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Hallyu stars in Pinoy food trip



Photos by Yummie Dingding

Korean idols Nichkhun of 2PM and Xander of UKiss are no strangers to the world of entertainment. These stars are used to sold-out concerts, albums, brand endorsements and annual variety show guestings. In an exclusive interview during their recent visit to Manila, however, the guys revealed that participating for tvN Asia’s One Night Food Trip, an international eating show competition, made them nervous.

Returning to the Philippines for the second time, the craziest food contest on television features the Korean stars in a gastronomic adventure where they eat, play and compete against local celebrities Ciara Sotto and Danica Sotto-Pingris.

Each team must complete missions in order to earn stamps within 48 hours. The pair with the most number of stamps gets the coveted Golden Passport.

“This is my first eating variety show. I don’t eat that much because my stomach is very small, that’s why I’m so skinny. And I was nervous because I don’t want to be a bad partner for Alex,” said Nichkhun.

Xander added, “I love food. I love going to food shows, but I never tried eating so much in one show. One thing that I’m very happy about is that the food is so amazing. At first, we were really working hard, but if you watch the show, you can see we’re like monsters.”

Nichkhun and Xander went together to Cebu and Pampanga, while celebrity chef Danica and singer-actress Ciara took a separate route where they headed to Coron and Legazpi for a unique experience of the country’s sights and delicacies.

“I was like, am I going to eat balut again?” Nichkhun laughed. “I was talking to Alex and he said the balut I first ate was not a matured one, (but) it had fur and bones inside. But it tasted good, as long as I didn’t look at it. It was the first thing that came to my mind when they told me we were going to Cebu. So many Koreans go to Cebu to dive, to enjoy the beach and the water, but we really didn’t get to because we were up in the mountains.”

Xander, who has been in the Philippines for six months now, felt good that he was able to visit the country again. “It feels good to be back. This time, I’m more happy because we had a food trip together. And I’m even more happy since I’m doing it with Nichkhun because we haven’t seen each other for a long time,” he said.

They went head to head against local celebrities and certified foodies — a nerve-racking experience, they admitted, because the two Filipino stars know more about the culture than they do.

“When I first heard that I was actually going to be working with him, I was really happy; like he said we haven’t seen each other in a long time. We actually grew up together in the industry, our debut in 2008 pretty much the same time,” Nichkhun said.

He added, “It’s a competition so we didn’t want to lose. It was really fun, a good experience because when we usually come to the Philippines, I only get to see the hotels, the airport and the venue and the concert hall. This trip, I got to go around Manila. I went to Cebu. I got to eat a lot of really good food. And since Alex has been here a lot more than me, he knows more about the culture. He helped me a lot.”

Xander and Nichkhun expressed their desire to visit Coron in Palawan next time. Xander said, “We went to Cebu, which is so clear and nice.”

Nichkhun shared, “The two girls went to Coron and when they came back, they were telling us, you guys need to go. Someday, definitely I’ll go with my family.”

One of their stops was the City of Dreams Manila where they explored the Forbes five-star hotel NÜWA to try out the decadent dishes, and immerse in the DreamWorks-inspired interactive play space called DreamPlay.

Throughout the show, the pair was able to try delicious and weird Filipino food combinations. What stood out for them was a dish dipped in chocolate sauce. Xander explained, “It’s like Champorado, the chocolate porridge that Filipinos eat with salty fish, but it was good.”

However, Nichkhun chose Sisig as the Filipino food that he would recommend to his Korean friends.
“I’m sure the 2PM members would love that. It has become my favorite Filipino food,” Nichkhun said.
Like a local would, Xander explained it is best to eat Sisig with Chicharon. “Especially in the Korean culture, the drinking culture, it would go so well with Soju.”
He expressed his gratitude to the management of One Night Food Trip management because he was able to do this special trip with his friend Nichkhun. “We’re nearing our 30s. Working with him gives me a lot of thinking, back then about how we debut together, with up and downs and everything. It gives us a lot of past memories. I was really touched. It was a reflection trip for me,” said Xander.
With the success of My Korean Jagiya featuring Heart Evangelista and Xander, one can’t help but
wonder if Nichkhun is open to do a local show for his Filipino fans.“I want to meet all the fans in every country that I can go to. But since my schedule is busy, I’m always flying, if I could I would love to, if they invite me again,” he muses.
One Night Food Trip – International Edition debuted in 2017 on tvN in Asia with sister-and-brother K-pop idols, Sandara “Dara” Park and Thunder pairing against TV host Grace Lee and radio DJ Sam YG for the Philippine segment.
The second season will premiere exclusively on tvN on July (30, Monday, at 18:30 (GMT+8). tvN is available in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, with subtitles in English, Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and Thai.
“Thank you everybody for supporting us for the past ten years. I would say now is the new stage for us, we’re going to prepare to do our best so please look forward to it,” Xander ends.