I found the Best Paella Negra of the Philippines.
I had the chance to try the new items on the menu of Enye by Chele Gonzales at Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan. Enye is one of Mactan’s pride restaurants that appeal to all ages. Its food is classic, yet timeless and the ambiance is artfully fashionable with intimate atmosphere.
A welcome glass of a newly popped bottle of wine commandeered and psyched up our senses to gourmandize the 12-course dinner Chef Chele Gonzalez had assembled himself as a special preview of their reengineered menu. For 3 hours, he thrilled us with Enye’s new offerings together with their perfected staple — the Paella Negra.
We started with four appetizers. First, the Wagyu Beef Flamenquin, a breaded, deep fried wagyu beef with camembert filling. This is one of my personal favorite among the new items. A crunchy crust that enveloped the tender wagyu and melting camembert cheese was a party of texture in the mouth.
Vieiras Gratinadas came next. It was a gratinated baby scallops with bechamel sauce, ham and cheese. I could smell the fresh ocean waves roiling into our plates.
Then came the croquettes. The first was Croquetas de Setas y Trufa, a bechamel croquettes with mixed mushrooms and truffle oil. This was scene stealer. Although the presentation was simple, its flavor was bursting. It made me realized that Bechamel is the life partner of mushrooms. Their combination is divine.
Another set of croquettes was rolled out on our table. The Croqueta De Mariscos (seafood croquette) highlighted the fact that we were just a few meters away from the whispering sea of Mactan.
It was an umami overload, after the appetizers. We proceeded with the first “official” course, the White Snapper Fish and Scallop Ceviche. Interestingly, I’ve learned that ceviche is not necessarily the same as “kinilaw”, the latter uses vinegar to cure the fish while the former uses citrus juices. On our plate was a white snapper cured by Peruvian Tiger’s Milk, a citrus-based marinade with fish juices, tempered by coconut milk and curry espuma or foam. Everything was in equilibrium, infusing air to the coconut cream and curry provided a gentle stabilization of the acidity extracted from the lime.
Just as when our sense of taste was reset by the tartness of the ceviche, the Seared Foie Gras was served. The runny yolk that percolated on the seared foie gras, together with the port wine sauce, was devilishly piquant. I forgot that they were two cholesterols plotting a conspiracy. I was so in the zone, I could not abort the mission.
We were getting ready for the two mains, but before that, we washed up with some soup, a Baked Grouper Fish Fillet. The aroma from the broth, although served on a lower temperature from what we expected, was not just a tease to the olfactory nerves, it was also good for the gustation system. The swimmer crab provided a distinct flavor that carried the dish all the way to the last bite.
The mains were Paella Negra and Cordero Asado de Manera Tradicional.
The Paella Negra on their old menu was already exquisite as many other Paella Negra out there in the market. Yet, they are determined to position their Paella Negra ahead of the game. Instead of the typical shrimps, mussels, mayonnaise and whatever customary seafood toppings, they topped it with grilled large octopus tentacles, juicy scallops, and green herb and saffron aioli to kill the competition down to its knees. It was a knock out — a unanimous decision, at least in our long table of ten. I think the secret was the Soccarat, the crust that formed at the bottom of the paellera, as any good paella should have. No, it is not burnt, never. It takes a very experienced chef to determine the perfect time when the paella is ready. Ours was served on the dot. Perfect!
The slow braised lamb shoulder paired with rustic roasted potatoes and some greens filled us to the brim. The roasted potatoes coated with some spice was something I would want to eat again the next day. I was so close to ordering one for take away.
Certainly, the dinner was never exhausting but definitely we didn’t mind to get some energy boost from the new sweet treats of Enye.
The Apple Tart was an interplay of textures from the light and bubbly apple foam, soft and chewy roasted apple, and smooth vanilla custard and ice cream.
The Choco Mango Cebu pairing was my favorite dessert. It was like they were having their day off from the tug of war of flavors. It was so well balanced, no overpowering. Everything contributes to its refreshingly vintage indulgence.
The Tarta de Queso Casera made a sensible connection of the definitive taste of apples and mangoes. The rum ice cream on the side wrapped up the night.
Enye operates from 6:00pm to 10:30pm everyday. It is always a good idea to reserve a table for special dinner. Dining at Enye is always special.