Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Loggia at Palacio De Memoria

The atmosphere at Palacio de Memoria should be enough to convince you to visit. Think towering century-old trees, expansive grounds that can accommodate two decommissioned airplanes, and a grand pre-war mansion beautifully restored to its former glory and turned into a museum. It really is quite a sight to behold. 

That there is also a restaurant run by Margarita Fores no less with al fresco tables to boot easily convinced me that it was where I needed to be on Mother’s Day. So I hauled my entire family from Quezon City to Paranaque. It took us just an hour’s drive to get there via the new Skyway.

My daughter behaved like a puppy unleashed as she chased after the sparrows that seemed to enjoy clustering on the grass. I can scarcely believe such a gem existed amidst the high-rise condominiums on Roxas Boulevard. 

We had a lovely table facing the fountain at The Loggia restaurant. The menu had enough variety but I belong to a family of carnivores so five of us opted for the 21-day Dry-aged Rib-eye while two went for the Australian Beef Tenderloin a la Scamorza. I ordered Seabass to add to the mix. 

The steak was perfectly seasoned but it was rather flimsy. The thinness was a disservice to the dry-aging process. Even the seabass was nothing to write home about. You’re better off with Chef Gaita’s established crowd-pleasers, the pizzas and pastas. 

Even the desserts, like the Lemon Olive Oil Torta that I enjoyed, were lackluster. Don’t get me wrong: the food was not bad at all but I suppose I was expecting the menu to be dialed up a bit, to a level equal to the ambience.

That said, expect to find me there again for two reasons. First, one of the airplanes was turned into a charming bar, which my family quite enjoyed. For another, the Loggia is a Gaita Fores restaurant, and Chef Gaita, a culinary royalty if we ever had one, is not the sort of chef we should give up on.   

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Hediu Grill Station: A Sichuan-style Grill for Your Next Barkada Gathering

There’s very little that fuels my greed as much as a good barbecue can. The mere thought of meat and fat kissing a hot grill, basted with the sweet and salty sauce that we FIlipinos so love, makes my mouth water. But Hediu Grill Station offers something different. It’s a Sichuan-style grill. If you’re not familiar with that style of cooking, I must say, prepare for some heat. 

Sichuan (alternatively spelled as Szechuan) cooking is immutably fiery. You would think this would come from the famous Sichuan peppers, which is one of the spices used in the well-known Chinese five-spice powder. Sichuan peppercorns are actually mild and leave a tingling sensation in the mouth rather than in-your-face spiciness. But they are often accompanied by dried red chillies, which can be tongue-numbing if used heavy-handedly. 

Hediu’s specialties are naturally heavy on the heat, which is a great excuse to go heavy on the fried rice, which I must say, is perfection. 

It would be a mistake to think that there’s nothing more to Sichuan cooking other than heart-racing heat. I was surprised that many of the dishes had the unmistakable smoky scent and flavor of cumin, which I was told by their marketing head Kim, is one of the hallmarks of Sichuan cooking. 

I am no spice hound so the dishes I enjoyed the most were those that had layered flavors with just the right amount of fire. This would be the fried fish head pot with crabsticks and lobster balls, a lovely beginning to our meal. The lemony garlic butter ulang shrimps were equally good. The three cup flavor tofu was flavorful and an ideal foil to the spiciness of the other dishes. If you dare and your medical results will allow, do order the roasted bone marrow, which is served with the most delicious grilled mantou bread. It was so good I ordered the bread to take home, only to discover that the one they gave me was spiced instead of plain. So should you decide to order some mantou, remember to specify your preference. 

Hediu Grill Station is the sort of place where you can hang out with friends for drinks until the wee hours. They are open until 3 a.m. A band plays every night to add to the fun. Should you opt to dine outdoors, there’s an al fresco area with a lovely view of the bay. 

Disclosure: Thank you to our friends from Hediu and SM for our lunch. All opinions and insights expressed here are entirely mine.

Follow me on Instagram @joangallares

Hediu Grill Station

SM by the Bay,

Seaside Blvd, Pasay, Metro Manila



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