First impressions, prices: Hong Kong's Elephant Grounds in Metro Manila
Think of the quinteseential brunch date place – what comes to mind?
Is it a beautifully-designed, Instagrammable space to hang in with a friend, or a cozy nook to hide in for the day? Is quality coffee and a menu of enough variety to please a table of the pickiest titas just as important to you, too?
If so, then you're in for a treat at Elephant Grounds, Hong Kong's cult cafe, finally making grounds on Philippine land.
There’s just something about the idea of brunch dates – waking up earlier on a weekend to catch the morning sun at its tamest and coming in with an appetite built for something bigger than your usual breakfast.
The anticipation of walking into a cafe and seeing your friends from across the room is unmatched as you wave while approaching the table. Hugs are exchanged, greetings are shared, coffee and orders are placed, and the chika commences.
Brought in by The Standard Group (Yabu, Ippudo Ramen), Elephant Grounds at Bonifacio Global City aims to be that place – the go-to brunch hub fit for different diners: the health-conscious, the splurgers, the indulgent eaters, the sweet tooths, and the caffeine connoiseurs that are constantly in search of the next best place to get their AM-allergic friends out of bed for.
"I’d describe it as fun-loving, cool, and friendly. We want to welcome people from all walks of life, food lovers, coffee lovers, and just be a fun place to be without really trying hard," Cat Altomonte, Elephant Grounds brand manager, told Rappler.
More than just a restaurant, Elephant Ground wants to be a community, where lifestyle and food seamlessly intersect in a space that's both inviting, energizing, and relaxing, with sophisticated interiors to match.
The cafe kept its Hong Kong-born concept intact (Asian-inspired flavors, good coffee, and dessert) while also crafting a newly-elevated brunch menu adjusted for the Filipino palate, even adding rice bowls because really, what's a restaurant in Metro Manila without rice?
Created by Chef Nicco Santos (Your Local, Hey Handsome), EG's menu also prioritizes locally-sourced ingredients and artisanal items made from scratch.
"Building from scratch takes a little more time and effort but all those little things we do make such a huge difference in the long run," Cat shared.
It's true though – when food is prepared with the TLC of homemade goodness, you just know.
Here's what Elephant Grounds' menu has to offer:
For someone who rarely eats a full breakfast, the Acai Greek Yogurt (P385) of Elephant Grounds is a light bite made just right.
Pretty on the eyes and vibrant in taste, the bowl features mildy-sweet greek yogurt hand-mixed with tart acai berry. With every spoonful of creamy yogurt you get also the crunch of house-made granola and the juicy bite only fresh strawberries, kiwi, and bananas can give.
Toasted almond flakes are sprinkled and honey is drizzled, adding some sweetness but also making for a beautiful dish you won’t mind whipping your IG stories out for and typing “OMG yum!!!” as your caption.
Another light option is the Thai Shrimp Salad (295), where strong Asian flavors and ingredients steal the salad show.
Crisp farmer’s greens are mixed with Nuoc Cham dressing, a light Vietnamese dipping sauce usually made with fish sauce, lime, sugar – a refreshing mix of salty, sour, and sweet. Buttered shrimp, ripe mango slices, and toasted coconut also star, which all helps to add another dimension to the salad's distinct salty-sour-sweet flavor trifecta.
Looking for something a bit more filling? Bready or not, here come’s Elephant Grounds with their signature freshly-baked sourdough bread, made in-store every morning – the literal bread and butter of Elephant Ground's toast menu.
The Scrambled Eggs and Bottarga Toast (P345) of Elephant Grounds is the grown-up version of your gradeschool egg sandwich, using crunchy sourdough bread at the bottom and on top, velvety, soft scrambled eggs that jiggle like jelly – my favorite kind.
What adds flavor to the silky eggs are smoked tinapa, meant to inject a depth of saltiness and smokiness, and the bottarga, a type of cured salty fish. Mixed in as well are sun-dried tomatoes, mushroms, and alfalfa sprouts to add some veggie bite to the eggs.
