Thursday, January 11, 2018

Love at First Bite: James & Daughters

I was heartbroken when I found out that Le Jardin closed it doors a year ago. My heart was somewhat mended though by the opening of Le Jardin Cafe. Though it offers good food, it didn't offer my favorites from the well-loved French restaurant. But my heart skipped a beat when I found out from Chef Jonas Ng himself that he was working on another concept. This time, it will feature his family favorites making it a bit more personal. And after a few months, James and Daughters finally opened its doors. 

Hello, James and Daughters.
It would be easy to miss this restaurant as it's far from the bustling High Street where most food establishments can be found. But thanks to insider info and reviews from food enthusiasts, we easily found this place in no time. 
We were greeted by interiors that reminded me of Le Jardin. False French romantic windows adorn the walls and there are touches of greens as accent.. 

We were lucky to be hosted by Chef Jonas himself and he recommended for us to try Tuna Kilawin (PHP420), Seared Toragashi Tuna (PHP495), DIY Duck Confit Crepes (PHP475), Dessert Gils (PHP250) and Suman ala Hasset (PHP200). I also got a glass of Cucumber Lemonade (PHP120). 
While waiting for our food, we were given complimentary fish crackers with vinegar. It sure was hard to stop munching this popular local snack. 
First served were our drinks and mine was just like how I imagined. It was refreshing! The taste of cucumber and lemon were evident and well-balanced. It was so good I totally forgot it was healthy. 

Soon, our dishes were served one by one. 
The Tuna Kilawin would make one reminisce of summer. And that's pretty much what inspired Chef Jonas. His family frequents General Santos during summer break and feast on fresh yellow fin tuna loin marinated in coconut vinegar and coconut milk. The use of coconut sugar gave it a richer flavor and the red chili bits made it addicting! I avoided the crispy wheat chips as I had to save space for my second dinner that night. (Please do not judge me.)
Another tuna dish we tried was Chef Tina Fineza's take on tuna tataki. Hers was seasoned with Japanese seven-spice giving it an interesting flavor. 
The cold sesame soba topped with grilled shiitake mushrooms added a refreshing taste to the dish making it an excellent starter. 
I became an instant fan of James & Daughters' DIY Duck Confit. The shredded Davao raised free range duck confit was divine. Tossed in calamansi and honey and mixed with charred scallion dressing, it was a beautiful blend of sweet and tangy flavors. The fresh Cavite greens gave it a delectable herby taste. I also enjoyed wrapping it like it was peking duck
We actually ate the desserts first during our visit as encouraged by Chef Jonas who believes in having no rules when it comes to enjoying food. 
We started with Dessert Gils which is a familiar dessert for me. In fact, it was my favorite from Le Jardin. I was so happy when I saw this in the menu. And a spoonful of this brought back that blissful first time I had it. The berry sorbet was absolutely refreshing and well balanced by vanilla ice cream. The nougatine and meringue gave the sweet treat crunch and the coulis added a deeper flavor to it. 
If you prefer local desserts more, go for the scrumptious suman topped with vanilla custard and stuffed with purple yam then smothered with coconut glaze and served with coconut sorbet on the side. This dessert is made in homage to dessert whiz Chef Hasset Go who used to work with Chef Jonas. Note though that this dessert is quite heavy so best to share this with someone. 

I'll surely go back for more! Thank you, AlwaysHungry and Chef Jonas for the treat!

James & Daughters by Le Jardin is located at Westin Showroom, 21st Drive, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

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