TWO weeks after it first hosted a multi-restaurant lunch to let members of the food media try some of the dining options available at its newly opened East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza put together a second “restaurant tour” last Tuesday (July 30, 2013). This time, it showcased the culinary gems of Woo Galbi, Zarzuela, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen, The Strip Steakhouse, Zao and Späetzle, capped by an afternoon tea at TWG Tea.
KOREAN SPECIALTY RESTO
Woo Galbi Korean House serves modern Korean fine dining cuisine. The restaurant serves classic Korean fares, and all the popular Korean dishes are accounted for, such as Kimchi (fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables), Japchae (stir-fried glass noodles with beef, pork and veggies), Ramyeon (Korean ramen with egg), Jjampong (spicy seafood soup with fresh noodles), Haemul Pa Jeon (scallion pancake with seafood), Bulgogi (grilled marinated beef), Galbi Jim (braised shortribs) and Bibimbap rice bowls.
Woo Galbi also serves modern Korean dishes, such as Lunch Bentos and Contemporary Rolls to complement its range of Old-fashioned Rolls. Since Korean cuisine is closely related to Japanese cuisine, Woo Galbi carries items that you would usually find in the menu of Japanese restaurants – Nigiri and Sashimi , Edamame (soybean appetizer), and Twigim or Tempura.
For the food sampling event, Woo Galbi served Korean appetizers that include Kimchi, Tabletop Bulgogi, Galbi Jim, WG Roll (snapper tempura, crabmeat and mangoes, topped with barbecued eel, avocado and tenkatsu), and Sam Gyup Sal (grilled pork belly). My favorite was the WG Roll because it had the perfect combination of flavor, crunch and texture. Besides, I really love rolls.
A PLAY OF FILIPINO FLAVORS
Zarzuela’s tagline, A Play of Filipino Flavors, says a lot about the kind of food that it serves. On the menu are local heirloom recipes that have been given a unique, personalized twist. Aiming to entice the young generation of diners to appreciate Filipino food as much as they love, say, Italian, Japanese and American food, Zarzuela combines different local cuisines, including Bicolano , Kapampangan and Ilonggo food. Its menu includes Chicharon Bulaklak (deep-fried pork innards), Pinangat (tender gabi leaves stuffed with pork belly strips and slow-cooked in coconut cream), Cowboy Sisig (beef and pork, grilled then sautéed to sisig perfection), Batchoy (Ilonggo noodle soup dish with pork innards), Savor Bagnet (twice-cooked pork belly served with liver sauce), Krispy Pata (deep-fried pork knuckles) and Rellenong Bangus ala Zarzuela.
Up for grabs at the buffet table were tasting portions of Crab and Shrimp Relleno (premium crabmeat and shrimp cakes served with calamansi Hollandaise) and Krispy Binagoongan (pork cooked in bagoong or shrimp paste), but the owners also served Pancit Efuven (Ilonggo rice noodles cooked in olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and smoked sardines, topped with bangus flakes), Humba (salty, sweet pork belly, slow-cooked to flavorful tenderness) and Krispy Pitaw (an exotic Ilonggo dish of fried snipes).
I like the Crab and Shrimp Relleno and the Efuven. I was kinda hesitant to try the Krispy Pitaw, though, but I was assured pitaws were not endangered and that they were cultured for food purposes, so I tried one tiny bit. It’s just like adobo flakes.
JAPANESE RAMEN HOUSE
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen serves Fukuoka style noodle soups. Its soup base or broth comes from pork bones that have been simmered for long hours. Its ramen noodles, served in different variants, are incredibly popular with diners in the Philippines, which explains why the restaurant is always packed during meals even though Shangri-La Plaza’s East Wing is relatively new. Top favorites among its ramen variants are Ajitama Tonkotsu, Spicy Tobanjan Tonkotsu and Black Garlic Tonkotsu.
Other best-sellers include Gyoza (Japanese dumplings), Karaage (Japanese fried chicken) and a dessert called Shiratama Zenzai.
