“There’s something for everyone here,” said chef Josh Boutwood.
My South Hall by Chef Josh Boutwood, a new food hall at S Maison at the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City, is a collaboration between Boutwood and The Bistro Group, which operates restaurants such as TGIFridays, Texas Roadhouse, Red Lobster, Italianni’s.
Why a food hall?
“My boss, our president Jean Paul Manuud, says we should constantly challenge the status quo,” Boutwood said.
“We can continue to do the same formula of bringing in brands and opening them, but that becomes less of a challenge. Doing a food hall is something we’d never done. If that’s not challenging the status quo, I’m not sure what is.”
Boutwood and Bistro Group worked on My South Hall for almost a year before it opened last week.
It has different kinds of cuisines including Japanese, Chinese, American and Italian.
Boutwood said: “Everything here is food I really enjoy eating. These are dishes I’ve grown up eating or learned to love eating by working in the company. We’ve curated dishes around the belief that we want to have food that appeals to everyone, really.”
Bistro Group VP for marketing Lisa Ronquillo explained: “It’s about bringing people together. We made sure the place is really cozy, with a lot of couches and comfortable chairs.
“We have our traditional restaurants which are doing well, but they’re really mood-specific, like if you want Japanese fare or American.”
She added: “My South Hall is great if you have a bunch of people together and you cannot decide what you want to eat. We have a bit of everything. Plus, with My South Hall, we are able to tap into a wider base because food halls generally offer lower price points.”
The prices are, indeed, affordable, with many dishes available at P200 to P250. “We want to give guests value for money while staying true to our strong belief in sourcing the very best ingredients and making sure everything is cooked to order and that the overall experience is up to par,” said Boutwood, who took Lifestyle on a tour of My South Hall.
At one table, Boutwood spotted a group of bikers dressed in black, sipping pink juices from Juicy. “I told you, there’s something for everyone here,” he said with a smile.
One tip: When you go to My South Hall, bring your family or friends (or both!). The bigger your group is, the more dishes you can try.
Here’s what you can eat at My South Hall.
Tabemashou (“let’s eat” in Japanese) has become a fast favorite of My South Hall diners. This stall serves popular Japanese fare including ramen, sushi, skewers, tempura and karaage.
“I love everything to do with Japanese food. So I challenged everyone: Why can’t we do everything here?” Boutwood said.
Try the chicken skin (delightfully crisp and not oily) and saikoro skewers and don’t miss the salmon tako maki aburi— delicious torched pieces of salmon on little beds of rice and crunchy nori taco shells.
Boutwood said, “You should go for the tonkotsu ramen and the spicy salmon maki. Karaage is a great barkada treat, the portion is large, it’s a great dish for sharing. And the tempura, of course.”
Fans of chicken wings have a lot of flavors (10, to be exact) to choose from at Chix—barbecue, sour cream, sweet chipotle, Italian parmesan (our pick!), sriracha, buffalo, honey garlic, chili barbecue, Japanese sesame and Asian BBQ glaze. Boutwood’s favorites are the buffalo and sweet chipotle. You can enjoy the wings on their own or with rice.
Chix also serves burgers (choose between classic or cheeseburger) and fries. “We keep it simple, with a lot of focus on the meat and the bread. We use fresh lettuce, tomato and onion and our burger sauce. It’s comfort food. Every time I go here, I always grab a burger,” Boutwood said.
Roma makes three different kinds of fresh pasta: spaghetti, rigatoni and conchiglie. Take your pick and then choose your sauce: carbonara, truffle, shrimp alfredo, pesto, spicy diavola or puttanesca.
Boutwood said, “Everything is made from scratch. We have two guys in the back making pasta all day long. And the sauces are cooked to order.”
His favorite? Rigatoni pasta with pesto sauce.
Soon, Roma will be serving roast herb chicken, too.
Those who love Chinese-style roasts can head straight to Roast’d for a dose of duck, chicken, asado and crispy pork. “Roast’d is one of my favorites because the marination of Chinese roast is unique. And it’s very enjoyable to have with rice and Chinese broccoli. I love the crispy pork,” said Boutwood.
Seoul Hotpot serves two kinds of hotpot—USDA Choice Chuck Eye set or the USDA Angus Beef Sirloin set—in a serving size that’s good for one or two. Boutwood said, “We like saying it’s good for one—just make sure you bring your appetite with you.”
Seoul Hotpot is also one of Ronquillo’s favorites. Boutwood calls it his go-to place for lunch. “It’s hearty, it’s got your fresh vegetables, it has nutritional value to give me the energy to go on and work throughout the night. And it’s got a lovely level of spice with the Szechuan oil and the hotpot seasoning. We also have the special sauce which just rounds up those flavors to make the perfect meal. We serve it with rice as an option.”
You can find dim sum and wok dishes at Golden Treasures.
“We have some phenomenal siomai, hakaw and pork dumplings. For me, a perfect meal from Golden Treasures would be an order of siomai with the Yang Chow rice and then get the chili oil on the side,” said Boutwood.
The birthday noodles are also a favorite of diners. “I just feel a bit cheeky eating birthday noodles when it’s not my birthday,” said Boutwood.
WCKD is Bistro Group’s take on the milk tea trend. But they serve coffee, fruit teas and other specialty drinks as well. Boutwood said, “Try the regular pearl milk tea or our most popular, wintermelon milk tea.” We like the Ul-Tea-Mate too, milk tea which comes with three toppings. Boutwood also recommends the caramel coffee.
Juicy, a fruit juice bar franchise from Korea, is the only nonhomegrown concept in My South Hall.
Why Juicy? We asked. “Because it’s delicious. It’s as simple as that,” said Boutwood. “It’s all fresh fruits, blended to order.” His favorite? The strawberry kiwi.
My South Hall: G/F, S Maison at Conrad Manila, SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City