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Fresh ingredients, even herbs from the Conrad’s garden, made it into a special lunch
THE THEME of celebrity chef Jereme Leung’s return to the Philippines was a majestic harvest, a reason to celebrate amidst the difficulties of the past two years. Mr. Leung’s China Blue at Conrad Manila harvested more than herbs during his visit. Last month, Mr. Leung’s restaurant won the ninth spot in Tripadvisor’s list of Top 10 Fine Dining Restaurants in Asia.
“We are extremely proud as a team. We are mostly grateful for having a very good team here,” he said in an interview with BusinessWorld. (https://www.bworldonline.com/arts-and-leisure/2022/09/29/477214/the-conrads-china-blue-by-jereme-leung-makes-it-to-tripadvisors-top-asian-fine-dining-restaurants-list/).
Mr. Leung had been presented with the Five Star Diamond Award by the American Academy of Hospitality Science in 2000 and 2008.
His celebratory menu with six courses called “Majestic Harvest,” unfortunately, was only available until Sept. 29. However, he guesses that some of the dishes will make it to the restaurant’s main menu.
The meal opened with a combination platter of dim sum, including Marinated King Oyster with Chinese garlic vinegar sauce, Deep-fried Egg White Pillow Spring Roll with sea urchin black garlic, and Pan-fried Shao Hsing Yellow Wine Chicken Pancake with Black Caviar. The King Oyster mushroom and the Yellow Wine Chicken Pancake were rustically luxurious (but then, as in the chicken’s case, that tends to happen when dishes are sprinkled with black caviar).
Next came a crowd favorite, a Coconut Superior Soup Stock with a pork and shrimp dumpling and dried scallops, all baked under a pastry crust. According to Mr. Leung, the soup was double-boiled for two to three hours. “Just use your spoon and dig right through,” he said.
The main courses came in three parts: a Wok-fried Lobster with Mongolian Cream Pepper Sauce and Rice Pops, a Pan-Fried Beef Tenderloin with Crispy Preserved Radish, and Braised White Misua with a Sea Clam Onion-Ginger Sauce with Shrimp Roe. Of these, he was particularly proud of the misua (noodles). The shrimp roe was sun-fried, then powdered, then sprinkled all over the plate. “These are shrimps before they were shrimps,” he said. They contained all the potentiality of shrimp flavor in miniature, imbuing the flavor all throughout the dish. What could have been middling noodles was made extraordinary with the amplified flavor of shrimps. The pan-fried beef tenderloin was another joy, as the radish — with the texture of leather — became surprisingly juicy as it yielded to a closing mouth.
Dessert was a pan-fried Mango Coconut Matcha pancake paired with Peanut Satay Ice Cream. This was a genuine surprise as the ice cream seemed like a simple nut-flavored sweet, but revealed notes of deep spices with every bite. This just might make the cut for the new menu, according to Mr. Leung.
“We came out with this menu based on that thought,” he said about majestic harvests. “We put this menu together with the thought of introducing ingredients that are less commonly used.” One recalls the lemon basil sprinkled on top of the lobster, which had been harvested from the herb gardens of the Conrad Manila. “It would be a waste if we do not utilize the herb garden upstairs,” he said. “We’ve been nipping on it every day.”
“We try to bring different elements into the food without making it too fusion. We still want the tastebuds to [sense] provincial Chinese.” — Joseph L. Garcia