Friday, August 18, 2017

Bringing The Vibrant Flavors of Asian Street Food to Novotel Manila's Food Exchange

Fish balls, tokneneng, kwek kwek, balut, gado-gado, tteokbokki, laksa, Hainanese chicken, dim sum and rojak, iconic street food favorites from all over Asia converge at Novotel Manila's Food Exchange. It's Asia on a plate. One very big plate... 

Novotel Manila celebrates the rich and diverse flavors of Asia with the Asian Street Food Festival at the Food Exchange from August 17 to September 3, 2017. Savor and rediscover classic and comforting flavors from Japan, India, China, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines all in one place with a wide selection of dishes prepared by eight Asian chefs led by noted celebrity chef Sau del Rosario. Experience the rich flavors of Asia, one plate at a Novotel Manila's Food Exchange.

After the success of the recent Kanyaman Food Festival with traditional Capampangan dishes by Chef Sau del Rosario (see my previous post, Flavors of Pampanga: The Kanyaman Filipino Food Festival with Chef Sau del Rosario at Novotel Manila's Food Exchange), Novotel Manila is back for more...

...this time, showcasing the very best of Asian street food favorites with its impressive Asian Street Food Festival at the Food Exchange. The festival is also timely, coinciding with the 50th founding anniversary of ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations, and there's just no better way to mark the historic milestone than with a plate of unique and vibrant Asian flavors.  And with eight Asian chefs at the helm led by Chef Sau del Rosario, you can expect real and authentic Asian flavors without leaving the metro. Novotel Manila's Food Exchange is the perfect venue for the regional food festival, known for its international offerings and lavish buffet (for more on the Food Exchange, see my previous post, International Flavors at Novotel Manila's Food Exchange).

Novotel Manila's General Manager, Bernd Schneider (L) welcomed guests to the formal launch of the Asian Street Food Festival at the Food Exchange, as Chef Sau del Rosario and Novotel Manila's Executive Chef Michael Schaub (R) described what diners can expect from the lavish spread.

The familiar local ice cream cart (L) made the rounds at the Food Exchange scooping up local ice cream flavors including Ube Ice Cream, or sweet purple yam. While at the other end, a dim sum cart (R) loaded with bamboo steamers offered a wide selection of tasty treats including Steamed Pork Buns and Chicken Feet... 

...and freshly steamed Cantonese-style Har Gao or hakaw, crystal prawn dumplings, perfect with a soy chili dip. The soft, thin and translucent wrapper reveals the rich orange hues of the plump prawns, delivering a fresh snap with every bite.  

The familiar Siumai or siomai is also another popular option at the rolling dim sum cart, with its savory filling of minced ground pork, shrimps, mushrooms, and green onions. It's tempting to go for second and third servings of fresh-steamed dim sum, but there's more dishes from more Asian countries to try and enjoy...

At another live station, the chefs were preparing a fresh batch of the iconic local street food favorite, the Tokneneng, whole chicken egg deep-fried in a bright orange batter along with its smaller variation, the Kwek Kwek, made with quail eggs. Over at the other live station, a familiar aroma catches your attention...  

The deep-fried Fish Balls served on a bamboo skewer just brings back so many fond childhood memories, served with a variety of sweet and spicy dips. And just like the way it was back then on the streets, simply pick a skewer and stab away at the fish balls. 

And you can come back for seconds and thirds. Start with the sweet sauce, and end with the spicy chili vinegar dip to cleanse the palate before hitting the other dishes at the buffet spread. 

And when you have fish balls, tokneneng and kwek kwek, you just got to have some Balut to complete the local street food experience at Novotel Manila's Food Exchange.

But there's more. Chefs Rajan and Allan (L) present their traditional Indian and Chinese appetizers, tasty bites before the sumptuous feast. Each representative dish from the different Asian countries have their own distinct notes, and it's these diverse flavors that make the Asian Street Food Festival special.

The popular Korean rice cake, Tteokbokki (L) can also be found at the Food Exchange slowly simmering in a pot of richly spiced broth along with other regional dishes including the flavorful Pako Salad (R), the local fiddlehead fern with its clean and fresh notes capped by the flavors of salted egg, tomatoes, and onions.

The uniquely Asian Rojak, a skewered sweet and spicy fruit and vegetable salad popular in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, is also featured at the Asian Street Food Festival. The mix of sweet fruits and vegetables like fresh tomato, pineapple, onion, cucumber and melon deliver a natural sweetness contrasting with the hot and spicy dressing of fresh chili, peanuts, and palm sugar. The tangy dressing transports you to the quaint streets of Bali, as you go for another skewer.

The Indonesian Gado-Gado with Spicy Peanut Sauce is another unique regional dish with a hearty mix of deep-fried tofu, hard-boiled egg, lightly blanched carrots, string beans, and potatoes drizzled with a thick mildly sweet and spicy peanut dressing. The nutty notes of the sweet peanut dressing also delivers a soothing heat for another unique taste of Asia, right here at the Food Exchange. 

Novotel Manila also takes pride in their fresh organic produce sourced from their very own farms, the El Dorado Farm in San Mateo, Rizal. These fresh vegetables impart a subtle sweetness capped by a light crispness, and the Lumpiang Sariwa, fresh local spring rolls, highlight the clean flavors of the vegetables. 

The Kinilaw na Tuna, a local variation of the ceviche, features fresh tuna and vegetables marinated in chili, calamansi, and coconut cream. The dish offers contrasting textures and flavors blending seamlessly with each and every bite. Just perfect. 

Your culinary journey of Asian flavors continue with a pair of refreshing salads from Thailand with the sweet, spicy and tart Thai Papaya Salad...

