Today was one of the busiest days in our never-ending Travelife, but I stopped the clock just before 12 to head to the Mandarin Oriental Manila for a quick lunch I just couldn't resist. Until December 18, Chef Ed Quimson has prepared a special buffet of Filipino goodies to supplement Paseo Uno's regular buffet. Today was the opening day and I thought it would a great way to start a Monday of a busy week in the Christmas season with a very nice Filipino lunch.
THE GANG'S ALL HERE
When I arrived, the Mandarin team was all there and some of the guests had already arrived as well. It was nice to see friends I hadn't seen in a while including jeweler Candy Dizon, photographer Rupert Jacinto, Johnny Litton (who needs no description before his name), and M.V. who I traveled to India with.
PAELLA WITH A PINOY TWIST
The buffet looked absolutely scrumptious, and everything was Filipino but with a twist. What caught my eye right away was a very large pan of steaming rice filled with all kinds of goodies.
"What on earth is that?" I asked Chef Ed, who was nearby. It turned out to be a Tinola Paella, which is a really interesting take on a favorite dish of Filipinos. So there was no yellow color or saffron flavor, but just the pure goodness of chicken and incredibly moist rice, plus sili, carrots and ginger.
I had to leave early today to join a Korea-Philippines tourism forum, so you might say that I only had half a lunch and then I did a French exit. So as I'm writing this now, I'm getting incredibly hungry.
HONG KONG FOR MORE FUN
But I can't complain and I don't have to suffer for too long, as tomorrow I'm headed for Hong Kong for a few days of Michelin-starred restaurants.
But the tinola paella was really interesting. As I knew I was there for a quick lunch, I headed straight for Chef Ed's specialties and skipped the appetizers. Basically I went straight for the cargo and cholesterol overload.
"Is that good?" Ed Jarque asked me. He was seated next to me as I so obviously enjoyed the tinola paella. I nodded and tried to find a way to describe it. Finally I said: "It's like a very moist paella that tastes like Hainanese Chicken."
I also really liked Chef Ed's version of the humba -- one of my favorite dishes -- as it was spicy and it was all ground up like a meat loaf. And don't even get me started on the lechon kawali, a dish I don't even usually classify in my top ten Filipino favorites.
But today, I certainly had a plateful at the Mandarin. Lunch hadn't even started and there was already one slice missing. I think Rupert Jacinto got first dibs on this one. Chef Ed served it with two very unique sauces including a sweetish one with the consistency of gata.
I told Mandarin GM Mark Bradford: "This is such a nice idea to have a Filipino buffet. It's comfort food for the Christmas season."
I had to tear myself away from this buffet and this very nice gathering of friends and acquaintances from everywhere, to head to the Intercon for the tourism forum. But when I got there, the panel forum had started and we had a truly interesting exchange of ideas on the situation of our tourism industry and what we can do about it. More on that in a future blog entry.
In the meantime, do head over to Mandarin Oriental's Paseo Uno for some honest-to-goodness goodies from Chefs Ed Quimson and Booj Supe. The special Philippine buffet, "Paskuhan sa Paseo Uno," runs until December 18.
Mandarin Oriental Manila
Oct-Nov 2011 Issue
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