‘Porchetta,’ lobster rolls, ‘pintxos,’ massive pork chop–what you need to eat at The Grid
The first thing you should know about the shiny new food hall in Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall: there are so many things you would want to try that you would need to be with a group of people so you could share your orders.
The Grid is the brainchild of Charles Paw, founder and CEO of Tasteless Group, the company that created Bad Bird, Le Petit Soufflé, Ping Pong Diplomacy, Freezer Burn, Scout’s Honor, Fowlbread, The Beef, Wrong Ramen, 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. It’s usually the place with the flashy branding that gets the attention. Here, we wanted to do something totally different,” Paw 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… It’s all about the food and the people behind them.”
In rounding up the establishments that would be a part of The Grid, he said, “We wanted all the basics covered. 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.
Not all the stores are open yet, but there’s plenty to choose from now. Here are what you can try now:
Breads, Cakes and Pastries
Breads, Cakes and Pastries is run by Workshop by Le Petit Soufflé. 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 and the 17-Layer Chocolate Cake (they’re in the newest edition of “Lifestyle Best Desserts”), and Salted Caramel Cake and Baclava Love Croissant.
Bangkok Pork Chop, Pad Thai and Crab Omelette
Bad Bird was the result of Paw’s and his Lowbrow partner Dwight Co’s idea to combine Japanese umami flavors with fried chicken. They decided to do the same with Thai flavors and pork chop. It’s a winning combination.
“Tankchop XL is like a spin-off of Bad Bird,” Paw 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 either with pork and mung bean or laing on a bed of rice. Love the big kropek, too. They also serve a legit Pad Thai and Crab Omelette.
Tsukemen, Ramen and Gyoza
Tsuke-Men, also under Tasteless Group, is Paw’s “personal project because I really love tsukemen. We got a Japanese consultant to develop the menu for us.”
Paw’s pick? The Gyokai Tsukemen. There’s a spicy version, too.
Lechon Porchetta, Gourmet Manok and 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,” Ongpauco-Tiu 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.”
Each plate also comes with her delicious muscovado liver sauce, grilled tomatoes and onions and atchara.
The porchetta is tender and full of flavor, the skin crunchy. And the butter rice is a winner.
“It’s me having fun with the concept of lechon. It’s sinful and I love sinful stuff,” she said.
Soon, “we will be serving my 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.”
Tapas and Pintxos
This stall is run by Las Flores group, which is known for Spanish food.
“At The Grid we have a tapas extension of Rambla, said Bistronomia’s Sergi Rostoll. “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.”
We just found our new obsession: Foie Pintxo and Chipirrones Pintxo (that squid ink aioli!). Rostoll recommends first-timers to try these pintxos.
Lobsters, Crabs and Shrimp Rolls
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 have a permanent home at The Grid.
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 ‘n’ Cheese and Clam Chowder.
It took Iya at least half a year to develop their Lobster Mac ‘n’ 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.
Coffee, Juices and Cocktails
Thirsty? Don’t worry, Jericson Co and David Ong’s Edsa Beverage Design Group (BDG) 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 Paw.
You can go for their espresso, espresso with milk, signature mocha, express brew, ice brew, cold drip and Irish coffee. You can buy beans, too.
Edsa BDG’s Zuriel Domingo said, “Everything is handcrafted in our studio so this is like an extension of our playground.”
They also serve soda. We loved the Grapefruit Lime Rose and the Green Mango Peanut. “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,” Domingo said.
And one more thing we love? 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—“at retail, and drink it here,” said Paw.
Other soon-to-open stalls you must watch out for:
Chia Bowls, Porridge and Soft Serve
To give 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.
Steaks, Burger Steaks and Teppanyaki
Paw said this will be the reincarnation of Umami Hambaagu House, a favorite restaurants of ours in Pasig which closed. We went there regularly for Spirited Away, the burger steak with foie gras and caramelized onion. Here, they will also be serving steaks and teppanyaki.
This concept, which also falls under Lowbrow, doesn’t have a name yet.
Burgers and Bits
Josh Boutwood will be serving American classics here and that’s all we know for now.
Baked Rice, Fried Rice and Noodles
The Tasteless Group’s Ping Pong Diplomacy brings their brand of Chinese-American food to The Grid.
Chef Patrick Go of Black Sheep is joining the tandem of Chef Him Uy de Baron and Noel Mauricio here.
Tacos, Tostadas and 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.
You can soon get Risa Chocolates’ coveted truffles, pralines, bars and barks here, too.
The Grid is at R2 Level Expansion at Power Plant Mall.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.