Allium, a beautiful Makati gem: 9 fabulous things to try
MANILA, Philippines – There are always pleasant surprises hidden among the vein-like streets of the posh neighborhoods around the Ayala Triangle in Makati. Allium, tucked in a nondescript back alley in Legaspi Village, has been a destination for city dwellers and corporate workers nearby.
At Allium, the goal is all about discovering the essence of the fine ingredients. When a dish arrives at your table, you might get some insights into the meticulous and cutting-edge techniques invested in it. The flavors, of course, are the main attraction here.
Helmed by Chef Mark Tan, Allium offers a gastronomic experience reflective of its progressive ethos in a new 4-course Market Menu. With ingredients coming from the Asia-Pacific all the way to Europe, as well as some that are locally sourced, its kitchen certainly prioritizes sourcing only the finest ones.
At P1950++*, you get bang for your buck with dishes you can tailor-fit it to your liking, but of course, asking for suggestions helps. Inquire about wine pairings from their growing cellar, too.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the dishes in the Market Menu:
Special Nigiri Sushi (add P600 supplement)
Sayori - shimofuri otoro - Atlantic bluefin tuna otoro - Miyazaki Wagyu tataki
Even though it isn’t a sushi-ya, Allium serves sushi that goes beyond expectations. This platter of nigiri sushi, served as an appetizer, highlights four prime toppings from the seas (and land).
The translucent sliver of sayori or halfbeak is delicate to the palate. The fatty shimofuri otoro (marked by its snow frost marbling) and Atlantic Bluefin tuna otoro melt like butter in your mouth. The Miyazaki Wagyu, seared just a little, contrasts with the others through its strong flavor.
Brittany Lobster Salad
Persimmon emulsion - Hokkaido uni - pickled persimmons
Different kinds of sweetness come together in this salad, playing out like a symphony for the palate.
A sweet persimmon emulsion is slathered over the salad, but there are also orbs of pickled persimmon with their pleasant tomato-like acidity. There are also cherry tomatoes, which tend to be sweeter than the bigger varieties. The Hokkaido uni and Brittany lobster are also each uniquely sweet, with a touch of the salty oceans.
The persimmons perfectly complement the Brittany lobster in this salad. With other sweeter fruits, the lobster’s distinct flavor might be overshadowed.
Other chilled starters:
- Shima-aji tartare - prawn cracker - crème fraiche
- Market salad - seasonal greens - crispy baby vegetables - figs
Hokkaido scallops à la plancha (add P100 supplement)
Uni sabayon - nameko mushroom
With crusts beautifully grill-seared and cracking from the tender flesh inside, the scallops swim in a creamy pool of subtly sweet and briny uni sabayon.
It actually might be a good idea to shamelessly dip the complimentary dinner rolls in the sabayon and scrape the plate clean.
Ragù of Jidori chicken and porcini mushrooms
Nameko mushrooms - black garlic - asparagus - chestnut
This ragù is at once sophisticated but also vaguely familiar. Take a whiff from a good distance and it might remind you of the humble but decadent sisig (This is even how the staff might introduce it to you).
The crispy skins of prime Jidori chicken sprinkled on top are enticing. The creamy ragù is vaguely reminiscent of roasted sesame Kewpie mayo, and we’ll chalk this up to the nutty Nameko mushrooms and sweet chestnuts.
Other hot/warm starters:
- Brittany lobster bisque - crème fraiche - Espelette
- French veal sweetbreads - asparagus - Pedro Ximénez
- Seasonal chawanmushi - Brittany lobster - Hokkaido uni
- Buttermilk fried Crystal Bay oyster - Chile yuzu
Japanese Kurobuta pork chop
Maine lobster rice - baby carrot - green apple
The marbling on this slab of Kurobuta pork is gorgeous. Ribbons of translucent fat are tucked between the sinews and evenly distributed throughout the pork chop. You can only expect this from prime 100% Berkshire pork, as its juices seep out in your mouth.
It’s glazed with pork jus that has been finished with some brandy; plus there’s green apple purée on the side. These sweet notes swirl brilliantly with the Kurobuta’s flavorful juices.
On the side, there’s Maine lobster rice, which also has a hint of sweetness, and crunchy carrots and artichokes, which add a fantastic counterpoint to the chewy pork.
Braised Blackmore Wagyu
Truffled pommes purée - porcini - broccoli - bordelaise
This Wagyu beef from the award-winning Blackmore Farm in Australia is stellar, such that Allium even quotes blurbs from celebrity chefs Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck) and Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) in their menu to convince guests.
Slice into the braised beef as if it was butter. It’s incredibly tender, and this is only a prelude to its taste.
Indeed, it’s also melt-in-your-mouth goodness, exploding with a range of rich flavors from the beef itself, as well as from the earthy truffles (in the pommes purée a.k.a. mashed potato), porcini, and the dense-tasting bordelaise sauce.
10/10 – we’d go back for this. It’s definitely one of our highlights.
- French duck confit - pommes pave - mesclun - PX jus
- Aveyron French lamb - loin - neck - spinach - porcini - tatsoi - Marsala
- Veal - braised cheeks - roasted striploin - port jus - asparagus - porcini
- Roasted Mayura signature Wagyu sirloin - onion - truffled pommes purée - black garlic jus (add P800 supplement)
Caramel - Maldon salt
Strikingly minimalist in design, a free-range egg has been hollowed out, and its top has been sliced away with precision. Filling the shell, caramel custard foam oozes out as if it was this dessert’s crowning glory.
Scoop all the way to the bottom though, and find a stunning surprise: Valrhona chocolate. Take a bite, and crystals of Maldon salt burst inside your mouth like briny Pop Rocks – a superb accent against the smooth caramel and chocolate.
Cinnamon ice cream
Allium’s version is spiraled and flat as a biscuit. Although the scoop of cinnamon ice cream on top melts fast, the churros remain crisp.
Shortcake – crème fraiche
If you fancy a sweet ending that’s more tart than rich, this shortcake topped with a scoop of strawberry sorbet might do the trick.
Strawberry syrup has settled into a nice candy-like consistency between layers of sponge cake. Caramelized strawberries and pink crème fraiche accompany the cake, giving you different flavor profiles of strawberry.
There’s really nothing much fancy in this one, but it’s a classic, satisfying ending to a meal.
Allium, named after the plant genus that includes onions and garlic, is the current incarnation of Chef Mark Tan’s Studio Kitchen in Alabang. Born and raised in Manila, Chef Mark has honed his craft in reputable kitchens abroad, including Le Bernardin.
We took a peek Allium’s kitchen, which Chef Mark jokingly referred to as a mad scientist’s lab. With a lot of gadgetry fit for a chemist, he apparently dabbles in molecular gastronomy in addition to traditional techniques. Needless to say, a lot is going on behind the scenes to bring out the best of the ingredients at hand.
The restaurant also serves a 10-course tasting menu (plus two if you include the amuse-bouche and mignardises) dubbed Carte Blanche where Chef Mark displays his gastronomic flair.
Are you planning to dine out at Allium soon? Do any of the dishes on the Market Menu pique your interest? Let us know in the comments below. – Rappler.com
Allium is located at G/F The Grand Midori Makati, Bolanos Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City. It is currently open for dinner service only from 6 PM to 10 PM, Monday to Saturday. Call (+63 2) 519 1088 for reservations and inquiries.
* Plus 12% VAT and 10% service charge
Paolo Abad is a film/television editor and motion graphic designer. He is also a self-confessed concert junkie. Follow his Instagram for live music @outoftunephoto