CULTURAL POTPOURRI| Xiamen Cuisine at the Lotus Court

IT WAS a warm welcome for Chef Arno Huang of Marco Polo Xiamen, China, last February 25, 2015,
as Davao’s Pinoy and Chinoy foodies trooped to the Marco Polo Davao’s Lotus Court for a taste of Xiamen cuisine.  On hand to welcome the guests were Group Director for F&B of Marco Polo Hotels Thomas Pfordte from Hong Kong; and Marco Polo Davao’s charming PRO Patty Basa-Tan, PR Assist. Sara Mama, Dir. of Sales Pamela Villegas along with the Lotus Court staff headed by Archie Canete, Holden Arbes (who admirably wears his black suit like a fashion model), the ever friendly Capt. Rogelio “Budoy” Canales, and my long time favourite, Russel Yu.

     Chef Arno Huang is a veteran in the field of Chinese cuisine.  He has worked with various established restaurants and hotels in China for the last 20 years of his culinary life.  He joined Marco Polo Xiamen in 2013.  The master chef is well respected for his culinary ability in creating delicate Cantonese dishes as well.

     “Xiamen cuisine is the main representative of Fujian cuisine which is quite famous throughout China.  Xiamen has made a distinction as a good destination for gastronomes, both local and foreign.  Xiamen cuisine is best described as fresh, light, crisp and slightly spicy.  It is characterized for its use of fresh seafood like fish, prawns, crabs, squid, among others.  The location of Xiamen on the southeast coast in the Fujian province of China provides it with limitless sea products.  The creative and nourishing use of vegetables and herbs is also one reason why Xiamen is attracting a lot of health conscious tourists as a culinary destination in China,” disclosed chef Arno Huang.  It was not easy interviewing chef Arno Huang who only spoke in the Chinese language.  Thanks goodness that Nancy and Marjean Ong of Davao City were on hand to translate the good chef’s answers to my restrained questioning as the good chef had limited time to mingle with the guests.  He had to table hop to greet the Lotus Court diners that night.  And the good chef went back to the kitchen in no time to create Xiamen’s popular dishes for the hungry Lotus Court dining patrons.

     First served on the table was the poached and shredded chicken with salt baked powder.  This particular dish had a distinct taste which readily reminded me of my once culinary adventure in Shanghai with my food loving, Japanese classmates from Tokyo University.  Next came the surprisingly so spicy shredded tripe in chilli sauce.  The stir-fried snow beef with black garlic, the most expensive dish on the menu, is a must for steak lovers.  The healthy dish of braised bean curd with abalone sauce was heavenly in taste and texture.  Goodness, but the braised imperial bird’s nest with crab meat soup triggered a lot of happy memories of the good old days in Davao’s finest Chinese restaurants with family and friends dining together. How I miss shark’s fin soup, which unfortunately, is not on the menu.  The delicate tasting blossom platter, I thought, was influenced by noveau Japanese cuisine in taste and presentation.  The Xiamen style noodle soup is quite familiar to the Pinoy’s taste as it approximates a more refined version of our goto, this time with fine misua used instead of rice.  And how can one not love the classic sweet and sour pork ribs?  To end our first ever Xiamen dinner, chef Arno Huang served his dessert of sweetened red bean soup with rice dumplings.

      Thank you, Lotus Court of the Marco Polo Davao, for enriching our culinary experience right here in our beloved Davao City.

      Chef Arno Huang will give you A Taste of Xiamen at the Lotus Court of Marco Polo Davao from February 25 to March 3, 2015.  For reservations and inquiries, please call 221-o888 local 7232 or 7233.

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(l-r): Marco Polo Davao PRO Patty Basa-Tan, Amy Cabusao, chef Arno Huang, Michael E. Dakudao and Ian Garcia

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