“We brought our pork products to Hong Kong and the chefs say we have the best pork products in Southeast Asia,” says Eric Dee, COO, Foodee Global Concepts
Photos by Walter Bollozos
Kam’s Roast brings its Michelin-Star flavor to Manila
Therese Jamora-Garceau, Scott Garceau (The Philippine Star) - May 17, 2018 - 12:00am

‘Filipinos go to Hong Kong for the weekend, everyone brings home the Flying Duck boxes from Kam’s Roast,’ says Foodee Global Concepts COO Eric Dee. ‘It’s this special box that allows you to carry in 100ml of sauce. So it has  instant recognition already.’

MANILA, Philippines — Here’s how you know a food brand will rock when it comes to Manila: Filipinos are already carrying boxes of it home when they visit Hong Kong. That’s the case with Michelin-star resto Kam’s Roast, which opened in SM Mega Fashion Hall on May 15.

“Filipinos go to Hong Kong for the weekend, everyone brings home the Flying Duck boxes from Kam’s Roast,” says Foodee Global Concepts COO Eric Dee. “It’s this special box that allows you to carry in 100ml of sauce. So it has instant recognition already.”

At Kam’s, the roasted pork belly char siu comes in two versions: the fattier toro char siu and leaner regular char siu, both with a beautiful caramelized barbecue crunch on top.

Kam’s Roast emerged from the family behind Hong Kong’s Michelin-star Yung Kee Heritage Restaurant, founded by grandfather Kam Shui Fai, father Kam Kinsen Kwan Sing, and grandson Hardy Kam. Its main chef, Wong Kwan Sang, had worked with the Kam family for 30 years.

When Hardy and chef Wong decided to split and create Kam’s Roast, the buzz began. “Everyone was like, ‘Yung Kee’s fighting, what’s going to happen?’” says Dee. “So when they moved out, all eyes were on the brand.” Kam’s Roast has the distinction of earning a Michelin star within only four months of opening.

The marinated tofu at Kam’s Roast is soft, silky and savory.

Young foodie Dee knows the Filipino palate. He sees what clicks abroad, and that’s why his brand roster — which includes Mesa, Sunnies Café, Davide Oldani’s FOO’D, Bench Café, Todd English, Tim Ho Wan and others — now includes five restaurants with Michelin stars. Not that this is always a blessing.

“It can be a double-edged sword because expectations are so high, and if you fall short of that, it’s like, eeehh,” says Dee. “So it’s difficult. More important than the Michelin star is the overall aspect of it: are you able to execute it properly? It works well if you’re able to execute; it will kill you if you fall short!”

Duck deluxe: Sourced from Ireland, the taste of the roast duck is all Hong Kong — thin, crisp skin overlaying moist dark meat below.

Having sampled Kam’s Roast prior to its upcoming opening, we can safely say: they are able to execute. While there are necessary local changes — instead of Hong Kong’s roast goose, the Megamall branch offers roast duck because, well, goose is nonexistent here and poultry from China in general is banned — the taste is true to Hong Kong.

Instead of goose, Kam’s serves roast duck sourced from Ireland. “It’s an imported breed, flown in and raised here in Davao.”

Wonton soup for the soul: Kam’s wonton, stuffed with shrimp, is served with bok choy in a warm broth steeped in flavor.

We file into a dining room with down-tempo hip-hop and Chinese songs from Mr. Miss as the soundtrack, and fire up our phones as the appetizers come out. The marinated tofu is soft, silky and savory. Cucumbers, normally not the tastiest of vegetables, are dressed in a sauce that elevates them to rock-star status. Crisp and addictive, don’t miss these marinated cucumbers.

Then there’s Kam’s Special Lava Century Egg. Some diners are leery of century eggs — maybe after encountering a badly prepared, ammoniac one in a traditional Chinese restaurant — but this one, served with slices of pickled ginger to balance the richness of its runny yolk, lives up to its reputation.

Kam’s Special Lava Century Egg is served on a bed of sliced pickled ginger to balance the richness of its runny yolk.

Next up is wonton soup, which Dee says is the only seafood dish on the menu because the dumplings are stuffed with shrimp. Served with bok choy in a warm broth steeped in flavor, it’s so comforting that this is wonton soup for the soul.

The piece de resistance followed: the roast duck. Dee says the bird is dried for a day — “We have a special dryer with aircon, dehumidifier and electric fan” — and bathed in vinegar and water so the skin starts to puff out. “Then we hang it to dry for another day.”

Porcine perfection: The roast pork with crispy skin is peerless. Homemade mustard gives it an added kick.

Then it’s into the roaster: as opposed to the old-school top-loading roasters used in Hong Kong, high-tech front-loading roasters are used here, and 60 ducks will be roasted a day in anticipation of hungry diners. Kam’s Roast on the third floor of SM Mega Fashion Hall sits 54, with two private rooms for 12 each that can be combined.

For us, Kam’s roast duck embodies the flavor of Hong Kong: generous slices of moist dark meat overlaid by thin, crispy skin. Flavored from the inside out, as all the herbs and spices are stuffed into the duck cavity, it’s a treat that is indeed deluxe, and we sample ample portions of it.

Crisp and addictive, dressed in a sauce that elevates them to rock-star status, don’t miss the marinated cucumbers.

But it’s the pork dishes that really blow our minds. The roast pork with crispy skin is peerless. It comes with homemade mustard famous for its potent kick, but in all honesty the mustard is superfluous — these cubes of porcine perfection are complete unto themselves.

Then there’s the roasted pork belly char siu. It comes in two versions, so you’re faced with a delicious dilemma: whether to order the pricier toro char siu, which is tenderer and juicier due to the extra layers of fat; or the regular char siu, which is leaner and therefore firmer, but healthier. Taste-wise we thought the regular char siu compares very favorably to the toro: both have that beautiful caramelized barbecue crunch on top. You might want to do your own taste test and order both for your first time.

Kam’s Roast menu is devised to serve five main dishes in multiple combinations: Here, the char shiu and roast pork are served over rice or noodles.

 “Our chefs say the Philippines has the best pork products in Southeast Asia,” notes Dee. “We’ve brought the products to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand; they’ve been testing them and they feel we’re far superior in terms of pork products.”

Kam’s Roast opened to the public on May 15. Within six months, Dee hopes there will be takeout. And you won’t have to go all the way to Hong Kong to get it.

You can choose between noodles or rice to go with your main course. For noodles, you have a choice between shrimp roe (above) or ginger scallion noodles.

* * *

Kam’s Roast is located on the third floor of SM Mega Fashion Hall. Follow Kam’s Roast Philippines on Facebook and Instagram.

ERIC DEE FOODEE GLOBAL CONCEPTS KAM’S ROAST
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