Jesse and I have been going to Manila Social Club for brunch ever since they opened. And by default, every time we go, we Instagram a photo or two of what we consumed. I mean, how could you not? The food is just THAT pretty.
From tocino to eggplant torta, from longanisa hash to avocado tempura, we’ve made our rounds up and down their morning menu. Dinner, on the other hand, we’ve never tried.
When one of the co-owners of Manila Social Club invited us to come to one of their Chef’s Table dinners, I jumped at the chance. They don’t have them too often and the table is only open to 10 guests at most, so when it’s announced that they’re doing one, I urge you to snag a seat.
Food With a Story
Course after course, Chef Björn DelaCruz comes out to introduce each dish. Merging Filipino cuisine, Filipino culture and his culinary expertise, it was quite a learning experience for Jesse, me and the six other patrons at the table. I was beaming with Pinoy pride as I listened to his explanations.
But first, as we waited to be seated, they let us snack on lotus chips. They reminded me of a crunchy, fried sweet potato — but not at all greasy.
Foie Gras With Truffles
I always say, give me foie gras, and I will devour it. This was a work of art and so rich in flavor.
For our second course, we were served two kinds of beets with what I believe to be the casing of an egg roll. The drops of sauce (which I’m failing to remember what it was) complimented every bite nicely. I just wish there was more of it — I’m such a sauce girl.
A Perfect Oyster
Hands down, this was every diner’s favorite dish of the night at Chef’s Table. The fried oyster with radish was just that perfectly composed bite you’ll never forget.
Crab and Caviar
… except I got lentils since I’m expecting a little one in May. (Pregnant ladies can’t indulge in caviar. Boo!) This, too, was a great bite — my second fave of the night. The puree underneath blew my mind.
Sadly, this was my least favorite of the night… It has nothing to do with the taste though — I’ve just always had an aversion to mung beans. Never been the type of girl to like any kind of bean dish, for that matter. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it though.
I’m quite familiar with beef caldereta — my mom always used to make it for us. This lamb version was a great homage to it, only it had 3 different kinds of lamb — all equally delicious with different textures — and no rice. I could’ve used a little side of rice. I am Filipino, after all.
Unlike any kind of arroz caldo I’ve ever eaten and/or made, this one had faaaaaancy truffles! Did they add to the dish? Absolutely? Will I make my arroz caldo with truffles? Probably not. My budget just won’t allow for it. While I loved this dish because of the “shiny factor” that were the truffles, I think it could’ve used a little more acid like I’m used to. A little sprinkle of lemon on top really cuts into the umami goodness that is this dish.
Golden Chocolate Mousse
Yes, there is real gold layered atop this yummy chocolate mousse. Super-rich in flavor (and style), I loved every bite though I couldn’t finish this dish after all of the courses we had previously. No one at the table could.
As a nice send-off, we were given this. I can’t remember what it was, but there was definitely a raspberry on it. It was a great end to an amazing meal that I will remember for a lifetime.
To be real, if you’re expecting to go to Manila Social Club to eat classic Filipino food, think again. Don’t you dare go there, order a dish only to comment “this is not like the [fill in the blank] that I’m used to.” Don’t do it. That’s not the point. Manila Social Club takes Filipino flavors and reinvents them into unique dishes that are meant to stop you in your tracks and enjoy. You won’t be disappointed. But if you want your typical white rice with Filipino “ulam,” go to a “turo-turo” near you instead.
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
2 Hope Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn