Friday, January 20, 2012

My 12 Best Meals of 2011 - The Final Six ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section, January 15, 2012


My 2011's 12 Best Meals (The Final Six)

Seriously, I didn’t realize how the world is full of food junkies until seven days ago when half of the universe started messaging me, bribing me and some even harassing me to reveal my top six meals of 2011. What a delightful surprise to know the world is full of Johnlovestoeat, Marylovestoeat, (insert any name)lovestoeat who share my passion in all things edible. These lovestoeat peoples make the world a brighter, happier, tastier place.

And so, without further ado, my 2011’s Most Scrumptious Six:


Sushi Dinner at Kyubey Tokyo

6. Kyubey, Tokyo

It was a sushi theater inside Kyubey. I felt like I was watching a ballet performance, only the ballerinas were pieces of raw seafood, and the choreographer was our Japanese sushi chef. He handled each of the cast so exquisitely, showing off each sushi’s beauty in all its simplicity, letting the freshness and gentle flavors take center stage. Act One was generous slices of Otoro, Chutoro and Hamachi, followed by a line up of sushi acts which solicited heart-felt ooohhs and aaahhs from the audience: Toro, a special white fish, ika, uni, saori, kampachi, ebi (it was alive!), toro (again! Yay!), akanai, bonito katso, salted anago and anago with sauce. I requested a repeat performance of my favorites chutoro and otoro, and couldn’t help jumping up to give a standing ovation. Encore! Encore!

Kyubey is located at 7-6, Ginza 8-chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Tel: 03-3571-6523



Steak Tartare on Mustard Sorbet at The Goose Station Manila

5. The Goose Station, Manila

The foie cone was the daintiest little bouquet filled with buttery soft goose liver mousse that caressed my tongue like satin. The steak tartare was the most sensuous I had ever tasted in my life. Fresh, chunky pieces of Australian rib eye piled on top of whole grain mustard sorbet. Yes, mustard sorbet. I scooped the mixture onto the warm brioche and Oh. My. Gawwwddd. The play of hot and cold, the seductive fusion of flesh and fragrance. I knew as I devoured the last morsel of steak that I was experiencing a true culinary masterpiece, an orgasm in a martini glass. And what perfect way to end the meal than with different textures of strawberry goodness – strawberry chips, strawberry sorbet and the thinnest, finest strawberry paper. The flavors were so happy and vibrant I felt like I swallowed a whole rainbow.

The Goose Station is located at G/F, W Tower, 39th Street, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines. Tel: +639178546673



Duck Breast with Seasonal Berries at Pierre Hong Kong

4. Pierre, Hong Kong

The place is sexy, and the food, even sexier. At Pierre, every course gives birth to many babyplates, like a degustation within a degustation. My appetizer of Canard des Dombes was spectacular drizzled with Bigarade sauce and loaded with seasonal berries, foie gras cubes and a marmalade of tangy preserved shallots on mesclun. Imagine the colors, imagine the flavors. I promise you the Black Truffle Melano-Sporum will give you multiple earthy orgasms with its truffle shortbread, poached egg Perigueux and sweet onion ravioli in tasty hen consommé. The pièce de résistance of the night was the lamb, which Pierre always, always does amazingly. The entourage consisted of roasted saddle with hyssop, black garlic biscuit and feet in caul casing, leg of lamb carpaccio with aromates, lamb cutlet a la Milanese, Provencal vegetable coulis, gorgonzola with dried apricot, “navarin printanier,” and tongue in Aspic.It was a magical dinner, as always when at Pierre.

Pierre is located at 25/F, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2825 4001



Japanese Wagyu Beef at Jin Yakiniku Osaka

3. Jin Yakiniku, Osaka

We were wandering around Amerikamura in the unforgiving February cold, hungry and looking for a warm place to eat. And then there in the small alley, we saw it. Jin Yakiniku! How could I ignore a restaurant named after me, especially when the unassuming hole in the wall was packed to the rafters and reeked of grilled beef. The menu was in Japanese so we did what we do best, we pointed at the biggest plate of wagyu with the most magnificent marbling. I tell you, every piece just melted in my mouth. It was sooo good it felt morally wrong. I closed my eyes and almost prayed for forgiveness. Instead, I said a prayer of thanks while I savored the extravagance in my mouth… And then I ordered cold Japanese biru.

Jin Yakiniku is located at 2 obittosuteji 1F, 2-9-17, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, Japan. Tel: 06-6211-6165



Xiao Long Bao at Bo Innovation Hong Kong

2. Bo Innovation, Hong Kong

They sprinkled wasabi snow on the fresh, plump oysters. Not freshly grated wasabi, mind you, but real wasabi as-in-fine-icy-shavings SNOW. Even before seeing the red-haired, tattoo-covered “Demon Chef,” I knew right away this was gonna be a wild, wild dinner. He adorned the traditional crispy taro puff with caviar and gold leaf, wrapped strands of black vermicelli in Iberico and topped the sexy bundle with a dollop of gazpacho foam. Pan seared foie gras was paired with muichoy ice cream (yes, muichoy as in preserved mustard greens!). My favorite has got to be the molecular xiao long bao, which was a perfect round blob made with the very essence of the soupy pork dumpling, Ferran Adria style. The century egg and pickled ginger in pink bubbles was also a winner. Wait till you see his Sex on the Beach!

Bo Innovation is located at 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2850 8371



Ratatouille at Aronia de Takazawa Tokyo

1. Aronia de Takazawa, Tokyo

The dinner was crazy out of this world. From the amuse bouche down to the petit fours, Chef Takazawa did not even once, fail to amaze. The 11-course degustation was so dramatic my heart skipped a beat every time his wife Akiko came to the table and described each dish. The Ratatouille was a colorful mosaic tile of 15 vegetables, cooked individually. I felt bad AND fabulous eating such a masterpiece. I was blown away again and again, by the Vegetable Parfait that had cream cheese for whipped cream and sweet tomato juice for syrup, the soft and creamy crab meat pumpkin Pucchin Pudding that brought back beautiful childhood memories, the tuna salad that turned into a smoky magic show when Chef Takazawa sprinkled his secret potion of powdery balsamic vinaigrette… My heart was palpitating with awe and excitement throughout the meal until it was time for “Dinner in the Forest,” then I felt my eyes well up. Wood-scented towels were given to clean our hands, and then on a chunky piece of tree trunk and lying beneath burnt pine needles, were the tenderest and most flavorful pieces of grilled lamb, sweet potatoes and gingko nuts that we were instructed to – wait for it – eat with our bare fingers. It was too perfect I wanted to cry. Aronia de Takazawa was truly a life-changing experience.

Aronia de Takazawa is located at 2/F of Sanyo Akasaka Building, 3-5-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Tel: 81-3-3505-5052


Oh 2012, please, you have to be much, much better.


See My 12 Best Meals of 2011, Part 1

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