Celebrating Japan’s Unagi Festival at Izakaya Sensu

Celebrating Japan’s Unagi Festival at Izakaya Sensu

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | September 15, 2017

Eel Thrills

In Japan, an old tradition known as Unagi Festival is widely anticipated and celebrated for a day. Unagi or eel is believed to have a property that could ward off the intense summer heat and at the same time allow one to gain his or her energy. As for its health benefits, eel contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and has a wealth of vitamins and minerals.

Luckily for Filipinos, there is no need to set foot on the Land of the Rising Sun. At Bonifacio Global City Izakaya Sensu, you can savor the many ways unagi is prepared through its version of the said festival. The festival, which runs until the end of September, gives lovers of Japanese food, as well as adventurous foodies, a chance to indulge in its masterfully prepared signature unagi specials.

Unagi Bo Sushi

There is more to the taste of eel being sweetish, light and having a firm texture. One will have a grand time discovering the medley of flavors that goes in each of the eight unagi dishes—Uzaku, Kurikara, Unagi- Shira-Yaki, Umaki, Unagi Chawan Mushi, Unagi Tempura, Unagi Bo-Sushi and Una-Don.

The Japanese chef of Izakaya Sensu uses locally sourced fresh-water eel for its versatility and pronounced taste. Butchering an eel, however, is no easy matter. A chef must earn his stripes in mastering the Unagi knife. It takes five years to be proficient in this cutting tool according to consultant chef Nobuhide Andoh.

The protein-rich dishes are surefire palate pleasers. The kurikara (grilled stick unagi with teriyaki sauce and “Sansho Japanese Pepper” miso sauce) provides and interesting taste and texture contrast with its skin and meat. The grilled dish pairs perfectly well with an order of some sake shots, Japanese beer or whisky highballs from Chotto Matte, the bar operation of Izakaya Sensu.

The Ozaku (Unagi and Vinegared cucumber salad) and the Unagi Shira-Yaki (Grilled Unagi with wasabi and soy sauce) exhibit the absorbent quality of the eel. The Ozaku cleanses the palate like an atchara would.

 

Japanese Chef of Izakaya Sensu

Have a bowl of steaming rice topped with unagi with an order of Una-Don. Discover how unagi brings life to Omaki ( Japanese Omelette Wrapped Unagi) or enjoy its delightful crunch in Unagi Tempura (deep-fried Battered Unagi and Okra). Pay attention to the delicate taste of Unagi Chawan Mushi ( Japanese Steamed Egg with Unagi).

The dual-concept restaurant of Izakaya Sensu and Chotto Matte is a showcase of creativity and style that brings fun and excitement to the modern Filipino, while being true to its Japanese roots.
Enjoy the Unagi Festival more by availing yourselves of Chotto Matte’s buy-one-take-one offer on select cocktails from 2 to 7 p.m. everyday.
Izakaya Sensu/Chotto Matte is at the ground floor of Net Park, 28th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Tel no. 283-2979.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

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Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Going Beyond Sustainable Seafood

Going Beyond Sustainable Seafood

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | September 12, 2019

The Philippine Sustainability Month 2019

The launching of the Philippine Sustainability Month 2019 in Marriott Manila, was all about aligning the country with the United Nations development goals of sustainability not just in terms of providing sustainable seafood and supporting local farmers through local produce, but also supporting local communities by way of nonprofit organizations.

The topic of the by-invitation-only event covered the sustainable supply chain, which includes organic and integrated farming, seaweed products, food waste reduction, plastic reducing solutions, sustainable tourism, energy and waste management, greenhouse-gas monitoring and carbon footprint.

This is a breakaway from the previous focus, which was mainly about sustainable seafood. This year, the organization behind Philippine Sustainability Month 2019 took a more holistic approach. It partnered with various agencies, hotels, establishments, and entities from all across the country in order to push an agenda that sends the message that sustainability is of utmost importance and priority.

It also highlighted the important message that sustainability is more of a necessity now rather than something that is optional for companies and stakeholders alike. In fact, an audio visual presentation at the venue cannot stress enough the message that—“Nature does not need man, but man needs nature.”

