Gastronomic trip around the world

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SUMOSAM’S Beef Misono Donburi.

When dining out with family or friends, it is sometimes difficult to decide on which restaurant to dine at. The more you are in the group, the more diverse your tastes and preferences are when it comes to cuisine. You may be craving for Japanese food, but Dad wants nothing more than his Spanish comfort dishes, while Mom and your younger sister are more adventurous with their choices. But even they do not agree — Mom wants light and healthy Vietnamese food while Sis prefers casual American favorites such as burgers and fried chicken.

Now, that’s a problem! Whose choice will reign supreme?

PASTO’S Pizza.

This dilemma, which is repeatedly experienced by other families and groups of friends, is the inspiration behind Shangri-La Plaza’s crowd-drawing culinary event, Gourmet Fest, which again took place at the Grand Atrium of the posh mall last week. The four-day event made it possible for shoppers and diners alike to discover new flavors and revisit old favorites all in one seating, so you can have your California maki and beef misono donburi, dad can indulge in paella and tapas, mom should be able to enjoy her bowl of pho noodle soup and goi cuon spring rolls, and Sis can have the huge, overloaded burger she has been dying to try.

THAI BBQ Restaurant’s Phad Thai.

For Gourmet Fest, the spacious Grand Atrium was transformed into an indoor food street, with a dining area in the center decked with wooden picnic tables and benches, surrounded by food stalls set up by participating restaurants to sell their best-selling dishes. So all shoppers had to do when they got a little tired from walking around the mall was to take a break, buy food from the stalls, take a seat at a table and enjoy their food either on their own or with family or friends.

The participating restaurants had their stalls categorized according to region.

AKIRA’S California Roll.

Asia was represented by Akira, SumoSam and Ganso Shabuway for Japanese cuisine, Zao for Vietnamese food, Arya for Persian dishes, Thai BBQ for Thai cuisine and Shi Lin for Chinese food. Although there were three restaurants serving Japanese food, Akira specialized in teppanyaki, SumoSam took pride in its grills and Ganso Shabuway claim to fame was its really good hot pots. There was a fourth establishment, actually, whose menu relied heavily on Japanese flavors — Pepper Lunch.

Gourmet Fest featured European cuisines via Wobbly Pan, a Spanish bistro serving special tapas and paellas; Pasto, which carried signature Italian dishes; Balboa, which fused American dining with Italian cuisine; Brotzeit, which served German sausages and pretzels; Paper Moon, which despite being a Japanese restaurant concept, specialized in the classic French cake called mille crepe cake; and La Creperie, a French-inspired modern café specializing in crepes and galettes.

PAPER Moon’s Mango Mille Crepe.

For American and South American cuisines, there were Epicurious, with all its to-go salads, sandwiches, light meals and desserts; Tender Bob’s, which had a good line of gourmet burgers and sides; Pepi Cubano, which introduced an assortment of interesting Cuban sandwiches; Pages Deli, whose café-type menu included such exciting sandwiches as The New York Times Bestseller (the signature Triple Decker sandwich of smoked turkeys, salmon and cheese) and The Little Mermaid (smoked salmon on buttery croissant); California Pizza Kitchen, which serves American-style pizza; and Red Crab, whose kitchen churned out a crab dish after another.

For coffee and pastries, cap a good meal with Bo’s Coffee’s baked products, especially its oatmeal and raisin craft cookies; plus Figaro’s coffees which are sourced from different parts of the Philippines.

PEPI Cubano’s Cuban Sandwiches.

Coinciding with the Gourmet Fest was the first leg of the Metro Kitchen Series launched by Metro Channel and Metro Style. It brought together two celebrity chefs, Sandy Daza and Robby Goco, together with Wobbly Pan’s chef Rolando de Garcia, who conducted their own cooking demos at the Grand Atrium.

But even when Gourmet Fest is over, its twin activity Gourmet Fest Dining Promo is still ongoing until 18 November. Persons who dine in any restaurant at Shangri-La Plaza with a minimum spend of P500 within the duration of the promo get one stamp on their Gourmet Fest Promo Card. Five stamps on the card qualifies one to a raffle coupon which has to be filled up for a chance to win a trip for two to Singapore via Singapore Airlines with hotel accommodations and Singapore Explorer Pass Tickets.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a gastronomic trip around the world and win a trip to a popular Asian destination — literally — as well?

What are your thoughts?

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