Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Weaving Flavorful New Stories at James & Daughters by Le Jardin

Memories, stories, flavors...it's what makes a favorite and well-loved dish special. For Chef Jonas Ng, the inspiration for his newest dining concept has always been there, recreating cherished family favorites and recipes in a new chapter of a continuing story...

Chef Jonas Ng weaves a new and flavorful story with his latest dining concept, James & Daughters by Le Jardin, focusing on the finest and freshest local and sustainable ingredients for his inspired take on comforting soul food. For Chef Jonas Ng, it's all about "hand-crafted deliciousness" prepared with a whole lot of love...

Chef Jonas Ng returns to his roots serving comforting local cuisine he grew up with, sourcing the freshest local produce for real flavors (for more on Chef Jonas Ng and Le Jardin, see my previous posts, Le Jardin: Elegant French Cuisine High Above The Fort and He's Back: The Chef Next Door with Jonas Ng Season 2 Launch at Le Jardin )

Inside the bright and spacious interiors of James & Daughters by Le Jardin, one can find pots of sweet cilantro, Thai basil and sweet basil all around. As Chef Jonas Ng would have it, why buy when you can simply clip some fresh herbs without the hassle. It's that kind of homey vibe without the fuss that just permeates throughout James & Daughters by Le Jardin. From the smart and uncluttered layout to the music playlist, Chef Jonas Ng has it down to a tee at his newest dining establishment. Drawing inspiration from childhood dishes and the family's favorite soul food both here and abroad, Chef Jonas Ng paints a vivid palette of flavors that's comfortingly familiar yet refreshing new and different at James & Daughters by Le Jardin. Like the signature Tuna Kilawin using locally-sourced ingredients ...

Chef Jonas Ng recreates a classic local dish and an old family favorite with James & Daughters by Le Jardin's Tuna Kilawin (P 420), a light and refreshing starter with fresh yellowfin tuna loin from General Santos marinated in local coconut vinegar and creamy coconut milk topped with crisp aromatics, coconut sugar, red chili and served with crispy wheat chips. 

The vibrant briny sweetness of the fresh tuna comes through delivering a rich burst of flavor followed by the creamy notes of the coconut milk kicked up the soothing heat of the fresh chili. It's this blend of distinct yet balanced flavors that makes this dish special, with each layer of flavor coming together in a seamless blend. It's a dish that not only looks good, it tastes even better.  

Memories of family travels to Ho Chi Minh are brought back to life by Chef Jonas Ng with his Clams in Lemongrass Broth (P 375). Simple yet hearty and full of flavor, the popular Vietnamese street food uses fresh and plump clams delicately steamed in a broth of fish sauce, cilantro, lemongrass, and ginger and served with Nuoc mam dip. it's a deceptively simple dish, but it's dishes like these that demand the freshest ingredients for rich and clean flavors. 

Land and sea come together with Chef Jonas Ng's Chorizo Mussels and Laksa Leaf (P 375) with succulent local mussels and homemade chorizo simmered with white wine and topped with Vietnamese coriander. The savory richness of the pork chorizo adds a flavorful punch to the dish without overpowering the delicate notes of the mussels. It's that delicate balance that Chef Jonas Ng brings to the table, perfected with years of classic culinary training reflected in his signature dishes.   

An homage to one of his culinary mentors, Chef Jonas Ng recreates the flavors of Vancouver and Chef Tina Fineza with his elegantly plated Seared Togarashi Tuna (P 495) with fresh yellowfin tuna tataki seasoned with flavorful Japanese 7-spice and served with cold sesame soba noodles and grilled shiitake mushrooms. The clean briny notes of the tuna are just perfect with the 7 spice blend for pure and honest flavors. The nutty hints of the shiitake mushrooms pair well with the cold buckwheat noodles, the perfect side to another tasty dish at James & Daughters by Le Jardin.

The regional flavors of Cebu are highlighted next with Chef Jonas Ng's Pugon Oven-Roasted Crispy Skin Pork Belly (P 1,800) for pure pork love. The slab of pork belly is stuffed with flavorful aromatics and rolled then placed in a brick oven and charcoal roasted to crispy perfection. And it just doesn't get better than that.