STEAK LOVERS’ DELIGHT
Steak lovers would surely love The Strip Hollywood Steakhouse because it offers a unique fine dining experience with its premium steaks, including its 21oz. USDA CAB Ribeye, plus other awesome favorites of regular The Strip diners, such as Char-broiled Slab of Bacon, Steak Burger, Double Animal Burger and Oregon Coast Salad. Chef Jason Stacy makes sure everything on the menu is perfect and the execution upon every order is precise and impeccable.
Despite being a steakhouse, The Strip serves non-steak options, and these include The Pink Meat (salmon fillet), Stuffed Calamari and must-try desserts such as Banana Cream Pie and Triple Allegiance (triple-layered mousse terrine of dark, white and milk chocolate).
I love the food of Zao Vietnamese Bistro simply because I love Vietnamese food and Zao’s interpretations of my favorite Vietnamese dishes are marvelous. It makes use of fresh ingredients, particularly vegetables, and most of the dishes are light and healthy. For some strange reason, even its meat dishes are incredibly light.
A bright, sleek and lively bistro, Zao serves authentic Vietnamese staples, including Sugarcane Shrimps, Zao Barbecue Platter, the signature Zao Pho noodle soup, Saigon Fried Rice and other Vietnamese delights. For the media lunch, Zao prepared its Zao Barbecue Platter, which consists of Grilled Honey Tenderloin, Barbecued Chicken, Pork Spareribs and Barbecued Pork Chop; as well as Green Mango Lapu-Lapu (a whole lapu-lapu topped with green mango salad), Fresh Spring Roll and Fried Spring Roll. I tried the fish and the two kinds of spring rolls and loved them because, if you know me, you’d know I love fish and I’m a lumpia (spring roll) monster.
GERMAN AND OTHER EUROPEAN TREATS
Späetzle is a soft pasta or dumpling that’s freshly made, and it literally means “little sparrows.” It also happens to be the name of a German and European specialty restaurant on the fifth level of Shangri-La Plaza’s newly opened East Wing. Späetzle Euro Market Café serves not just German food but other European specialties as well. Späetzle (fresh German pasta) is the star of the show, but it also offers a whole range of starters, roesti (traditional Swiss potato pancakes that is enjoyed in many parts of Europe not just as a breakfast item but also as a light snack or as part of a complete meal), all-day brunches, blintz and buckwheat galettes (thin flour or buckwheat pancakes), tarte flambes (Alsotian baked flatbread topped with fresh ingredients), pasta and open-faced sandwiches, as well as coolers.
For the food sampling, Späetzle (*pronounced ‘shpet-slē) laid out generous casseroles of Spatz Carbonara (classic egg and cream-based späetzle with pancetta and topped with grated Parmesan cheese) and Tarte Flambe Provence (Alsatian baked flatbread topped with mixed salad greens, roasted mushrooms, cucumber, Feta cheese and cherry tomatoes). I loved both. Späetzle also served one of its coolers, Fresh Mint Lemonade, which I also enjoyed.
TEA-FLAVORED FRENCH MACAROONS
The food tasting last Tuesday (July 30, 2013), ended with an Afternoon Tea experience at TWG Tea, which can be found at the East Wing’s Mid-Level 2/3, while the rest of the featured restaurants are housed on Levels 5 and 6.
I couldn’t wait for the Afternoon Tea, because I had a food shoot at 3:00 p.m. and had to leave, but my husband Raff and I got to go around TWG Tea for a while and take pictures. TWG Tea serves and sells a whole range of unique teas, and what’s exciting about its range of French Macarons is that they’re tea macarons. They’re crispy almond biscuits with a soft center, infused with TWG’s signature teas, that sell for Php55 per piece. There are 10 variants: 1837 Black Tea & Blackcurrant, Napoleon Tea & Caramel, Earl Grey Fortune & Chocolate, Grand Wedding Tea, Passion Fruit & Coconut, Bain de Roses Tea, Camelot Tea & Praline, Vanilla Bourbon Tea & Kaya, Lemon Bush Tea, Moroccan Mint Tea and Matcha.
I’ve had a taste of some of them when Shangri-La Plaza’s management, led by Lala Fojas and Marline Dualan, sent us home the first time around with a box of assorted TWG Tea’s French Macarons each, but I was hoping I could enjoy some with TWG’s exquisite teas this time. Oh, well… Maybe next time.