Thursday, January 29, 2015

Paella, a Tomahawk, and Cuajada Al Momento...Just Some of the Reasons to Check Out ArroZeria

Paella, in all its regional varieties. A Tomahawk. And a unique goat cheese dessert called Cuajada Al Momento. Each one created by Chef Jose Luis "Chele" Gonzalez. Only a few new places offer so many reasons to visit, and ArroZeria, still on its soft opening, is one of those places. 

ArroZeria celebrates the iconic Spanish dish, Paella, with its wide range of authentic and regional variants that make you rediscover this Spanish classic, complemented by an equally impressive range of signature dishes created by Chef Jose Luis "Chele" Gonzalez. 

Located at the fourth level of the new Century City Mall, ArroZeria brings classic Spanish cuisine with a casual and more accessible feel for a unique dining experience. The spacious and cozy interiors exude a modern yet warm vibe, just check out the inverted ladders on the ceiling used as lighting fixtures adding a whimsical touch.

Chef Jose Luis "Chele" Gonzales of Vask heads the kitchen at Arrozeria, bringing with him his unique and creative spin on classic Spanish dishes. Authenticity and bold flavors characterize Chef Chele's culinary approach at the new ArroZeria, comfortingly rustic and traditional, in contrast with his modern and playfully inventive flair at Vask. 

But leave it to Chef Chele to weave in his own unique brand of creative style in reinventing Spanish classics at ArroZeria...(for more on Chef Jose Luis "Chele" Gonzalez, check out my previous post on Vask here at

The open kitchen layout springs to life as the first courses are served. The pace picks up as Chef Chele and his team preps each plate, adding delicate details for that final "ArroZeria" touch. As the different components of each dish are laid on the plate, Chef Chele nods his approval before the dishes are expedited and served. 

My dining experience at ArroZeria begins with the light yet flavorful Chicken Mousse on Garlic Breadcrumbs, an elegantly plated starter with subtle yet rich flavors, just a preview of more good things to come at ArroZeria.

This is then followed by the elegant Carpaccio De Atun (P 195), thinly sliced fresh tuna carpaccio with tomato hearts, calamansi espuma, and crispy jamon, served on a stone plate. The fresh, clean flavors of the paper-thin slices of tuna are given a flavorful kick with the light and airy calamansi foam, the tartness from the tomatoes, and the sharp smoky notes of the crispy jamon. Like colors on canvas, Chef Chele paints a wide palette of flavors with bold strokes in this dish.

Chef Chele's parade of bold flavors continued with Tatin de Tomate (P 399), a refreshing mix of greens with confit of cherry tomato topped with parmesan sable and drizzled with spinach pesto. The parmesan crisp adds contrasting textures and flavors to the dish, punctuated by the tart cherry tomatoes.

Tabla de Pates (P 395), crisp crostini with campagne, cochinillo and mushrooms, chicken pistachio, and fish terrine with black olive, parsley and porcini mushroom mayonnaise served on a wooden board, a rich and flavorful medley that's perfect before the mains with a glass of wine.

A familiar dish is then served next, one of the popular dishes from Vask...

Gambas con Gabardina Negra (P 395), squid-ink battered shrimps with mojo picon, a playful twist on the usual fried breaded shrimps. The squid ink adds a unique layer of flavor complementing the subtle sweetness of the plump shrimps capped by the creamy pepper sauce. One of my favorites at Vask, and another must-try dish at ArroZeria.

Croquetas Trio (P 275), a trifecta of flavors with soft and crunchy balls filled with fish and seafood, porcini mushrooms, and stewed bechamel. In true Spanish tradition, each croquette is made with creamy bechamel instead of mashed potatoes for richer flavors that melt in your mouth.

Pescaito Frito (P 195), delicately breaded and deep-fried anchovies served with a sherry vinegar mayo dip, another starter you'll find impossible to stop after just one piece.

But it's the Paella that lies at the very heart of ArroZeria, featuring a wide array of this classic Spanish icon from the different Spanish regions in different ways of preparation and regional styles. ArroZeria takes this further by collaborating with the respected International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in sourcing local heirloom rice from the Cordillera that is similar to the Spanish arroz bomba for that distinct fluffiness that's perfect for paella. At ArroZeria, each paella dish is served with your desired consistency, from the classic and traditional thin and al dente texture to the soft and wet version that is popular locally. In addition, ArroZeria serves up rich and saucy versions of Paella, the Meloso, in a variety of flavors. Or you can go all the way with a soupy version called the Caldoso.   A noodle paella dish? There's the classic Fideua. And that's what makes ArroZeria special and different. You can enjoy your favorite and comforting paella, or rediscover the dish with the other traditional regional variants. Whatever you choose, rice is the hero here at ArroZeria.

The classic Paella ala Valenciana (P 295 per serving/person for 4), prepared in the traditional al dente style, topped with chicken, rosemary, green and white beans, is an excellent dish to kick off your authentic paella experience at ArroZeria. With a lightly charred crust yet rich and moist, the familiar contrasting textures reminds us once again why we love this dish. Perfectly soft and fluffy, the rice absorbs all the flavors, releasing a burst of rich notes in every bite.

