Food & Drink

At Old Manila, a 4-Hands Dinner That Highlights Philippine Flavors

It’s a bromance of culinary techniques and heritage ingredients between chefs Jordy Navarro and Allan Briones
IMAGE courtesy of The Peninsula
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The Old Manila at the Manila Peninsula has been a dining icon through four decades. It has long exuded an air of posh old world exclusivity, frequented by chi-chi socialites who hobnob with the powerful decision makers as they sip sauternes and scotches while being served stellar cuisine created by foreign chefs.    

With the appointment of Chef Allan Briones as the outlet’s first Filipino chef de cuisine, a new dynamic has been infused in the menu. The young chef has proven himself a creative maverick, where the dishes take on a modern market-to-table touch, while keeping the culinary legacy that Old Manila is known for.  

Now, Chef Allan takes on an even more progressive route in a special dinner where he collaborates with another culinary creative, Toyo Eatery’s Jordy Navarra, who was the winner of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants ‘Miele One To Watch Award 2018’.

This is a bromance in the works as the two combined their love for local and their common experience of working in Michelin-starred restaurants to come up with a localized menu that incorporates their flavor-savvy skills. For the special dinner they call A FOURtaste of Things to Come that will be held on Wednesday, November 28, the two have decided to divvy up their tasks to create two new dishes each, with the hotel’s pastry chef Xavier Castello adding his two original desserts into the mix.

The two consciously incorporated local ingredients in surprising ways, starting with appetizers that include fish crackling in the tuna tartare, a buro, mustasa, and pork combination, and a nilupak of sweet potato, cassava, and sea urchinto be washed down with welcome cocktails of Kasabihan (local white grape liquor, chico, dayap, and pandan) and Poor Man’s Tea (genmaicha infused with vodka, fresh lemon, and sugarcane).

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Chef Jordy Navarra's picture-perfect kinilaw of oyster IMAGE: courtesy of The Peninsula

A stunning crowdpleaser is Chef Allan's wagyu beef cheek croquette. IMAGE: courtesy of The Peninsula

Chef Allan's smoked Iberian pork tenderloin will have you fantasizing over pork in the next few days. IMAGE: courtesy of The Peninsula

The first course by Chef Jordy is a kinilaw of oyster, with kabayawa (local kaffir lime) as the souring agent, garnished with Gamet or seaweed from Sorsogon. Chef Allan follows up with a wagyu beef cheek croquette with preserved cabbage, picked radish, and apples.

Chef Jordy’s third course is a crab and ginger gelatine dish, which makes use for crab meat and roe from Butuan crustaceans and young coconut. The filling fourth course by Chef Allan is a smoked Iberian pork tenderloin, with Spanish Iberico pork on a bed of king mushroom, long beans, and camote with a pili nut picada that has Don Papa Rum reduction for extra measure. The pickled shallot may seem like a simple garnish, but we suggest you give it a try because it complements all the other elements of the dish.   

This crab and ginger gelatine uses crab meat and roe from Butuan crustaceans and young coconut. IMAGE: courtesy of The Peninsula

A palate cleanser comes after, with Hendrick’s jelly cradling a sorbet that is topped by a micro cucumber chutney. Dessert is a banana “tatin” which is basically nilupak na saba, flavored with calamansi curd, cooled by langka ice cream, and topped with a wickedly rich Peninsula 66-percent crunch chocolate.   

G&T palette cleanser by Chef Xavier Costello IMAGE: courtesy of The Peninsula

The finale: Banana "tatin" IMAGE: courtesy of The Peninsula

As they sat down to talk about the dinner collab, it is evident that the two chefs have bonded over the creative process. They are both pedigreed from their stints abroad but have come back to the country with a mission to promote a love for local and show support for their farmer-suppliers.  

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Chef Jordy shares an anecdote about how conscious culinary efforts such as theirs are starting to have an impact on our local agriculture. “From 10 to 5 years ago, if you ask a farmer if they have something other than high-yield crops like lettuce, they will look at you strangely. Now, they are the ones who will approach us, offering ‘mayroon akong singkamas!'”

Of the collaboration, they say they were excited to work with each other. “Who wouldn’t want to work and learn from a respected colleague,” Chef Allan says.  

Chef Jordy replies, “It’s always nice to see how other people like Chef Allan approach food. We could use the same ingredient in different ways. Working with different chefs is eye-opening because your thought process is different from each other. It is a nice way to look at one familiar thing in different ways.”

A FOURtaste of Things To Come dinner (P4,500 net of taxes) will be held at Old Manila at the Peninsula Manila on November 28, 2018. For more information, call 887-2888 ext 6694, e-mail [email protected], or visit peninsula.com.     

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