 2017, the ultimate accolade voted for by his peers, is definitely a must visit when in Singapore -- that is, if you are well prepared, or if you are lucky enough to score a reservation.

TIP: If you are trying to score a reservation, try to reserve two months or three months in advance (that's as far out as they accept reservations). But if you do not have that luxury of time, try heading there before everyone else does or just after the reserved seatings at 12:00nn and 12:30pm for lunch, or 06:00pm and 06:30pm for dinner, line up, and you might just get lucky at the bar seats. Look for Sheena, who was so helpful to us in my case.

The menu varies day to day, depending on the fresh produce and meats they get. They have their staples and best-sellers, like the Burnt Ends' Sangar, but you can also choose the "Chef's Select," where the chef asks your dietary requirements, special requests, how hungry you are, and creates a 5-8 course menu tasting just for you, which costs around SGD150++ to SGD250++ (Php6,000++ to Php10,000++)

For starters, we ordered the Jamaican Chicken and Lime (SGD 10 or Php 400) and the Eggplant and Miso (SGD 12 or Php 480). The chicken was packed with flavors, while the eggplant was crunchy on the outside because of the breading but smooth and tasted perfectly with its natural flavors and umami, and the miso paste. 

The Burnt Ends' Sanger (SGD 20 or Php 800) is one of the must-tries. It is made of pulled pork shoulder, cole slaw, chipotle aoile, and brioche buns. The dish is just a meat lover's perfect pulled pork heaven, which can be shared by two, or eaten alone (depending on your hunger lever). But I suggest you save some space for the main star - the steak.

The star of the night was, of course, the steak. We got the Blackmore's Cube Roll (SGD 60 per 100g), with the standard cut of our order to be around 250g. The steak was medium rare, tender, and very tasty. It was definitely worth it! Hands down one of the best dinners I have ever had in a long time. 

My cousin, Christine, and I, definitely had a wonderful first time at Burnt Ends. Our seats could have been better, if only we were able to reserve. Unfortunately, there were no seats available when we tried reserving at least a month in advance. Speaking of advance, advancing 2 notches above from last year's spot at the Asia's Best Restaurants was definitely well deserved. Overall, the fast-paced feel of the restaurant was overshadowed by the great quality of food, the hospitality of the people, and the accessible location of the restaurant. 

Of course, another obligatory shot with Chef Dave Pynt, who was so warm and friendly. 

Burnt Ends 
20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore 088391
+65 6224 3933

22 April 2018

Singapore: Polish Masterchef Artur Moroz cooks a 5-course dinner for the World Gourmet Summit

Polish Masterchef Artur Moroz, hosted by Chef Dinesh Nagalingam of Wooloomooloo Steakhouse Singapore at the Swissôtel The Stamford, prepared us a 5-course dinner, which highlighted and introduced Polish cuisine to its audience, in line with this year's World Gourmet Summit.

The World Gourmet Summit, one of Asia's most highly anticipated food and wine festival, returned for its 22nd year, taking diners on an "exciting gastronomic expeditions" from April 2 to 29, 2018.

This year, with the theme "The Discovery WGS," diners are taken off the beaten track to experience some of the world’s exciting, lesser-known cuisines, presented by a stellar line up of culinary stars – young, up and coming, and established – representing countries from all over Asia, Eastern and Central Europe, and America.

True to the theme, it is my first time to be trying Polish cuisine, which I admitted to the chef. I asked him what characterizes Polish cuisine, and how it differs from other cuisines, specifically Asian. He described it to be a mix of carefully picking out the best ingredients and produce, with emphasis on quality, and highlighting its flavors, without adding too much spices and seasonings.

We were greeted then seated by Wooloomooloo's very hospitable staff, who introduced us to our menu, a 5-course dinner, which included two appetizers, pasta, main course and dessert. And so that night's culinary journey began.

He started us off with an amuse-bouche that felt like a garden on a plate. This canapé also gave out an idea of how the entire meal will sort-of look like, interesting and beautiful, you almost do not want to destroy each course by eating them.

It was immediately followed by the cold appetizer, Carpaccio with Smoked Geese, which almost fooled me as it looked and tasted like beef. Each of the ingredients were fresh and delicious.

The cold appetizer was then followed by a warm appetizer, Polish Barley Soup, which gave off a very familiar taste of home -- yes, you have guessed it right -- it looks and tastes similar to the Philippines' arroz-caldo (Chicken Rice Porridge). It is an old polish soup, made with goose. The notable difference is that it is lighter and barley was used instead of rice.

For our pasta, Chef Moroz prepared a dish with Polish Gnocchi, also known as polish dumpling, as the star. The Gnocchi, which is made of potatoes, is cooked with mushrooms, vegetables and poultry.

For the star of the evening, our main dish, he prepared us one of Poland's staple dishes - Goose, which is made with apple mouse and raspberry sauce. I have not tasted goose this rich, flavorful and tender ever in my life. The raspberry gratin and pink mash potatoes both were a delightful treat to the eyes and to the palate with the goose. 

He ended the meal with an interesting meringue, accentuated with a layer of cappuccino cream, and strawberry sauce. This was indeed a sweet-sour end to a perfect first polish full-course meal I have ever had in my life. 

An obligatory shot with Polish Masterchef Artur Moroz after the filling 5-course Polish dinner, served only on this special occasion. Thank you chef! 

The staff of Wooloomooloo told me that Chef Moroz flew in all the goose he used for this meal. He sourced out other local produce to complement the quality poultry he brought. 

When I asked him as to why Polish goose is very good, he said, "Goose has been a part of Poland's history. The quality is very good, as we export to Germany, and most of Europe. That must mean something, right?"

I also found out that he has never been to the Philippines, and would be eager to go should there be an opportunity that presents. 

Wooloomooloo Steakhouse, one of the top steakhouses in Singapore, located in the heart of Singapore’s iconic Raffles City, hosted Polish Masterchef Artur Moroz last April 17 to 20, 2018.

Chef Artur Moroz promoted Polish cuisine throughout his career. He has been running the TV show Polski Grill, broadcasted on Polish National Television Channel 1, since 2017. Since 2004 he has been running his own restaurant BULAJ in Sopot. In 2015 he opened another restaurant, KOWALL in Gdansk and in April 2016 he opened the Wine Bar Tapas PIKADO at a brand new concert & entertainment hall CKK JORDANKI in Torun.

Despite a very unexpected and last minute invitation, being such a big foodie that I am, I said yes when my friend Paolo Avis asked me if I wanted to attend a Masterchef dinner. This Masterchef dinner was made possible by DestinAsian magazine.

Wooloomooloo Steakhouse
2 Stamford Rd, Level 3,
Swissotel The Stamford
Singapore 178882

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