Since first opening in Manila two years ago, Samba (located at premier hotel Shangri-La at Fort) has delighted gastronomes with the flavors of Peru. Headed by Chef Carlo Huerta Echegaray, the restaurant always finds itself at full capacity, filled with both hotel guests and Manila foodies looking to satisfy South American cravings. Chef Carlo, who pursued his culinary studies at Le Cordon Bleu Peru, started working inside the kitchens of Peru when he was just 16 years old. Today, he continues to challenge his capabilities as a chef, looking for new and inventive ways to present his culture on a plate. Because of his talent and taste for the delicious, Samba has since become one of Manila’s most endeared restaurants. Dishes such as the Arroz con Mariscos (a Peruvian seafood rice dish cooked in white wine) and the Merengago Guanabana (a white meringue dessert featuring the iconic white chocolate balloon dome) have become bestsellers and Instagram-post favorites.
This month, Chef Carlo and his team have prepared a special festive menu for diners looking to celebrate their holidays the Peruvian way. The signature spices and heat of Peru are represented in five-course dinners on Christmas and New Year, transporting one to South America for a wild culinary adventure. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dinner will offer several set menus that includes Samba favorites, such as Chef Carlo’s signature ceviches and his newly invented Mero Picante Con Camarones (chargrilled grouper fillet). The five-course dinner menu is inclusive of a welcome tiki cocktail. For those looking to share in family-style spreads instead, make reservations at Samba for December 25 lunch and indulge in pristine Latin flavors with the entire clan.
Kick off 2019 right with Samba’s New Year offerings for dinner during December 31. The five-course set meal offers several dishes that will surely make your mouth water. For lunch the next day, patrons can enjoy a seafood lunch spread indoors or poolside. Recently, Lifestyle Asia was invited to try several food items from the upcoming festive menu. Scroll down for a short preview on some dishes you can try when booking a table at Samba for the holidays…
Ceviche Crocante de Camarones
This delicious appetizer is a good way to kick start the culinary adventure to Peru. Two large prawns, cooked to crispy perfection sits in the center of the plate. Beneath it, a revelation of flavors that include roasted garlic cream, aji Amarillo, lehe de tigre, coral butter, lime juice, and camote strings. It sums up what you’re in for during your stay at Samba—a symphony of original sauces made by Chef Carlo, a common theme in many of his dishes.
Crema de Zapallo y Aji
The bright yellow color of this soup course is already inviting. However, as soon as the rich, creamy soup makes contact with your palette, I assure you, there will be fireworks. Chef Carlo describes the dish as “comforting”—something you would have eaten at your grandmother’s house. This is why he dubbed it as “Lola’s cream”. The soup is topped with beautifully charred cinnamon herbal croutons, a strange combination with the soup that works extremely well. The only crime of this dish is that there wasn’t enough of everything.
Mero en Reduccion de Seco Norteno
A fish course can be found in the Meor en Reduccion de Seco Norteno. Chef Carlo has cooked red grouper to chargrilled faultlessness. Tender and succulent, each bite is best accompanied by the sauces found on the plate. This includes an aji panca, chichi de jora, and creamy fava bean puree.
Lomo a lo Macho
Just as its title suggests, the Lomo a lo Macho, is indeed “macho” (or at least consists of ingredients millennials would consider “#gainz”). The best thing about this dish is that diners are offered an array of different proteins cooked the Peruvian way. Work your way through the maze of sautéed tenderloin, prawns, scallops, calamari and Peruvian potatoes, and we assure you, you will have a wonderful Christmas sleep right after.
Zamba de Chocolate
Despite being extremely full from four full courses, there is always room for dessert at Samba. In fact, the restaurant truly shines in their dessert offerings. For the festive menu, there is the Zamba de Chocolate, which screams the holidays on a single platter. It is also my personal favorite from the dishes served to the press that evening. My sweet tooth was satisfied because of the richly made Peruvian chocolate 70% mouse, “almost” crispy flakes, cocoa power, and lucuma ice cream (photographed above is the raspberry sorbet). It was the ideal ending of a heavy holiday meal. TIP: include every component of the plate with each bite…you will not regret it!
Samba is located at Level 8, Shangri-La at the Fort, 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City. For more information or reservations visit www.shangri-la.com/manila/shangrilaatthefort/ or phone 820 0888
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