Buddha-Bar Manila wants people to discover that it’s not just a drinking place but also a restaurant that adds spice to their lifestyle.
There’s much more than the photogenic bottles of alcohol here, head of operations Vicente Antonio Rodrigo said at the recent launch of a new Buddha-Bar Manila menu. “We have great food, so you can eat here.”
Buddha-Bar Manila is known for its wide roster of cocktails and wines, but the launch of some 20 new or improved dishes on the menu is for foodies to enjoy the place, too, Rodrigo pointed out.
Chef Soc Santos, who conceptualized the new menu items, combined influences from South Asia, North America, Europe and the Orient, including the Philippines.
“It took time for me to change the menu, based on how we taste it and how our guests would like it,” explained Santos, whose training involved visiting the original Buddha-Bar in Paris and other branches around the world.
She noted that the only untouchables in the menu are the bestsellers and salads, which are retained in all Buddha-Bar locations.
But no matter how extensive the changes are, an explosion of flavors remains constant in the bar-restaurant’s entrée, she explained.
In other words, there’s more bang for your buck.
She made sure that the ingredients that go into each dish will be savored with every bite.
The Pan-fried Chicken Jiaozu with Foie Gras has hints of truffle emulsion oil, which goes well with its Asian flavors.
Angry Chicken with Turmeric Pilaf stands by its name, wrapping your mouth with heat from the spices of the yogurt sauce.
The Crunchy Rainbow selection offers four kinds of seafood, each leaving a distinct mark in the palate, good for those wanting to learn how to distinguish flavors.
Club Maki is a twist on the maki, served as club sandwich that’s sweet, creamy and salty.
The Tuna Sashimi with Rocket and Balsamic Glaze defines melt-in-your-mouth goodness. It consists of slivers of tuna capped off with an herbal sensation.
Another seafood option with the same softness is the cod on the Roasted Black Cod with Eel Sauce.
Vegetarians will enjoy Papadam Burrito with Raita Sauce—homemade papadam rolls with lentils, riz pilaf, herbs and tomatoes, plated with raita and curry sauce. The Indian flavor is unmistakable.
“Our onion rings are the best,” declared Santos. It has just the right amount of breading, with the onion maintaining its freshness.
There are great desserts, too, like Fever, or chocolate mousse and ganache with siling labuyo; and Anmitsu, a Japanese shaved ice dessert.
“We use only the finest ingredients and the best trained chefs,” Rodrigo said.
Santos explained that some items were made to please the Filipino palate, adding that Manila is now recognized for its current culinary revolution.
The drinks were likewise transformed, with the hiring of bar manager Clayton Munar, who had worked in Buddha-Bar Dubai for five years. “We create our own signature drinks,” he said.
Among these is Kawai Ylang, infused with honey and Ilang-Ilang essential oils and vodka mixed with vanilla, representing Buddha-Bar’s penchant for tropical flavors.
There’s Heart of Darkness, with lemon juice and sparkling lemonade, among others. Asian Sling has sake; and The Ultimate, passion fruit juice.
Munar’s goal is to “improve the cocktail scene in the Philippines… There have been rumors that the country has been left behind when it comes to cocktails, drinks.”
His team comes up with new ideas daily, he noted. They also added mojito and margarita, all-time Filipino favorites, to drink options.
Buddha-Bar Manila has an extensive stock of wines, too, said Rodrigo. “Our list varies from New World wines to Old World wines, French and Italian.”
He added that the place has a very unique atmosphere: “We make people feel welcome and relaxed.”
Buddha-Bar is present in 25 countries, not only as a restaurant-bar-lounge, but as a lifestyle brand that has expanded to include hotels, spas, beauty products and music.
The Manila branch plans to have monthly promos, said Rodrigo, adding that you can have a good time for as low as P1,200.
His advice: Just know what to look for in the menu.
Buddha-Bar Manila, a franchise of Buddha-Par Paris, is at Picar Place, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati. Call 8566859, 8566719 or 0998-9833918. E-mail [email protected] Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:@BuddhaBarMNL.