Wednesday, February 29, 2012

THE MERCATO CENTRALE CHRONICLES: MY PINK WASABI





         After the cooking demo of Asia Food Channel's Next Celebrity Chef Winner, Chef Dino Ferrari was over, Rina and I were absolutely famished. It's a good thing that the place we were in, Mercato Centrale, has a cure for such afflictions. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed the food that Chef Dino cooked, however since it was a free tasting session, we were relegated to a small portion size in order to accommodate everyone watching the demo. But if Chef Dino had a stall in Mercato Centrale selling his roasted chicken, I'd be trooping on over there for a quarter leg meal with rice. 


      I had two goals during my trip to Mercato Centrale that weekend, the first was to watch Chef Dino's demo,and the second was to try a dessert stall that I had seen only on Facebook that immediately caught the attention of my taste buds. A dessert stall that broke through the traditional trends of cakes and pastries, and decided to create its own.. 
       
       You MUST try My Pink Wasabi. 


       Ok did that sound weird? You do realize that "My Pink Wasabi" is the name of the dessert stall i'm talking about, right? And it's not some double entrende that I.. never mind.


       So aaaaaaaaanyways, we knew what we were going to have for dessert, but we still weren't sure what we wanted for our entrees. Fortunately, as soon as we stepped out of the tent, the smell of the wonderfully roasted meat helped make our decision very easy for us.

CHEF RESTY'S ROAST BEEF





             Rina was so starving, she didn't want to have to go through a trial and error of dishes from different stalls, so I got her an old faithful, Chef Resty's Roast Beef. We usually stay away from ordering the same thing again at Mercato Centrale, but we ended up making their roast beef only the Fourth "Repeat Offender", apart from Bagwang, Manang's Chicken, and Chuck's Grubberie Fish & Chips.

         Chef Resty's Roast Beef was actually one of the first things I've ever tried at Mercato Centrale, and we absolutely loved it. The quality of meat was still the same, as it was soft and tender, with wonderful linings of fat around it (The lady was nice to give me the fatty trimmings that had fallen unto the side of her chopping board.. I'm telling you guys, ask for that part!). I ordered mine with a side of Basil and Garlic Pasta and marble potatoes (P140). The marble potatoes, (which I usually stay away from because I find them a bit too hard when not cooked properly) were done just right, leaving them soft to the bite. The pasta was oil based, just how I like it, however I felt the garlic lacked a little bit of a punch, almost making it taste a bit bland in my book. It tasted so much better when I poured the gravy over the meat, (which has a wonderful sweet taste that makes me suspect there's coffee in it), and mixed it up with the Basil Garlic pasta. 


VIETNAM CORNER



             
            After the meal, I walked around to see if there was anything else that I'd like to try before going on to desserts. I walked passed "Vietnam Corner" and saw that they were selling "Bahn Mi" Sandwiches, just like "The Nomnom Truck" would sell in the TV series, "The Great Food Truck Race". If you've ever watched that series (because you're a food show geek like me, who has a crush on Nomnom co-founder,"Misa"), then you were probably intrigued too, because *Spoiler Alert* the Nomnom truck was consistently the top sellers in the show. I walked over to the stall, and the owner, a very nice Vietnamese lady (who speaks tagalog even better than I do), chatted me up. I was telling her that that I had seen this sandwich being sold by a food truck in a TV show, and before I could even explain what I was talking about, she answered, "The Nomnom Truck!"

          I smiled, whipped out my wallet and said, "One Bahn Mi Pork Sandwich, please.".
                           





            Anyone who knows the Nomnom truck is a friend of mine. An adorable little boy(With the way he would defy her, I'm assuming it was the Vietnamese lady's son) who already has obvious entrepreneurial and culinary skills at a young age, was ecstatic to work on my sandwich. He grabbed a french baguette, and slapped it on the grill for me, while his mother explained to me what exactly is inside a "Bahn Mi Pork Sandwich" (P150).  






