Ten minutes after arriving at The Grid, we had to make a very necessary phone call to the office. “Come here, please. You need to help me eat.”
That’s the first thing you should know about the shiny new food hall in Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall: there are so many things you will want to try that you will need to be with a group of people so you can share your orders. (Except for Bun Appetit’s Lobster Mac and Cheese. It’s so good that we’re not sure you’d be willing to share it.)
The Grid is the brainchild of Charles Paw, founder and CEO of the Tasteless Group, the company that created Bad Bird, Le Petit Souffle, Ping Pong Diplomacy, Freezer Burn, Scout’s Honor, Fowlbread, The Beef, Wrong Ramen and The Beef and brought Hanamaruken Ramen and Kushikatsu Daruma to the Philippines.
“In our first food hall, Hole in the Wall, we focused on individual branding, in over-the-top food. After that, a lot of similar places opened like food parks which also focused on branding. When you go to food courts or food parks, it’s usually the place with the flashy branding that gets the attention, yun yung malakas. Here, we wanted to do something totally different,” Charles said.
At The Grid, the stalls look identical. The biggest signs are the numbers, followed by the kind of food they serve. If you want to see the brands, you have to squint. The names are there, in smaller print.
“We made sure the stalls looked the same, pantay-pantay, no individual branding. You decide what you want to eat. It’s all about the food and the people behind them.”
The concept may be different but there’s one thing The Grid has in common with Hole in the Wall: great service.The waiters are attentive, making sure you have everything you need, and that your glasses of water never go empty, just like in Hole in the Wall.
In rounding up the establishments that would be a part of The Grid, Charles said, “We wanted all the basics covered. We have American cuisine, we have Filipino food, we have tsukemen and ramen, Thai food, we have healthy options, we have tapas, we have Mexican food, we have Bun Appetit which is really popular in Salcedo. These are food we love.”
The Grid is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends. But they plan to be open for breakfast soon too. “The goal is to open from 7 a.m. to midnight,” Charles said.
Not all the stores are open yet. Charles said they will open in three phases. But there’s already plenty to choose from now.
We went to The Grid for a sneak peek and we’re going to give you the lowdown. Here’s what you can eat (and what’s to come) at The Grid:
BREADS, CAKES AND PASTRIES
Breads, Cakes and Pastries is run by Workshop by Le Petit Souffle. This area features the creations of award-winning chef Miko Aspiras and Kristine Lotilla, who are also the creative minds behind Scout’s Honor, Freezer Burn and Poison Doughnuts.
Don’t miss the Basque Burnt Cheesecake (it’s in the newest edition of Lifestyle Best Desserts along with the 17-Layer Chocolate Cake), 17-Layer Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cake and Baclava Love Croissant.
Charles said they will be building a burrata bar there very soon. “We’ll be using the burrata for dessert.” We can’t wait for that.
01: CHIA BOWLS, PORRIDGE & SOFT SERVE
Giving The Grid a dose of healthy dishes are Justin Golangco and Miguel Vargas from Poblacion favorite Bucky’s. They’re bringing their soft serve ice cream too, of course. That’s a Bucky’s staple.
Status: Opening soon
02: BANGKOK PORK CHOP, PAD THAI & CRAB OMELETTE
Years ago, Charles with his partner for Lowbrow Dwight Co had the idea of combining Japanese umami flavors with fried chicken. The delicious result? Bad Bird. This time, they did the same thing with Thai flavors and pork chop. And it’s a winning combination. “Tankchop XL is like a spin-off of Bad Bird,” Charles said. “Jeremy (Mister Delicious, Smokehouse) and Jen Slagle (Bad Bird) worked on the menu for us.”
The massive lightly breaded pork chop (it’s bigger than our face) is served with either pork and mung bean (we love mung bean!) or laing on a bed of rice. Love the big kropek too. They also serve a legit pad thai and crab omelette.
03: TSUKEMEN, RAMEN & GYOZA
Tsuke-Men, also under Tasteless Group, is extra special to Charles. “It’s my personal project because I really love tsukemen. I love it more than ramen nowadays. We got a Japanese consultant to develop the menu for us.”
Charles’ pick? The Gyokai Tsukemen. Those who can take heat can choose the spicy version.
Tsuke-Men also serves Tonkotsu Ramen, Gyokai Ramen, Tan Tan Mien and gyoza.
04: LECHON PORCHETTA, GOURMET MANOK & ANGUS BELLY
Happy Ongpauco-Tiu’s Le Chon (say it with a French accent) is responsible for bringing Filipino flavors to The Grid.
