FOOD

Five new places to eat in Poblacion

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The Assador Grill at One World Butchers. Photo courtesy of PYC FOOD CORPORATION

I rarely go out. The pandemic and Metro Manila’s current traffic situation have made intercity travel a real struggle, which is why places like Poblacion, Makati can sometimes feel like a timezone away from where I live in Quezon City. But the chance to try new food has always ranked high on my list of motivators. Quite frankly, it’s addictive. Who doesn’t crave a little variance in their routine? That feeling of serendipity at the intersection of good food, drink, and company? If I must go out into this unforgiving city, I’ll do it for food.

The PYC Food Corporation food crawl had a total of seven stops, one for each of their fairly new brands. During the pandemic, business savvy PYC president and founder Jun Sy took out several long-term leases in Poblacion and the surrounding areas when real estate prices were low and dining options were limited. The risk paid off: Poblacion is more alive than ever, and PYC’s concepts are located in some of the prime spots in Makati’s nightlife quarter.

Without a background in food, Sy sought out collaborators and partners to lead the concepts. PYC’s first restaurant is Le Petit Café Fleur, the Manila extension of celebrity chef Sau Del Rosario’s Angeles restaurant of the same name. He is also head chef at Sawsaw, his flagship modern Filipino concept that fuses heritage recipes and haute cuisine. Pardon My French is led by Chef Ariel Manuel of Lolo Dad’s fame. Chef Miguel Gianan, former executive chef of Brother’s Burger, leads the deli program at One World Butchers. Chef Kaye Torres, the only female chef on the roster, is the head of One World Kitchen. She is the first Filipina member of the prestigious Institut Culinaire Disciples Escoffier.

“Poblacion is known for ‘gimmikan,’ which is why we wanted to give more dining options to people who come here,” said Del Rosario to the food crawl attendees.

The hours-long food crawl was more than enough to make the Makati sojourn worth it. Below are a few words on the experience:

One World Deli offers a variety of imported meats, cheeses, cold cuts, seafood, and other pantry essentials, but extends the deli-grocery experience by letting customers have their items cooked by the in-house chef. Photo courtesy of PYC FOOD CORPORATION

One World Deli

“It’s sort of like a high-class paluto,” jokes EG Bautista, Marketing Director of PYC. One World Deli was conceived when Sy had a difficult time finding all the ingredients he needed for cooking in one place. One World Deli offers a variety of imported meats, cheeses, cold cuts, seafood, and other pantry essentials, but extends the deli-grocery experience by letting customers have their items cooked by the in-house chef. Alongside the deli, neighborhood bakery and patisserie The Tattooed Baker is part of PYC’s line-up. The Tattooed Baker serves artisanal breads and delicate pastries with exciting flavors, like mojito-flavored macarons and coffee walnut bonbons.

Chef Sau Del Rosario opened Le Petit Café Fleur in early 2021. Photo courtesy of PYC FOOD CORPORATION

Le Petit Café Fleur

When Del Rosario first opened Le Petit Café Fleur early 2021, it seemed like a gamble. But riding off of the success of Del Rosario’s pandemic pastries like Vuco Fye (buko pie) and Heg Fye (egg pie), Café Fleur successfully weathered 2021 and every COVID-19 variant in between. According to Del Rosario, Café Fleur is an homage to his mother. The recipes were inspired by the food she’d cook at home and the interiors in honor of her love of flowers and plants. Café Fleur’s food features French techniques and local ingredients, a longtime Del Rosario signature. Squid ink pasta, sisig tartlets, brown pizza, and duck cassoulet are just some of the things you can find on the menu.

Sawsaw's Pancit Pala-Vogue station. Photo courtesy of PYC FOOD CORPORATION

Sawsaw

In contrast to Café Fleur, Sawsaw is unapologetically Filipino. “It is also uniquely Chef Sau,” jokes Del Rosario. But Sawsaw’s goal, he tells me, is to show just how good Filipino food can be. “I’m from Pampanga, and everyone says Kapampangan food is the best. But in my research, you realize just how relative and subjective that is,” he tells me. Sawsaw’s menu features heritage recipes from all over the country with the added “Chef Sau” spin to each of them: macadamia kare-kare, wagyu bistek, spiced lamb shank humba, and a pancit palabok with seabass, bisque, and pulpo (called “Pancit Pala-Vogue”). The restaurant’s bright and tropical-inspired interiors features an impressive open-kitchen, which takes up nearly half of the indoor space.

Alongside servings of the Pala-Vogue, we got to sample the champorado ice cream on a lengua de gato cone, and a specialty cocktail called “Damaso” by Sawsaw’s award winning mixologist, Auie Benisano. “It’s called ‘Damaso’ kasi traydor siya,” Auie tells us.

One World Butchers offers an array of sausages. Photo courtesy of PYC FOOD CORPORATION

One World Butchers

Chef Miguel Gianan is super passionate about meat and sausage. “That sounds wrong, I know,” he says, but his roster of sausages for One World Butchers are proof of his love of meat. He was even kind enough to explain to me the difference between a German and Polish sausage (“German sausages are smokier, more lean, while Polish sausages are more ‘soft’ and creamy,” Gianan says).

Over a beer, we sampled some of the more traditional selections, such as the nürnberger sausage: a coarsely ground pork sausage with salt and pepper. Gianan also walked us through some of his more custom recipes, such as “The Mask” (sisig sausage) and the “Smoky Hawaiian” or the sausage version of a family favorite: Jollibee’s Amazing Aloha. “Yes, it has pineapple,” Gianan tells us.

One World Kitchen is PYC's degustation restaurant. Photo courtesy of PYC FOOD CORPORATION

One World Kitchen

A few steps away from One World Butcher is PYC’s degustation restaurant called One World Kitchen. The core concept of One World Kitchen is that it can be a space to host private bespoke dining events. While they do offer a la carte, One World Kitchen specializes in custom tasting menus for intimate parties. Chef Kaye Torres served a simple three-course menu: a chorizo croquette, veal cheeks, and a choux au craquelin. One World Kitchen is also available for use by guest chefs and companies that might be considering product launches in F&B.

The Plug performs at Pardon My French. Photo courtesy of PYC FOOD CORPORATION

Pardon My French

The last time I caught a live band over dinner was a lifetime ago. It was a pseudo-reunion with my officemates from my first job (most of whom were a generation older than I was) at a two-storey bar somewhere in Poblacion, Makati. In between drinks, one of my officemates took to the stage: it was rockaoke night. Cue spotlight. She introduced herself to the bar (which was mostly my officemates) and her song of choice: “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morisette. Cheers went up. We sang along to the first chorus.

There’s a kind of joie de vivre when food, drink, and live music intersect. Sound and taste are senses that anchor you in the present and the experience multiples with company. Fast forward to today, I was sitting in one of the private alcoves of Pardon My French (formerly known as Strumm’s), eating popcorn with chicken paté, sipping my second cocktail, and watching the vocalist of a band named The Plug hit the high notes of Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.” One of the food crawl attendees was telling me about her memories of the former Strumm’s and how Pardon My French compared. I couldn’t help but remember when going out at night was easy. I also remembered why I still try despite everything. There’s always a new restaurant to try or a new experience to be had — things that make city life a little more bearable.