Alqueria Restaurante Manila
Philippine culture has always had a strong Spanish influence. Apart from the prevalence of Catholicism and origin of several Filipino words, we have grown to love dishes like afritada, salpicao and lechon to name a few. Even though there are several Spanish restaurants across the metro, the familiar and traditional Spanish cuisine is clearly still a must-try based on the enduring popularity of these dishes.
Alqueria Restaurante photo by Yen Dreyfus
Alqueria Restaurante, which opened in January 2014, is another new and exciting concept under the SumoSam Group of Restaurants founded by Marvin Agustin, Ricky Laudico and Raymund Magdaluyo. The trio have also partnered with Charo Santos, Liz Uy, Mylene Dizon and Agot Isidro for this business venture, with a star Executive Chef, Chris Oronce, to head Alqueria. Oronce became a chef instructor at Enderun Colleges in Taguig before his chance meeting with the SumoSam Group of Restaurants, which led to the creation of Alqueria and its distinctive menu. It was Oronce’s extensive experience in food and restaurant operations management which initially drew me to eat at Alqueria—after all, he’s worked at distinguished restaurants in the US, like the MGM Grand Shibuya in Las Vegas, as well as stints in Koi Restaurant at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas; working with celebrity chef Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas; and Nobu in New York.
Freshly Made Churros
Oronce has closely worked with Alqueria’s Head Chef, Roland De Gracia, to create a menu filled with comforting dishes that still know how to showcase the various flavors of Spain and tickle the tastebuds, at once renewing the unfamiliar and keeping guests coming back for more.
This was easily seen in the first dish we sampled during our first visit there—a generous serving of Gambas Al Ajillo (Php375), with fresh white river shrimps sauteed in olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and paprika finished with white wine and butter. It had the right amount of heat to cut into the fresh sweetness of the shrimp meat, and the garlic was this right balance between meltingly tender and slightly crunchy to please the palate.
After that good appetizer, we tucked into our show-stopping medium-sized portion of Paella Valenciana (Small: Php560 / Medium: Php910 / Large: P1,480), which consisted of simmered rice in saffron-infused stock topped with clams, mussels, shrimps and chicken. The seafood was well-cooked—not the rubbery toppings you sometimes sadly see even in the better Spanish restaurants—and I was delighted by the portion of crusted rice at the bottom, the much-coveted “tutong”. Highly recommended! The saffron and stock came together for a perfectly-flavored rice dish.
Prime Rib Steak
We couldn’t resist treating ourselves to some of Alqueria’s Prime Rib (Php2,250), a gorgeous slab of 420g Black Angus USDA choice grade steak, which I easily sliced into. Each bite of steak had that right balance between tenderness and chewiness, with a rich flavor that complimented the paella without being overpowered by its spices.
As a delightful finish to our excellent meal, we tucked into the Crema Catalana (Php138) and Churros (Classic: Php158/Chocolate: Php198, for 5pcs). The Crema Catalana is not unlike our beloved lecheflan, but this one is silkier and smoother to taste, without the egginess that accompanies some lecheflans.
This custard was a perfect match with the caramel sauce, which was well-tempered and added the right amount of sweetness. I kept licking the sauce up with my spoon—it was that good! The crunchy, light churros are essentially dough twists quickly fried in hot oil, and our churros with Valor chocolate dip was rich but not cloying on the palate, which can be a common sin of fried foods—especially one paired with something as sinfully delicious as molten chocolate!
Churros in take out box
Our server recommended that we pair the churros with their vanilla milkshake, which was made with real vanilla ice cream and not one loaded with lots of artificial flavors. I was really full, so I had to pass up on it, but I vowed to have this delicious combination the next time I would eat there.
Alqueria is an old Spanish term referring to a type of farmhouse that resembles a small castle and once served as home to many rural families in Spain. Today, alquerias have been converted into social gathering places, and I definitely felt that sense of home when I was eating there. Alqueria’s interiors provided a cozy ambiance perfect for families and those looking to have a place to unwind, making our meal that much more enjoyable. Paired with the value for money you’ll definitely get when you eat there, there is no reason why you should pass up Alqueria.
A photo posted by Melo Villareal (@melovillareal) on
Although Alqueria is best-known for its paellas, it has a wide selection of tapas, bistecas, and other dishes guaranteed to please even the fussiest diner. Some of the dishes which I plan to try when I come back include the garlicky Pollo Iberico, the divine Paella Jamon Serrano y Foie Gras, cheesy and comforting Queso Fundido, the fluffy and rich Manchego Cheesecake and their airy, light Canonigo as the final high note to any meal. Why not indulge yourself and try something there?
Our Alqueria Experience
Alqueria Restaurante is located at the 3rd floor of Mega Fashion Hall, Building D, SM Megamall. Please text or call +639165062659 for reservations and inquiries.