Food writer Michael Karlo Lim discovers how Señor Kimchi makes the interesting fusion of Korean and Mexican cuisine work.
I’d reference the migratory clichés of Mexicans and Koreans, if only us Pinoys were immune to the same. But, no. If anything, there are more similarities among Mexicans, Koreans and Pinoys than meets the eye. Across the board, there’s fantastical religiosity, extended families more knotted than their declared tightly knit, some generational and cultural scarring from some or several foreign occupations, what appears to be contentment with discontent and other sweeping generalizations. That last one was a disclaimer. Across the border, the American Dream. Of course, there’s the love for food. I’ll admit I thread myself through the uncomfortable knots at family gatherings only for the good stuff.
Downtown LA comes down to town via Señor Kimchi, one of the first purveyors of the MexiKor food trend on the island. Fusion cuisine can quickly morph into confusion but Mexican and Korean seem to marry well with similarities in punch and layered flavors. Both intricately layered and spiced, the divide is set between the earthier in the former to the tart and funky of the latter.
Extra large brown mushrooms are stuffed with crabmeat and cream cheese, battered and deep-fried, split, sprinkled with cilantro and drizzled with homemade spicy aioli in their Mushroom Poppers. The blank slate earthiness of the mushrooms make for a great base for the savory cheese and the briny kani. Frying made it golden; cilantro anchored Asia with the aioli putting it along the spice trade route of old. Easily my personal favorite, it’s aptly named as there is a tendency to just keep popping one piece after another into your mouth.
A global nod to the fusions come by way of the Pandesal Sliders, among their house specials. The everyday-everyman explodes with baby spring onions, shredded greens and local tomato slices topped with spicy aioli and your choice of meat—in our case, Bulgogi Beef. The soy sauce, sugar, garlic and black pepper combination in the marinade is not quite unlike local preps. Eomeoni comes in with sesame oil profusions of scallions, onions and ginger to push the flavor beyond bistek to SoKor.
Flour tortillas are quite versatile, in that they can carry assortments of toppings that usually work. Fresh kimchi slaw and homemade pepper paste top spicy pork in Señor Kimchi’s Korean BBQ Tacos. A special tropical salsa with mangoes pays homage to local pride.
Rice is an unnecessary starch in my book, but there is no denying the beautiful combination of the spicy pungency of kimchi on plain, boiled rice. A stir-frying to fuse the two is quite the Korean alchemist’s trick with red bell peppers, onions and carrots figuring in the aromatics in the Kimchi Fried Rice. A generous topping of Bulgogi Beef and an oozy fried egg stood as solid proteins.
A variety of local and imported beers are available, but the obvious choice was a Corona. Mexican-American, you know? DTLA. This light, easy beer is pleasantly malty with a latent tartness brought about by that lemon wedge. Perfect for the bright and easy dining atmosphere packed with chic downtown details and arresting, thematic graffiti. Rough finishes, patchy tiling, “rusted” pendant lights, reclaimed wood look and bursts of color. The City of Angels may still be a US Visa approval away, but it might as well be right smack in the new neighborhood of Axis Entertainment Center. Si, señor, at Señor Kimchi.
Axis Entertainment Center-Vibo Place, Escario Street, Cebu City
63. 943 450 2445
by Michael Karlo Lim photography Nath Ybañez
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, March 2016
The Uncommon Traditions that Mexicans and Filipinos share when celebrating the Day of the Dead.
Dia de los Muertos
By Allain Dumon Fonte
The 2nd of November is All Soul’s Day, a holiday that is very important to many Filipinos to remember our loved ones who passed on. This is also widely celebrated in Mexico as “Dia De los Muertos” or in English, “The Day of the Dead”. And Mexicans celebrate the 2nd of November grander than they celebrate Christmas. Well, you can witness it from the Disney movie, “Coco”.
As All Soul’s Day or Dia de los Muertos is about to end, here are some interesting traditions and superstitions that Filipinos and Mexicans share:
1. IT IS NOT ON THE 31st OF OCTOBER
Dia de los Muertos or All Soul’s Day is not practiced on October 31st or on the Hallow’s Eve as many other western cultures practice; but we celebrate it on the 2nd of November. We celebrate November 1st as All Saint’s Day or the Day of the Holy, while in Mexico they call it Dia de los Innocentes or Dia de los Angelitos to commemorate the children who died too early in life.
2. THE RITUAL
Both in Mexico and in the Philippines, we visit the grave of our loved ones and we clean it well. This is a ritual to honour their resting places and to let them know that they are never forgotten.
3. FLOWERS INVITE SPIRITS
In Mexico, they believe that the scent of flowers attract spirits. So the flower offerings are invitation to their dead loved ones to visit the living families. While in the Philippines, we believe that flowers offered to the dead exalt the souls and somehow fill in the sadness that we feel when missing our dead loved ones.
Most of the time, Filipinos choose all-white flowers to offer because white is the absence of colour, which means the absence of Joy and happiness. White also symbolises purity of soul which we hope our dead loved ones will attain as they journey to heaven. While in Mexico, they have the yellow Mexican marigolds as the official flowers of the dead that will guide them in their journey to the afterlife.
