The New Grilla Filipino Cuisine in Makati: A Refreshing Twist To Filipino Favorites

Have you been dreading for a vacation outside of Manila, but can't because you're so busy with work and/or other responsibilities at home? Have you got that excitement to go on a local food trip that may possibly take you in or bring you back to the places that's far from where you are today?

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original photo from Fully Booked Online

Grilla Bar and Grill in Makati has been one of the longest running bars/drinking and food joints along Kalayaan street. These days, just in case you have passed by that corner, you might have noticed and asked yourself: where the heck is that gorilla gone now?

You're wondering how this bar that you have loved for years, where you want to meet up with your friends after office hours in Makati, is just leaving your side just in a snap of a finger? If you have been pondering about this question, then the answer is NO.

Only a few months ago, Grilla Bar and Grill Makati projected this new face with their recent re-branding, including a fresh revamp on the dishes that they usually serve. Grilla Bar and Grill in Makati is now Grilla Filipino Cuisine, and my, have I been impressed with the changes so far. The initiative of turning your established brand into an entirely new one is kind of risky for the owners Chito and Lizzie Guerrero, who have seen this place flourish since the 90's, but they've decided to make the place more of like a family-style restaurant rather than just a bar and grill. Grilla Filipino Cuisine in Makati is now operating to serve new provincial favorites for those who are working in the Makati district and foodies as well.

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But don't fret, because Grilla Filipino Cuisine will still be there to offer you booze to cap off your nights.

Like these huge glass containers of Infused Vodka, available at Grilla per shot, which makes you feel like you've just gone into a Chinese Medicinal shop. It's like trying out potions at Hogwarts, hehe.

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Infused Vodka Concoctions
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Infused Vodka Concoctions
I have tried all of them for the sake of trying to find out which is more preferable (and not because I wanted to get drunk). As I wait for other guests to approach each 'vodka fountain', and drinking them one by one, I thought of getting 5 shot glasses, got some vodka from each fountain, and took a photo of them as seen below. From left to center: the Brown Cinnamon, which is sweet like dessert wine; Rosemary, a bit herby, medicine-like for me; Tarragon is surprisingly a bit sweet with bitter notes, Calamansi Basil, which I feel is a favorite of the majority (like drinking calamansi juice concentrate that can actually make you tipsy) and Dalandan, another sweet and fruity infusion. If you're a drinking aficionado, then you might be interested to try these concoctions. 

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Infused Vodka Concoctions
As for our first course....

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Tofu and Sigarilyas Sisig, Pork BBQ and Salted Egg Triangles, Chicharon Cebu
If you're longing for appetizers, then you might want to try their Tofu and Sigarilyas Sisig, which looks like it has meat in it, but it's quite a healthy alternative to the Pampanga specialty. It's creamy and tangy with the dressing, spicy but not too much thanks to the green chilies, and the tofu just replaced the chewy meat factor that you get from a traditional sisig.

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Tofu and Sigarilyas Sisig
If you're in Manila, then sweet pork barbecue (or BBQ for short) is the only way to go. But Grilla Filipino Cuisine managed to chop pieces of pork bbq, mixed them with salted egg and spices, wrapped them into triangles using wonton wrappers and fried them to perfection. Served in a bowl of vinegar, this Pork BBQ and Salted Egg Traingles is another appetizer that you can try. Then again, I had to admit that there weren't much of the salted egg flavor that I was hoping to capture, but the delicious pork bbq compromises it nicely.

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Pork BBQ and Salted Egg Triangles
I recently visited Cebu and remembered the many pork dishes that I've encountered in a few days, so Grilla Filipino Cuisine in Makati took me back to Cebu with their Chicharon Cebu (inspired by the awesomeness of Chicharon in Carcar, Cebu), which is perfect with beer, or it's just me I guess. You can tell that these are crispy just by looking at them. And yes, I know nothing beats bacon, but you would also know that nothing beats crispy belly too, right?