             After grilling the bread, the insides were slathered with a rich, Vietnamese Mayonnaise, which Vietnam Corner makes themselves. 




                  I had to take a big gulp when she pointed out that the bread would also be lined with generous amounts of chicken liver. Houston, we have a problem. The Pickiest Eater In The World does NOT eat any form of liver, whatsoever. And NO, not even "Foie Gras". Still, for the sake of the readers of my blog (all three of you), I decided to give it a try.. 



           Just in case you were wondering, "Bahn Mi" actually refers not to the meat, but the bread, which is basically a baguette. The filling for my sandwich how thin strips of Roasted Pork. 
         

             The nice Vietnamese lady then continued to abuse my sandwich by placing carrots, cucumbers and another assortment of vegetables in it. Truth be told, it was actually pretty good, especially after I picked out the cucumber slices. By the time I got to the halfway point however, I was starting to taste the chicken liver, which was on the top side of the bun.


         Given the size of the sandwich, I decided to save the rest for a snack when I got home. A couple of hours later, I found myself looking for the taste of the meat on the bread, but I removed the top part of the bun and ate it "Open Faced". Also, I discovered that toasting it is so much better than grilling it, it allows the bread to become crunchy instead of chewy.  


        I noticed the Nomnom truck's version was made with pork that seemed a bit more caramelized than this, but i'm still glad I tried this. I would order this again but I'd probably ask them to lay off the cucumbers and chicken liver. 

       Oh in case you're wondering why I'm a fan of "The Nomnom Truck", it's because their food looked amazing, and they had really sharp marketing skills and concepts. 


        I swear, it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that one of the team members looked like this:





       *Sigh*... So where was i? Oh yeah! Dessert! 
          

MY PINK WASABI




                  Even without Chef Dino doing a demo that day, I was planning to go to Mercato Centrale that morning to check out My Pink Wasabi. I had heard about them from my buddies at Certified Foodies (Who know a thing or ten about food.. "Certified" nga eh), and the creativity and eye for detail of their Kashi Maki's - or in layman's terms, "dessert sushis" - just blew me away. 




           Before I tell you about the Kashi Maki's however, let me telling you about the other desserts I tried from My Pink Wasabi. As soon as we go to their stall, Rina saw a "Nutella" sign, and didn't even bother to ask what it was and decided it was what she wanted. It was a apparently a Flourless Nutella Cake (P85). 


         Imagine the light bitterness of dark chocolate, fused together with everyone's favorite hazelnut spread (can you think of someone that DOESN'T like Nutella? Yeah, that's what I thought.) and turned into a soft cake. Rina enjoyed it so much, she didn't realize she only gave me three bites. 




            Apart fromt their Kashi Maki's I get an eerie feeling that one of My Pink Wasabi's best sellers has got to be their Peanut Butter Cheesecake. I saw they still had stock just before the cooking demo started, and when I came back for it a couple of hours later, it was gone. Luckily for me, Chef Ana of My Pink Wasabi saved me one the next day. And it's a good thing I went back for it too, because it was apparently the last one! 

         We had just come from our second trip to Brazil Brazil! earlier that day, but I still couldn't resist digging into it. I found a delicious cheese cake topped with a chocolate ganache and blended with home made peanut butter.  My sister in law Chaikka enjoys peanut butter like I do, so when she visited Baby Rain later that day, I asked if she wanted to try some. After a spoonful, she couldn't resist asking if she could have the rest. 
     

KASHI MAKI


        As delicious as the other cakes are, The Kashi Maki's are definitely the star of the My Pink Wasabi Show. Each variant, uniquely different from the other. This is something you need to try at least once, because the intricate detail placed in making each one of these kashi maki's deserves the appreciation of all food lovers out there. I don't know about you, but I don't see very many delicately hand rolled dessert stalls out there too often, and I've been to a lot of food markets and fairs in my time. 


      I bought a set of five (P130), then Rina and I excitedly found a table and got to work. 



