I was one of the fortunate individuals who had the opportunity to check-in at Conrad Manila on its opening day. The caring and efficient Front Office team gave me what I think is the best room in the house aside, of course, from the Presidential Suite. That same room is my favorite to this day and, for the many times I have checked in at the hotel since its opening, I always ask for that same room.
It’s a corner suite right in front of the giant-sized ferris wheel on the promenade and has a breathtaking view of the tranquil Manila Bay and its glorious sunset. The design of the room, the positioning of the king-sized bed and the furniture in the living area are so conducive to de-stressing, which is the main reason why it was “love at first sight” for me with Conrad Manila.
Fast forward to today: Just like me, those who go for the finer things in life have fallen in love with the hotel. And it’s not just the guest rooms and facilities that they like, they also fill up its restaurants, especially China Blue by Jereme Leung. This offers a modern Chinese dining experience with a specially curated menu that blends contemporary cooking techniques with local flair. Small wonder why the metro’s foodies troop to this restaurant when they crave for real good Chinese cuisine.
Just the other day, I had a casual chat with Chef Jereme Leung, the multi-awarded kitchen wizard who has painstakingly crafted every item on China Blue’s menu. The 49-year-old chef started to hone his culinary skills when he was only 13 years old. It could have been the influence of his father, who worked as a cook in a cruise ship, which attracted the young Jereme to shape his own future in the confines of the kitchen. Needless to say, he’s very happy with the career path he chose as he continues to excel in it.
His seemingly magical culinary talent has brought him worldwide fame, with an army of loyal foodies who swear to their love for anything Chef Jereme whips up in the kitchen. This reputation has made it possible for him to put up successful restaurant ventures in Singapore, Shanghai, Male, Macau, one in Europe, and another one in the Mediterranean. He is also featured in the in-flight cuisine of Delta Airlines.
All these achievements have earned for the Hong Kong-born chef not just once, but twice, the Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Science. He was also a judge in the Chinese edition of the highly popular Master Chef television program. He is widely recognized as a pioneering chef who perfectly blends the concept of modern Chinese cuisine with classical, provincial Chinese food.
When I asked him if any of our own Philippine-grown ingredients make it to his specially crafted menu items, he readily replied with a big “YES” and immediately pointed out his Coconut Charcoal Ice Cream which is now available at China Blue, and served with Crispy Cheese Cracker and Toasted Bread. I could easily describe this dessert item to you but that would spoil your fun of discovering what this “Jereme Leung exclusive” is all about. But, to tease you some more, I posted a photo of it somewhere on this page. All I can say is—you have to try it to get your share of heaven!
Chef Jereme draws his inspiration from traditional recipes, emphasizing the time he spends choosing the right ingredients, as he declares that his skills are not as important as the ingredients he chooses when coming up with a perfect dish. This is why he innovates all the time and explores the value of the different food elements, which result in the quintessential dishes that he is known for.
He’s happy to note that many Filipino food items are similar to those in China, and singled out our puto. He says it is exactly the same—the same look, the same taste—as the White Sugar Cake, a favorite snack item in Guangdong Province in China.
What makes Chinese cuisine a favorite the world over? Chef Jereme quickly intoned, “The variety of ingredients in any Chinese dish gives it flexibility, so there’s always something good and tasty for everyone.”
The rest of the afternoon I spent trying out some of China Blue’s rich, epicurean harvest of dishes specially prepared by Chef Jereme. You can imagine the joy of being in a Chinese culinary heaven, albeit just for a few hours. The wide variety of fresh ingredients featured in the restaurant’s exquisitely crafted dishes is definitely something worth raving about. Chef Jereme’s kitchen magic assures China Blue the continuous patronage of the metro’s well-heeled, who know good food when they see one. No wonder, in such a short time, China Blue has become Conrad Manila’s most valuable Chinese treasure.
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