CHEF Tatung Sarthou’s Pandan Asian Café is a melting pot of deliciousness as it takes guests on a tour of favorite culinary destinations around Southeast Asia. Located at Scout Limbaga, Brgy. Laging Handa, Tomas Morato in Quezon City, the restaurant offers well-loved Asian classics under one roof.
Pandan’s menu is an interesting tapestry of interlocking ingredients, cooking methods and traditions that make the region’s cuisine unique. On the offing are iconic regional dishes prepared using the most traditional recipes and authentic ingredients.
Sarthou’s Vietnamese Street Sampler contains chicken satay with peanut sauce which is marinated in a special spice blend, crisp deep-fried shrimp rolls with minced meat, and fresh spring rolls served with peanut sauce.
The Char Kuey Teow is a hawker style flat noodle tossed with strips of Chinese sausage, chicken, and fish cake. “Instead of regular oil, this dish is sautéed in pork lard and there is already a smoky flavor to the noodle because of the wok,” Sarthou said.Also in the menu is Chicken Binakol. Chicken strips are cooked in coconut water infused with ginger and lemongrass. But unlike in other Filipino restaurants, Sarthou said he kept the elegance of the experience by using chicken fillet, with reduced chicken stock. “This dish is very clean and straightforward,” he said.
The Seafood Laksa is made with seafood and noodles in a rich, spiced coconut broth which was boiled for a long period.
The Fried Eggplant with Minced Meat is made from strips of fried eggplant under a blanket of sweet-spicy meat sauce, and cooked in sambal.
Ayam Goreng is cooked first in homemade sambal paste and then deep fried to serve.
Infused with herbs and spices, the dish is incredibly flavorful plus one gets extra crunchiness from the heap of addictive it is served with.
Sarthou’s Kare-Kare is a stew of ox tail, tripe and vegetables in a tasty sauce enriched with ground peanuts and toasted rice. His Sambal Ikan is a grilled whole pomfret marinated in homemade sambal paste.
The Singaporean Platter consists of Hainanese Chicken with classic sauces, crispy pork belly, and the Chinese style barbecued pork Char Siu.
Beef Rendang – beef stewed until fork tender – features a blend of spices and coconut milk, giving it an insane punch of flavor. “It has an intense flavor but the beef is very tender,” Sarthou said.
Nasi Goreng is a spiced fried rice with chicken and vegetables, while the Bagoong Rice is a bagoong-flavored rice topped with caramel pork bits, fried shrimp, and scrambled eggs.
For dessert, the restaurant serves Buco Crumble which has a custardy base and polvoron-like top.
Sarthou said Pandan’s dishes are straightforward and simply done. The Southeast Asian dishes it serves are not a fusion but a collection of favorites from neighboring Asian countries, which share almost the same ingredients because of their similarity in climate, soil, etc.
“Similar things are used. However, those are interpreted differently,” said Sarthou, who is fascinated about Asian cuisine and its techniques.