4. THE LEGEND OF THE MONARCH BUTTERFLIES
Both cultures believe that monarch butterflies are dead loved ones who visit us and show their appreciation that we have not forgotten them. A presence of monarch butterflies also means that our dead loved ones are always there guiding us and looking after us.
5. A PICNIC IN THE GRAVEYARD
Spending a night at the graveyard and picnicking with the rest of the family may sound very creepy to many; but to both Filipino and Mexican cultures, picnicking and spending a night at the cemetery is a must to show our love to our dearly departed. It is the only time in the year that families gather and tell stories of the dead loved ones and how colourful or how great their lives were.
6. FOOD FOR THE DEAD
In Mexico, they have what they call “ofrendas” or an altar where the pictures of their dead loved ones are displayed and offered with flowers, candles, and their favourite food. Very similar to the Filipino culture of cooking the favourite food of our dead loved ones and everyone in the family enjoys the food for dinner.
My family tradition involves me driving all the way to Colon street and buy that famous Snow Sheen’s “pancit canton”. This is my granddad’s favourite snack. Sadly, the old Visayan Restaurant is no longer there. My late uncle and my late grandpa love their sweet ad and sour fish. We also set up an “ofrenda” on their graveyard and eat their favourite food while picnicking in the cemetery. We do not spend a night in the cemetery; but while we are picnicking there, we usually play the songs of Pilita Corrales and Susan Fuentes that my late grandpa used to listen every afternoon while enjoying his coffee, pan de sal, and pancit canton.
What about your family traditions? Share your thoughts by commenting to this article.
MODEL: Michael Joseph Mortola Enriquez & Alexis Wingfield
PHOTOGRAPHER: Gianne Paolo Anciano
HMUA/DESIGNER: Hazel Ocaba
STYLING: GPA Lifestyle + Clothing
Catch Ted Lasso the Emmy Award Winning Comedy Series on Apple TV+
Rating: *****/ *****
The multi award–winning comedy series airing on Apple TV+ is one of my favorite shows. Ted Lasso starring Jason Sudeikis is about a fun good-natured American football coached hired by a British soccer club (AFC Richmond in London) to become their new coach. In spite of the fact that Ted has no experience or knowledge about British football/soccer, his positive demeanor and charm helps him overcome the animosity of the team’s players, staff and fans. Eventually Ted wins over the team and the locals as they fight for position in the English Premier League.
The show won the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and 7 Emmy Awards in its 2 seasons and Season 3 is just around the corner. You can catch Seasons 1 & 2 of Ted Lasso on Apple TV+
PANDEMIC DIARIES: Twelve Months Later
Photos taken by Pablo Quiza around Cebu City during the months of March, April and May 202
AS WE APPROACH ONE YEAR under pandemic times, we look back at March 2020 with fascination. And awe. We had 12 months of lockdown and survived the so called new normal. We lived with masks and alcohol even today. Carless roads and dark malls. Those were the early days of March, April and May.
It stretched to October and past Christmas. No Sinulog. Virtual parties on Zoom and virtual mass on You Tube and FB Live. We debated on the best meds to take if we get sick and whether to wear masks (please do!). We scampered for face shields and anti-viral sprays. Vitamins C and D and zinc. Later, we survived being swabbed and we learned the difference between a PCR and an anti-gene test. The latter cost less.
We dreaded the declarations of IATF mandated from Manila. And we got mad at the police chief who had a birthday party while his people were busy locking up everyone violating the lockdown. Most horrifying of all, we needed to produce IDs! Are you a resident of Barangay Lahug or Banilad? Are you employed and why are you still working? Everyone suffered thru endless checkpoints. Most sad of all are those using motorbikes, they seem to get the raw end of the deal since those with cars are not as scrutinized. We managed to trick the system by putting a big handwritten note in front of the car: COMPANY CAR, and zipped tru the police desks in the middle of the road. Don’t even think of travelling, by plane, boat or bus. The collection of the required documents is enough for one to get exposed to Covid.
We learned to shop online, order groceries and necessities thru delivery. We slowly moved towards cashless payments. Gcash and banks like Union Bank and China Bank with friendly apps are heroes for making life easy for most of us to spend what little cash we have to spend on Lazada or pay the VECO bill. Oh and we binged on K dramas on Netflix and You Tube, kamsaminada.
As 2021 enters, there are some good news. For those obsessed with news, you already know that 7,000 vaccines arrived last March 2 in Cebu, with more expected in the next few weeks. The death rate is not as high among those who caught this pesky virus, which tells us that doctors in the hospitals have some proven expertise in dealing with Covid. More cures should be in the horizon.
Meanwhile, lets continue dreaming of the day when we can cross borders again, even if its just Bohol or Boracay, Bangkok or Hong Kong. Ready those luggages and bags bought during the 3/3 sale in Shopee in preparation for the day when we can take the ferry or the plane for new adventures.