Making a Difference in the Hospitality Industry

A lot of hotel brands were present at the event. Without doubt, hoteliers are contributors in driving sustainability in their campaign toward its day-to-day activities in its thrust toward its businesses toward food and beverage, and hotel experiences. They have sent the message across that they are doing their best to make positive impact no matter how small the environment.

Host-hotel the Marriott Manila, for example, led the way in reducing plastic consumption by using refillable glass water bottles in its hotel rooms, instead of the conventional disposable plastic water bottle. Another admirable practice of this hotel is converting its plastic waste to school chairs, thereby benefiting educational institutions. Plus, they make food donation to a charitable institution in an effort to decrease food wastage and help feed the hungry in the process.

On the other hand, Prestine Solution, a coorganizer of the event, served as the glue that held the whole event together. They were the ones who pulled all their resources together in order to get everybody to participate and call attention to generate awareness and basically highlight the need for sustainability at present. Another important organization that was highly involved was Greenpeace. It has done a lot of advocacies in terms of environmental impact toward climate change and the pro active stances in preserving the environment, and they are coming up with ways to improve people’s lives through environmental activities and programs.

Seafood Galore

Hotels, culinary schools, food suppliers were on their toes as they showcased their creative take on a sampler portion of a seafood dish or a medley of them. Some of the participants were Alaska Prime Seafood which presented their Hawaiian Lomi/Lomi Wild Alaskan Salmon. Center for Culinary Arts churned out Gambas with Black Pandesal Bites and Breaded Shrimp with Sauce Marie Rose. Discovery Hotels whipped up some Spiced Seared Tuna Tacos, Grilled Prawn Satay, Fish and Chips. Hilton Manila cooked up Mapo Shrimp with Soy Custard. For New World Makati Hotel, simplicity is elegance as it let the freshness of its raw oyster wow the guests.

Attendees made a beeline at the different food booth to sample the freshest taste of the bounty of the sea, which was made a la minute. The feast was ode to seafood everyone could not get enough of.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

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Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Fantastic Potatoes

Fantastic Potatoes

Gabrielle R. Borromeo

The Daily Tribune | June 04, 2014

The United States Potato Board (USPB), the United States Embassy Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have brought US Tablestock Potatoes closer to the Filipino by making it increasingly available in the market.

Now restaurants and households may easily get a hold of russets, long whites, round whites, waxy reds, nutty flavored blues, purples and fingerlings in their most natural state. The potatoes are grown in the ideal growing temperatures, rich soil, state-of-the-art processing facilities and generations of expertise required by the US Frozen Potatoes. Consumers can be assured of a steady supply because US potato growers offer a plentiful year-round delivery of the finest potatoes that meet stringent FDA and USDA specifications. 

To further encourage the trade of US Frozen Potatoes in the Philippines, the USPB provides several support programs for establishments that use 100 percent US frozen potato products. One of them is the Best Practices Seminars and Training Programs where restaurant staffs is trained on proper storage, handling and preparation of US frozen potatoes to create the best tasting dishes.

Seminars about menu development are also practiced to help food service partners be aware of global trends and practices. Co-Op Promotions is also another support program wherein the USPB supports part of the promotional costs of the new menu using US Frozen Potatoes. Lastly, the USPB does ongoing research into trends and consumer attitudes to further help the establishments maximize their sales by capturing market trends, consumer attitudes and eating habits of their customers.

In gratitude to the Filipinos who have learned to love the spud and now welcome it in the Philippines with arms wide open, USPB held several events in celebration.

 

Cheyenne and I, all dressed up for the USPB event at Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay. Matchy matchy! 😉

The first event was held at Discovery Country Suites, Tagaytay City where renowned innovative and in-demand Chef Sau del Rosario joined forces with USPB to launch their compilation of recipes called Tasteful Taters.

This recipe book, produced and currently available through the USPB, stars US Frozen Potato products in a number of popular dishes from the Philippines and all around the world, with each one tried, tested and given Chef Sau’s five-star treatment.

