Antel Corporate Center in Salcedo is hiding a new restaurant that everyone should know about.
Armed only with a cursive neon green sign of its name adhered outside the building, Sup? Chow asks its customers to ascend a flight of concrete steps to get to its furtive entrance (they can opt for the elevator, too, but taking the stairs is quicker since it’s just on the second floor). The area can look like a sad, deserted space, but don’t worry, it’s not. Go straight ahead past the Great Muscles Gym and you’ll see a door that looks like it doesn’t want to be opened. But please do because behind that, a sleek, industrial-themed casual fine dining restaurant awaits.
Sup? Chow is a restaurant that “gives different light to Asian food,” chef Francis Lim, says. The Tipple and Slaw owner is also the food and beverage manager of One World & Seven Seas Culinary Inc. (F&B arm of Noble House) which Sup? Chow is under. Lim gives the Asian cuisine a Western treatment, “inspired by how globally trending Asian chefs and restaurateurs cook on the other side of the world.”
“Everything’s with a twist, presented in a different way,” Lim says. He doesn’t want to brand it as “fusion” though. “Fusion is experimenting, putting a lot of things in a dish—some work, some don’t. And Sup? Chow is not an experiment.”
We understood Lim’s viewpoint when he served us the mapo tofu wontons. Traditionally, mapo tofu is a hot pot dish, like a stew and served with rice. But Lim’s are taco-like, dry. Laying on homemade wontons are a bed of black bean olive saute, soft tofu, and mapo chili topped with macerated scallions and fresh shallots. The strong, mouthwatering flavors of this dish already attest to Lim’s tale that Sup? Chow knows what it’s doing and it’s certainly not an experiment.
Another attestation is the beef rendang served not with rice but with thick homemade rice noodles similar to pappardelle pasta. “Think of it as Asian pasta,” Lim says. This dish, which spice clings in the air, is fiery enough to make you want to take a break in between bites. It’s not bad, though, because this rich Indonesian coconut beef stew will also make you want it more. Curry isn’t something you can just turn your back from.
Tan Tan Misua is Lim’s own take on the tantanmen ramen minus the soup. Instead of the stock, dandan noodles are dropped into a fragrant puddle of peanut sesame paste together with shrimp, minced pork, and greens. It’s another spicy dish but it won’t give you an obliterating numbness—just a faint and appetizing buzz.
Lim also played with the cong yu bing or Chinese scallion pancakes. His team makes its own unleavened flatbread from wheat and rice flour and cap it with miso buttered chicken on greens. Eat it like a soft taco.
Of course, Lim serves rice bowls as well. Their char siu barbecue chicken is as comforting as a mother’s hug on a rainy evening. It’s a sweet and savory bowl-ful of tender char siu grilled chicken or Asian barbecue chicken with fried shallots, bokchoy, and half medium-boiled egg warming a generous mountain of sesame rice.
With all these umami-ful dishes, you’d need equally flavorful drinks to cut through the so-called fifth taste. Here are some specialties Sup? Chow has:
Lim made the menu with the working people in mind. “I want to share good food that people can actually eat on a daily basis especially in a business district. This is for people who don’t have much time to eat, who just have an hour for lunch and dinner before they go home.”
So if you belong to the business district workforce or just discovering what Salcedo Village has new to offer, don’t forget this restaurant at the second floor of Antel.
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