The buffet experience was never the same again when Spiral opened at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila several years ago. The French hotel played a large role in bringing premium international cuisine to the Philippines, through the 21 dining ateliers at their signature buffet restaurant. Over the years, they took it upon themselves to celebrate the art of food in different ways, often bringing in specialty chefs from around the world to spotlight cuisine in their Flavors of the World series. Beginning March 12 (and running all the way through March 17), Sofitel has invited Korean Master Chef Hyeon Cheol Joo from Seoul’s Ibis Styles Ambassador Seoul Yongsan hotel to helm the Korean atelier at Spiral. In collaboration with the Korean Cultural Center, Flavors of the World: Seoul-ful Gastronomy at Spiral will feature the chef’s modern take on traditional Korean specialty dishes.
Chef Joo is a multi-awarded chef who won the silver medal for Korean cuisine at the International Young Chef Challenge in 2013. He also took home the gold for the Korean cuisine category at the Seoul International Food & Tableware Festival in 2015. He began his career as commis chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Seoul in 2013. Later, he began learning about the technical side of the kitchen as a Senior Researcher at the Research and Development Lab of Namyang Dairy Products. International stints to promote Korean cuisine include trips to China, Turkey, and the Philippines. In August 2017, he started working with Seoul Dragon City, one of Korea’s first lifestyle hotel complexes, where he helmed the Korean banquet kitchen and In Style’s Korean buffet. The young chef’s specialties include fermentation and the technical process of ripening fruits. New partner Sofitel describes Chef Joo as “taking pride in sourcing fresh, local ingredients and cooking dishes based with red pepper paste, soybean paste and soy sauce, which are most representative of South Korean cuisine.”
Over the years, Manila’s most discerning gourmands have fallen for Korean food, allowing the cuisine to grow in popularity in the Philippines. The Korean atelier at Spiral ranks as one of the buffet’s most popular destinations. The country’s strategic location near the seas and four different seasons, allows Korean fare to be fresh, dynamic, and distinctly healthy. For this new installment of Flavors of the World, Chef Joo brings to Manila several of his specialty dishes such as Bulgogi (Sautéed Sliced Beef Sirloin with Mushrooms) and Grilled Deodeok (native Korean root vegetable) with Red Chili Paste and two kinds of kimchi—Diced Turnip and Fruit Kimchi and Fresh Korean Cabbage Kimchi.
Chef Joo also elevates several other traditional Korean dishes such as Bibimbap (steamed rice with assorted vegetable in a hot stone pot), Seafood-Spring Onion Korean Pancake, and Bean Curd-Shrimp Korean Pancake. Experience his culinary prowess as he prepares these dishes live at the Korean Atelier’s cooking station. In addition, indulge in some sweet treats for dessert such as the Omija punch (made with magnolia berries), Sweet rice with nuts and jujube (Korean dates) and Sweet rice punch. The Korean lunch set at Spiral is priced at PHP 3,500 nett (March 12th) and PHP 2,750 nett (March 13-17), while dinner is set at PHP 3,200 nett (March 12, 13 and 16) and PHP 3,500 (March 14-15).
In additional to Chef Joo’s Spiral takeover, the hotel has many special events lined up to celebrate the fine flavors of Korea. A Korean Cooking Demonstration on March 12 has Chef Joo teaching patrons how to prepare several recipes such as Soy-marinated Blue Crab, Braised Pork Belly with Soybean Paste Sauce, and Fresh Korean Cabbage Kimchi, over a leisurely lunch at Spiral. The class and lunch is priced at PHP 3,500 nett. A K-Pop Party is set to happen at 9PM on the 16th of March at Snaps. Guests are encouraged to wear their most colorful Korean Pop-inspired outfits while enjoying the beats of the hottest Korean tunes. Enjoy free-flowing soju and local beers at PHP 699 nett, best paired with dishes from the evening’s ala carte menu. Lastly, Club Millesime is hosting Cocktails with Chef Joo on March 17 at 5pm. Exclusive to guests checked in at a Luxury Club Room or higher room category, the special evening allows patrons to rub elbows with Chef Joo over Korean canapes and cocktails. Luxury Club Rooms and other higher room categories start at PH 12,400++ a night.
By Chino R. Hernandez
Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila is located at CCP Complex Roxas Blvd Brgy. 76, Pasay, 1300 Metro Manila. For inquiries and reservations please phone + 63 2 551 555 or email [email protected]