During the event, Chef Sau prepared a demonstration of selected dishes to showcase the mastery and skill needed to emphasize the luxurious qualities of the US Potato just as featured in Tasteful Taters. He showed the audience the process he undergoes when coming up with exciting twists to existing favorites. It is no surprise that his gastronomic wizardry has found its perfect match in the adaptable ingredient. The event was also a rare chance to see recipes come to life by the famous Chef Sau himself.

Chef Sau del Rosario preparing the demonstration.

The next event was a two-day seminar at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The first day was all about getting to know the US Tablestock Potatoes. It demonstrated also how to use the spud as both light fare and all sorts of meal courses from appetizers to desserts. The event was graced by Sarah Reece, the USPB international marketing manager to voice out the importance of the spud to the attendees.

A buffet spread featured the culinary possibilities of US potatoes, which remain endless, given their flexibility in elevating the flavor, texture and appearance of food.

Since potatoes have become a classic ingredient of some of the world’s best cuisines including dishes from the Philippines, USPB has promised a steady supply of US potatoes in order for the Filipinos to continue their work and talent in the food industry.

For more information about US Tablestock Potatoes, please visit www.potatoesusa.com or www.potatoesusa-philippines.com; or call 8534-8534 or 8534-8223.

Gabrielle Borromeo

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Gabe organizes what she sees around her and loves to put it into words. She has been contributing her articles for the Daily Tribune newspaper, Tinig ng Marino (maritime) newspaper, Cook magazine, Appetite magazine and F&B World magazine.

You can contact Gabrielle at: gabrielle_borromeo@write-experts.com

Into The Chocolate Chamber and Beyond

Into The Chocolate Chamber and Beyond

Gabrielle R. Borromeo

The Daily Tribune | April 10, 2014

Ever since the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came out with Johnny Depp starring as Willy Wonka, the dream to enter a chocolate haven was one I always hoped for. Nine years later, to my surprise, my chocolate dream came true and, of all places, in my father’s hometown and not Switzerland or Belgium as I had imagined.

It all began when I was invited to the Ralfe Gourmet Chocolate Boutique in Cebu City. The second I was ushered into the room of chocolates, I melted. The fountain overflowing with liquid chocolate; the walls painted in chocolate, etched with drawings that told a chocolate story; the enchanting chandelier that lit the table laden with chocolates covered in golden wrappers.

There were also tables with heavy bars of chocolates on top, jars of chocolate spreads, rolls of tablea, tetra packs of cocoa flavored drinks, a variety of truffles, a tray of delightful cookies and a basket of fresh-baked chocolate bread. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually in a chocolate room, a chocolate heaven right before my very eyes. My heart was palpitating. I was back in Cebu, my childhood hometown, and I never knew there was a place like this.

The boutique is where pure cocoa is made into pure chocolate confections. First, the football-shaped cocoa fruit is cracked open, which looks just like the inside of a guyabano (soursop) fruit — white, soft and moist. The taste is more surprising though, being sweet. The meat of the fruit is separated from the cocoa beans. It is important that these beans are carefully selected, cleaned and sorted out. The beans collected are placed in sweat boxes where their chocolate flavor will heighten and develop. This is the fermentation process. Then they are dried and roasted to perfection with controlled heat and a specific amount of time.

Next, the shell of the beans is removed to have a smoother touch and less bitter distinction to the chocolates. I was shown the different beans from every process so I could differentiate and appreciate. During the tour, a man was actually pounding the beans with a huge wooden mortar and pestle, turning them into a chocolate mass, also called chocolate liquor. But that was just to recreate the traditional way of making chocolate as Ralfe’s now uses machines to pound the roasted cocoa nibs so as not to be labor intensive.

The end of this process is the creation of tablea. I was also given the privilege to try the newly-made tablea. It was bitter, but others enjoy it this way, calling it the unsweetened chocolate.

Mountain Lass Turns Magnate

The woman behind the chocolate success that is Ralfe Gourmet is Raquel T. Choa. But her success did not come easy.