“It’s my modern take on lechon. It’s not the normal roasted chicken or pork, I’m using French techniques in cooking them,” Happy said.
Her rotisserie’s right in front and there’s a good reason for it. “I want people to see the skin of the porchetta slowly crackling and the juices of the chicken dripping.”
She explains how to order her food at The Grid. “Step one, choose your Le Chon—pork, chicken or Angus beef belly. Step two, choose the rub.”
There are two options—tanglad butter (that’s lemongrass, butter and spices) or sugarcane gata (“It’s on the sweet side,” said Happy).
“Next, choose the sidings. We have truffled kamote fries, banana cue chips with sesame seeds or inihaw na talong baba ganoush. Step four, rice. We have butter rice or dirty brown rice.”
And finally, choose a sauce. Each plate comes with Happy’s delicious muscovado liver sauce, grilled tomatoes and onions and atchara but you can choose from additional sauces: garlic or labuyo lime.
We had the porchetta with butter rice and loved it. The meat was tender and full of flavor, the skin crunchy. We’re eager to go back and demolish another plate of that. “It’s me having fun with the concept of lechon. They’re sinful and I love sinful stuff,” said Happy.
Happy has a lot of plans for her menu at The Grid. “We will be serving my modern take on the bestsellers of my family’s restaurants. Barrio Fiesta Crispy Pata with Kasuy Kare-Kare on the side, Bakahan at Manukan’s Bulalo Steak but I’ll be using bone marrow gravy. These are institutional restaurants from the ‘80s and I want to introduce them to the Millennials.”
From Happy’s own restaurant Pamana, she’ll be serving sizzling lechon pansit. Those who love fish are in for a treat too, she’ll serve a tuna dish inspired by her father’s restaurant Isdaan. “It’s my take on my heritage. I want to do happy dishes, more comfort food that people will come back to, food that’s different yet familiar.”
There will be desserts too: guinomis with panucha ice cream, bibingka cheesecake with kesong puti and salted egg, baked puto bumbong with three kinds of cheese.
“It’s a fun and happy take on Flipino flavors,” she said.
05: STEAKS, BURGER STEAKS & TEPPANYAKI
Some years ago, we had a favorite restaurant in The Grove in Pasig. It was called Umami Hambaagu House and we would go there regularly (sometimes three times a week) for Spirited Away, the burger steak served with foie gras and caramelized onion on top. It was our one of our biggest food heartbreaks when the place closed.
So when Charles told us that 05 will actually be the reincarnation of Umami, we had to stifle a shriek.
Apart from hamburger steaks (Charles’ favorite was the one topped with egg and Japanese ketchup), they will also be serving steaks and Teppanyaki. “We love Japanese-style steaks like Ikinari so we plan to add that to the menu as well,” he said.
This concept, which also falls under Charles’ Lowbrow company, doesn’t have a name yet. But we (and other Umami Hambaagu lovers) call it a dream come true.
Status: Opening soon
06: BURGERS & BITS
Josh Boutwood will be serving American classics here and that’s all we know for now.
Status: Opening soon
07: BAKED RICE, FRIED RICE & NOODLES
The Tasteless Group’s Ping Pong Diplomacy brings their brand of Chinese-American food to The Grid. “The favorites will be there and we will tweak them a bit,” said Charles. (Typhoon Shelter Prawns, Crispy Eggplant with Fragrant Sauce and Ping Pong Wings, please?)
Chef Patrick Go of Black Sheep is joining the tandem of Chef Him Uy De Baron and Noel Mauricio here.
Status: Opening soon
08: TAPAS & PINTXOS
“This stall is run by the Las Flores group. It’s Spanish food, it’s what they’re known for,” said Charles.
Oh we know. We’re kind of obsessed with the food of Bistronomia Group. We’ve eaten an entire paella at Rambla alone (and it wasn’t a small one), we take ourselves on dates to Tomatito, and we’ve bought so many churros from Churreria La Lola we could have probably built a churro house (and then eaten it).
“At The Grid we have a tapas extension of Rambla. We have turned some of Rambla’s favorites into pintxos and added some traditional pintxos. We want to bring quality Spanish favorites and ingredients to the mall with great value for money,” said Bistronomia’s Sergei Rostoll. We are super excited about collaborating with Rockwell in this project and our group being part of this amazing neighborhood.
