5 Fresh And New Dining Concepts To Check Out In BGC
It’s always a good thing to know and enjoy your usual dining haunts in your neighborhood mall. But wisdom dictates that fresh and new options, carefully curated, should still be on the proverbial menu, in keeping with the always evolving tastes of the mall-going public. In Bonifacio Global City and Taguig, one of the fastest growing epicenters of Metro Manila, it’s good to see the dining scene more than keeping pace, especially with the following new spots located in SM Aura:
The Food Hall
Talking to the people behind some of the newer eating establishments, I heard the common refrain of how they’ve created food concepts that are sensitive to the tastes and proclivities of millennials. Executive Chef Carlo Miguel of Foodee Global Concepts was explaining to me how they’ve recently overhauled the menu at The Food Hall. From one menu, there are now five short menus in one! One page is devoted to Flatteries (pizza and pasta), another page is Pound (burgers), and still another page is Hook (seafood), plus there’s a Grill Room page for mains such as steaks, chicken, pork, and so on.
Trendier upbeat music is now being employed to entice a younger segment of the dining market to see The Food Hall as an ideal hangout or chill spot. It may be early days for this revisionist take on what used to be The Food Hall by Todd English, but if the Pound (#) Burgers are an indication of what’s new, count me as one of the converted. I was a regular in the old days and I appreciate how the rebranding and tinkering with the menu spells better days.
On the opposite end of the restaurant level of Aura, there is a Vietnamese haven called Nhà Em. Make sure to look for Henry when you enter this eatery. He’s a Vietnamese who used to work at a top hotel here and decided to stay on in the Philippines. He is always ready to guide you through the menu. The restaurant’s name means Our Home and that’s how he wants you to feel.
One specialty is this humongous dish called Banh Xeo that looks like a giant omelette but is actually a crispy crepe (think Ilocos empanada) stuffed with shrimp, pork, and sautéed bean sprouts. You basically wrap the dish in greens so there’s a snap and crackle as you bite into the greens. Totally delicious and along with the Fresh and Fried Spring Rolls, I immediately found my favorites at Nhà Em. There’s certainly more to Vietnamese cuisine than the popular Phò at Nhà Em.
While this Chinese restaurant also has branches at SM Maison and SM Podium, it’s good to know it now has a home in the BGC area. The variants of the signature Xiao Long Bao give this restaurant its unique proposition. And you’ll love the special Scrambled Egg White with Fish and Conpoy, a combination of century egg, salted egg, and egg white. For spicy goodness, I’d pick the chicken dish you see pictured beside the Xiao.
Honolulu HK Cafe
At the lower ground level, there’s Honolulu HK Cafe which boasts of having the best egg tarts you can find anywhere in the world. The HK outpost has been around since 1940, but don’t be fooled into thinking this café is a one-trick pony. The Dry Beef Noodles are super delicious as well.
If you ask Raul Manzano, host of EIC on the Move and editor-in-chief of Metro Society, what his Aura find would be, I know he’d agree with me and say Baker Brothers. It’s the brainchild of Chef Robert Lilja. Finnish by birth but who grew up in Sweden, he’s been living and working in the Philippines for 30 years now. He happens to be behind the best kept secret of Manila’s dining scene, Maria Luisa’s Garden, that little restaurant situated inside the grounds of the Makati Garden Club.
At Baker Brothers, just look at the pictures of what’s on display! I loved the Native Chocolate Ube Pie, and took home the Carrot & Raisin Bread. And don’t think for one moment that what’s on display in the bakery counter defines this place. Chef Robert’s Swedish Meatballs are out of this world, and his Lamb Shanks are to die for. His hearty soups were given the thumbs up by my three sons. There’s also a Sriracha Chicken that he promises you'll love, while his Basil Lemonade drink is one refreshing tonic.
There’s a mini-food revolution going on at Aura, as new establishments have found their way into the mix. So trust me when I say it’s worth the visit!
SM Aura Premier, 26th Street corner McKinley Parkway, Taguig