For a lot of Filipinos, especially Chinoys (or Chinese-Filipinos), Chinese food from Binondo is a taste of comfort and nostalgia. Chef Decker Gokioco recreates the flavors of the neighborhood while also putting his own spin to them at White Flower Tea House.
Read our interview with the chef to learn more about his connection with Chinese food, his recommendations for new diners, and how he started cooking.
The Grid Food Market (TGFM): What makes Chinese food special to you?
Chef Decker Gokioco (DG): It’s special because its the food of my childhood. [Chinese food holds a] lot of memories—from the cooking style of my parents down to the Binondo trips we had—and [is] definitely my comfort food.
TGFM: What’s your favorite thing about working at The Grid so far?
DG: The vibe of the team. The situation is not getting easier, but you can see resilience from the team to just keep moving forward and maintain consistency [with our food] everyday! They constantly grow and improve as a team.
TGFM: When did your love for cooking start? What was the first dish you ever cooked?
DG: It started at a young age. My earliest memory was cooking alongside my mother. I would assist her in the kitchen. During Home Economics class in high school, I would also be the natural leader [whenever there's] a cooking project. Then
BS-HRIM major in Culinary Arts eventually became my course in college.
The first dish that I cooked alone was chicken adobo! You have to start with the classics.
TGFM: When they visit White Flower Tea House at The Grid, what should newcomers try first?
DG: Golden Mushroom is not something you see everyday, [and] it’s also good for sharing, so make sure to try it. Our Lechon Macau and Charsiu are sure winners whether over rice or dry noodles. For noodles, Sate Mi will hit the spot as well. And for drinks we have Pei Pa Koa honey tea—from our childhood home remedy medicine, we turned it into a drink.
TGFM: Aside from your own stall, which The Grid food is your favorite?
DG: I enjoy eating at Samyan; my favorites are the Pork Krapao and Papaya Salad. Make sure to also try their Thai Iced Coffee—one of the best in town.