One of the significant dates in the Philippine’s history is their Independence Day because it marks the nation’s independence from the Spanish rule on June 12, 1898.
And in KL, they recently flew in an amazing Filipino Guest Chef, to celebrate it with the embassy diplomates this year. His name is Chef Jose Marco Antonio V. Legasto and he would be cooking for us tonight at Nook, Aloft KL.
And Chef Marco Legasto and his team of intrepid cooks are probably most famous for their unusual style of food preparation at their restaurant, called Purple Feet, in Manila. They call it Freestyle Cooking. Without the guidance of a set menu, they create dishes based on the whims and fancy of their guests. Talk about having to be on the ball 24/7.
Well, tonight, he would be preparing a Filipino tasting menu for us, paired with rum as well as wines. We couldn’t wait to get started.
Malay Manila – Malaysian homemade Sarsi with a twist of Rum paired with Spring Rolls
Sea caught Prawn Carpaccio Kilawin with Truffle
First dish to be served was a delightful platter of raw prawn – the prawn carpaccio. Chef Marco had sautéed the capers and these little pockets of intense flavour really made this dish memorable – that plus the deft manipulation of calamansi, truffle oil and succulent, sticky prawn. Sharp and sour, earthy and deep, contrasting a sweet, raw and thick rich prawn paste. Superb.
Clear Fish Sinigang – WXYZ Mojito amplified with Don Papa Rum
An interesting sour, clear soup that was a little tepid for my liking. The white fish fillets were also a little bland, but we did enjoy the Mojito.
WXYZ Mojito amplified with Don Papa Rum
Chicken Inasal Breast on a Bed of Mesclun topped with Red Eggs and Kesong Puti
I don’t normally order chicken, in any restaurant, but this was one of the great highlights of dinner. Quartered salted eggs, fresh mozzarella sliced, all worked harmoniously to great effect – tender slices of chicken breast were amazingly well flavoured. Lemon grass, ananto seeds, and again, calamansi juice made this dish an inspired one.
This course was well paired with the Miguel Torres – Santa Digna Chardonnay Reserve. It had an excellent balance between density and acidity on the palate, followed by a very fruity aftertaste.
Mula sa Dagat
Fish Fillet topped with Kare Kare Sauce on a Bed of Wilted Bakchoy also paired with the Miguel Torres – Santa Digna Chardonnay Reserve.
This next fish dish was so much better than the earlier one. Snapper that had been prepared in the famous Filipino stew, the Kare Kare, was just too good for words. Loved the flavours of ground peanut, anato seeds, krill and garlic that predominated. Another great pair for the fruity white wine.
Chef Marco Legasto makes and an appearance .. guests are in awe of his unique, signature cooking style
Calamansi Pandan Sorbet
As it turned out, this would be a rather long dinner. With the palate cleanser, we got into dinner, full swing.
Lamb Kaldereta on a Bed of Potato Thins
Enter the red meats, and we would require an equally meaty red wine to do the pairing justice. This next hearty lamb dish reminded me of a rich, thick lamb stew with lots of flavours of garlic, coconut milk, bay leaves and tomatoes shining through. It surely warmed us up!
These next few dishes were paired with the Miguel Torres – Santa Digna Camenera Reserve. Delicious, well balanced, oaky and tannic, this wine proved to be a good pair for the rich and ferric food.
Tenderloin Beef on a Bed of Spiced Taro Leaves also paired with the Miguel Torres – Santa Digna Camenera Reserve
The star of this next course, apart from the divinely rare tenderloin, would have to be the Taro leaves. Sautéed garlic, onion and shrimp paste formed the base of this amazing Taro concoction which was laid out as a gorgeous bed under the hunk of beef. Loved the characteristic nutty flavours of the taro leaves that had been slowly cooked in coconut milk, seasoned with ginger, shrimp paste and chili. Everything came together in one, lovely, meaty, mouthful – though Taro is hardly photogenic in this mashed up state, believe me when when I say, looks can be deceiving. 100% spot on in terms of delivering the flavours in spades.
Look at that divine color! A rosy blush like non other.
Banana Spring rolls and Peanut butter/Chocnut pudding paired with Don Papa Rum on the rocks
The grand finale, was grand indeed. Delicious flaky banana spring rolls, and super delectable Chocnut Pudding (that tasted like peanut butter) paired incredibly with the vanilla flavoured Don Papa Rum on the rocks.
Don Papa Rum on the rocks… delish!
Don Papa is an excellent sipping rum, easily enjoyed either neat or on the rocks. We learned that the rum is distilled from sugar cane grown in Negros, a Philippine region known for its sugar, and aged in American oak barrels for 7 years in the foothills of Mount Kanloan. It had strong aromas of toasty cedar wood, cinnamon, honey and vanilla.
A lovely dinner – happy to have been guests at Chef Marco Legasto’s table.
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