By Angelo G. Garcia
There are two things you have to remember when participating in food crawls or food tours: pace yourself and take small bites. It helps when it’s a walking crawl because you get to burn calories, too.
It was a Tuesday afternoon and eating an apple that morning was the right decision before going on an eating spree. The Moment Group (TMG) and Bonifacio Global City (BGC) organized a food crawl featuring the former’s seven restaurants in celebration of TMG’s fifth anniversary. The group has been quite successful in the local food scene and most of its brands have branches in Taguig’s busy central business district.
The plan was to eat, hop on the BGC bus to proceed to the next stop, then eat again. It was also raining that day but that didn’t stop us from going through the crawl, hosted by chef JJ Yulo, a resident of BGC and a certified foodie.
BURGERS TO JAPANESE: Ooma Facade
Ooma’s steak aburi maki
FROM VIETNAM TO A NIGHT OUT : Pho special
Phat Pho facade
FOOD CRAWL SATISFACTION : Chef Bruce Ricketts welcomes the food crawl guests
Mecha Uma’s camo onigiri
Chocolate lava xiao long bao
Chef JJ Yulo introduces new dishes at Din Tai Fung
Bank Bar interior
One of the reasons why BGC is a top a foodie destination is the convenience it offers. Wide sidewalks, clean, safe environment, and a public transport system that could bring people anywhere in the area. It’s a walkable city, too, and can be easily navigated.
Our first stop was 8Cuts Burgers at Serendra. Opened in 2014, it’s TMG’s flagship burger joint and one of its most successful brands. It is a gourmet burger joint that offers two patty blends—the house blend and the grassfed blend. It offers signature burgers like the Piggy,a patty of your choice with house-made smoked bacon, house cheddar, sauce no. 3, garlic aioli, and bacon-onion compote. One of its bestselling burger is the classic quarter pound cheeseburger, which the restaurant offered for only P55 last Monday as part of TMG’s anniversary celebration.
8Cuts brand manager Ian Palabyab revealed to us that people could actually order off menu items, if you know of them. One is the special stacks sliders, three mini versions of their signature burgers—Piggy, Hangover 2.0, and Four Cheese 2.0. The joint is also famous for its crunchy and flavorful onion rings with off menu flavors that include sour cream, nori, and bacon.
The next stop was just next door, Phat Pho Manila. A concept that originated from Cebu, it offers Vietnamese comfort food. Must try items are the chicken satay, Angus beef satay, and grilled shrimp goi con. On Friday, Oct. 20, it will be offering its small pho bo or beef pho for P55. But a definite must try is the Angus beef satay, which is off-the-grill tender with soy-based glazed and served with crushed peanuts and crispy shallots.
Then we hopped on the modern BGC bus to our next stop, Ooma at Bonifacio High Street Central. Opened in 2016, this modern Japanese restaurant replaced TMG’s first brand, Cue Modern Barbecue. Ooma was an instant hit to diners because of its great food offerings.
Last Tuesday, it offered its California taco maki for the same anniversary promo price. It’s offering new rolls as well, the ebi and kani aburi (ebi roll topped with shredded kani and torched cheese) and the steak aburi maki (steak roll topped with thin slices of steak and strips of nori).
Next stop is Din Tai Fung at Central Square. Known globally for its xiao long bao dumplings, the Taiwanese brand is TMG’s most successful international restaurant. This month, apart from the P55 five-piece pork xiaolongbao promo, which will be available today, the restaurant will also be adding new dishes to its menu. These include the crispy chicken cutlet in special sauce, stir-fried beef with scallions, three cup chicken, crispy noodles with seafood, mushroom fried rice, and chocolate lava xiao long bao.
For one of TMG’s founders, Abba Napa, working with an international brand must be all about respect. Linguini Fini is its other international brand and the company will bringing another one in the near future.
“We choose a brand that we really connect with because it’s so hard to open a restaurant so it’s so hard to take care of a brand that’s not yours. So if it’s not ours, we really have to respect it and believe in it,” she says.
Then it was off to TMG’s Filipino restaurant, Manam. This eatery is popular for its sinigang na baka sa pakwan and sisig, which they sold at P55 last Tuesday. The menu that afternoon was a trio of bibingka, de leche (topped with a thin layer of leche flan), ube (with ube halaya) and salted egg. The resto also served us pancit sisig, pancit canton topped with crispy pork sisig.
Our next stop was Mecha Uma, a chef’s table concept featuring the cuisine of chef Bruce Ricketts. It offers modern Japanese fare. The small restaurant is offering its camo onigiri also on Thursday for only R55. It’s an onigiri with umeboshi or pickled plum with a soft boiled egg yolk in the middle.
The last stop was TMG’s secret chill out place, Bank Bar. Located behind a convenience store, the entrance inside the store itself, the bar is a bar for adults who prefers a more chill night vibe. Try its negroni, old fashioned, and various martinis. Its bar chow is a mix of Filipino and international. Must try is the crunchy chicharong bulaklak.
Most of these brands are successful, making TMG a force to be reckoned with in the restaurant industry. According to Abba, the success of their brands lies in the connection between the company and its consumers. Creating a concept comes from a personal place for Abba, who heads concept development at TMG. Likewise, the company also keeps the diners in mind when creating a restaurant. The company also create experiences rather than mere places for nourishment.
With nine active brands—six original and three franchises—TMG is operating a total of 27 outlets in Metro Manila, building a restaurant empire in just five years. Despite a competitive dining landscape, the company is moving forward with new branches and new concepts.
“There’s really a huge market, I think, and there’s enough space for everyone. As long as you’re always creating something that’s authentic and honest to you, I think that the Filipino will support it,” she ends.