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Fresh picks for Father’s Day | Philstar.com
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Food and Leisure

Fresh picks for Father’s Day

THE BACONMAN COMETH - Sharwin Tee - The Philippine Star
Fresh picks for Fatherâs Day
Enjoy sisig made to order at the sisig station at Fresh at Solaire. Fresh at Solaire’s Filipino station has wonderful kare-kare.
STAR / File

Here’s a secret that only people in the hospitality business know: When it comes to business, Mother’s Day beats Father’s Day pretty handily. Now, I am not going to try to even begin to speculate on why that is. That is for smarter statistics mavens to figure out. I do, however, know a lot of great dads out there, including moms, aunties, uncles and grandparents who stand in as awesome father figures, and I do hope we all celebrate them. Let me share my list of fresh picks for that well-deserved father appreciation.

For the picky dad

I don’t know why, but a lot of dads I know are picky eaters, including my dad. The simplest and most delicious solution is a magnificent buffet spread. Fresh at Solaire is finally back in full swing after making sure their team is completely ready for any and all post-pandemic protocols and concerns.

On any given day, Fresh offers quite a comprehensive buffet featuring the requisite salad and dessert bar, a cheese and cold cuts section, drinks station, delicious Western and Asian food, a sushi and sashimi bar, a spread of to-crave-for Filipino dishes and a monthly section (this month is Korean) that changes to keep the buffet, as their name suggests, “fresh.”

What I truly appreciated, though, are the “a la minute” stations sprinkled all around the buffet. These stations prepare specific dishes for you and exactly the way you like them. You can have a kani salad made for you right then and there and you can drop by the seafood station to have the freshest seafood cooked the way you want with the sauce you want. For our table, fresh crab cooked with a lemon butter and garlic sauce was a complete winner. If you go in the evening, the seafood station also has lobster and I had that with a tropical salsa, which was a delight.

My favorite station, though, was the sisig station. Yes, you read that right. You can drop by their sisig station and have one cooked fresh and delivered to your table. You can have them add or remove any of the usual ingredients, but I just let them do what they want. They gave a sizzling plate of tasty pork bits, topped with a perfectly poached egg. That might sound like the best buffet station ever, but the fine folks at Solaire promised even more stations that will be set up especially for Father’s Day, including a whiskey station featuring Johnnie Walker whiskey.

If you’ve got tons of food options, from sashimi to galbi to fresh seafood and then complement that with a sisig station and a whiskey bar? Even the pickiest of dads can’t refuse that.

Fresh at Solaire’s seafood station cooks crabs with lemon butter sauce to order.

For the classic dad

There are dads who don’t want people to make a fuss. They just want some meat, spend time with family and that’s it.

Speaking of meat, the best one would be a cochinillo. Secret Kitchen, owned and operated by Marvin Agustin, certainly has a cochinillo that will satisfy the classic dad. You can order different sizes depending on the size of your family. Well, I mean the size of the appetite of your family, but I do recommend the large, which is about 6 kgs dressed. The skin is perfectly crisp and the meat ridiculously tender. Unlike a Spanish cochinillo, where the meat may not be as flavorful, Marvin reveals that his is a cross between the Spanish recipe and Cebu lechon, so the meat has extra flavor. Plus, they actually serve the cochinillo with au jus or a sauce of its natural juices. You can order through 0917-187-4146 or www.secretkitchen.ph .

Pretty sure the kids would enjoy using regular plates to cut up the cochinillo at home, but if the dad is even more classic and he doesn’t want his family to buy a whole cochinillo for him, you can go to the Secret Kitchen stall at the food court in Uptown Mall in BGC. There you can choose between four cochinillo sets, each including pulled cochinillo meat, some crispy skin, soup made from the cochinillo bones, garlic sauce and a number of sides that may include a salad, buttered rice and sweet-and-sour noodles.

Marvin’s tip for diners is to mix all of the sides with the cochinillo meat, creating a wonderful flavor bomb filled with textures, flavors and comfort. At just P230 for the fully loaded platter, even the stingiest of classic dads will definitely approve.

Hearty Malaysian curry is at the buffet at Fresh as well.

The foodie dad

Some dads love to try new restaurants and food experiences and my dad is one of those. Having a hotpot meal with dad and the family at Xiao Long Kan in Fort Strip BGC can be that new experience. The place offers the legendary Sichuan hotpot, which will literally and figuratively tickle everyone’s taste buds. Rich, collagen-filled broth is spiked with Sichuan peppers, chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns, which gives you the signature “Ma La” spiciness.

Make sure to order the combo broth, so that people who can’t handle spicy flavors will have their own broth as well. They have fresh slices of meat to dip into the broths and I recommend the beef and the lamb, which go well with the spicy broth, plus the usual lobster or squid balls and spinach and mushrooms to round out the hotpot experience.

What dads deserve

In the resto business, Father’s Day may not do as big a business as Mother’s Day, but I know in a lot of households, dads and dad figures are appreciated just as much as moms, and any of these fresh picks will definitely show the appreciation that they deserve.

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Sharwin’s new book, The Gospel of Food is now available in National Book Stores nationwide plus Amazon, Shopee and Lazada. Follow Sharwin’s food adventures on Instagram @chefsharwin and for questions, reactions, recipe and column suggestions, you can contact him on www.sharwintee.com .

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FATHER'S DAY

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