An Identity Built on Flavor: Metiz in Karrivin Plaza and Its Take on Filipino Flavors

Nearly a year since it opened in late 2019, Metiz in Karrivin Plaza has proudly showcased its take on Filipino flavors through bright and creative dishes.

A striking sight you’ll see when you first enter Metiz is the near-seamless boundaries of its kitchen and dining area. With only a long wooden shelf acting as a partition between the two halves, its interiors are a simple blend of smooth concrete and wood. This ease of transition between chef and diner is, oddly enough, befitting for what’s to come with Chef Stephan Duhesme’s dishes and what Metiz represents in the local culinary scene. I recently paid a visit to Karrivin Plaza to try the current roster of their ever-evolving 5-course meal and talk with Stephan on lessons learned in Metiz’s first year.

Egg and Bangus V2.0, the small but flavorful first course of the meal

Stephan shares that he likes to change up the dishes of their 5-course meal every few months. This first dish is the newest addition to the batch, Egg and Bangus V2.0. It makes a stunning statement as the opening dish, being the most visually intriguing of all of them: a rectangular piece of sourdough puff pastry stuffed with bangus tinapa paste, confit egg yolk, and topped generously with a green herb. The story behind this, Stephan shares, comes from an old craving that he used to always have. “A part of these cravings that I enjoyed throughout multiple periods of my life was a croissant that [opens up], smothered with butter, and inside I would put a fried egg.” He says that he was experimenting with a new sourdough puff pastry, which at one point in development reminded him of that specific croissant craving. Inspired by this, he continued to build on the recipe using a confit egg yolk instead of a fried egg and integrating a salty umami-rich paste made with tinapa, chocolate, and vinegar produced with fermented chili. These flavors come together into a savory bomb. The buttery flaky crunch of the pastry is coated by the thick and rich goo of the egg yolk and hits that final punch of umami from the tinapa paste—A strong start to the meal.

Shrimp and Strawberries. A homemade vinegar made with pickled guava is used to add astringency to the dish

At this point in the meal, I start to notice a recurring element in Metiz’s flavor profile— fermentation. Not only is it evident in the pickled, aged, and cured aspect of the dishes but also in the array of pickling jars occupying the shelves all over the restaurant filled with a multitude of fruits and other ingredients. In asking Stephan about this apparent penchant for fermenting he excitingly shares, “There is a penchant, right. I mean all our vinegars we make them ourselves…The [preference for] fermentation actually comes from this desire to not waste. So whenever something is about to go bad, we try to figure out something to do with it.” Stephan continues that they like to rotate on different kinds of vinegar for their recipes depending on what extra fruits they have in excess and that currently, they’re using a lot of guava vinegar while they already have jars of strawberry vinegar waiting for use. “Yeah, there’s definitely an affection for fermentation here. That comes more from a need, from a desire, not to waste. Also, it makes things taste better. It adds depth and complexity.”

With this in mind, I was excited to see what fermenting formula would be used for their main course. And as expected, the Steamed Pork Belly makes use of aged and cured native pork belly steamed in banana leaf with fava bean tausi, the meat is drenched with a pungent bagoong and sineguelas sauce topped with pili nuts. For the sides we have pork fat wilted talcum and tublay leaves, and a bowl of Kalinga rice. The aged pork is near falling apart in tenderness and the rich bagoong sauce highlights the deep flavor they’ve built from their respective fermentation process. The vegetables provide a sour and bitter crunch to balance the richness of the pork. Of course, pairing each bite with a spoonful of rice just completes the experience.

Read the full story written by Ysmael Suarez in Lifestyle Asia’s November 2020 edition titled, “Rising Together.”

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