And we think we’ve just found our new obsession: their Foie Pintxo and Chipirones Pintxo (that squid ink aioli!). We can eat them all day. Sergei recommends first-timers to try these pintxos too.
“I like the Salmon & Truffle,” said Charles.
Everything they served us wasn’t just delicious, they looked really good too. So good that we started hanging out by their stall to take pictures of everything chef Ruben Beltran Castellnou was whipping up.
And now it’s become our goal to try everything on their menu. It might become yours too.
“Our chef Ruben is having a great time playing around with pintxos so expect the menu to change often.”
09: TACOS, TOSTADAS & OTROS
No need to travel all the way to Parañaque anymore to get your fill of Bruce Ricketts’ Mexican fare. Soon, you will be able to enjoy his food at The Grid.
“The tacos are my favorite,” said Charlie.
We’re eager to get our hands on those tostadas.
Status: Opening soon
“It’s still under negotiation,” said Charlie. “But we’ll announce it soon.”
The only hint: It will be European.
Status: Opening later this year
11: LOBSTERS, CRABS & SHRIMP ROLLS
It’s no secret, we’re big fans of Bun Appetit’s food. For four years now, husband-and-wife team Lawrence Cua and Iya Jimenez-Cua have been serving their excellent Maine-style seafood rolls—out of their house, at pop-ups, briefly at The Pantree and regularly at Salcedo Market. Bun Appetit will continue to be at Salcedo Market on Saturdays but now, they also have a permanent home at The Grid.
“We feel very happy to be here,” said Iya. “As customers also, we understand that it’s frustrating when you can’t get something you want to eat. We were offering delivery but even that doesn’t cut it. So now we have this small shop and we can be around for our customers whenever they want us.”
The Grid diners can enjoy Bun Appetit’s classic hits: lobster, crab and shrimp rolls, lobster, crab and shrimp grilled cheese plus their sides, grilled corn and garlic noodles.
They’ve added two new things to the menu and they’re both stellar: Lobster Mac and Cheese and Clam Chowder. It took Iya at least half a year to develop their Lobster Mac and Cheese recipe. It’s rich, cheesy and has the perfect dose of truffle.
A lot of research also went into creating their Clam Chowder. “What was challenging was that there were so many versions of it,” Iya said.
They decided on the simplest version—rich, delicious, generous in seafood, no extenders. It’s the same formula they have for their rolls.
They will be serving weekend specials soon too. We’re excited about that Spicy Maine Lobster Avocado Toast.
12: COFFEE, JUICES AND COCKTAILS
Thirsty? Don’t worry, Jericson Co and David Ong’s EDSA Beverage Design Group is ready for you. They’re serving coffee, soda, cocktails—yes, cocktails all day.
“They’re big in the bar scene… and I love their coffee,” said Charles.
You can go for their espresso (long black, Americano), espresso with milk (cortado, macchiato, piccolo, flat white, latte, cappuccino, dirty white), signature mocha, express brew, ice brew, cold drip and Irish coffee.
You can buy beans too: they have bags of their signature espresso blend Dark Matter Theory and single origin Ethiopia Guji Gigesa available at The Grid.
EDSA BDG’s Zuriel Domingo said, “Everything is handcrafted in our studio in EDSA so this is like an extension of our playground.”
They’re also serving soda—Grapefruit Lime Rose, Almond Figue, Violet, Sangria Passion, Lychee Grapefruit, Green Apple X Kaffir, Green Mango Peanut, Turmeric Orange, Ginger Beer, Turon Ginger Beer). “All the fruits are fermented and we make the syrups in our studio. We don’t use corn syrup so this is a healthier option,” said Z.
They currently have four kinds of cocktails on their menu at The Grid: Sour, Old Fashioned, Negroni, Boulevardier. “We’re serving basic cocktails but soon, we’re going to have fun with the menu. We also offer Irish coffee with a kick of Jameson whiskey,” said Z.
And one more thing we love about EDSA BDG? They serve your orders with stainless straws.
Also run by the Las Flores group, Happy Barrels is The Grid’s version of a deli. People can buy cheese, ham and wine here. “You can buy wine at retail and drink it here,” said Charles.
We like the sound of that.
Sandwiched between Lobsters, Crabs & Shrimp Rolls and Breads, Cakes and Pastries will be chocolates… Risa Chocolates.
Yes, you can soon get Risa Chocolates’ coveted truffles, pralines, bars and barks from The Grid.
Status: Opening soon
The Grid Food Market is at R2 Level Expansion Power Plant Mall Makati.