A Buchi for Confucius

Nothing can take me as close to heaven as buchi can. This delectable confection makes me question my belief that I was Japanese in my previous life. Or, maybe I was half-Chinese and the manifestation is showing by way of the buchi.
Don’t get me wrong, I love everything Japanese- from discipline to fashion, from food to architecture- but when it comes to desserts, I am a citizen of the world. Food is universal and I believe the world’s cuisines are related by six degrees of separation.
The Mabuhay Palace of the Manila Hotel.
I had a date with buchi. From the 13th floor of the Manila Hotel, I went down to heaven, not on the 7th but on the ground floor, where the famous Chinese restaurant of the Grand Dame is.
I was in for another surprise.
“Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?”
 The sweetest welcome the Promdi ever heard, and the warmest, too. I turned and it was Confucius.
It was such an honor to be in this great man’s presence. You won’t miss him, he is all around the room, his life story etched in jade (if this is not luxurious, I don’t know what is). I was told it took a decade for an entire family of Chinese artisans to carve jade into magnificent artworks that adorn the walls of the Mabuhay Palace. The tag? Let’s just say it involves six figures. Per panel. Guess how many panels there are?
The hand-carved jade panels that adorn the Palace walls.
Greeted by Confucius amid the opulence fit for royalty upon entry was a prelude to something just as grand- the cuisine. Mabuhay Palace is where Manila goes to when they want to indulge in luxurious authentic Cantonese cuisine. A cuisine characterized as using only the freshest ingredients, and cooking is by steaming and frying to bring out all its flavors. In this hotel, it is prepared under the supervision of Executive Chinese Chef Sun Bing and Executive Sous Chef Josephine Candelaria.
A few months back, I was lucky to have feasted on their signature dishes in Davao, the delicious Long Life Prawns and Vegetarian Pecking Duck. On this date, Chef Joie whipped the other praiseworthy specialties in their menu– the notable Cantonese speciality of Old Beijing Nobleman Sharksfin Soup, a slow-cooked soup prepared by simmering meat and other ingredients over a low heat for several hours, then prepared with topped flaky puff pastry to give the dish texture and maintain the soup’s heat; the Australian Scallop with Crabmeat Sauce, braised Australian stuffed medallion scallop topped with crabmeat sauce; Fookien Fried RiceSteamed Sea Bass with Celery Sauce, steamed Chilean Sea Bass topped with the special celery sauce of the house; and the Slow Cooked Pork Belly Simmered in Shao Shing Wine with Chinese Buns, pork belly cooked slowly to perfection.
Palace DIning: Old Beijing Nobleman Sharksfin Soup, Australian Scallop with Crabmeat Sauce, Steamed Sea Bass with Celery Sauce, Slow Cooked Pork Belly Simmered in Shao Shing Wine with CHinese Buns, the Dark Chocolate Buchi & the Mabuhay Palace Golden Salted Duck Egg Ice Cream swirled with Black Sesame Paste.
Nothing can compare to enjoying a hearty meal in the company of friends, to which Confucius said— “food and friends are an inseparable part of life.” Sharing food with friends and family is an important of Chinese culinary tradition.
A salute to the hand!
The hand of: Jinggoy, Chef Christine, Chef Joie, Paul (drummer of Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai) & “THE hand”.
The hand that serves the dining chefs.
The hand of an imaginary friend.
Wasn’t Confucius the man who established the culinary standards and proper table etiquette, and encouraged everyone to cultivate their palate and delight their senses? For him, the art of cooking encompassed more than food, and the art of food is also in the eating. 
This explains his presence in Mabuhay Palace. This great man’s philosophy is where this exquisite Chinese restaurant runs on.
Now you see it……                                                                            Now you don’t.        Ngyehehe goes Confucius.
Saving the best for last were the “imperial” desserts- the Mabuhay Palace Golden Salted Duck Egg Ice Cream swirled with Black Sesame Paste, a concoction that came in a dream, and the Dark Chocolate Buchi, the heavenly desserts that I shared with my friends. And to the man who has influenced the cuisine we all get to enjoy today, I will forever revel in all the delectable goodness of each buchi in your honor.
I only have eyes for buchi!
Buchi-ing Chef Josephine Candelaria….
People in the palace. Mabuhay Palace’s amazing staff.
Thank you Ginny Banaag for hosting this fabulous lunch, we missed you on this gathering.

Not all photos in this blog appeared in the published version.

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