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Chicharon Cebu
Meanwhile, their Inihaw na Manok sa Sinampalukan is Grilla Filipino Cuisine in Makati's take on the Sinampalukan dish from Pampanga, with a 'slightly charred twist' thanks to the use of roasted chicken pieces before it gets cooked into the sour broth and veggies. It was rich and really tasty. It really brought out the flavors of the chicken all the more.

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Inihaw na Manok na Sinampalukan
As we move farther to the northern side of the Philippines, it was my first time to try the Ilocano dish Dinuydoy which was made with veggies such as squash and bittergourd. I didn't expect a lot of flavor but it did. I wasn't sure how it was done though. But I loved it even more when I paired it with crispy pieces of lechon kawali on rice. Simply delish! Take note, Dinuydoy doesn't have lechon kawali when your order it at Grilla Filipino Cuisine Makati, so you would have to ask for extra lechon kawali to have it like the one in the photo. 

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Lechon Kawali and Ilocos Dinuydoy
If ever you go to Bataan, chances are, there are a number of dishes with the use of coconut milk. This Inadobong Tilapia sa Gata at Sili is like a mash-up of Filipino favorite adobo and ginataang isda. This is just like a local version of the fried fish in coconut sauce that I love at Banana Leaf. This is just perfect with hot rice.

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Inadobong Tilapia sa Gata at Sili
A few minutes later, I was taken on a quick flight to Bacolod and tried this Beef Kansi made with kamias (a sour fruit available locally) and boiled for 5 to 6 hours until it the meat falls of the bone. You might see my photomight not be as appetizing with all the bones sticking out of the bowl, but the normal serving would have more soup compared to this one. The sourness of the kamias gives a slightly more pungent sourness compared to the tamarind.

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Beef Kansi (minus the soup)
And then I was back to Vigan, Ilocos Sur with Grilla Filipino Cuisine Makati's version of Poqui-Poqui (pronounced as powh), which I also love! I really thought it will be a cold type of salad like the ensalada, but it was a hot dish instead. I really have a thing for veggies because it keeps me sane amidst all the meat and fat and poultry goodness that I have been experiencing earlier that night.

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Poqui Poqui
Going back to Cebu, I also got to try Grilla Filipino Cuisine Makati's pork decadence through this delicious Lechon Liempo de Cebu, which is a boneless lechon belly rolled and filled with spices and herbs in the middle. And I won't explain this one further. Crunchy, not oversalted. I missed this. It's pork belly at its mighty goodness. Yomyomyom.

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Lechon Liempo ala Cebu
One of the major highlights during my night at Grilla Filipino Cuisine Makati is trying their Grill-A-Palayok, which is a fresh combination of meat, seafood and fish all placed in a palayok (traditional clay pots which is available in orange and black), and hot stones inside, which cooks the ingredients by itself, rather than placing the pot on an open fire. Along with a good amount of soy and sesame oil, it was like there is one hot party going on inside that pot.

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Feeling a bit ignorant with what's in front of me, we were told to get a bit of everything in separate bowls, choose to add either green mango, eggplant or soy sauce with tomatoes and onions. Then put enough soup (made with coconut water, chili, lemongrass and ginger) onto the bowl and let it settle for I think...about zero seconds! This has to be This succulent Filipino style hot pot is a first in Manila.

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I made an attempt to do this at home, but I believe that Grilla Filipino Cuisine Makati;s version of the Halo Halo Turon is far better than mine. Accompanied with a scoop of rich purple yam ice cream and pinipig, this dessert was a great ending during that night's degustation.

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Halo-halo Spring Rolls
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photo from Grilla Bar and Grill Facebook Page

For more information, promos, and menu items, check out Grilla Filipino Cuisine Makati:
Grilla Bar and Grill Official Facebook Page

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*Disclaimer: The following post is written from the author's own thoughts and views on Grilla Filipino Cuisine. 

1 comment:

  1. Too bad we weren't able to try chicharon in Carcar, Cebu. It reminds of that long trip in Csrcar though.