...and the refreshing and savory Thai Beef Salad, dishes that highlight the freshness of the ingredients. Like all Thai dishes, the salads feature a whole range of flavors, from sweet to spicy, and sour to salty hints. 

In between plates, go for the comforting sharp and spicy notes of Kimchi from the Land of the Morning Calm. You'll find a selection of traditional kimchi, from the popular cabbage to other regional variations made with radishes and cucumbers. And kimchi just seems to pair so well with all the Asian dishes.   

Have a bowl of spicy Laksa prepared by the station chef (L) and pair it with a variety of Asian flavors including the tasty Chicken Pandan (R), deep-friend crispy chicken wrapped in pandan leaves. As you unwrap the pandan leaves, a fragrant aroma combines with the savory hints of the juicy chicken.

Then, it's time to get serious and go for the mains at the Asian Street Food Festival. A duo of classic Singaporean dishes were featured that day, including the Hainanese Chicken, the tender and delicately poached chicken served with a trio of dips, a spicy chili sauce, garlic and ginger dip, and dark soy sauce...

...and Chili Crabs, succulent crabs draped in a rich chili and garlic sauce.

The sweet and briny notes of the crab meat are kicked up by the chili, herbs and other spices, just the way it should be. Seconds? Absolutely.

One of the must-try dishes at the Asian Street Food Festival is the inventive Pork Kare-Kare with crunchy pork belly draped in a thick peanut sauce with fresh vegetables. The use of pork instead of the traditional ox-tail and beef tripe makes this dish different, and you'll want some extra rice for sure along with a lot of shrimp paste.

There's something for everyone at the Asian Street Food Festival buffet spread, including this Steamed Fish in Light Soy Sauce and Ginger for a light yet satisfying and healthy meal.

Like my previous visits to the Food Exchange, a stop at Chef Rajan's Indian Station is mandatory for his signature Mutton Curry, with fork tender mutton simmered in a thick and richly spiced curry sauce topped with fresh herbs... paired with his Vegetable Biryani, soft and fluffy long-grain rice seasoned with spices. I've said it once before and I'll say it again, Chef Rajan's offerings are probably some of the best Indian dishes served in a hotel buffet this side of the metro.

Go for some Korean flavors on your next round, with Korean Beef Bulgogi, tender slices of marinated beef topped with sesame seeds...

...and Japchae, a Korean glass noodle dish with vegetables. Soft and chewy, the noodles release a rich burst of flavor. But there's more, so much more to taste at the Asian Street Food Festival.

Enjoy the day's freshest catch with the Thai Seafood Basil, a tasty dish with a medley of fresh seafood. The flavors are fresh, subtle and delicate, allowing you to taste more of the seafood without being overpowered by spices and seasonings.

At the Food Exchange, diners can enjoy a wide variety of Asian and local flavors, from Beef Kaldereta to Sweet and Sour Pork, curries and more. The wide assortment of regional dishes makes your Asian culinary journey easy without borders. Just go one plate, one Asian country at a time.   

At the Japanese Station, you'll find tempura, sushi, and sashimi as well as the crisp and juicy Pork Katsudon (L) drizzled with creamy Japanese mayo. Further down the aisle, you'll find the Thai Massaman Beef Curry (R) for another regional variation and taste of curry.

Craving for some pork love? The Food Exchange has that covered too, with savory Roast Pork Asado sprinkled with sesame seeds (L) and the crispy Lechon Kawali (R), deep-fried pork belly with that perfect crunch. You can go for extra steamed white rice or better yet...

...go for a heaping mound of Sisig Paella for a double dose of pork love. The light crispness of the pork mask adds both texture and flavor to the rice, and it's a full meal in itself. Simply squeeze some calamansi to temper the richness of the pork for balanced flavors.

If you're still up for it, head on to the main Carving Station for the impressive Steamed Whole Fish with herbs, onions, and potatoes...

...and a slice or two of Roasted Pork Belly topped with herbs and a side of grilled vegetables. And yes, it tastes as good as it looks.

Not to be missed is the fresh Seafood Station at the Food Exchange, stocked with fresh clams...

...large prawns and plump mussels. Have it baked, grilled, or sauteed in butter, garlic and lemon. The station chefs at Novotel Manila's Food Exchange would be more than happy to serve it just the way you like it. Then, come back for more. The station is regularly stocked and replenished, so no need to rush.

For dessert, have some ice cream or why not make your own Halo-Halo or the local Ice Scramble with milk and chocolate powder and cereal? The Dessert Station offers an extensive selection of local, Asian and international treats, including the native Sapin-Sapin, a layered glutinous rice cake made from rice flour and coconut cream flavored with purple yam...

...or go for the indulgent Sans Rival (L), the traditional layered dessert with buttercream and meringue topped with chopped cashews.  If you can't have enough of purple yam, the sinful Ube Cake (R) is the way to go. Cap your feast and pair your dessert with a freshly brewed cup of Latte.

Or you can end your Asian feast with the Thai Mango Sticky Rice to complete your Asian culinary journey. Fresh and authentic Asian flavors prepared by eight Asian chefs led by Chef Sau del Rosario, it really doesn't get better than that. Celebrate and rediscover comforting Asian flavors with the Asian Street Food Festival at Novotel Manila's Food Exchange from August 17 to September 3, 2017 for only P 1,299 per person on Weekdays and P 1,499 per person on weekends and public holidays. And here's even more good news. Diners get a chance to win trips to selected Asian destinations via Cebu Pacific with accommodations at partner Novotel hotels and properties. Hit the flavorful streets of Asia without leaving the metro, only at Novotel Manila's Food Exchange.

The Food Exchange is located at the ground floor of Novotel Manila Araneta Center, General Aguinaldo Avenue, Araneta Center, Quezon City or call 990-7888 for inquiries and more information.

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