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The future kitchen

 "THE food is good at the I-Chef restaurant," friend Ian G. texted.

"Do they serve dinner?" I asked.

"They do, but I'm not sure until what time," he replied.

And so there I was with Imee last Wednesday, so happy to see the word "open" right outside the door. I-Chef's restaurant serves dinner!

I-Chef is that culinary school of businesswoman Joji Ilagan Bian in this street that runs parallel to the fence of University of Immaculate Conception. Not Bonifacio Street, which everyone knows, but this darn difficult to memorise street because it shouldn't have been named as such.

The official name is S. de Jesus Street. Yes, Davao City has a street named S. de Jesus. And where is it, you might ask? It's that stretch of street that connects to what used to be called Texas Street now officially Padre Gomez Street. In fact, it's the same street as Padre Gomez, except that it is broken by Bonifacio Street that cuts Padre Gomez short. By the time you cross Bonifacio from Padre Gomez, voila, it's called De Jesus. I swear, Davao legislators who name and re-name streets are among the most stupid. But that's another story. (If you got lost there because of my rantings, S. de Jesus is the street that connects Bonifacio to Rizal along the UIC fence.)

Now back to the good life...

The I-Chef restaurant is named "The Dinner Table" but is open for dinner only two nights in a week -- Wednesdays and Fridays.

You have to understand, this is a restaurant manned by culinary students. Ergo, they have schedules. Their resto schedule is as follows:


Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dinner every Wednesday and Friday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Lunch every Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Keep that in mind so you will not be taken by surprise. Actually, we just got lucky that night. We didn't know there was such a schedule, but since we went on a Wednesday night, then they were open for dinner.

I got the gambas al ajillo for our appetizer. Our main dish was chicken with mango sauce for Imee and the salmon for me.

The gambas was good, we just wished it had a teeny-weeny bit more splash of lemon juice (just a drop or two more) and that it went with some bread slices to wipe the yummy butter and garlic off the plate. It broke our heart to bid goodbye to the butter and garlic when the plate was taken out by the obviously nervous student-waiter.

But I give the obviously nervous student-waiter an "A" for effort when he explained that the round white ceramic thingy on the table was the salt container and the ovoid pointed top one was the pepper container when he saw me playing with them like make-believe rocket and planet. Ehem. Stupid me. Sorry. *Sheepish grin!*

The chicken was good, too, the mango sauce adding an interesting zing to it.

And so was the salmon, except that it had too much herb crust toppings and a tad more oil above yummy-ness. Just a teeny-weeny less, then it would have flown me to yummy heaven. I stayed in place that night.

I liked the vegetable sidings on both main dishes. In fact, I finished them off before I even started on the salmon.

Over-all, it was an interesting experience, made more so because the kitchen area can be viewed via a flatscreen monitor just above the kitchen glass show window. You can dine there alone and not feel lonely while you watch the toque-topped kitchen staff go about their roles. I just wished there was more than the two of us there so that the kitchen activity would've been more busy, the viewing more fun.

When we asked Mister Nerves, the waiter, who is watching over the whole process in the kitchen, he said it was Chef RJ.

"Brother ni Nina!" I told Imee. Nina is the writer over there in "Views" section, the "Doc at XX-Large" one.

An equally nervous lady attendant had earlier handed us comment sheets, which she asked us to fill up after we ate. I wrote, "Music was distracting."

When we arrived, some Tagalog ditty, which sounded like the voices of Aegis but on a slow jukebox beat, was playing. It was changed to some upbeat songs you hear on the radio when we were halfway through our dinner.


Stella A. Estremera
SunStar Davao
Saturday, March 26, 2011








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