Angelo Comsti and Bryan Koh from Singapore play their favorite roles – food storytellers – while cooking for a crowd of 80
JEROME GOMEZ | Jul 07, 2022
If you’re planning a trip to Bohol in the coming months, we recommend planning it just when Panglao’s popular gem, Amorita Resort, hosts Beats or Bohol Eats. This is a special event that calls on some of the country’s finest culinary talents to deliver a unique one-night-only dinner menu, which, needless to say, guests can partake in in the romantic and windy seashore of Amorita.
We caught its latest edition a weekend ago – we were part of a Cebu Pacific-hauled media group – and it was an education in lesser-known Filipino delicacies and ingredients from Ilocos Norte to Tawi- Tawi. The chefs in charge were Angelo Comsti, food columnist and author of the National Book Award nominee “Too Filipino: 75 Regional Dishes I Never Had Growing Up”, and his friend, Bryan Koh, from Singapore, co-founder of Lion City’s famous pastry shop. Chalk Farm, and author of the beloved “Milky Pigs and Violet Gold,” a memoir of his explorations of Philippine food.
Both Comsti and Koh are storytellers. Which makes them perfect leaders for Beats. Not only are they passionate about exploring the flavors and traditions that make up Southeast Asian cuisine, they love the stories behind them, and both seem to enjoy sharing the stories through their food. and their writing.
Comsti got his start in the food industry through a magazine job that immersed him in the local food scene. After meeting members of his community who are very generous in recipes and discovering the camaraderie between his chefs, the writer fell in love with their universe, ultimately inspiring him to undertake culinary studies abroad and to forge a career in the food sector upon arrival. he was back home.
Bryan, meanwhile, has been eating Filipino food since he was two, thanks to a Pinay nanny who made sinigang and adobo and pinakbet and igado (she’s Ilocano) so familiar in the Koh house than the Singaporean dishes he grew up with. By age 6 or 7, he was already active in the kitchen but didn’t take food very seriously until his late teens when he started cooking for friends. Later, he would miss the Filipino cuisine of his youth and it would spark an interest in learning more about the cuisine of the Philippines.
It was Comsti and Koh’s first time cooking for Filipino audiences (and their first time cooking together), and for Bohol Eats, they knew they wanted to showcase dishes less familiar to ears and taste buds. local. (Although they saw no need to focus too much on Visayan dishes as the Boholanos already knew them, they always used ingredients available in Bohol.) The cocktail they prepared set the tone for the adventure. culinary that awaited our palates. : Comsti served with minced pork cooked in pineapple juice and soy sauce, inspired by Tiim de Bulacan. He served his version of a cup of lettuce — perfect for the outdoor setting — with spiced mangoes and peanuts.
Koh, for his part, came up with Maranao coconut and shrimp patties with palapa – a condiment from Lanao del Sur – turmeric, chili, ginger and garlic, served with a smoked vinegar from Ilocos. They deliciously accompanied the Don Papa rum cocktails and the animation of a local dance group which opened the evening with a number inspired by the movements of the Filipino tarsier, a creature very present in the iconography of Bohol.
The dinner itself started with Koh de Lowal’s version of Tawi-Tawi, which is basically kinilaw with octopus and coconut milk. This is the strongest Singaporean dish for the evening – delicious, refreshing and when it comes to spiciness, a real wake-up-top. Taken with his previous Coconut Shrimp Cake, it suggests Koh’s fearlessness when it comes to showcasing flavors (he once described his cakes as “bold”). This guy is not afraid to leave a mark on your palate.
Comsti, on the other hand, is someone who knows what buttons to push when it comes to pleasing his dinner party: he shows this in his very satisfying and multi-textured version of Sulu’s tiyula itum, which is very dark and very tender ribs braised in lemongrass and burnt coconut broth (tiyula itum is actually a kind of soup usually served to royalty in the South), served with a garnish of mashed squash topped with chicharon. He followed up with a sweet and refreshing frozen drink perfect for the warm evening, inspired by the inkalti of Ilocos Norte, a dessert made with sweet potato, bilo-bilo, banana and arnibal. Older diners will find it nostalgic, younger ones will remember boba in their favorite milk tea.
It’s already the 10th edition of Beats, and it’s the first four-handed dinner in the lineup. Over the past two years there have been Robby Goco, Jordy Navarra, Margarita Forés, Josh Boutwood, Florabel Co-Yatco, Sarah Melgar of Amorita and current Executive Chef Greg Villalon. But the first two were sort of restaurant covers featuring Bohol favorites Bougainvillea and Sisa.
Certainly, each of these evenings offered its own type of culinary getaway. But hearing Comsti and Koh – isn’t that a tandem that already sounds like future successful collaborations? moments of discovery. Which ultimately made eating their food a richer and more rewarding experience.
[Bohol Eats happens every two to three months. The next one is scheduled this September 10. Meanwhile, catch Angelo Comsti in the food and travel show The Crawl Singapore on Metro Channel.]