Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Noodle festival at EDSA Shangri-la

The following entry is a story I wrote for the lifestyle section of abs-cbnNEWS.com. I will write a separate entry to talk about the food that I ate during the press lunch held to promote this festival. The festival runs until November 27, so noodle fans, you have a couple of days left to catch it.

Chinese chef demonstrates art of noodle-making at EDSA Shangri-la

By ALEX ALIKPALA, abs-cbnNEWS.com | 11/23/2008 12:18 PM

Noodles are a ubiquitous presence in Filipino culture, from noodle dishes served on birthdays to symbolize long life, to instant noodles that now make up a big part of the busy Filipino’s diet.

Noodles in hot soup (or cold, if one prefers) certainly qualifies as comfort food, to be eaten plain or fancy, depending on one’s mood.

There is much more to the common noodle; for example, the way it is made. Although a lot of these are now factory-made, Filipinos can witness the art of making noodles by hand.

EDSA Shangri-la’s Heat Restaurant is paying homage to this comfort food by having a noodle festival. The hotel’s General Manager Christopher Chia calls China the “noodle capital of the world”.

Thus, they have brought in a chef from China, Chef Wang-Yi of Shangri-La Hotel in Xian, to demonstrate the different ways that noodles are made.

There is a live noodle-pulling station at the restaurant where guests are shown how one piece of dough is transformed into hundreds of noodles through the simple process of pulling. Chef Wang-Yi said that the number of strings produced from one piece of dough depends on the tensile strength and elasticity of the dough.

Chef Wang Yi, who speaks only in Mandarin, said through an interpreter that if the dough’s tensile strength is enough, he can make noodles that are as fine as hair.

Another way of preparing noodles is by slicing it with a knife. This process is rather dramatic and looks just a bit dangerous, if not done by an old hand.

The chef deftly slices off noodle-thin pieces from a lump of dough as big as a fat loaf of bread into a boiling pot of water. He said it took him six months to learn this technique.

A less complicated way of making noodles results in the hand-pressed pearl noodle. Diners can try this for themselves as it does not involve much skill. All one needs to do is cut off a tiny piece of dough and roll it under one’s thumb until it curls up into a shape that is much a like a small seashell’s.

Pearl noodles

The dishes served at the festival include knife-sliced noodles with minced pork sauce, hand-pressed pearl noodle soup, and traditional homemade noodles sprinkled with sesame oil and chili powder. The noodles are available in buckwheat and egg variants, and come in carrot and spinach flavors. These dishes go very well with dimsum.

EDSA Shangri-la’s Director of Communications Malou Rosal said they hold such food festivals and invite guest chefs to expose their diners to the cuisine offered by the hotel’s branches in other countries. “We hold these festivals for food authenticity,” she said.

The noodle station is available for lunch and dinner until November 27th at EDSA Shangri-la’s Heat Interactive Restaurant.

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