Sunday, March 13, 2016

Food Trippin' at Robinsons Place Antipolo

One day is never enough. More so when you visit the new Robinsons Place Antipolo... 

The best global brands, the leading culinary chains, and local homegrown flavors converge at Robinsons Place Antipolo, Robinsons Land's 38th shopping mall. Antipolo, long known for its many pilgrimage sites and natural attractions gets another landmark where visitors can taste and experience local flavors. In a recent food tour at Robinsons Place Antipolo, I got to sample the city's rich culinary heritage in the comfort of Antipolo's newest mall. Read on for a taste of Antipolo, at Robinsons Place Antipolo...

Situated in a sprawling and expansive 16-acre mixed use property, the new Robinsons Place Antipolo conveys a warm and welcoming sense of space and community with its modern and contemporary "village" design. And within the two levels of Robinsons Place Antipolo, you'll find a wide variety of dining options...

And just like my very first food tour at Robinsons Place Las Pinas, Robinsons Place Antipolo has so much to offer, from global chains to local, homegrown restaurants (for more on Robinsons Place Las Pinas, see my previous posts on the healthy cuisine of The Urban Farm, good eats at Borgo Cafe, and indulgent desserts at Kat's Cafe).

The first stop of my food tour at Robinsons Place Antipolo began at Ineng's Special BBQ (L), where we were served their signature "best-tasting BBQ in town" along with their other bestsellers. The friendly staff (R) led us to our table and the dishes were then served, fresh from the kitchen.

Ineng's Special BBQ's Crispy Pork Binagoongan (P 289), with crispy, deep-fried chunks of pork belly draped in a rich sauce of shrimp paste, onions and tomatoes brings back comforting home-cooked flavors in a hefty serving good for two to three. The richness of the crispy pork is tempered by the sharp yet balanced notes of the bagoong sauce, with the fresh tomatoes and onions adding layers of tartness and vibrant flavors to complete the dish. Slice up the green chili for some soothing heat and enjoy. And you'll probably want some extra rice too...

Ineng's Pinakbet (P 205) pairs well with the Crispy Pork Binagoongan, with its rich blend of fresh vegetables, pork, and shrimps for bold and upfront flavors. The whole grilled eggplant at the bottom adds its own distinct flavor and texture to this hearty dish, along with the different vegetables. Uncomplicated yet comforting, the dish is a welcome addition to any feast at Ineng's Special BBQ.

The Beef Caldereta (P 387), made with local Batangas beef, is another must-try at Ineng's Special BBQ. Slow-cooked for hours, the beef is fork-tender, with the beefy notes punctuated by the smoky sweetness of the bell peppers.

It's always a good idea to have some vegetables to balance your meal, and Ineng's Special BBQ's Pinoy Chop Suey (P 195) hits the spot. The mild sweetness of the fresh vegetables pair well with the briny shrimps and chicken liver for rich flavors, and you'll probably ask for extra rice with this dish too.

But no meal at Ineng's Special BBQ would be complete without their signature "best-tasting BBQ in town," the Special Pork BBQ (P 31-8" stick/P 57-12" stick) with skewers of thick chunks of pork laid on a charcoal grill. At Ineng's Special BBQ in Robinsons Place Antipolo, a panoramic glass window allows guests to see rows of their signature pork barbecue, each prepared as you order so you get it fresh off the charcoal grill.

Sweet, smoky and savory, Ineng's Special BBQ's marinade is a well-kept industry secret, with each bite delivering layers of nutty hints of garlic and the subtle bite of freshly ground peppers complimenting the delicate notes of the juicy pork. You can put on your most charming smile, but you won't get a clue on the secret formula from Ineng's Special BBQ's staff. All the more reason why you should simply visit Ineng's Special BBQ and find out why this is the best-tasting BBQ in town...

Next stop, Marison's (L), Antipolo's homegrown restaurant known for traditional Filipino cuisine prepared in whimsical and inventive non-traditional ways for a refreshing new dining experience. The mother and daughter team (R) behind Marison's hosted our visit, serving a selection of their signature dishes...

