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Evaluating rookie restos

By SHARWIN TEE, The Philippine STAR Published Jul 14, 2022 5:00 am

The NBA recently held its rookie draft, ending a couple of months of testing and evaluating potential rookie players, sizing up their natural ability, acquired skills and future potential.

While I will probably never get the chance to work in the NBA, I, too, have spent some time evaluating rookies — rookie restaurants, that is. 

Natural Ability

Delicatessens, or delis for short, are like amusement parks for me. I love to spend afternoons visiting delis, perusing ingredients and tasting them if possible, trying to imagine what new recipes I can create. That was my initial plan when I visited One World Deli along Jupiter St. in Makati. I walked into the deli with thoughts of seeking inspiration and maybe a little shopping, but I was pleased to discover that One World Deli has a dine-in section, too.

Beautiful Hamachi Sashimi at One World Deli

The friendly staff was apologetic when they didn’t have a table free, but I quickly assured them that sitting at the seafood bar was truly where I wanted to be. The bar seating offers a great view of the available fresh seafood, which included live king crabs, rock lobsters and oysters, as well as the open kitchen where chefs prepare the cold and raw seafood dishes.

Ireland Oysters are a highlight of One World Deli visits.

They do have a full cafe menu, but I think the best thing to do is to take advantage of all the natural freshness available in the deli. First target was fresh Gallagher oysters, freshly shucked and served with a mignonette sauce and lemon wedges. The oysters, fresh flown from Ireland, were plump and delicious, rich in the ocean brine flavor that make oysters truly coveted. While they can prepare these oysters Rockefeller style, I think having them raw is just a singular experience.

The chefs in front of me were busy slicing some beautiful Atlantic salmon sashimi, but I spied some hamachi (yellow tail) and that had to be ordered. Just the right ratio of fattiness and meatiness, I again took advantage of the natural flavor of the raw hamachi by adding just a touch of wasabi and soy sauce.

Finally, I had my pick of beautiful steaks, from US Black Angus to Irish aged beef, so I went the classic route with a grilled Angus rib-eye and mashed potatoes. The mash was creamy and lovely, and the steak was expertly grilled to medium rare, with hints of the smokiness from the grill accentuating the fatty rich beef.

I enjoyed the dinner so thoroughly that I forgot about shopping for ingredients. That may be a great turn of events, though, as it gives me a legitimate reason to go back. Maybe next time, I’ll shop first so my delicious dinner won’t distract me again.

The good thing about evaluating rookie restos? You get to draft them all and place them in your “regular visits” list. These three are already on mine.

Acquired Skill

I have been pretty lucky to be able to call chef Josh Boutwood a friend over the years, and he has been gracious enough to even appear on my cooking show before and throughout all the time I’ve known him, the one thing I’ve always known is that he’s one of the most intelligent and skilled chefs in the metro, and it comes out in his food. When I heard through the grapevine that he had a new resto in Greenbelt 3, I knew I had the perfect place to visit after the cinema.

Char Grilled Octopus at Ember was absolutely delicious.

Ember, much like its sister restaurant Savage, features a menu filled with dishes kissed by flame or charcoal, but despite that, they are plated elegantly and precisely. Chef Boutwood’s acquired skills are evident in plenty of dishes, but do not miss the chance to order his raw beef dish, enhanced by a creamy white sauce and soy-cured egg yolk. Sitting atop a crepe of sorts, which reminds me a little of an injera (Ethiopian flatbread), the beef is creamy and astonishingly tender, which gives off a beautiful mouthfeel.

Even picky eaters who shy away from raw beef will become converts for sure. Their octopus is another win, with the perfect amount of charred flavor lifting the tender octopus up. It is then spiked with a smoky and spicy harissa. The other surprise of the night was the creamed spinach, made extra rich and flavorful with the addition of the cheddar and, yes, cheese does make everything better.

The Raw Beef dish in Ember is amazingly tender.

I could talk about the other things I tasted, like the crusty sourdough bread, the short ribs cooked in sous vide or the raw tuna, but I think I’ll just leave it at this. I would venture to say every item on this menu will be delicious because the element of fire, when wielded by someone who has acquired skills over the years like chef Boutwood has, will almost always produce deliciousness.

Future Potential

The Seared Goat Cheese Salad at Perrochiko is vibrant and bright.

Standing at the corner of the Uptown Parade in BGC is the new Spanish place Perrochiko and it is quite a nice place to spend a chill Friday night after work. Their cold cuts selection features Iberico jamon and chorizo, but also a fatty sobresada and black forest ham, all perfect with their delicious bread, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. Their mushroom and truffle croquettas were nice and crisp, but also light and filled with earthy mushrooms. Another literal bright spot was their salad with seared goat cheese and strawberry vinaigrette, whose bright and vibrant flavors serve as a great counterpoint to the cold cuts. I look forward to trying more of their fare in the future.

The Seleccion at Perrochiko.
Drafting Rookies

The bad thing about being an NBA scout is you may only get to draft one rookie after evaluating so many. The good thing about evaluating rookie restos? You get to draft them all and place them in your “regular visits” list. These three are already on mine.