For a saucier paella, the Cerdo Adobado Y Boletus Meloso Paella (P 375 per serving/person for four) offers a thin layer of rich and flavorful sauce topped with marinated pork, green beans and porcini mushrooms. The flavors are more pronounced with the marinated pork and the rich sauce, with the rice infusing all the different ingredients for upfront flavors.

The celebration of rice continued with ArroZeria's hearty Caldoso de Cangrejo (P 275 per serving/person for 4), a soupy paella version with crab and snow peas, enriched with crab fat for that buttery mouth feel. There are familiar flavors, but this dish is definitely new and different and you'll scoop up another serving for seconds and thirds. With a consistency almost similar to the local arroz caldo, a bowl of Caldoso de Cangrejo is classic comfort food, with the subtle richness of crabs mixed in for unique flavors.

And there's more. ArroZeria adds its own spin to another iconic rice dish, the risotto, with its creamy Foie Gras Y Boletus (P 550), moist and flavorful risotto with indulgent foie gras and porcini mushrooms. The buttery notes of the moist risotto is amplified even more with the addition of pan-seared foie gras, making this another favorite in a growing list of favorites.

As we enjoyed each and every dish served, ArroZeria's kitchen maintained its pace serving other signature dishes for the diners that evening, like the Almejas a la Marinera (P 230), fresh clams steamed in white wine and garlic sauce...

...and other paella variants, like the Marinero (P 375 per serving/person for 4), a saucy Meloso paella topped with fresh seafood...

...the Abanda (P 395 per serving/person for 4), an al dente paella topped with tender boneless fish, mussels and shrimps...

...and the Pato Y Setas (P 375 per serving/person for 4), another thin and al dente paella topped with duck and mushrooms. ArroZeria serves five variants of the traditional thin and al dente paella, four types of the saucy Meloso paella, a unique Caldoso version, and two kinds of thin noodle paella, or Fideua. Plus two creamy Risotto dishes. Ar ArroZeria, there's one paella dish just for you. At ArroZeria, each paella takes 15-to 20 minutes, but if you absolutely can't wait, you can opt for ArroZeria's Paella of the Day (P 275 per serving/person for 4), readily available without the wait.

Other dishes which caught my eye expedited by ArroZeria's kitchen include the rustic and hefty Huevos Rotos (P 275), a pair of organic eggs with potatoes, spicy chorizo, and caramelized onions...

...and the Pancetta Y Trigueros (P 450), the second risotto dish with pork belly and green asparagus.

Pair your meal with one of ArroZeria's extensive list of premium wines, or go for a jar of one of their signature sangrias, like the La Guapa (P 195 Jar/P 695 for 3-4), a sweet refreshing Rose Sangria.

Chef Chele then served ArroZeria's signature thin noodle dish, Fideua Negra (P 275 per serving/person for 4), with black squid ink and octopus. Soft and crisp, the thin noodles offer a play on textures accentuated by the distinct flavors of the squid ink. Dab a generous helping of aioli for even richer flavors. Another option is ArroZeria's Fideua de Costillas (P 275), thin noodles with marinated pork ribs. But Chef Chele isn't quite done yet...

Chef Chele presented ArroZeria's impressive Tomahawk (P 575/100g), premium grass-fed Angus bone-in rib steak served with potatoes, mushrooms, mustard, blue cheese, and spinach cream sauce. There's just nothing quite like a premium slab of beef served on a wooden board to bring out your long dormant primordial instincts. And this one tastes as good as it looks.  

Grilled to a perfect medium rare with a juicy pink center, leave it to ArroZeria's staff to do all the hard work for you as they carve up the Tomahawk. Paired with soft cubed potatoes fresh from the oven and sauteed mushrooms, this one's a real winner. Seriously good. 
For dessert, Arrozeria offers six indulgent desserts, including the sweet Esponja Y Helado de Queso (P 195, L), a moist sponge cake with goat cheese ice cream, and the Cremoso De Chocolate (P 250, R), with chocolate cremaux, streusel, tuille, ginger confit, and raspberry jam.

But it's the Cuajada Al Momento (P 250) that was a pleasant surprise. This unique dessert is Chef Chele's own take on the popular taho, using fresh goat milk curd topped with honey, apple compote, and toasted walnuts. As the fresh goat milk is poured, a tiny hourglass indicates the proper time when the fresh goat milk is set. After a few minutes, drizzle some honey, and top with a spoonful of apple compote and walnuts. The silky smooth texture of the instant goat milk curd is familiar, yet the flavors are distinctly different with a richer and creamier mouth feel. The sweetness of the honey and tart notes of the apple compote balances the richness of the goat milk curd, and the toasted walnuts cap the dessert with its delicious crunch. Rice for dessert? ArroZeria's got that covered too with their Arroz con Leche (P 195), a sweet caramelized rice pudding.

With a few days to go for the formal opening, ArroZeria is already creating a buzz on its dry run. Rice is the hero at ArroZeria, but the supporting cast of other dishes add even more reasons to check out ArroZeria. Classic Spanish cuisine with a playful and inventive twist, you can find it all here at ArroZeria.

ArroZeria is ocated at the Fourth Floor, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati or call 217-6563 or +63920-974-4742 for inquiries, reservations and take-out orders.

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  1. Hi Gerry, the prices indicated for paellas.. Are they good for 4 or is it per person?
    Nice seeing you again earlier! :)

    1. Hi Patrick, the prices for the paella are per serving or per person basis. Thanks Patrick!


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