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Two Ways To Savor Spanish Food—Tapenade’s Paella Sundays Or La Picara’s Spanish-Asian Menu

Spanish cuisine has been a byword with Filipinos for centuries. With the upsurge of the cuisine globally over the last decade and with so many adventurous Spanish chefs feted annually, Spanish food could not be lost on our Manila dining landscape. As such, it’s no surprise to find that, from the traditional and authentic to those modern approaches fused with Asian influences, there’s always something exciting going on with how we can enjoy la comida Español.

READ: Spanish-Born But Filipino At Heart: Dani Aliaga Of Bistronomia Goes Back Home For Metro Channel’s “The Crawl”


Tapenade: A primo Primea paella fest

If I had to nominate a dish that’s filled with Sunday lunch nostalgia, I would pick paella. It’s so easy to recall how, as a young child, we would drive to my grandparents’ house every Sunday after morning Mass. Along with lechon, pastel, beef Wellington, or steamed lapu-lapu, it would be the steaming hot paella I would most look forward to. Just passing the kitchen on the way to the living room, if the paellera (a black, flat round pan with two handles) was out, I would check if it was the Paella Valenciana or Negra (with squid ink) that we would be serving that lunchtime.



READ: Here’s Where To Get Your Paella Fix On World Paella Day

So it was more than interesting to drop by the Discovery Primea press event for its upcoming Paella Sunday lunch promotion at Tapenade which started last May 26th. Every Sunday, Chef Luis Chikiamco brings out two varieties of paella. Along with the Salad Bar, which includes cold cuts and a variety of greens and vegetables, the Paella serves as the meal clincher, the carbo load, the “riz de résistance.” (Yes, pun intended.)


At Discovery Primea’s Tapenade, Chef Luis Chikiamco, Eds Bernardo, and Angela Padilla

The basic Paella Sunday lunch buffet is pegged at P1,400 with the Salad Bar; plus there’s a P1,850 upgrade for unlimited Prosecco. I was joking with Discovery’s Angela Padilla that if, with the unlimited Prosecco, we were still trying to package the lunch as a family deal; or perhaps they were pushing for their rooms and afternoon delights.



During the media event, Chef Luis brought out the traditional Paella Valenciana, topped with shrimp, squid, mussels, and chorizo. The Paella Negra was similarly topped, but with the chorizo excluded. And there was a third Paella with Mushrooms as a vegetarian option. Talking to Chef Luis, he mentioned another paella to be offered that uses ham, asparagus, and toasty chickpeas, and that’s an interesting variant.

It’s paella Primea-style, and I for one, look forward to this.

Tapenade, G/F Discovery Primea, 6749, Ayala Avenue, Makati City, (02) 955-8891


La Picara: Modern Spanish with Asian touches

Here’s a new Spanish eatery that’s vying to be your BGC neighborhood bar and hangout. It’s located on the 2nd floor of what is fast becoming one of the more interesting dining meccas at The Fort. With the restaurant sporting very warm and friendly interiors, the menu boasts of Spanish dishes that have been given little Asian twists and turns that add to the overall taste experience, and should give comfort food a whole new meaning.



The Kimchi Croquetas, salmon sushi topping the nigiri croquetas, were my immediate favorite. And my youngest son loved the deconstructed Tortilla de Bacalao served in a petite Mason jar, with potato foam and crunchy onion bits giving the dish an interesting texture. For those looking for something meatier, I would recommend Beef Cheeks Siomai cooked Spanish style but given a tapas presentation that’s dim sum in origin. 


Tortilla de Bacalao


Beef Cheek Siomai



The Chili Crab Paella, with soft shell crab tempura, was our choice for carbo-loading and it did not disappoint. It’s not a big portion though, sufficient for sharing among three persons at the maximum. And the server knew that the tutong is always the best part of a paella. Also, don’t miss out on the Pulpo, sous-vide octopus served with potato foam, crumbs negra, and pimentón.



There are eateries that go overboard in terms of fusion or blending cuisines. While La Picara does keep it adventurous, it does so with something familiar still guiding us. This new restaurant is a welcome addition to the Spanish restaurants that vie for our attention.



La Picara Manila, Level 2, One Bonifacio High Street Mall, 28th street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, IG @lapicaraph



Photos by Philip Cu-Unjieng, @lapicaraph, and @discoveryprimea