In the second part of our series on Davao’s most promising young chefs, we talk to Mikko Garrido, who brings healthy, no MSG, Asian cuisine to Davao via his restaurant, Asian Side Wok Kitchen. Read on as he discusses his beginnings as a restaurateur, his inspiration for the restaurant, and his views on the culinary landscape of Davao.
Mikko Garrido, 26, owner and head chef, Asian Side Wok Kitchen
Asian Side Wok Kitchen is located at Door 3, Montana Bldg., Mabini cor. Circumferential Road, Marfori Heights, Davao City
Why did you decide to open a restaurant in Davao City?
We decided to open Side Wok in Davao because there aren’t many food choices here. We wanted to bring a different twist to traditional restaurants who just serve barbecue and dimsum, and bring in a new concept of good and healthy eating to the people of Davao. Side Wok’s food has no MSG and we source our ingredients from local farmers. All our sauces are made from scratch and not store bought. So you can say we are a farm-to-table kind of place.
What is the concept of your restaurant? What’s your favorite dish to serve visitors?
(Asian Side Wok Kitchen is) Pan Asian Cuisine involving the different local foods of Southeast Asia. My favorite dishes to serve to customers are our bestsellers: our seafood laksa, a Singaporean spicy soup loaded with seafood, which has a distinct coconut milk taste; our beef rendang, beef slow cooked in 8 secret spices; our Seafood in Chili Paste, a Side Wok original, which you have the option to order with homemade stir fried noodles.
How long have you been cooking?
I started cooking when I was really young, but professionally, maybe around 4 years.
Aside from your own, what is your other favorite Davao restaurant? What do you usually order?
My favorite restaurant right now is a Japanese place called NONKI. It’s located along Torres Street. I usually order the tenzaru soba. It’s a dish with cold noodles and a cold dipping broth served with two pieces of ebi tempura and a piece of eggplant tempura on the side. I also get their uni sashimi and hotate bacon, which is essentially scallops wrapped in bacon, as an appetizer.
What do you think makes Davao cuisine special?
Davao cuisine is so young. There is still so much young chefs can do. We as young chefs can still push the boundaries of our imaginations because there is much room to grow. Just this year, there has been a surge of new restaurants opening around the city. Young chefs own them all. This makes us different from Manila where established Chefs own the restaurants. Here, in Davao, we have people still trying to make a name for themselves in this industry. And it’s very exciting.