Sunday, March 31, 2019

Masarap Nga! Meet and Eat at Novotel

Masarap ba? Masarap nga!

Novotel fulfills a trending online community's dream of a grand foodie festival with "Masarap Nga! Meet and Eat!" - a pioneering collaboration with the food blogger, Masarap Ba? starting from March 29 to April 7, 2019.
Last week, I visited Novotel Manila Araneta Center to try out their collaboration with Kat Abaan Jr. aka Masarap Ba? She is known for her short / quick reviews of Masarap (Delicious) or Hindi Masarap (Not Delicious), where exceptionally delicious products/dishes get additional quirky or witty remarks. To be honest, I didn't follow her until after the launch. I love the fact that she uses her influence to help small businesses.

"It was through my mindful practice that I became more aware and appreciative of what I eat. I realized that any food that goes to my mouth tastes better when I use my other senses such as when I hear their quirky origins, emotional beginnings, successes, and even failures from bakers, cooks, chefs, artisans, and sellers who are mostly Small, Medium Enterprises (SME) that lack access to promote themselves online," she said.

For the first time, Masarap Ba and Novotel Manila Araneta Center has merged social media influence with global culinary excellence to come up with innovative dishes for the Masarap Nga! Meet and Eat at Food Exchange Manila from March 29 to April 7, 2019. Lunch buffet rate: Php 1,588. Dinner buffet rate: Php 1,688.

Over 200 thousand followers or fans of Masarap Ba?, popularly known as ka-kulto (cult followers) are in for a delectable experience as phenomenal food products made by small and medium entrepreneurs popularized by the page are infused into the buffet dishes by Novotel Manila's culinary team. This may very well be my favorite collaboration yet. I've been to a lot and really, I mean no offense to the chefs Novotel has previously worked with, but just imagine, seventeen local food products have been handpicked by Masarap Ba? to be featured in the event! That's giving seventeen small businesses the chance to gain more traction and for people to learn about products they've never heard before.

Brands featured (in alphabetical order):

Auro Dark Chocolate 
(Masarap Nga recipe: Auro Chocolate Mousse)

Auro Chocolate is a proudly Filipino, bean-to-bar chocolate company that sustainably sources cocoa beans directly from local farming communities in Davao while doing our part to restore the Philippines' heirloom varieties. "We buy our beans at higher value to inspire quality and to give farmers the opportunity to improve their standard of living"

Benedicto Kitchen 
(Featured product: Roast Beef and Baked Salmon)

Benedicto Kitchen started out with a curious mind fueled by the love for food. After numerous failed experiences and driven by the idea of approaching things differently, Benedicto Kitchen broke out with its own roast beef recipe and baked salmon. After almost two decades in the rate race, the founder took a leap of faith in 2019 to pursue his passion full-time and has never "worked" since.

(Featured product: Chicken Galantina and Embutido)

Beth's started in 2012 through the creativity and imagination of an entrepreneur mom. While she was planning for a special get together, she thought about serving something wholesome, delicious, and new to the guests. Since her initial business is in fresh meat retail, she decided to use chicken as the main ingredient and developed a recipe of chicken rolled like an embutido. After Masarap Ba featured the product, it was then featured in Unang Hirit and Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho.

Buenlago Kitchen Indie Sauce
(Masarap Nga recipe: Beef Stir Fry, Pork Stir Fry, Szechuan Chicken, Stir Fry Sustainable Seafood, Indonesian Fried Rice)

The owners originally wanted to put up a dimsum stand highlighting their Indie sauce, but when they were doing the kitchen test, their audience were more interested in pairing the sauce with other dishes, which led to the bottling of the product in December 2017. The Indie sauce is like X.O. sauce, chili garlic sauce, and bagoong.. but not really (hindi / "Indie") hence the name.

Cake Shots
(Featured product: Black Label chocoholic, Tiramisu, and Baileys Red Velvet)

From being in the call center industry, the owner, together with his partner Camille decided to delve into the food industry. Using his grandmother's Rum Raisin Pudding as inspiration, they came up with Cake Shots - alcohol laced cupcakes!

Che Che's Gourmet Gourmet Tuyo with Salted Egg and Pes-Tuyo 
(Masarap Nga recipe: Romaine Lettuce Salad, Seared Sustainable Tuna Salad with French Dressing, Fettuccine con Gamberi, and Spaghetti Alle Acciughye, Pizza Napolitana, Pizza Frutti di Mare)

The owners came up with Cheche's from their daughter's school fundraising event. It was from there that they realized the potential of the business and saw it as an answered prayer, for the grandparents to retire and stay at home with them in Baguio. The entire family now helps in the production of the Gourmet Tuyo and Adobo Flakes.

Daddy Mikk's Chilli Crunch and Garlic Crunch
(Masarap Nga recipe: Aglio e Olio and Spicy Szechuan Noodles)

My personal favorite! I've tried this before so I was really excited to find them at Novotel! The Chilli Crunch is the first and original chilli garlic cooked in minimal oil. I honestly don't know how they do it; I've tried asking my mom if she could recreate it and she said she couldn't! Both the Chilli and Garlic Crunch are really versatile products that can be used on rice, pizza, meat, soup, or vegetables. Anything talaga!

