When In Manila, one would seldom consider the city of Manila as a haven for the best restaurant. WRONG. People from different corners of the Metro are able to trace and follow the trails that lead to MY KITCHEN where the delicious smell comes from stronger than GPS radio signals.
My Kitchen, ranked as the #1 Restaurant by Tripadvisor, is one of Chef Chris’ project where he freely stretches out his passion for cooking when he became Consultant Executive Chef for Aura Hotels and Resorts. Without having to own the restaurant, Chef Chris Locher’s enthusiasm for cooking with the intention of putting a smile on a customer’s lips is like an unfading fire in his belly.
Over a weekend staycation at the Oasis Paco Park Hotel, Mae Ilagan and I felt privileged to experience being in a haven of deli inside an oasis. It was late in the afternoon when I met Mae at the hotel. Hours after I got arrested by a pile of linen sheets, we headed to My Kitchen for dinner.
Chef Chris, together with a waitstaff, personally helped us to our table. Complimentary starters served immediately. I felt my breath thinning at the sight of pesto drowning in olive oil.
While not yet so deep in conversation, as wines were just being poured ( Mae asked for Merlot while I had Sauvignon Blanc) Chef Chris announced a tray was coming, which seemed to carry an order of The Original, and looked like it was ours. Chef Chris was not mistaken! …With a bowl of Oasis Salad not so far behind.
Formerly, The Original was known as Panizza back when Chef Chris was with C! restaurant which started making waves in Pampanga. But, soon as the ingredients had evolved by adding arugula (leaves) and alfalfa (sprouts), panizza became The Original, simply because “There can only be one!” as Chef Chris puts it where Mae and I would only agree!
Not long before we could roll the remaining slices of The Original, the waitstaff politely excused herself, carefully placing a bowlful of an old family recipe passed on to Chef Chris by his grandmother of Italian descent. With the beef so tender that even toddlers won’t have difficulty chewing… And the cream sauce tasted so rich like I was the one soaked in it, while the saffron risotto was just as flavorful. Osso Buco Maestri smelled so good, it made me numb to fail to realize should I be drooling.
The abundance of cheese, butter and cream sauce in our dinner was perfected by an equally overwhelming dessert which was also favored by Yummy Magazine as Best Dessert in 2012, Triple Chocolate Cake with orange peel braised in brandy, is a creation of Chef Chris’ wife, Chef Cristine or Tinlou.
Seen how our eyes brightened up at every dish served on our table during dinner, Chef Chris bade goodnight by telling us to be ready for an extravagant lunch on the following day and better if we’d be able to ask help from our friends. On the other hand, I was just glad being the-weekend-side-kick to an expert ‘cause she knew exactly what to do…
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