Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's Sunday, I'm in Love

My family loves to eat.

We sometimes come up with the silliest excuses (our Shih-tzu’s birthday, end of Ramadan (we’re Catholic), the moon is orange, and so on) for eating out, just to rationalize our gluttonous exploits. Recently though, as a result of our expanding waist-lines and my parents’ growing assortment of maintenance drugs, we have decided to limit our binging (with the exception of birthdays and appropriate holidays) to Sunday dinners.

Earlier during the week, I received a text message from Caoboy offering his mouth-watering Australian Rib-eye steaks and Lamb Chops. I have ordered 2 kilos of the former a few months before so I know- at the remarkably reasonable price of P575/kilo- that I could not possibly go wrong with his steaks. So, I text him back to order two kilos once again, knowing that he will be delivering them promptly Saturday afternoon. I then warn everyone in the household, “We’re having steak on Sunday!”

The last time we had some Caoboy rib-eyes, we served them with grilled prawns and double-baked potatoes. This time, though, we opted for a Japanese dinner. Since I was oh so generous in providing the steaks, I delegated the task of cooking to my sisters, Queenbee and Foxychef. Queenbee offered to prepare Gyoza (Japanese dumplings, steamed then fried- both the original pork version and a few beef ones for Matt), while Foxychef cooked pretty much everything else.

We started with some fresh Tuna and Salmon Sashimi that I scored from Hatchin (the delightful Japanese grocery in Metropolitan Ave., Makati). They are sold in small slabs (approximately 200 grams each), then you can ask their butcher to slice them up for you if you want. I personally prefer having them slice the raw fish for me, since I do not have the proper tools and expertise needed to come up with sleek, clean-cut fillets. The sashimi was served with steaming bowls of Miso Soup.

Also purchased from Hatchin are some Kisu Furai (panko-crusted fish fillet) and Tuna Flakes Katsu that were simply deep-fried at home. To accompany the fried fish dishes, I prepared a simple remoulade made out of Japanese mayonnaise, white onions, green onions, chives and a little lemon juice. The Kisu was quite good with the citrus-y dressing, but I do not think we will be buying the Tuna Katsu again, which was pretty bland and dry.

The steaks were cooked Teppanyaki-style. Obviously, we do not have a Teppan griddle to cook on, so we had to make do with this table-top Yakiniku grill. The rib-eyes was seared whole, and then sliced again into small cubes before it is cooked a final time. The simply-seasoned chunks are then topped by a drizzle of the garlic-infused oil that Foxychef prepared beforehand. Everyone raved about how tender and flavourful the beef was. Even the smaller cubes of meat that were overcooked remained succulent and juicy.

For our side dish, we had Japanese fried rice cooked in the style of the old Takayama Restaurant in Wilson St., one of our family’s favourite restos back when it was still open. Countless times we sat in front of one of their Teppan tables with our Titas and cousins, salivating over the mountain of fried rice expertly prepared by their chefs. After watching their table-top theatrics for several years, we were able to commit to memory the right amount of butter, garlic, onions, soy sauce, etc. to replicate that dish we fell in love with as kids.

Wine and Japanese food is a tricky thing for me. With the sweetness of the sauces, strong garlic and onion flavours... it’s hard to come up with a traditional (stews/steaks= zinfandel or shiraz; or fresh oysters= champagne or sauvignon blanc) combination that is tried and tested. So I decided to just go with something I really enjoy drinking and would be great with the humid weather that evening.

Ever since I tried Torres’ Vina Esmeralda- a dry, slightly fruity white wine- at the CACS wine seminar a couple of years ago, I was smitten. I loved the floral and fruit-laden nose, and how- despite its obvious tropical flavours- it remains crisp and bright on the palate. Anyway, I love drinking that wine, so I went with it. And although it was not a pairing made in heaven, drinking a wine I love just made dinner more enjoyable nevertheless. Next time, though, I think I’ll just buy a few cans of Kirin or Asahi.

I have to note that Queenbee’s Gyoza did not exactly turn out the way she wanted, but it was still quite tasty. She got the wrong wrapper, so she just fried it, pinsek frito-style. Instead of the usual sweet-chili sauce that accompanies pinsek frito, we still used the traditional vinegar and soy dipping sauce for Gyoza. Don’t worry, Queenbee, everyone has their off-nights, but we still loved your Crispy Japanese Pockets.

We were so stuffed after that dinner that some of us took a stroll up and down our street to digest; Matt, the resident “garbage compactor”, just sat slumped on a chair in the front yard as he smoked his cigs- signs, of course, that it was another great Sunday dinner.

Cao Ocampo's Australian Rib-eyes and Lambchops
mobile #09178387399

Hatchin Japanese Grocery
Metropolitan Ave.
Makati City
Tel. # (632) 8905038


Miguel said...

Have you tried the Vina Sol from Torres??

Chinkee said...

Hi Miguel! Yes, I've also tried the Vina Sol, and I thought it was quite good. A bit heftier than the Esmeralda (I think its part Chardonnay?), so I could imagine it pairing very well with a seafood paella. Which reminds me: I have yet to try La Tienda. I'm guessing the Vina Sol would be a good bottle to bring there, unless they serve that there.

Have you also tried the Vina Esmeralda? Its predominantly Moscatel and part Gewurztraminer, so it smells soooo good.:-)

Noel said...

...at the remarkably reasonable price of P575/kilo....

Wow, that's less than half of US prime grade rib-eye. For teppanyaki, ok 'yan! Will try some out.

I used to live in North Greenhills (the one where Club Filipino is) before I got married and moved south, so I used to eat a lot along Wilson. My wife (still my girlfriend at the time) and I would usually have dinner at Gene's Trattoria di Gino (still along Wilson then), Takayama or Alex III when in the area.

Chinkee said...

Hi Noel! Yeah that price is really good, noh? I hope he doesn't raise it because of all the good press he's been getting. Hehe.

My family and I used to live in Greenhills too, before moving to Makati. We also had some relatives who lived in your old village (Kennedy St.) and we'd always eat out in that area. We loved Alex III... We'd order the Boneless Crispy Pata and Chicken Barbecue, then take home some Tapa. Winner!

Miguel said...

I think Vina Sol is Sav Blanc. I prefer it to esmeralda although im starting to appreciate gewurtz and others now...

If you go to la tienda let me know so I can inform the chef. Also if you go and plan to drink white, yes better bring a bottle. For red you can order there the Marques de Caceres of the Marques de Murrieta if they still have.

Chinkee said...

"For red you can order there the Marques de Caceres of the Marques de Murrieta if they still have."

Ooooh, I love Marques de Caceres, Riojas and Riberas in general. Brought a bottle of the '96 to a dinner at Lolo Dad's a year ago and it was really good. Thanks for the tip, Miguel!:-)

Miguel said...

Try Marques de Murrieta - one of my favorites and even better than Caceres for my taste. :)

maria antonia said...

you made your beef guy sound like a drug dealer. then again in our family, food is our drug of choice.

Chinkee said...

Hey Tons! Hehe... Yeah, his steak is really like beefy smack. Hahaha! I can just imagine how bad it would be if you still lived here... I'm sure we'll be double our size now! We grew up kasi thinking eating out is a hobby...:-)