International food that’s tasty and perhaps refreshingly different from your usual bill of fare can be found in Cebu at a place known as District 50. Opened on January 6, 2012, the ’50s-themed diner-style bar and restaurant is actually in the J Centre Mall in Mandaue, and it’s adorned with paraphernalia from the era that serves as its inspiration. Painted to look like Herbie the Love Bug, a VW Beetle intimately seats two diners and has the number 50 on it instead of Herbie’s number 53. It’s so cute you’ll be perfectly willing to overlook the minor detail that the Herbie movie first came out in the ’60s rather than the ’50s.
Jenilee Jao and Chan Quiambao, the young chefs who select and prepare the wide range of food at District 50, did not limit the D50 menu to American diner food. Italian, French and Filipino dishes are also on the menu. They chose food that they themselves enjoy cooking and eating.
Cream Dory with Pesto and Peas is a serving of delectable fish fillet doused in the color green. Another colorful menu choice is Tuna Pasta, which consists of al dente fettuccine in a sauce that contains not only tuna flakes but also olives and tomatoes.
Among the chicken dishes served at District 50 is Parmesan Chicken, which is chicken meat in a tomato-and-basil sauce, with a Parmesan cheese topping. For people who need hearty rations of red meat to satisfy their appetite, Barbaric Ribs is a D50 best seller. American-style ribs are served in barbecue sauce (made according to the restaurant’s own recipe) and served with sautéed vegetables, after the ribs have been carefully grilled until the delectable meat falls off the bones. Another best seller is the Osso Bucco, a main course of Italian origin, made with cross-cut veal shank braised in red wine and accompanied by gremolata. Also a standout is the Smoked Paprika Beef, which has not only tender beef and smoky paprika but also crunchy fresh pea pods, onions, and a sprinkling of parsley.
Beef Stroganoff is a main course that may be Russian in origin because it’s said to have been first made as a light after-theater supper for a Russian count named Stroganoff, but the cooking methods used in making it are considered quite French. At District 50, it’s made with lightly sautéed beef tenderloin strips and a cream sauce. District 50 serves steaks for the meat lovers among us, and they can choose from porterhouse, rib-eye, New York strip, and T-bone steaks.
Because both Chef Jenilee and Chef Chan graduated from the Philippine School of Culinary Arts, one of the D50 specialty burgers was named Hicham’s Burger, after their PSCA mentor Hicham Merouane. It’s a classic burger served with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. After all, what diner-style restaurant would be complete without some burgers on the menu?
The D50 chefs seem to have a habit of naming their culinary creations after people they know. Desserts at the restaurant include Beth’s Brownie Cup, Jaypee’s Jelly Heart and Mary’s Crème Brûlée. In case you wondered about it, Jaypee’s Jelly Heart is actually a light but creamy jelly treat that’s topped with nuts, more cream, chocolate syrup, and strawberry syrup, and it was one of District 50’s flavors of the month for February 2012. Chef Chan created Evan’s Lava, a dessert of chocolate cake topped with homemade ice cream.
If you’d like to see the chefs as they put together a diner’s order (in about 15 to 25 minutes), you can at D50 because it has an open kitchen. Chef Chan manages the kitchen, while Chef Jenilee is in charge of the restaurant operations. Those who like to be online constantly will probably be glad to know that District 50 has free Wi-Fi.
For the D50 beverage floats, only homemade ice cream is used as well. Mocha Float and Strawberry Float are best sellers.
If those menu items have tempted your taste buds, then head to District 50, at the second level of the J Centre Mall on 165 A. S. Fortuna Street corner Bakilid Street, Mandaue City, Cebu. It is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday but until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and is available for functions and celebrations. You may call the restaurant at phone numbers (032) 520-6562 and 511-1218 or send [email protected] an e-mail message. If you’d like to connect with District 50 online, you could go to its Facebook page facebook.com/District50 or follow @District50 on Twitter to get the restaurant’s latest updates and promos.