When Raquel was only a little girl, she lived in the mountains of Balamban, Cebu and had to cross seven rivers before getting to school, which meant she had to wake up very early. They lived where it was abundant in cocoa, so her grandmother Leonila, who had full passion for everything she did, taught Raquel the best use of their parcel of land. Sheimbued in her the strict regimen of how to get the best out of chocolate, turning it into chocolate liquor to create pure chocolate bliss.

Everyday, Raquel was expected to work hands-on before and after school or she wasn’t permitted to leave the house. Raquel also learned from her grandmother how to drink pure chocolate without the sugar, mostly for the reason that sugar was badly needed in their other business, coconut candy making. Now she still drinks it this way.

Whatever the family made out of the cocoa would be sold in the market and the money they made was how they lived their simple life.

Life for little Raquel was also very disciplined. By 5 p.m., dinner was served and before 6 everyone had to be inside the house since they lived in a remote area, which was rebel-infested. No one could be loitering around to avert any danger. When there were gun shots, everyone hid under the house to pray together for safety. But not even that could stop little Raquel from excelling in class; she always had high honors.

When Raquel moved to Laguna with her parents, she forgot all about chocolate and started selling sampaguita in a unique way. Being very creative, she fixed her hair with the flowers and wore it also around her. She was soon known as the sampaguita girl.

Years passed, and it was only later in life that she went back to chocolate when she married Alfred Choa, a mechanical engineer who grew up in his father’s canning business.

The husband and wife were able to formulate a production line, Ralfe’s Gourmet. It started when Raquel kept making recipes from her creative cooking, playing with the chocolates both in her mind and through her artistic food preparation. Her gastronomic concoctions were endless; she experimented on different flavors, adding them to her luscious chocolate drinks. She played with ingredients to create sumptuous chocolate cakes.

Raquel, indeed, got the experimenting from her grandmother, who loved the surprises that tablea could magically create from all her ideas. She was soon acknowledged by chefs when they knew about her chocolates, and they would even ask her to make chocolate for the hotels they were working at. Her reputation started to grow also by word of mouth. Later, even the Department of Agriculture bought from Ralfe’s Gourmet. It showcased her ingenuity as it elevated the Philippine cacao to international standards of chocolate making.

The Chocolate Chamber (TCC) is the outlet where Raquel displays all of her chocolates, ready for buying. Here, one can order a hot cup of chocolate bliss or a cold one depending on one’s pleasure. A variety of chocolate cakes (vegan, cashew, old-fashioned) and chocolate scones, buns and oh-so-flaky ensaymadas filled with chocolate liquor and chocolate chunk and nib cookies are also available for one to enjoy along with chocolate drinks flavored with hibiscus, salted caramel, chamomile, orange, vanilla, cinnamon, bubblegum, cherry, malt, etc.

The classy looking restaurant is designed so elegantly, a clear glass separating the outside from the inside. It could pass for a romantic cafe getaway in Paris. The seats are comfortable with additional scarfs in it for guests to use when cold. In this generation, TCC is definitely capture-ready for Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for all the world to see!
The Chocolate Chamber is located at P. Quirino Mabolo Street Cebu City.
For more information on The Chocolate Chamber, visit the Facebook page under the same name. For more information on Ralfe’s Gourmet, visit http://www.ralfegourmet.com.

Gabrielle Borromeo

Author Profile

Gabe organizes what she sees around her and loves to put it into words. She has been contributing her articles for the Daily Tribune newspaper, Tinig ng Marino (maritime) newspaper, Cook magazine, Appetite magazine and F&B World magazine.

You can contact Gabrielle at: gabrielle_borromeo@write-experts.com

The 2016 Soiree Beaujolais

The 2016 Soiree Beaujolais

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | December 19, 2016

In the Philippines, it’s the time when the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines gathers the French and Filipino communities to clink wine glasses alongside local and international business groups.

A year after celebrating its Silver Anniversary, Soiree Beaujolais turned its focus on the French history with “Versailles” as its theme. The Palace of Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once the seat of French Royalty, such as Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI’s spouse.