But it does. Chef Jonas Ng pairs his Cebu-inspired Pugon Oven-Roasted Crispy Skin Pork Belly with the flavors of Bicol in another inventive pairing. The Bicol Express Dip and Fresh Mustard Leaves (P 275) is one of those tasty gems at James & Daughters by Le Jardin, a thick sauce made with green and red chili, garlic, ginger, onion, pork belly, fermented shrimp paste and coconut milk that adds a double dose of richness to the pork with a side of fresh mustard leaves for balanced notes. Dip some pork crackling into the Bicol Express Dip and repeat. And soon, you just can't stop.

Who doesn't like fried food? It may be simple, but Chef Jonas shared it's one of the most difficult dishes to perfect. But he's up for the challenge with his homey Duo of Mom's Fried Chicken and Tori Karaage (P 475) reflecting Japanese and homestyle Chinese flavors from San Juan. On one side, Chef Jonas replicates his mom's dish with crispy fried chicken marinated in fish sauce, and on the other, Japanese style fried chicken from the family's Japanese restaurant. Each has its own unique flavors, both perfectly deep-fried with tender and juicy chicken topped with a lightly crisp outer layer pairing well with the velvety smooth Japanese mayo. 

Here's another tasty fried option at James & Daughters by Le Jardin, the Softshell Crab Tempura (P 475) with battered and fried local soft shell crab seasoned with lime, pepper and sea salt. And that's all you need to enjoy the fresh flavors of the soft shell crab. A crisp breading finishes the job. The light and delicate notes of the crab deliver a briny sweetness, capped by the contrasting texture of the batter. Now this is one dish that needs a cold beer...

At James & Daughters by Le Jardin, you'll find artisan craft beer from Baguio Craft Brewery on tap to complete your dining experience. That day, we had the hoppy notes of Baguio Craft Brewery's  Hop Attack (L), an 8.2% ABV Imperial IPA and the deep caramel and malty hints of the Englishman in New York (R) for some good vibes.

After a few more rounds of beer, Chef Jonas served the next batch of comforting dishes including the Beefy Noodle Soup (P 350) with soft rice noodles, fork-tender chunks of beef and egg...

...poured with with a light and clean beefy broth flavored with beef shanks, tail, knee and fresh herbs. The broth is just packed with flavor, lining your palate with beefy notes with every sip. The fresh herbs and rice noodles complete the dish, along with the hefty chunks of beef and boiled egg. It's a light meal in itself that brings back memories of countless childhood summers.

Fond memories from family travels in Asia provide the inspiration for Chef Jonas Ng's pair of satisfying Large Plates at James & Daughters by Le Jardin, starting with the BBQ Stingray with Laksa Rice (P 575) for a taste of Kuala Lumpur. The tender char-grilled stingray is wrapped in banana leaves for that fragrant aroma, served with soft laksa rice. Dab some spicy house sambal sauce for some soothing heat, and you've got another winning meal at James & Daughters by Le Jardin.  

The BBQ Lemongrass Free-Range Chicken with Rice (P 520) takes you to the streets of Bangkok with marinated half chicken grilled over charcoal, served with pandan coconut milk rice and green mango salad. The tender chicken is juicy delivering rich flavors, contrasting with the charred and lightly crisp crust adding smoky hints to the dish for a winner chicken dinner. Filipino, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Thai along with some classic continental flavors, it's all here at James & Daughters by Le Jardin. And it's interesting to see how a classically trained chef in European cuisine recreates local and Asian flavors. At James & Daughters by Le Jardin, Chef Jonas Ng serves up other family favorites like Mom's Kiam Hee Lo Ba (P 375) and Mom's 5 Treasure Soup (P 380) as well as some signature dishes from Le Jardin including Beef Cheeks with Foie Gras (P 850) and Duck Leg Confit (P 600).  

For dessert, Jonas pays tribute to partner Chef Hasset Go with Suman ala Hasset (P 200), with steamed rice filled with purple yam and topped with vanilla custard and coconut glaze and served with coconut sorbet. It's a perfect ending to cap a memorable meal at James & Daughters by Le Jardin. Like all of the dishes at James & Daughters by Le Jardin, it's the stories behind each one that adds to the flavor and the dining experience. Another flavorful chapter unfolds in the continuing story of Chef Jonas Ng, and you can discover it yourself at James & Daughters by Le Jardin.

James & Daughters is located at the Ground Floor, The Westin Residences Manila Sonata, 21st Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City or call 0917-817-6584 for inquiries and more information. You can also visit their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/jamesanddaughters/ for more updates.

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