With the horrible traffic jams within Metro Manila, one tends to avoid out-of-the-way restaurants. However, I happily make exceptions for gems like My Kitchen at The Oasis.
My Kitchen is in the little-known Oasis Park Hotel tucked in the curving narrow Belen street in Manila. It may as well be in Timbuktu, if you live in Quezon City and work in Pasig City, given the infuriating traffic jams around the metropolis! Yet for more than a couple of special occasions, we have chosen to celebrate here.
The bonus is it is right next to the Instagrammable Paco Park, with its domed chapel, charming gardens and historical landmarks (the park was originally built as a cemetery in 1820!). We drop by the park whenever we visit My Kitchen.
Park or no park, we mainly make our way here for the stellar Italian cusine. My Kitchen at the Oasis (formerly known as My Kitchen by Chef Chris) is the brainchild of Chef Chris Locher, a respected Swiss/Italian chef who has made the Philippines his home.
Excellent bread on the table is a hint, if not an assurance, that the rest of the meal will be a positive experience. My Kitchen’s bread is crusty and fresh, and comes with a dip of herbed olive oil and grated parmesan.
It’s love at first sight and bite as the gambas appetizer is laid before us. My Kitchen’s version has plump fresh shrimp in a garlicky sauce dotted with capers and a tiny chili kick. You won’t be able to resist sopping up every last bit of the heavenly sauce with bread, no kidding.
The Oasis salad is another winner, and it doesn’t scrimp on ingredients. Artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, capers, caramelized onions, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, arugula, romaine lettuce and alfalfa sprouts simply go perfectly together.
It is easy to see why My Kitchen is talked about for its original panizzas — fine crisp dough layered with a blend of cheeses and herbs with a variety of fine toppings. One rolls the thin vertical slices of panizza with arugula and alfalfa sprouts. Savory, crunchy and lip-smacking tasty simultaneously explode in your mouth.
The Tin Lou panizza has bacon, ham, caramelized onions, sundried tomatoes and mushroom.
The Verena comes with a tomato and white-truffle-oil-enhanced cheese sauce, scallops, prawns and dried tomatoes.
The Paco is topped with herbed chicken fillet, smoked bacon, portabello and golden mushrooms, capers and sliced kalamata olives.
We sample the frutti di mare pasta, spaghetti loaded with fresh salmon, dorado, snapper, prawns and mussels sauteed with tomatoes, olives and capers in a light virgin olive oil.
The carbonara pasta is generously coated with parmesan cream sauce and bacon.
Everything is top quality, and we haven’t even gotten to the mains.
The star of stars, the one thing we order if we want to celebrate in a special way: the classic angus flank steak with red wine sauce, artfully served with grilled pumpkin slices, onion roasted potatoes and sauteed rapini.
At mmmedium doneness, the mmmeat is fork tender and mmmelts in your mmmouth. Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm. The steak can be ordered in different weights, depending on the number of people in your party, or how hungry you are.
If there are six or more of you, the whole roast chicken would also be worth ordering. Served family style, the fragrant chicken is seasoned with lemon, white wine and olive oil and presented over an aromatic chorizo pilaf garnished with roasted carrots, pumpkin and spring garlic.
For non meat eaters, there’s the pan roasted salmon fillet with vin santo butter sauce on a bed of lentils and Italian broccoli.
My Kitchen also offers lamb ribs, homemade pork sausages, and osso buco, along with soups, risottos, and vegetarian options, all pairable with wine.
Home made gelatos complete the meal, and there are plenty of flavors to choose from, including hazelnut, dark chocolate, white chocolate, strawberry, pistachio and rum raisin. They have other dolces like cannoli, panna cotta, creme brulee.
Oh, and if you’re celebrating a birthday, you receive a lovely slice of tiramisu, too, like my niece Elena and I did.
Considering the variety of quality food choices and portion sizes, prices at My Kitchen at the Oasis are on the high side, but reasonable.
The restaurant is simply but elegantly decorated, with plenty of glass walls to let natural light in. Wait staff is knowledgeable, service is warm.
Recommended for family gatherings and romantic date nights.
Plan a dining trip to My Kitchen at the Oasis, and prepare to be delighted. While you’re in the area, you can show your support for our national parks and museums. Aside from Paco Park next door, you may want to visit the reinvigorated National Museum, catch a show at the Planetarium, and stroll through the Rizal Park, all only a few minutes drive away.