“I thought you were Chinese,” Manila Hotel executive chef Konrad Walter said as he explained why he served us Cowrie Grill’s seafood menu. While the restaurant is best known for its US Prime Rib, he said he figured we would appreciate more Asian-inspired fare. And, really, who were we to disagree?
For starters, we were served Shrimp With Wonton Crackers, an Asian-influenced salad of crisp vegetables topped with plump, juicy prawns. Basically an open-faced dumpling garnished with fried noodles, which was novel enough. The experience, though, was something much more sublime. The prawns, prepared with orange juice and rice vinegar, complimented the simple flavor of the wonton cracker very well.
The Seafood Medley was also very simple, relying on the natural flavor of the seafood lightly sautéed in butter and garlic. It was served with a basil and tomato sauce; but the side dressing went largely untouched as the succulent medley was enough to satisfy.
The Norwegian Salmon was flavorful enough as it was, but not overly so. There was none of the fishy aftertaste one usually expects from salmon—just melt-in-your-mouth pleasure.
The Chilean Sea Bass went well with the small portion of rice that came with the dish, and was subtle enough not to overpower the cauliflower and asparagus spears on the side.
The star of the show, however, was the single, giant New Zealand mussel. Much larger than local varieties, it was nonetheless surprisingly soft and only slightly chewy. It was slightly sweet, owing perhaps to the excellent water quality of New Zealand.
For dessert, the Cowrie Grill let us try their Sans Rival Crunch, the very same dessert that guests at a Malacañan function would enjoy later that night. Fusing the peerless sans rival with the bavarois—a classic Swiss cream-based dessert—and coconut liqueur made it absolutely royal. Topped with a tropical fruit salsa, the mascarpone, mango puree, and sans rival crust came together in what could only be described as a yummy explosion of taste.
Filipinos often describe a good meal as so delicious you’ll forget your own name. Our afternoon repast was so much better. It made us forget about prime rib.
Print ed: 09/09