On the afternoon of December 14, Tanabe sushi chef Ferdie Caliguia was walking back to his Remedios Street restaurant from Robinsons Place Manila mall when he stumbled upon a TV production shoot in Bocobo Street.
He would have walked past the set without much concern, until he saw the man standing in front of the camera.
Caliguia shouted, “No Reservations! No Reservations!” The man didn’t look up until Caliguia decided to call out his name: “Anthony!”
Caliguia then introduced himself to Anthony Bourdain, the globetrotting host of CNN’s Parts Unknown, as “a fan,” neglecting to mention that he, too, was a chef and that his restaurant was just around the corner.
Bourdain had just come from filming a segment of the show in Carlos Celdran’s North Syquia apartment, and Caliguia figured that the former Les Halles chef would be too busy to visit anyway.
The two men shook hands and parted ways. Caliguia spent the rest of the afternoon bragging about his chance encounter with the culinary superstar to the Tanabe staff, all of whom had watched Bourdain’s shows on the Asian Food Channel, but were skeptical of their co-worker’s incredulous story.
It only took a few hours for them to realize that he was telling the truth: Much to Caliguia’s surprise, Bourdain and his companions found their way into Tanabe for dinner that evening.
The three guests were seated at the sushi bar, where Masumi Tanabe, the Filipino-speaking Japanese owner and executive chef of Tanabe, had stationed himself that night.
Mr. Tanabe, however, did not have the pleasure of preparing Bourdain’s meal in his own restaurant. Bourdain only requested for a selection of sushi, and according to Mr. Tanabe, “Si Ferdie Caliguia ang sushi chef, hindi ako [Ferdie Caliguia is the sushi chef, not me].” (This did not stop the executive chef from expressing his gratefulness to his foreign visitors as they were leaving.)
Naturally, Caliguia obliged and, per Bourdain’s request, served him two pieces of uni (sea urchin), three pieces of chutoro (tuna belly), two pieces of unagi (eel), two pieces of saba (mackerel), and two pieces of hamachi (yellowtail).
Caliguia said that Bourdain did not make any specific comments on the sushi, but asked for two additional pieces of unagi and chutoro later in the evening. His companions requested for the same sushi, but with some extra orders of tempura. Bourdain paired his meal with a can of Asahi Super Dry beer and a 300-ml bottle of Takamasamune sake.
The bill, which Rogue was able to obtain through the waitress that served Bourdain and his party, totaled P7,685.
Tanabe is located at 533 Remedios Street, Malate, Manila. Call +63 2 528 4689.