7 (Mon) February 2011
Roast Duck Noodle Soup
at Mr Choi Kitchen
-Ermita, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines-
Research Trip to the Philippines, Day 1.
Here Monday through Thursday to meet with WHO to initiate a project reviewing health legislation in countries across the region. Excited to visit the Philippines for the first time.
A quick breakfast in the Asiana Business Lounge at Incheon International Airport (see BEST IN LOUNGE).
I was fully expecting to find that Shin Ramyeon would be the only variety on offer, and I wasn’t disappointed. Koreans choose the brand in 99% of cases. Generally, when it comes to food, Koreans tend to make decisions not by conscious choice, but rather by force of habit, not necessarily because it’s good, but because it’s just there, and it’s always been there, and always will be, so why bother with anything else. For example, on the camping trip to Japan last week, the default breakfast every morning was Shin Ramyeon, some of it brought from Korea and some purchased in the local supermarket–Japan, the birthplace of ramen, hundreds of brands available, and the Koreans all reach for the Shin. On extended trips to Geneva, I’ve seen multiple members of the Korean delegation pack boxes of Shin, each containing 20 packages. When I asked why they didn’t mix it up a bit, they looked at me like I was crazy.
On the plane, lunch was seafood in some kind of sauce. With all the advances and improvements in food across the board, I’d think in-flight meals would have benefited in some way, but they seem to be getting worse.
KSY, a professor from Yonsei University, is with WHO on an academic secondment. She’s leading the project.
We had dinner together.
Uncle Choi Kitchen is a Chinese restaurant. Located in Robinsons Place, a shopping mall near WHO. Specializes in Cantonese.
One of the things that I miss most these days is Cantonese food, which is arguably the most prevalent style of Chinese cuisine across the world but for no apparent reason is non-existent next door in Korea.
Roast duck noodle soup is a Chinese dish. Egg noodles in a clear chicken broth, topped with chopped roast duck, often a piece of bokchoy or kailan, scallions. Cantonese classic, available in any roast shop with hanging ducks.
It’s my second favorite dish of all time (after jjajang myeon). In retrospect, I’m regretful that I didn’t eat more of it when I had easy access, living near Chinatown in LA, for example. During our 6-day honeymoon in Thailand, where Cantonese restaurants are widespread, I insisted that we have roast duck and/or roast duck noodle soup at least every other meal, including our first and final meals in the country.
So, for my first ever meal in the Philippines, I was reunited with my precious. 190 pesos. Alas, it wasn’t very good. I also ordered a plate of sautéed mixed vegetables, such a simple dish that’s inexplicably also unavailable in Chinese restaurants throughout Korea. 170 pesos. It also wasn’t very good. And of course, the local brew: San Miguel. 50 pesos. That was very good.
To eat in my hotel room later, I also got some more roast duck and seafood with crispy noodles as takeout. Not very good, but I enjoyed them nevertheless.