By Ryanne Co
November 05, 2020
Friendly neighbourhood restaurants are what we miss the most, and CHINO MNL has been high on our list. Here’s the story behind the friendly fusion cantina that’s been serving up some of our favourite foods this quarantine.
As a mentee to the man himself, Erik nurtured his talents to faculties of Japanese cooking techniques. Through his ten years spent at the Nobu group — three at New York, three at San Diego, and four at Hong Kong — Chef Erik had become one to watch out for. In 2014, Erik left his post as Executive Chef at Nobu Intercontinental Hong Kong to open the first branch of CHINO. Located at scenic banks of Kennedy Town, CHINO Hong Kong was a qualified success. The next step? Bringing his triumph to where the Idos family first found home — Manila.
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The name itself is a nod to Erik’s stint as a line cook at Nobu 57 New York. “Chino was my nickname in the kitchen back in New York. All the Salvadorian chefs inside the kitchen would always call me Chino,” he says. Tracy Wei, his partner in work and love is also the Operations Manager for both CHINO branches; she clarifies that the word comes from the Spanish colloquialism that refers to a person of Asian descent.
The restaurant, which carries its story from halfway across the globe, creates a fusional dynamic between Mexican flavours, Japanese techniques, and Filipino ingredients. “It was always my dream to open my own restaurant. I wanted to open a neighbourhood type restaurant where my friends can come to eat and drink at,” Chef Erik says. “[We utilise] Japanese cooking techniques and [source] ingredients [from the Philippines, Japan, and Mexico] to bring the distinct flavours of each culture together.”
The brand offers delicious family sets of grilled pork BBQ ribs, wagyu flank steak, roasted salmon, and achiote whole roasted chicken. Single orders of tacos, burritos, rice plates, quesadillas have also been incorporated into their new menu.
But now that dine-in has been making a slow but steady resurrection, both Erik and Tracy are optimistic. “When we first opened for dine-in, we were really slow. People were still hesitant to eat inside a restaurant. But in the past few weeks, our dine-in business has increased a lot,” Tracy explains. “We follow all necessary protocols but not to the point where guests are constantly reminded that there is a virus around. Everyone who comes into the restaurant is having a good time and for the couple hours they spend at CHINO, they can forget what is happening outside.”
Read also: New Normal, New Protocols: A Deep Dive Into Metro Manila’s Evolving Dining Scene
For more information, visit CHINO Manila’s Instagram account.
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