There’s a new food court at The Fort on 7th Street. It is similar in concept to Serendra but magnified in terms of space.
A mini-arena at the center divides the restaurants. The space is open: There is neither awning nor covered path from the parking area to the restaurant row. But when the weather is friendly, it makes for a relaxed, spacious atmosphere.
It seems Team Ayala has mastered the art of creating the restaurant nook because the formula works here again, as it has in Serendra, High Street and Greenbelt.
The much-hyped Jamba Juice has opened on 7th Street. The flavors remain exciting, and they’re perfect after a jog around the block or simply on a hot afternoon.
Other repeats of favorites are found in the food village. Upstairs is a branch of Lorenzo’s Way, another Filipino-cuisine restaurant of the LJC Group, always satisfying. Yonder (yonder because the distances between restaurants are quite a challenge) is Aria, of Boracay fame. It has pastas and pizzas—if only it could bring over the white sands and crystal blue water as well!
Alongside are branches of Nihonbashitei, that Japanese favorite at the edge of Pasay Road, and Mango Tree, a recent entrant to the Thai food scene.
Mango Tree has beautiful, spacious interiors and attentive service. The ambiance is made even more authentic by the music, although if you listen too much you will feel like you are having a foot massage instead of pad thai (call it “/paa/ thai”!).
But before the pungent aromas stick to your brain, make no mistake: The food here is easy to appreciate. The appetizers are especially quite yummy. The Mieng Kum (Mieng Kham: dried shrimp, shallots, ginger, lime, chili and roasted coconut you wrap in bitter leaves) is delightful to munch on while you wait for your main course.
If you’re willing to mix and match your food, you can roll some of the crispy catfish from the catfish salad (as it is served separately) into the mieng kum to come up with something similar to the Pampanga catfish salad recipe that uses mustasa and balo balo.
For Spanish flair, there’s Beso, another venture of the highly acclaimed chef Carlo Miguel. Beso opens only at night and offers an alternative to the highly successful Barcino, although Barcino remains at the top of its game.
If you want a taste of Chef Miguel’s cuisine, it’s best sampled at Opus.
The craving for American burger may be satisfied at the not-so-American-sounding restaurant Nolita. It has a burger worth over P400.
“Bakit ang mahal niyan?” I asked the cashier.
“May itlog po.”
“Bakit, mura naman ang itlog?”
“May bacon po.”
“Ganyan na ba kamahal ang bacon?”
“’Yung klase din ng meat po.”
Indeed it is a thick, juicy Angus burger with—as promised—bacon and fried egg as well as blue cheese. It is delicious. It reminds me of the burger at Mandarin Oriental’s Paseo Uno, although Paseo Uno’s is thicker, juicier, more flavorful and, of course, pricier.
Nolita is best visited for its pizzas. Have a slice of Wild Mushroom Walnut Ricotta, Spinach and Artichoke (P220). You’ll remember it for days.
A Filipino food strip is not complete without a Japanese restaurant and at 7th Street, it is Geisha, with chef Ramon Antonio in the kitchen. This is no traditional Japanese restaurant; it offers Westernized, Filipinized Japanese creations by the chef.
The gyoza is fancily made with Kurobuta pork, which has a pillow-soft texture. But what stands out, instead of the pork, is the creaminess of the creation.
A dish—Skewered Pork 72— is like lechon kawali sushi but with deep-fried pork instead of the healthier tuna or salmon or egg on top of the rice. It is definitely not Japanese but interesting to order nonetheless. You will be inclined to ask for a spoon and fork and vinegar.
The creations are artfully presented.
There’s also Sutra for Mediterranean/intercontinental cuisine, Elias for more Filipino food and, soon to open, a Korean bulgogi house.
With all these choices, Taguig is definitely booming.
The restaurants are at 7th Avenue and 29th Street South, Bonifacio High Street Central, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
Major credit cards accepted. Parking is a little far, you will have to walk. Wheelchair accessible.
Nolita, tel. 0917-5322612; Elias, 5467977; Beso, 6149695; Geisha 0917-5692181; Mango Tree, 2172367, 0917-5349145
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