Recently held at the Marriott Grand Ballroom, guests were treated as if they were invited to a royal party thrown by the last Queen of France. As the well-dressed crowd waited to the giant doors to swing open, fine wine of the Beaujolais and Burgundy regions were passed around (Cote du Rhone AOP Rouge 2015, Fleurie AOP 2014, Brouilly AOP 2014, Vin de Bourgogne, Coteaux Bourguignons Blanc, La Fontaine a Vin Rose). Some were dressed with a hint of French royalty, but a select few went all out in their costumes to the delight of everyone present.

At the appointed time, the French Chamber Board of Directors and employees performed a royal parade; all dressed like it’s the 1780’s, before the opening of the doors. Then, the exciting drama was revealed to the public: a huge dolled-up ballroom entirely decorated in a way that gives the illusion one is really in a palace! The hungry crowd made a bee line for the sumptuous French food prepared by the Marriott Hotel Manila Executive Chef Meik Brammer and his team of Chefs. Fresh oysters, traditional chicken stew with beans, and baked beef tenderloin in crust were the crowd favorite.

After the feast for the tummy, the lights slowly turned off and the people gathered at the center stage for a spectacular opening act performance ala Cirque du Soleil. Aftewards, Issa Litton as the stunning event host, introduced Stanislas Camart and Vanesssa Hans, respectively President and Director of the French Chamber of Commerce. They both gave us an overview of the Soiree Beaujolais, its tradition and its impact on the cultural and business relations between France and the Philippines.

As Soiree Beaujolais 2016 came with a heart, The French Chamber also highlighted its foundation France-Philippines United Action (FPUA) which initiated a Silent Auction of four paintings displayed inside the gallery at the Ballroom. Philippe Gauthier, President of FPUA and Founding President of the French Chamber explained to us that the artworks displayed were donated by celebrity Solenn Heussaff and three local artists – Alfonso Recto, Piaget Martelino, and Chris Verayo. The raised fund through the auction will be used to complete the third rehabilitation site in Bogo City, north of Cebu. This will enable two families, former victims of Typhoon Haiyan, to have resilient houses.

Following the French tradition whereby cheese comes after the main course and before the dessert, twenty kinds of cheeses entered Marriott Grand Ballroom after the uncorking ceremony of the Beaujolais Nouveau wine. Then the colorful dessert table was finally up for grabs.

Then, more entertainment ensued as the talented Silver Streaks band played upbeat tunes from different decades. Finally, DJ Mars Miranda spun some billboard music until the party ended at 2 AM.

In the end, Soiree Beaujolais was more than just impressive feast for the senses. The almost 1500 guests gathered undoubtedly enjoyed their journey through the 1780’s in Versailles. We are looking forward to Beaujolais next year with the French Chamber of Commerce as they might pleasantly surprise us again with an original concept party.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

A “Goosetatory” Delight Returns to Lung Hin

A “Goosetatory” Delight Returns to Lung Hin

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | December 13, 2018

The roast goose, a classic Cantonese dish widespread in Hong Kong, will be delighting taste buds at the award-winning Lung Hin in Marco Polo Ortigas.

Guest chef Billy Cheong demonstrates his culinary prowess as he masterfully prepares the prized fat bird. His special culinary technique that preserves the crisp skin and lock in the juices in the tender meat had won international accolades for him. Being born into a family of fine food lovers in their home province of Guangdong, with master chefs as relatives, he can only be destined for culinary stardom.

What is truly amazing is his recent recovery of an over a century old traditional roast goose formula from his grandfather. How about that for a classic recipe?
Premium roast goose is available for a la carte orders. Or opt to feast like an emperor with a set menu with a lineup of authentic dishes such as Steamed Garoupa with Minced Garlic and Pan-Fried Crab with Pork Belly in Supreme Soy Sauce, and Braised Seafood with Peach Gel Soup.

When you definitely got to have a taste of this Hong Kong classic- head over to Lung Hin this season and discovery the taste of true tradition.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.