Food travels

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Friday, January 3, 2014


THE explorer hops into a gastronomic adventure—hungry, impressed, psyched for more. And when every plate is emptied, at least something is treasured as a reminder of the whole experience; perhaps to spur another voyage.

Food best qualifies as a travel souvenir for Jana Fox. And in a Chinese-y space settled in a commercial district up north, her taste of the world is well-served the Filipino way.

Chowtime Cuisine’s menu is basically a version of culinary creations from here, there and everywhere. Majority of the entries bear the names of local choices. There’s not much fuss about the presentation neither. The Filipino-Mediterranean-European-and-what-have-you fare is more or less the experimental counterpart of native portions, that’s all. But, hey, the discriminating market loves the new entrant.

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Food from travels with a twist to suit the Filipino palate. Who would not be drawn?

A stranger nursing a hangover from last night’s party might want to crouch over a serving of Chowtime’s take of Satti, a famed breakfast item in Zamboanga similar to Malaysian Satay.

A piece or two of puso (hanging rice) and chicken or beef in sticks are soaked in a sunset orange soup—an explosion of 15 different ingredients, perhaps spice and everything nice.

Jana hails from Zamboanga where the first and original Chowtime is up and cooking for eight years now as manned by her father. Being highly recommended by the Department of Tourism in the province gives every foodie another reason to be curious on the guts of this humble restaurant.

By the way, Jana is an accounting professional but why not cook, right?

Unlike the usual pasty pork blood stew (dinugoan), the meat and offal in Chowtime’s candidate are sliced in chunks and are not drowned in thick, dark gravy. The recipe was invented by Jana’s great grandmother, which kind of explains why it’s an all time favorite.

Just as the rice grains of the fields are strained from the rejects in a winnowing basket, what’s left in Chowtime’s Bilao (winnowing basket) are the most favored finger food of them all—calamares, chicken, boneless bangus and prawn shrimp decorated with cucumber rounds on the sides.

Diced blue marlin pieces in a milky kinilaw mix, anyone? Ah! The ocean’s finest! How about the Indian-ish calderetang kanding or the quirky adobing, simply goat’s meat barbecued for all you goat fans out there? Or maybe prawns or crabs in king sizes for those craving for the freshest catch.

The meal is almost over with Chowtime’s fruit platter graced with the sweetest apples, mangoes, watermelon and citrus. And finally, a glass of juicy coolers to wrap up a well-traveled chowtime!

About 50 Chowtime offerings priced below P200 are good for three to four persons. The entire restaurant can seat 115 to 200 diners. It also accepts functions, caterings and other group bookings for 35 guests.

“Come in hungry, go home happy,” was Jana’s invitation.

Chowtime Cuisine is located at the Level 1 of Cebu Time Square in Mandaue City and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 04, 2014.

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