If you’re anything like us, you know how easy it is to become addicted to cooking shows, and Masterchef is no exception. So when we heard Leo Fernandez (the 2015 runner-up who took the competition by storm) was opening a restaurant, Azon, well...let’s just say we were a tiny bit excited.
Now, if you missed it, Leo wowed viewers with traditional Filipino cooking and gave the judges a schooling in the culture influences of Spain, China and India that make up the cuisine. And now, he’s set up shop in a prime Parnell corner position to do the exact same to the discerning public.
Dishes are designed to share, as they typically are in this part of South East Asia. Expect punchy flavours paired with a myriad of proteins such as twice-cooked pork belly served on betel leaves or crispy soft shelled crab with a Buntaa sauce rich with garlic and ginger. The tender chicken is poached in a pineapple and coconut concoction giving it a rich and acidic twang is a must while the melt-in-your-mouth lamb comes in the way of a shank alongside crispy taro, coriander and cashews. Steamed clams are served in a pool of delicate broth, earthy and full of flavour thanks to the addition of mushrooms and ginger.
Desserts are again traditional, and definitely worth saving room for. Purple yams are featured in two of the sweet offerings—the gluttonous rice balls and the chocolate churros which, if you look closely are stained a deep purple hue. Or, try the refreshing soya milk panna-cotta with pandam caramel, fruits and tapioca pearls.
Azon is one of those restaurants we can envision spending too much time in. The relaxed yet plush interiors instantly transport you to the bustling promenades of Manilla. Couple that with slick service and a notable cocktail and wine list, if we suddenly happened to be judges of MasterChef, well Leo—that would be a yes from us.
Image credit: Lauren Matilda Matthews