MANILA, Philippines - Chef Gigo de Guzman has been places. After his culinary studies at Enderun Colleges, he bagged a prestigious internship at the Le Jules Verne, a Michelin-starred restaurant located at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But even with his background and knowledge of the dark art of culinary wizardry, his secret ingredient is something relatable to most of us: sentimentality.
Sentimentality is at the heart of Noodle Studio, a restaurant headed by Chef Gigo and Chef Alister Sun. Take, for example, the Claire’s Pancit Canton. Based on a recipe created by Chef Gigo’s mother, the chanteuse Claire de la Fuente, the dish realizes the chef’s desire to bring a bit of home to the restaurant. All the other dishes in Noodle Studio’s menu are tributes to what he refers to as “the best memories of my life.”
“Ever since I was a kid, I loved food,” he says. “(Eating) was my favorite pastime with my dad. Our bonding would be late at night. He would order food, and we would just eat on the floor… That was my fondest memory of him.” These happy moments instilled in Chef Gigo a strong desire not just for eating, but for cooking.
Noodle Studio is built on those experiences. And because of that, it’s a bit difficult for Chef Gigo to single out what the most noteworthy dishes in the menu are. “Everything on the menu, I love!” he gushes. “I placed all my favorites in the menu.” When pressed, he eventually picks the beef brisket noodles as a good starting point. After tasting it, we certainly agree. Check out the list of our favorite dishes from Noodle Studio:
Beef Brisket Noodles
There’s a reason Chef Gigo singled out this dish. The medley of meat, noodles, and thick, almost stewy, soup is heavenly. Unlike other noodle dishes that drown the ingredients in too much soup, Chef Gigo’s Beef Brisket Noodles is confident enough to make the melt-in-your-mouth brisket the highlight of the dish.
Cold Noodles with Hainanese Chicken
While Noodle Studio is steeped in sentimentality, it is still a collaborative effort. Case in point: the Cold Noodles with Hainanese Chicken, which was made under the creatives line. “[It’s] a merger between me and my co-chef Alister. He created the pulled noodles with peanut vinegar sauce, while I created the hainanese chicken with the ginger sauce.” Both elements carry delicate flavors, but when combined create a rich explosion of taste.
Thai Green Chicken Curry
This curry has the perfect texture, the velvety sauce coating the soft chunks of chicken. The entire concoction is served in a delightful egg roll cup, and when eaten with the curry, provides a nice crunchy contrast to the silky contents. The sauce is a bit too salty, the saltiness battling the other strong flavors within the curry. With a few tweaks to the flavor balance, this could be one of the better curries available locally.
Chicken Karaage and Yakimeshi
Noodle Studio’s take on karaage is a bit safe, but that’s okay. Sometimes you just want your breaded, deep-fried chicken fix. And this dish definitely provides that. While the karaage comes with a generous serving of yakimeshi, the chicken is best paired with the bolder, more flavorful noodles in the menu. Which brings us to…
Mee Goreng 2.0
The standout in Noodle Studio’s menu. The dish is given the “2.0” qualifier because it represents Chef Gigo’s unique take on classic indonesian spicy fried noodles. While some of the other dishes struggled to find the perfect balance between flavors, the Mee Goreng 2.0 is a perfectly-curated medley of taste. Its delectable egg, pork, shrimp, bagoong, and special Goreng sauce coming together to give an experience that is part piquant, part sweet, and all awesome. If you try just one dish at Noodle Studio, this should be it.
Which dish is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section. – Rappler.com
Noodle Studio is located at the 2nd Floor, Ayala Malls The 30th, Meralco Ave.