Marison's Deep-Fried Kesong Puti (P 295) kicked off our dining experience at Antipolo's popular  restaurant, with local cottage cheese deep-fried in lumpia wrappers and served with a spicy pineapple sambal dip. The contrasting textures of the kesong puti and crisp lumpia wrapper deliver creamy notes, with the spicy pineapple sambal adding even more layers of flavor. Creamy, spicy, soft and crisp, you can't stop with just one bite.

The parade of local flavors at Marison's continued with a  hearty and comforting bowl of Molo (P 110 single serving), a local noodle soup with prawn dumpling, crispy garlic bits and spring onions. The flavors are mild and delicate, yet each sip warms you just enough to go for another. And another.

At Marison's, you will also find both classic Filipino dishes and playfully inventive dishes with a unique spin, like the Ensalada Marison (P 200), a bowl of fresh mixed greens with grapes, dried mangoes, and roasted cashew nuts with a sweet and tangy mango cilantro dressing. The sweetness of the grapes, the tartness of the dried mangoes, and the fresh, crisp greens with their own distinct and clean notes combine in a seamless blend of balanced flavors capped by the mango cilantro dressing.

Another traditional dish is given a refreshing new twist with Marison's crispy Pork Binagoongan (P 310), with crispy lechon kawali laid on toasted alamang served with grilled eggplant and thin slices of fresh green mangoes. Unlike the usual saucy Pork Binagoongan, Marison's version takes on a whole new route, with crisp textures while delivering the same familiar and sharp flavors. It's dishes like this that make dining at Marison's exciting with new flavor experiences.

The surprising twists become a recurring theme with Marison's Crispy Tripe Kare-Kare (P 375), with tender chunks of beef slow cooked in a blend of peanut and cashew based sauce with vegetables topped with deep-fried crispy beef tripe. Unlike the usual kare-kare where the tripe is stewed in the sauce, the addition of the deep-fried tripe adds both texture and flavor, and the unique peanut and cashew blend makes the sauce so much richer versus the traditional kare-kare using peanuts. Marison's pairs this dish with their own homemade bagoong or shrimp paste. And when a restaurant makes their own shrimp paste, you can rest easy knowing no peanut butter is used at all in this traditional dish. Definitely a must-try at Marison's.

Craving for some local noodles? Marison's got that covered too with their Sotanghon Guisado (P 200), soft yet firm glass noodles with chicken, shrimp, and vegetables. The chewy texture of the sotanghon is almost similar to the Korean chapchae, but the flavor is comfortingly local.

Marison's creative approach continued with their crispy Sinaing na Buntot ng Tuna (P 430), with deep-fried tuna tail served on a special sauce sprinkled with pork crackling for that extra crunch and flavor. Think of it as a healthier alternative to crispy pata, and it's tasty too.

Marison's then introduced their newest dish, still not on the menu, reflecting their constant unconventional style, the Angus Beef Bicol Express served with a crispy chili dynamite. The traditional Bicol Express, done with pork, is reinvented with premium Angus beef, and it works. The richness of the Angus beef is amplified with the spicy coconut cream-based sauce for yet another new flavor experience. Leave it to Marison's to come up with surprising new dishes like this and you can expect this soon on the menu...

Don't forget to try Marison's version of the Empanada (P 255), stuffed with papaya, pork, and quail egg and served with a mango cilantro dip for a refreshing new take on the classic Ilocano specialty.

But leave room for dessert, like Marison's version of the Halo-Halo (P 120), with the finely shaved ice blended with milk for a velvety smooth texture, releasing creamy notes as it melts in your mouth. Or the Sans Rival (P 160), with chewy layers of buttery meringue topped with macademia nuts to cap your feast at Marison's on a sweet note.

And if you still have a craving for indulgent desserts, you can always head on to Francine's with their line of elegant cakes and pastries. Located at the second level of Robinsons Place Antipolo, prepare yourself for a pleasant sugar rush to recharge after a day of shopping at the mall...

Francine's Ferrero Cake (P 160), Red Velvet (P 135), and Chocolate Caramel Cake (P 140), should satisfy any serious sweet craving. A bite from each tall layered slice just sends you to a happy place, and another bite seals the deal. You can also take home whole cakes and repeat the experience at home. Not a bad idea at all.

