Thrilla in Manila pop up dinner by Herschell Taghap
Posted Thursday 06 October 2011on:
From Southeast Asia to the Mediterranean, and North Africa to South America, Sydney is a multicultural city with cuisines from across the continents. Authentic or fusion, rustic or formal, the eateries are diverse and neighbourhoods specialise in Turkish, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Italian, Korean and beyond.
An energetic atmosphere greeted us and Ting Momo was cosy reprieve from the coat and scarf weather. A row of glass jars containing herbs and spices lined at the counter.
Ting Momo is only open for weekday lunch and is the perfect space for special events. Chef Eric Tanaka and others were busily finalising the preparation as damp patrons trickled in from the rain.
The talented Herschell entertained us at his turntable! He described the menu in detail and explained the background of each dish.
The adobo flavoured nuts were crunchy and an alternative to popcorn!
Herschell’s mother’s recipe of broiled eggplant omelette was light and silky, served on a crostini with dilis (dried anchovies) and Jufran banana ketchup.
On another table were bottles of Sunkist with an ice bucket. Herschell shared an endearing memory of his mother drinking Sunkist, how it symbolised quality of life.
Oink! A whole pig was flattened and roasted.
Sauces and condiments used in Filipino cooking.
Aluminium trays were laden with food for the Filipino buffet. Daeing bangus is milkfish with toyomansi (soy sauce and kalamansi lime juice), sugar cane vinegar, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and red onion.
A dab of pungent bagoong (shrimp paste) adds complexity to any savoury dish.
Golden and crispy, these ground beef, carrot, celery and onion lumpia were dipped in plum sauce and greedily devoured.
I love noodles and the pancit canton had strands of firm egg noodles and a colourful assortment of carrot, celery, onion, green onions and chicharrones (pork rind).
Kare kare is Herschell’s favourite. A stew of oxtail, long beans, taro root, Jif peanut butter and bagoong. Deceptively plain in appearance, the gravy was gelatinous and nutty.
A gleaming cleaver hacked the whole roasted pig into tender chunks. A tray of salty crackling was the first to be emptied.
Rings of cherry tomatoes and green onions covered chopped hard boiled eggs and day old jasmine rice. A scoop of rice and a squirt of Tiparos fish sauce is Filipino comfort food!
The sisig was in a gigantic cast iron pan, a stir fry of pig’s head meat, bell pepper, red onion, lime and sugar cane vinegar.
There was also a bowl of sinigang, a sour soup of tamarind, lime and prawns.
And finally, dessert! Biko is a soothing pudding of glutinous rice, coconut milk, caramel and toasted coconut.
It was a memorable first experience with Filipino cuisine! Thanks Herschell for your passion and energy!