It is costly to open and run a restaurant, especially in a high rent environment like Fort Bonifacio. If you cannot win over enough customers in the first six months of operation, then you may lose all the investment made. That's why, most new restaurants serve cuisines that are familiar to the local target clients. In Fort Bonifacio, this explains why there are many burger shops, pizza joints, and ramen places. If you are an adventurous foodie, you should feel lucky now, because three new restaurants opened in the last month are anything but same-as-the-rest.
Listen to Bob Marley in a restaurant that serves Japanese styled food. That's the idea behind Papa Loa, it seems. I was told that Reggae music was the cool thing in trendy bars in Japan. OK.
The restaurant has two small menus, one for bar chow, and the other cocktails. Their bar chows are very unique, all original creations by its chef Iñigo Castillo, a Spanish Filipino raised here and Australia. For example, aburi is a Japanese word that means flamed or torched. Papa Loa's aburi is applied on raw salmon pieces, plus lemon juice and other condiments (P260). Then there are several skewer dishes that have chicken, beef, fish or egg plant pieces coated in a beer batter. Order size is not big, 4 sticks to one order that costs from P75 to P120, so it is like pulutan size.
They also have many creative cocktails. Luckily they also have a few non-alcoholic drinks for those who would like to try their food, but are not alcohol consumers.
PapaLoa's Aburi is shown in the background of this photo.
Papa Loa, at 1099 Forbeswood Heights, Rizal Drive, only opens for dinner. Tel.02 3579866.
See here for more details.
DaTang Jardin Asian Tapas Bar
When one hears Asian Tapas, one usually thinks of "dimsum", small bite size food served in Chinese (Cantonese province) restaurants. But no, this restaurant does not serve dimsums. Its menu has dishes that belong to 8 main cuisine styles in China, some served in a Spanish tapas style, others in traditional way as a viend.The dominant cuisine there, though, is Taiwanese dishes. Taiwanese cuisine is heavily influenced by migrants from the Fujian province. It tends to be sweet and oily. Shandong cuisine, which is quite uncommon in the Philippines, is quite meaty, oily, salty and spicy. Szechuan food is known for its chili and mouth-numbing peppers.
Bringing these unfamiliar dishes to the Philippines takes guts. While the restaurant carries a lot of dishes that are easy on the taste buds, the unusual ingredients, flavor, and ways of cooking of a few dishes may be too intimidating for some people. We, the more adventurous foodies, certainly hope that they will keep the unique dishes on the menu even if they are not hits with the general patrons.
One dish that we went there specifically to try was Quick-Fried Kung Pao Stinky Tofu with Century Egg (P280). This is one of the six dishes in the Egg & Tofu section of the menu. Stinky tofu is a dish that has fetish appeal.
Photo above taken at 2nd floor of DaTang, and inset photo is that of Kung Pao Stinky Tofu.
In Hong Kong, for example, stinky tofu is a hard-to-find street food that fans will spend time looking for. For fans, it has a irresistable stink, but other people will chase away the vendors pretty soon. So stinky tofu is harder to find than Pokemons on the go. It has a umami flavor of the bean paste kind. Done well, it is crunchy on the outside, and spongy in the middle.
At DaTang Jardin, their stinky tofu does not stink. Fortunately, it still has the texture and some of the taste. We look forward to trying their other egg and tofu dishes, especially those that have intriguing names in Chinese. For example, the dish with English translation of "Quick-fried preserved egg with hotspicy sauce" actually is called "explosive eggs in tear-gas flavor" in literal Chinese, and the dish labeled "Deep-fried tofu with hot spicy sauce" in English is translated from four Chinese characters that reads "Old skin tender flesh" in Chinese.
For meatlovers, we would suggest to try the cold dish, grilled pork neck served with garlic sauce. Pork neck is a flavorful cut, as it contains a lot of fat together with lean meat. We tried the sauteed beef with sate (which is a peanut) sauce (P320). We liked it and it was good for sharing by three persons.
DaTang Jardin Asian Tapas Bar is at Forbes Town Center, next to L'entrecote Restaurant, near Bellagio Towers. Tel. (2) 888-6868.
See here for more details.
This is a restaurant that serves Peranakan cuisine. Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine comes from the Peranakans, descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia. The old Malay word nonya (also spelled nyonya) is a term of respect and affection for women of prominent social standing.
This restaurant is not the first to serve Peranakan cuisine in the Philippines. Those of us old enough will recall that in 1990s, there was a Peranakan restaurant in C-5, across the site of the future Eastwood City. That restaurant did not survive.
Hey Handsome the restaurant, though, may have a better chance of lasting. Why? First, because it serves fusion Peranakan cuisine. The owners are Filipino chefs who have learned to cook Perankan food and now brought the dishes here with their own, interesting and tasty interpretation. Second, because its interior design is appealing. By using floor and table tiles that look like they were from 1960s, it has a southeast Asian hawker market feel. The long table layout adds to that theme. Third, it is located in Fort Bonifacio, where many residents are well-traveled and are familiar with the tastes of southeast Asian food.
We tried one of their desserts, Kueh Dadar (P180). The traditional version is flavored by pandan juice, so it has a green color. Hey Handsome's is flavored by rose water. It is pinkish, and tasted like rose, with a hint of sweetness. Very nice. What we also liked was the cream that went with it, which was made with galangal juice, a type of ginger. If only they could go easy on the filling, it would have been heavenly.
Hey Handsome is at Ground Floor, Net Park Building, facing 5th Avenue, across Fort Entertainment Complex.
These new restaurants represent the faith in their unique dishes of the chefs/owners behind them. We hope more adventurous foodies will try them out so that more will be encouraged to do something equally daring, but different.
See here for more details.
For detailed location and information about these restaurants, please visit our restaurant map.