A slice of Francine's elegant cakes, and you're ready for another round of shopping at Robinsons Antipolo.

And there's still so much to discover, taste, and experience at Robinsons Antipolo. If you do get a sudden craving for Japanese, no worries, there's Kampai Sushi Bar at the Ground Level of Robinsons Place Antipolo. Flavorful yet affordable Japanese dishes with a cool bar vibe, how about a Beef Yakiniku Bento Meal (P 248)?

Or maybe some Spicy Tuna Salad (P 148) for starters. At Kampai Sushi Bar, you can choose from a wide variety of dishes, from salads to sashimi, sushi rolls and sushi nigiri, like the Crazy Maki (P 198) without busting your wallet.

Kampai Sushi Bar's Miso Ramen (P 248), with fresh ramen noodles in a flavorful soup stock topped with chasyu, vegetables and aji tamago is another meal with great value. Each order comes with iced tea for a complete meal in itself.

Our food tour at Robinsons Place Antipolo ends at one of the city's popular homegrown restaurants, Romeo's Spice & Steaks, at their branch at the mall (L). Romeo Maddatu (R) welcomed our group with yet another epic feast featuring Romeo's signature dishes... the All-Time Pinoy Favorite Crispy Pata (P 549), crispy deep-fried pig's trotters served with a soy vinegar dip. Tender, juicy pork topped with a crisp layer of crackling...just can't get better than that. Have an ice-cold beer and it does.

The pork feast continued with Romeo's Spicy Grilled Pork Short Ribs (P 275), served with fries. The tender, juicy ribs fall-off-the-bone easily, with a flavorful glaze delivering a blend of mild sweetness with just a whisper of heat. The contrasting sweet glaze and mild heat pair well with the pork short ribs. Have another ice-cold beer with this one.

Romeo's signature Jalapeno Tenderloin Steak (P 599), stuffed with a creamy jalapeno sauce, gives this slab of beef a spicy kick for another flavorful combo. Great for sharing, and a popular dish among Romeo's loyal customers.

At Romeo's, you'll find a variety of regional dishes like Batangas Bulalo, Pinakbet with Bagoong Isda, Mondongo Cagayano, Dinakdakan, Warik-Warik, Papaitan, and Kinilaw, as well as international cuisine like Japanese Tempura and this dish inspired by Thai street food, Hot Spicy Grilled Ginger Chicken (P 275). Richly seasoned, the ginger and heat from the spice pop out with every bite, without overwhelming the delicate notes of the grilled chicken.

But if it's a grand feast you're after, you can't go wrong with Romeo's Family Inihaw Fiesta Bilao (P 999-P1,299), an assortment of grilled chicken, pork, and seafood served in a native woven tray topped with banana leaf. The dish has something for everyone, and perfect for large celebrations. This one's a party on a platter...

My second food tour experience with Robinsons Malls was a pleasurable one, just like my first food tour at Robinsons Place Las Pinas. And meeting the friendly staff and owners of the various restaurants added to the experience. But there's just so much more to discover at Robinsons Place Antipolo, quickly gaining a reputation as the culinary hub of Antipolo. And if you need to take a break from the metro, take a leisurely drive to Antipolo and enjoy its wide range of dining options all in one place.

And there's no better way to enjoy your mall experience than with the Robinsons Malls VIP Card. With exclusive perks, privileges, and conveniences to kick up your mall lifestyle experience a notch higher than the usual, you just can't leave home without it. And with so many Robinsons Malls around the country, get ready for a culinary journey to match your mall experience. At Robinsons Malls...

Robinsons Place Antipolo is located at Sumulong Highway corner Circumferential Road, Antipolo City or call 942-2640 for more information and inquiries. You can also visit their Facebook Pages at and for updates. Stay connected and follow on Twitter @robinsonsmalls and @RPAntipolo,  Instagram @robinsonsmallsofficial and @robplaceantipolo or the hashtags @RobinsonsPlaceAntipolo and #robinsonsmalls.

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