Rappler Eats: Bodega is where creative twists to Filipino food favorites are done right
MANILA, Philippines – A bodega, defined by most as a storage room of hardly-used belongings from one’s house, usually contains a childhood’s oldest memories and the family’s earliest possessions.
As we grow older, the bodega then becomes a time-traveling portal of nostalgia, warm memories, and a reminder of happier, simpler times, all in one room. This is exactly what Bodega Kitchen & Bar, a cozy resto-bar tucked along the busy street of Valero Street, Makati City, aims to be for its diners.
The kitchen-slash-bar provides a comforting refuge from jam-packed days, being that Bodega is designed to act as a cozy, little nook to enjoy with friends over ambiance and food that feels just like a tiny piece of home.
Owners Orville Zosa and his friends seemed it fit to keep Bodega young and targeted to the – excuse the misused and overused word – "millennial." How? By juxtaposing the feel-good appeal of nostalgia with a twist of "new" through a uniquely creative spin on Filipino food and drink.
It was the team's vision to still serve up the reliable comfort of Filipino food, but in a way that’s both fresh and new to them – not necessarily by veering away from the usual, old-time Filipino fare favorites, but rather, by just elevating them in terms of flavor, creativity, and presentation, in a simple yet impactful way.
Fan of the all-time Bacolod chicken inasal favorite? What about the flavors of Mediterannean cuisine? Yes? Great, because apparently, Bodega's owners are fans of both, too. Hence, the birth of their Greek Inasal Gyros (P350).
Head chef Andric Clemente features the local chicken favorite in all its smoky, juicy, and tender glory and takes it on a fresher journey by incorporating the tangy, citrusy herbs and spices Greek cuisine is known for, as well including some Mediterranean elements into the dish.
The well-cooked chicken thighs come with toasted pita bread (a rice substitute is also available), a tabbouleh salad, a refreshing tzatziki cucumber yogurt dip, and a side of harrisa pepper paste for those craving for a kick of spice. Definitely no umay here.
The dish is good for 2 people. But if you're flying solo with an unapologetic appetite to match, go right ahead.
The resto’s resident best-seller and tongue-twister, the Sinarabsab (P320), is a best-selling, mouth-watering combination of everything right with Filipino cuisine – tender Ilocano grilled liempo, tortang talong, green mango ensalada, and bagoong – all lovingly co-existing in one single platter.
Recommendation: Pile on every element of the dish on your spoon and experience a spoonful of different flavors and textures bursting in your mouth in one bite.
With the tenderness of the grilled liempo, the silkiness of roasted eggplant, the crunchiness and asim zing of green mango, plus the saltiness of bagoong, you’ve got yourself a delicious foodie medley you won't help but sing along to. Simply put, everything works.
What's a Filipino feast without a deadly dose of sisig? The Bodega version, its Jalapeño Sisig (P330), serves up a Mexican twist to the famed pulutan, adding a cilantro-lime dressing on top and a little bit of spice, thanks to the slices of jalapeño peppers. Of course, the iconic bits of crunchy chicharon on top weren't forgotten.
Definitely no diets allowed here – just cheat days.
Surprisingly, this meaty dish wasn’t heavy on the taste buds at all. Do we owe it to the tangy dressing or its peppery pals? Who knows; all we know is that it’s a sisig worth many spoonfuls.
Assuming that there's still room for dessert, last but not least is Bodega's version of a Chinese-Filipino sweet treat: the Kung Hey Fat Choi (P185).
This exquisite-looking dessert consists of fried tikoy rolls, two scoops of vanilla ice cream, “lang-karamel” syrup (yes, that’s langka and caramel combined), and crispy sugar strings.
You get crunchy, and then a little bit of chewy, and then just the right amount of sweet, which ultimately leads you to the trifecta of an interesting yet delicious dessert.
"With our dishes, we prioritize flavor and presentation. We also made sure that the menu is really for sharing with the barkada and generally affordable," co-owner Orville said. He also shared that the vision for sharing is not only evident in their menu, but also in their lineup of weekly activities and deals.
"Before we just wanted it to be Filipino food and drink. But we decided to expand it to modern Filipino culture," Orville said. From hosting Quiz Nights for companies, Throwback Hits playlists, Acoustic Nights every Thursday, Unli-Cocktails Wednesdays, Unli-Gin Saturdays, and even Improv Comedy shows by local talents, Bodega always has something new for hungry, fun-loving crowds to enjoy. -Rappler.com
Bodega Kitchen & Bar is located at 109 Valero Street, Two Central Condominium, Salcedo Village, Makati City. They're open from Mondays-Saturdays, 11 am-2 pm, and 5 pm-2 am.