SHANGRI-LA Plaza’s new wing, the East Wing, is now open, and with it comes a wide selection of new and exciting dining destinations. The East Wing, which stands right in front of Edsa Shangri-La Hotel where the open parking area used to be, is seamlessly connected to the Main Wing of the Shangri-La mall on all floors and is slowly but surely becoming known as the new gastronomic destination in the metro.
“As an established upscale lifestyle destination for the discriminating market, we recognize the need to constantly bring in new concepts that are in keeping with our mall guests’ evolving needs. Part of this is introducing distinct dining experiences that will excite our market,” explains Lala Fojas, executive vice president and general manager of Shangri-La Plaza, who recently toured members of media around the East Wing and organized a small food tour of four restaurants that can be found at the new upscale wing of the mall.
The F&B offerings have been aligned with the tenant mix of the new East Wing, as each floor is themed to organize the mix of shops and restaurants – the Lower Ground floor is themed Everyday Basics, and here is where Bread Talk, Gelatissimo, Jamba Juice, Krispy Kreme, Maple and Wee Nam Kee can be found to complement such stores as D&K Kitchen Essentials, Kitchen Works and Scribe Writing Essentials; Level 1 is Classic Luxury, with a combination of fashion boutiques, electronics, jewelry and watch stores and no F&B outlets here; Mid-Level 2/3 (as it is connected to both the second and third floors of the main mall) is themed Timeless Indulgences, so here is where you’ll find Gyukaku, Morelli’s Gelato and TWG Tea; Level 4 adheres to the Urban Sophisticate theme, and the restaurants on this level comprise of Balboa, Corazon by Chef Florabel Co, Greenpastures and Lombardi’s; Level 5 is the Hip & Chic floor, with 26th St. Bistro by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Akira, Ganso-Shabuway, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen, Kettle, Spatzle, The Strip Hollywood Steakhouse, Wicked and Zao sharing the limelight in F&B offerings; and lastly, Level 6 is themed Leisure Haven, and its restaurant mix includes Arya Persian Restaurant, Johnny Rockets, Serenitea, Texas Roadhouse Grill, Woo Galbi and Zarzuela.
During the food tour led by Fojas and division manager for marketing Marline Dualan two weeks ago (specifically on July 9, 2013), the media group got to sample some of the specialties of Akira, Balboa, Corazon and Lombardi’s. Akira can be found on Level 5, while the three others make up the Chefs’ Area on Level 4.
AKIRA, THE ART OF SUSHI AND TEPPANYAKI
Akira is the brainchild of young but veteran restaurateurs Ricky Laudico and celebrity chef Marvin Agustin, who also own a host of other restaurants, such as Sumo Sam and Mr. Kurosawa. It is unique from most Japanese restaurants existing in the metro today in the sense that it focuses on teppanyaki to give diners a true teppanyaki grill experience featuring premium U.S. Wagyu, Japanese Wagyu, Kobe and Matsuzaka beef.
“We also serve U.S. scallops, salmon, and gindara, and, soon, Pacific baby lobsters,” says Laudico, who sat with members of media for short business chats.
Akira also serves an extensive selection of salads, soups, noodles, a la carte dishes, sushi and sashimi, rolls, fried rice variations, bento and desserts. Its sushi and maki rolls are particularly creative and adventurous. I loved the Akira Roll (Php 32, which is kani (crabstick) and ebi tempura inside sushi rice, rolled in tobiko and topped with tempura bits, spicy Japanese mayo and mozzarella cheese. But my favorite was really the Ebi Nori Tempura (Php39, whose deep-fried batter turned out to be truly crisp and crunchy, perfectly cooked to a golden finish, and the nori bits that was whisked into the batter really left a refreshing nori taste on the palate.
Gyoza (Php228 for the Pork variant and Php328 for the premium Wagyu version), the classic Japanese dumpling, was also served during the food tasting session.
BALBOA PIZZA, PASTA AND STEAKS
From the same owners of Akira comes Balboa, which is named after Rocky Balboa, the character played by Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky film series.
As its name suggests, Balboa specializes in pizza, pasta and steaks. The menu is 80% Italian, while the remaining 20% is a mixture of European dishes, such as French and Spanish specialties, served in a very homey and cozy ambiance. For its pizza, Balboa makes its own dough, and it also ages its own steaks. Like Akira, it boasts of an extensive menu of starters, soups, salads, all-day breakfast selections,risotto, burgers, main courses and desserts to go with its pizza, pasta and steaks.
For the food tasting, Balboa laid out a spread comprised of Spinach Artichokes (Php269), a dip served with toasts for appetizer; Monroe Salad (Php309 for a solo serving and Php499 for a famiglia size), which had a good mix of Parma ham, gorgonzola cheese, pine nuts and arugula; Parmesan Crusted Halibut with Wild Mushroom Risotto (Php47, a perfect combination of light fish with crunchy Parmesan crust and risotto; and Osso Bucco Milanese (Php44, served with gremolata and saffron risotto.
CORAZON FILIPINO-HISPANO CUISINE
Corazon is the newest baby of celebrity chef Florabel Co, who also owns a number of other restaurants such as Florabel’s and Felix. It features a smorgasbord of sumptuous Filipino-Hispanic dishes. On the menu, therefore, diners will find such classic and popular Filipino dishes as Laing, Kare-Kare, Sinigang, Tinola, Sisig, Crispy Pata, Guinataang Kuhol and Balut, and Spanish dishes that Filipinos have come to love as their own, including Paella and Callos, but given contemporary twists and names.
The media group got to taste Magellan (Php395), baked scallops with garlic and cheese; Paella Valenciana (Php595), which hd prawns, squid, mussels, fish fillet, chicken, pork, chorizo, egg and vegetables; Castellano (Php685), which is actually Crispy Pata served in classic and spicy variants; and Suman Latik with Batangas Tsokolate, which are segments of suman on stick served in shot glasses of melted Batangas chocolate dip.
Corazon has colorful interiors and a spacious al fresco dining area outside for a truly delightful casual dining experience.
LOMBARDI’S AUTHENTIC ITALIAN
If you like delicious Italian style pizzas cooked in a brick oven, fresh pasta, homemade gelato and a good cup of Italian coffee, then Lombardi’s by Chef Davide Lombardi is a must-try. It serves authentic and sumptuous Italian classic dishes using only the freshest and finest ingredients possible. Aside from its whole range of brick-oven pizzas, the restaurant serves delicious pasta dishes using either Pasta Secca (dry pasta) or Pasta Fresca (fresh pasta). Yes, Lombardi’s offers fresh pasta – something that you don’t usually find in most pasta places in the metro.
Lombardi’s also serves an interesting array of Italian antipasti, including Carpaccio di Manzo (Php460), beef carpaccio marinated with lemon and olive oil and fresh Parmesan cheese; and Mozzarella in Carrozza with Arrabbiata Sauce (Php230), mozzarella loaf bread served with Arrabbiata sauce and salad.
Both were served during the recent media food tasting event, as well as Pizza Aisalumi (Php500), tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese with Italian ham: Prosciutto, Mortadella, Salame Milano and Coppa; , as well as Fettuccine alla Norma (Php480), tomato, ricotta cheese and eggplant, with spiral pasta.
And when the truly hearty and satisfying meal was over, cups of homemade Gelato (Italian ice cream) were served to everyone, who got all excited choosing the flavors that they liked.
MORE DINING CHOICES
Aside from Akira, Balboa, Corazon and Lombardi’s, Shangri-La Plaza’s new East Wing offers a whole lot more dining options for diners who are constantly on the lookout for new places to try. And more restaurant concepts, most of them unique to the East Wing, are coming.