For fans of the benedict brunch staple, EG’s Yuzu Salmon Eggs Benny (P470) is something eggs benedict lovers (myself included) can get eggcited about.
The sourdough bread supports house-cured salmon and beautifully-poached onsen eggs that spill over majestically when poked – a #foodporn moment only an IG boomerang can capture. Served on the side is the mother of all sauces, the classic hollandaise, mixed in with yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, and tobiko eggs (black fish roe) for an extra salty crunch.
If you’re more of a buns kinda guy, the Angus Sourdough Burger (P495) might be more up your food alley. What’s the beef on this one? For one, it's angus.
In between two sourdough buns is a juicy beef patty hugged by melted yellow cheddar cheese, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and Elephant Ground's signature sauce, served with skinny nori fries on the side.
Time for rice? Nice. A noteworthy Elephant Grounds must-order is the Tapa Donburi rice bowl (P430), a spin on the famed tapsilog, giving breakfast lovers another reason to rice and shine.
It's a dish on tapa its game, with Japanese garlic rice and thinly-sliced beef yakiniku strips, tender and slightly crisp, marinated in a sweet-garlicky-spicy blend, on top. Alongside the meat is a simple roasted ensaladang talong and dilis salad and of course, a runny sunny-side up egg, the best kind of egg to mix in with your garlic rice.
The Prawn Paste Chicken rice bowl (P375) is also another flavorful and filling option, featuring crispy chicken thighs coated in a thick prawn paste, its consistency similar to salted egg.
The chicken itself is tasty (thank you, dark meat), spicy and loaded with Asian flavors, appropriately accompanied by a fresh papaya salad and some Thai lemongrass paste for an extra kick.
Finally, it's time for ice cream! The perfect cap-off to a meal at Elephant Grounds has got to be their iconic ice cream sandwiches, one of Hong Kong's famous staples which will like be one of Manila's as well.
For lovers of Earl Grey tea, the High Societea (P165) ice cream sandwich has gotten that fragrant, flowery flavor down to a tea. The black tea ice cream is sandwiched between homemade chocolate chip cookies and then garnished with biscoff cookie bits on all sides.
"Our ice cream is also a core product that makes Elephant Grounds what it is – all flavors are handcrafted and ice creams are home-churned and made from scratch with choice ingredients, even local milk," Cat said about EG's extensive ice cream line.
If you're just dropping by for a sweet treat, grab a scoop of the Toasted Rice (P150), a likeable ode to the famous tutong (burnt rice) of our rice cookers. The creamy vanilla base's toasted rice flavor is uncanny, and the pinipig flakes on top make for a good pop of texture.
For the caffeine junkies, we know the third-wave coffee menu's what you've bean waiting for, so here's the deal: Elephant Grounds' coffee grounds are as legit as they come.
Their Manila OG Blend makes use of beans from Costa Rica, Brazil, and Sumatra, roasted locally to ensure freshness. Two single origin blends are also available – Ethiopoa Yirgacheffe and Costa Rica Don Claudio, and can be enjoyed via any of 4 brewing methods: Chemex, pour over, AeroPress, and syphon.
Smooth, balanced, and punchy, EG's coffee will give you the kick you need and the full-bodied taste you want, served in almost any form you want – cold brew (P160), cappuccino (P160), flat white (P160), long black (P120), bulletproof (170), and their signature salted caramel latte (P185) – you name it.
Lactose intolerant drinkers, don't fret – non-dairy options exist just for you. Take your pick from almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk!
Putting the fresh in refreshing are EG's iced teas, made from real fruit and tea, and also worthy of a mention. Recommended for fans of berry flavors: Berry Fields iced tea (P150). For those looking for a lighter, slightly citrus taste, try the Yuzu Oolong iced tea (P150).
Who's ready to stomp their way to Elephant Grounds soon? – Rappler.com
Elephant Grounds opens to the public on Friday, June 28. It is located at One Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, and is open from 8am to 10pm. For more information on Elephant Grounds, you can visit their official Facebook page.
Invite friends over for brunch and have your meals delivered using this GrabFood Promo.
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