Food and Leisure

The spice is right at Modern Sichuan

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Millie & Karla Reyes - The Philippine Star

MILLIE: The funny thing about my daughter Karla and I is that I am supposed to be the good influence in her life. But it’s not quite so. She has also influenced me on a whole lot of stuff, from dance, to music, to sports, and a lot of times, even my way thinking or addressing situations, both good and bad. Although she has her own TV in her room, she likes to sit next to me in bed with her three Yorkies as I watch the evening news. She patiently awaits Karla’s TV time so she can watch So You Think You Can Dance, FoxCrime or a foodie channel. Our common ground is food but she is Miss Hot and Spicy and I am Ol’ Cream French! She adds a touch of spicy stuff to everything and even if I used to be hesitant, I’ve now grown to enjoy it tremendously!

We decided to take my sister Dorcie to lunch to celebrate her 52nd birthday, and what better place to go than the newly opened Modern Sichuan Restaurant at Bonifacio Global City. We invited my other sister, Marijo Feraren, and Dorcie’s mother-in-law, Tita Viring Guingona, and her daughter Bianca Cojuangco. All together, we were the spice girls, looking forward to a hot and spicy lunch!

KARLA: We were joined by Tito Gerry and George Pua, who is also the brains behind this four-in-one complex, which includes Modern Sichuan, K-Pub, Tony Roma and Yummy Soy. George has an apparent passion for food. He even recalls how at the young age of 10, he used to stand up on a stool and cook for his grandmother. Although his grandmother enjoyed food, they did not venture into the restaurant business until George decided to. Aside from these establishments, George also runs a trading business and was involved with Repertory Philippines in the past. Looks like he and I have a lot in common after all: food and theater. He says that his background in theater has brought out his artistic side in his new restaurant concepts, from presentation to uniforms, interiors and lighting.

For appetizers, we had the spicy century egg, which is very different since they used the yellow century egg served with bell peppers and chilies. The yellow century egg comes from a different breed of duck egg and has a milder taste as compared to the normal century egg available in other Chinese restaurants. Next came my favorite, the pig’s ear with cucumber mixed in the chili sauce, and the pork slice with chili sauce, which was presented beautifully. The strips of pork were sliced thinly and hung on this wooden contraption that resembled that of a pasta hanger, alternating with thin slices of cucumber strips and served with chili sauce. There weren’t real instructions on how to eat it, so I just rolled the pork and cucumber with chili sauce inside and ate it like a California roll.

For those who are not fond of spicy food, Modern Sichuan actually serves food moderately spicy. You may request for them to decrease or increase the level of spiciness. Cucumber is said to help neutralize spiciness and thus you can request for some right before you start your meal.

MILLIE: The food presentation is simply divine and different from the traditional. The chicken with noodles and beansprouts was delightful and if it weren’t for the fact that we were having a full lauriat, I would have asked for a second bowl. The ham duck came next, served with a choice of green tea and spring onion wrappers with honey glaze instead of hoisin sauce, and eaten like Peking duck. I loved the braised pork with dongpo slice, like pata tim, and I declared to myself that I was allowed to eat just a little bit and it was not even spicy but surely yummy! The poached sliced beef with mushroom had a hint of curry taste and was not at all spicy. As in traditional lauriat, the fish, a sign of prosperity and abundance, was served at the end of the meal and we had steamed whole lapu-lapu with green pepper, which was very fresh and tasty!

KARLA: Before anything was put down on the Lazy Susan, the servers had to pass it through me first so I could take a photo. I was surprised to see what came next as it was a big bowl of floating chili. When I dug deep into the bowl, I found shrimp and bean sprouts. It became a huge topic of conversation at our table since one of my titas said that eating the chili wasn’t as spicy as she thought it would be. And so, one by one, we all tried eating the chili by itself. Tita Marijo even asked for an extra serving of cucumber so she would be ready in case she could not take the heat. When the abalone seafood rice came, everyone was curious as to what it was because of how it was presented. They made a parcel out of an omelet and put the rice in. You won’t even see the rice until you break the egg parcel open. Towards the end of our lunch, we realized that we didn’t have any real vegetable dish. So the sambal okra was an interesting choice. Sambal is traditional from Indonesia and Malaysia, which basically is a chili paste with different varieties.

Finally, it was time for dessert. The waiter served what looked like a potato. While taking the photo, I actually thought that it was part of the main dish. It looked like such a heavy dish, so Tita Merj and I decided to split it. It turned out to be a baked sweet potato masked with butter and cheese and put back into its original shape. Yum! It was so good that I split another portion with Tita Dorcie. I even joked to mom that I didn’t mind going on a kamote diet if the kamote was that good. Haha!

MILLIE: One important thing about Modern Sichuan is that they don’t use MSG (monosodium glutamate) to enhance the flavor of their food. This is very important because most Chinese restos use MSG and some people have a very bad reaction to it. One can suddenly feel dizziness that can lead to vomiting.

My mom’s first aid measure for such instances is to drink Coke! Soft drinks or sodas are said to have citric acid that washes down the effects of MSG. It always worked so that it became second nature to me and especially my sister Dorcie to order Coke every time we eat Chinese food … just in case. Modern Sichuan is absolutely MSG-free!

Whenever I eat spicy stuff, I tend to perspire but it cools me down so I am greatly refreshed. I remember how my dad would have beads of perspiration on his forehead as he ate spicy food and when we all saw him eating with gusto, we knew he was definitely enjoying his meal!

I look forward to another occasion when we can revisit and sample other interesting dishes on the fabulous, picture-filled menu that makes one’s mouth water just browsing through it. There’s the wine-flavored pork knuckle that looks so appetizing. I also spotted the twisted bean, which was unusual and looked interesting. Then there’s the garoupa flower fish, which I first tried in Shanghai and loved. I’m curious to taste if their sweet-sour pork is also as spicy, but George Pua says not all the dishes at Modern Sichuan are spicy. One can also order from the menu of Modern China, which is an affiliate.

Whatever it is, we know we will be back to add a little more spice into our lives!

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Modern Sichuan Restaurant is located at 28th street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For reservations and inquiries, call 828-9352, 856-0470 or 0917-595-1515.

Send e-mail to [email protected] and [email protected]. Find us on Facebook and read articles you might have missed: Food for Thought by Millie & Karla Reyes.

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