            My favorite one is definitely the "Oolong Berry". Instead of Seaweed Nori, they used White Chocolate to wrap around the light almond cake. And in lieu of the usual fish roe, My Pink Wasabi replaced it with a strawberry one. I don't know how they did it, but as long as they keep making them, I don't care. 


            Oh, I think I forgot to mention that the Oolong Berry is also filled with a wonderful White Chocolate Truffle cream. To me, this is easily the most visually stunning among all the Kashi Maki's and is one of the most delicious.  


              Rina and I also enjoyed the Marula. Marula is a South African fruit, and she uses the liquor derived from the fruit, called "Amarula", and mixes it with a blend of coffee and Belgian chocolates to create an amazing filling to its pistachio sponge cake, wrapped The forgot to get a clarification from Chef Ana which exactly this one was, but Rina and I loved it. ( Whatever it was, it made me wish they had a jumbo version of this. 



        I also loved the "White Matcha", which also uses a Pistachio cake. Carefully placed on top is a white chocolate tablet with some kind of symbol on it that I couldn't seem to make out. Was it an "F"? My FINK Wasabi? *Badum Bum Tss*



         Biting through it, you'll find a wonderful Green Tea infused Belgian white chocolate cream that is so good, it will make you wish you weren't sharing the piece with your wife. (Not based on a true story by the way)



            Of the five that I tried, there were two that were over shadowed by the first three, although they had their own strengths as well. The first was the Chocoloco. Although nut lovers will definitely go loco over it, which is a nut crusted chocolate cake with a Belgian Chocolate - Cashew paste filling. 





           My least favorite was the "Midnight Mint", simply because I'm not too fond of mint with Chocolate, and this had a Dark mint truffle filling. If you like Andes Chocolate mint, then you're going to love this. Rina is the same way, however she couldn't help but say that the dark chocolate cake itself was amazing.

                There are three more Kashi Makis that I haven't tried yet.. The Lemony P, Cookie Kiss, and the Coconut Dream. You can bet your butt I'm going to be trying them when My Pink Wasabi opens up shop again at Mercato Centrale on the second week of March!


           



            I got to meet the brains behind My Pink Wasabi.. Chef Anna Chua and Chef Ken Ignacio


PINK WASABI KASHI MAKI FLAVORS


17 comments:

  1. *drooling*.. i suddenly missed Mercato!! I wanna try that roast beef meal! :)

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  2. I was still fooled by the pink wasabi. Maybe because I'm still craving for sushi.haha. :)

    http://www.dekaphobe.com/

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    1. That's the only sushi you'll ever get me to eat hehe

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    2. Woah. Really? Sushi isn't that bad. I recently became a sushi fan. I used to not like sushi too. :)

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    3. "Pickiest Eater", remember? hehe :)

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  3. Those pictures are... wow. Haha! Sharp and neat! I should visit Mercatto soon (and again) since I obviously hadn't tried out everything :)) especially Pink Wasabi. Their selections look really interesting.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Aileen, but I can't take credit for that.. My wife handles the photography.. isn't she awesome? :D

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  4. The peanut butter cheesecake is so good! I want to try the maki next time. :)

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  5. I got to visit Mercato Centrale that day too! BUT, we went to Mercato first before Brazil Brazil.. Tsk tsk! >.<

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    1. Sayang I didn't get to see you at either Brazil Brazil or Mercato! hehe

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    2. It'll take some time before we'll be able to visit Mercato again though. Bf wasn't too happy.. :( We walked kasi from Bonifacio High Street's parking to Mercato. hahaha.. It looked near on google maps.. >.< Anyway, I love My Pink Wasabi's Kashi Maki too! http://www.thepurpledoll.net/2012/03/daily-quickie-my-pink-wasabis-kashi.html

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  6. *ENVY MODE ON* . . . Looking at that peanut butter cheesecake is tortuurreee. . . the next time I go to Manila, I really have to go to Mercato na talaga! Haha! =)

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    1. lemme know when you go para we can meet :)

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  7. the little "F" on the white matcha means twitter. i think. :)))) Youre awesome! :)

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