With its excellent Italian fare and dishes good to share, it’s no wonder My Kitchen by Chef Chris attracts large groups of families and friends. Photo by Stella Arnaldo for InterAksyon.com.
THE first time I met the Swiss-born chef Chris Locher and was introduced to his famous panizza—his own version of the pizza—was back in February 2007. He was still chef patron of C’ Italian Dining in Clark, Angeles, Pampanga and back then, it was known among expat bankers as the “best Italian restaurant in the country.”
I remember urging Chef Chris to open a branch in Manila so my foodie friends and I could gorge on his sumptuous dishes more frequently, but he dismissed this by saying that he wasn’t too keen on the city’s traffic jam, noise, and pollution.
Flash forward five years later, Chef Chris has left his old employ, and has continued his culinary career in Manila, setting up My Kitchen by Chef Chris in Paco. (He is also executive chef at The Contintental at the exclusive Tower Club in Makati, creating gastronomic delights for its well-heeled members.)
With the chef’s old regulars like myself, and a growing new crop of fans, My Kitchen has become the newest dining hotspot in the metropolis. Many historians-foodies have noted, the restaurant’s presence has given life to Paco itself, whose historical significance became obscured by the district having become a haven of parked trailers and trucks.
What I love about My Kitchen and Chef’s Chris’ creations is that they are always consistently superb, and the portions are always large enough to share with family and friends. So it’s not unusual to see loads of families heading to the restaurant after Sunday Mass at the Paco Park Church.
The panizza is a unique creation of Chef Chris. It is a super-thin rectangular pizza baked to a crisp with a blend of five different cheeses and herbs, and various toppings. Take each slice, put an arugula leaf or two, then roll up to eat. Photographed here is the Saint Jacques. Photo by Stella Arnaldo for InterAksyon.com.
Among my favorites are the panizzas of course, those super-thin crust rectangular pizzas baked to a crisp with five different cheeses and a variety of herbs. Sliced diagonally, you take a slice, put an arugula leaf or two, shake on some chili flakes for some heat, then roll it before taking a bite. Mmmm…
I personally like the Saint Jacques made with US scallops flakes, shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, and chili flakes for that zesty seafood taste. The Jando, with Italian salami, toasted garlic, chili flakes, and sun-dried tomatoes is a meat-lover’s pleasure.
Can’t choose? My Kitchen allows you to pick two different panizza flavors in one order under its Half and Half promo. (You pay for the higher-priced panizza flavor.)
There is also the tender slow-roasted lamb ribs with a garlic and rosemary rub which are aromatic as they are succulent. The dish is served with braised lentils, olive fried potatoes, and Italian style broccoli and good to share. (His other “to share” specials include Osso Buco and Bistecca-US prime angus flank steak in a rosemary garlic marinade, served with a potatoes and roasted veggies.)
The Spaghetti Con Fruitti Di Mare is a blend of fresh salmon, dorado, snapper, prawns and imported mussels sautéed with light virgin olive oil , tomato, olives and capers. Photo by Stella Arnaldo for InterAksyon.com.
Among the pastas, my friends and I order the Spaghetti con Frutti Di Mare to counterpoint the meaty lamb dish. In the dish are fresh salmon, dorado, snapper, prawns, and imported mussels, sautéed with light virgin olive oil, tomato, olives, and capers.
And while I don’t normally like cream-based pastas, I must admit I became a convert when I tasted Chef Chris’ Spaghetti Carbonara coated in a Parmesan cream sauce with bacon and mushrooms because it doesn’t have the usual heavy and overpoweringly rich taste of commercial carbonaras.
It’s heartening to note that Chef Chris can go out of his way to please his diners with off-menu dishes, such that when I’m not feeling too particularly ravenous, he will just as gladly make me a light and easy Spaghetti Pomodoro (basically with plum tomatoes and basil leaves).
On a recent visit, my friends and I discovered one of the restaurant’s newest offerings—grilled homemade Italian sausages. These sausages are unlike the usual we buy in supermarkets and delis, because Chef Chris uses pig’s intestines as sausage casings and his fillings are freshly made. So you can think of them like our longganizas, but with decidedly flavorful European meat fillings in a blend of herbs and spices.
Grilled homemade Italian sausages with caramelized garlic in red wine sauce, served with a lentin casserole and golden fried potatoes. The sausages which come in three variants – Traditional, Dolci, and Picante – may also be ordered fresh and uncooked from the restaurant’s deli. Photo by Stella Arnaldo for InterAksyon.com.
The sausages come in three variants: the Traditional, Dolci (sweet), and Picante (spicy). The dish is served with caramelized cloves of garlic in red wine sauce over a bed of lentils and golden fried potatoes on the side. You can also purchase the sausages, uncooked, from the deli at an astoundingly reasonable price.
My Kitchen is certainly not a one-note establishment. Aside from its hearty main entrees, its desserts are also nothing to sniff at. I particularly adore the Lemon and Lime Cheesecake baked in a thin almond crust. The dessert is an outstanding balance of citrusy curd with its almond and cream topping, making it one of the best desserts in my book.
Chef Chris describes it as Sicily’s second most famous export (can you guess the first?). A cylindrical crispy pastry shell is filled sweet ricotta cream with chocolate, pistachio nuts, and glazed fruits. Photo by Stella Arnaldo for InterAksyon.com.
Another winning dessert is the Cannoli, a crispy cylindrical pastry shell filled with luscious sweet ricotta cream with chocolate, pistachio and glazed fruits. The tingling waves of joy you will feel after eating any of these desserts will drown out all complaints from your hips.
If there is one downside to the My Kitchen experience, if at all, is that it can be too noisy in the main dining area because it mostly enclosed in glass. But I suppose this is already nitpicking because for Chef Chris and his partners, that kind of noise means the place is alive and rocking their F&B revenues! What’s more, guests do have the choice of dining by the lovely swimming pool or in a private area, which can accommodate groups.
So yes, just ignore those parked trailers on this part of Manila’s busy streets, and brave the traffic to drive over to Paco for a meal at My Kitchen. Admittedly, it can become a tad expensive to dine there especially if you have all the courses from appetizers to dessert, with wine as well. But I have yet to hear of any diner who has come away dissatisfied with their meal.
At My Kitchen you will always be generously rewarded with, what I like to call, a happy tummy.
• My Kitchen by Chef Chris is at the Oasis Park Hotel, 1032-34 Belen Street Paco, Metro Manila Philippines. For inquiries and reservations, call 521-2371 to 75 or click http://www.facebook.com/mykitchenbychefchris.
Chris Locher’s My Kitchen Guarantees Happy Tummies
Source: InterAksyon.com – Lifestyle
Related News topics: chef chris locher, my kitchen by chef chris panizza