Eddy's Old Chicharrones
(Masarap Nga recipe: Sisig Paella with Eddy's Old Style Chicharrones)

Established in 2017, Eddy's Old Style Chicharrones is crispy yet light and airy. These are sold in 60g packs, have no preservatives, and cooked in small batches.

Gng. Bukid Peanut Butter
(Masarap Nga recipe: Kare-Kare)

Gng. Bukid was a home-based activity until they began their first retail operation in May 2004 as one of the handful pioneers of what is now known as Salcedo Village Saturday Market. They started out selling home-made native specialties like Maja Blanca and Leche Flan, and baked items like Chocolate Mousse, Fudge Cake, and their very own farm-produced Genuine Ilocano's Pure Sukang Iloco. Gng. Bukid also has a bakery outside San Lorenzo Village.

Halfsaints 64% Dark Chocolate Tart

Half Saints is a neighborhood cafe and bar that pays homage to Filipino grown ingredients. I've heard of them before but never got to try them, so I'm glad that they were featured by Masarap Ba? as well.  Their signature 64% Dark Chocolate Tart was created to celebrate our indigenous grown chocolate from Davao. Smooth, bittersweet chocolate filling nestled in a sugar crust with freshly roasted almonds, glazed with 77% dark chocolate ganache.

Le Petite Fromagerie Truffle Cream Cheese
(Masarap Nga recipe: Smoked Salmon Roulade Stuffed with Truffle Cream Cheese Spread)

Karla Reyes' family has been in the food industry for over 80 years. In 2016, her mom asked her to set up a buffet full of cheese, which led to starting La Petite Fromagerie. The product and service line has grown from cheese catering to events, to selling her own line of signature spreads such as the Truffle Cream Cheese Spread, Camem-beer (Camembert Cheese and Belgian Beer), and the TNT (Taba ng Talangka) Cheese Spread.

Le Sucre Lab Dreamcakes
(Featured product: Le Sucre Original Chocolate Dreamcake)

Le Sucre Chocolate Dream Cake is LSL's classic product. It's the first and original dream cake in the market using premium quality ingredients.

Mad Meats Homemade Bacon
(Masarap Nga recipe: Linguine all'Amatriciana with Smoked Bacon and Pizza Bianco with Smoked Crispy Pancetta)

Mad Meats' bacon is made using pork belly from France. It is cured for a week then smoked on various fruit woods for 12 hours.

Mango Grill Manila 
(Featured product: Big Cheese Cassava Cake)

I couldn't get enough of this!! Mango Grill's Big Cheese Cassava Cake is an original family recipe from Sorsogon in Bicol. The cakes are naturally high in fiber, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, and produced sustainably using raw ingredients sourced from farmers.

Mishee's Adobo and Binagoongan Flakes
(Masarap Nga recipe: Mie Goreng, Pancit Guisado, Pumpkin in Coconut Milk)
No photos but I really enjoyed their Mie Goreng! A friend couldn't stop raving about their Pumpkin in Coconut Milk (with binagoongan flakes)

Papa Bear Chili Oil
(Masarap Nga recipe: Marinated Barramundi, Marinated Pork Loin, Marinated Chicken Breast, Singaporean Chili Crab, Kimchi Fried Rice)

Since the dishes are on rotation, I only got to catch the crabs, but I would love to have tried the kimchi fried rice. I'm obsessed with kimchi and could totally eat it alone (no rice, no meat). Papa Bear chili oil is made with the freshest ingredients sourced from local neighborhood markets. The main ingredient is siling labuyo with roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, and fresh garlic.

Tamago Chips Salted Egg Potato Chips
(Masarap Nga recipe: Crusted Spicy Tuna Roll, Crusted Prawn Tempura, Crusted Uramaki Roll, Mixed Salad in Yuzu and Citrus Dressing)

A snack that hits just the right spot with its perfect sweet-salty-spicy combination. Made from real potatoes and salted eggs with no added preservatives!

I took the time to list down information for each of the SMEs so you guys can learn more about them as well. And since the dishes are in rotation, you won't know what you'll get when you visit! There are a few more days left for the Masarap Nga! Meet and Eat, so please, please take the time and support SMEs. Again, the rate for lunch buffet is Php 1,588 nett, while dinner buffet is Php 1,688 nett.

1. Kakulto discount - show them the Kakulto Voucher (linked here) to get 5% discount and a Kakulto Sticker from Masarap Ba? herself!
2. Graduation promotion: FREE buffet for the graduate for every 2 full paying guests
3. Senior and PWD discount: 20%
4. BDO credit and debit cardholders: 40%

* Whichever discount you're planning to avail, please please still show the Kakulto Voucher so they can count your donation for the Philippine Animal Rescue Team (PART)

You can also find Masarap Ba's personal favorites found at the Food Exchange Manila, such as Homemade Corned Beef, Indian dishes at the Indian Station, and the Cheese bread (I love this too!) and favorite gelato flavors at Indulge by Chef de Patisserie Manny Sy are going to be available within the 10-day promo run.

"Novotel Manila is not just a fun global brand that provides the best for its guests but it's also a cooperative member of the community. We are grateful that Masarap Ba? chose us for this creative collaboration which also includes some of our food products. This innovative move brings out the best of both local players and our hotels' global culinary team." - Mike Brown, General Manager of Novotel Manila Araneta Center
For more food adventures, like and follow Life in Technicolor on Facebook and Instagram!