Monday, August 6, 2018

The Secret's Out: Take Five at Arya Plaza For The Best Al Fresco Dining in BGC

A leisurely brunch, a hearty lunch, an afternoon tipple with wine or cocktails or a sumptuous dinner, you can do all that in at one of Bonifacio Global City's best kept secrets...

Five restaurants. One place. The Plaza at Arya Residences, or more popularly known as Arya Plaza, is fast emerging as Bonifacio Global City's best al fresco dining destination. Architecture, design and engineering weave seamlessly with the curated selection of gastronomic offerings at Arya Plaza. The secret's out, come take a peek at BGC's premier al fresco dining hotspot and take five...

Nestled several meters above the road surrounded by lush and verdant greens in between two luxury residential towers, Arya Plaza is an impressive master-planned space at the heart of Bonifacio Global City yet one feels far away from the often hectic and busy streets a mere stone's throw away. Think of it as a hidden oasis of culinary delights for a unique and intimate dining experience. Beyond the aesthetics of the graceful curves in its elegant design is a disciplined science to fully harness the cool breezes by strategically angling the two luxury residential towers of Arya Residences. The precise orientation is designed to maximize and funnel the wind through the wide open space for its very own micro-climate making it ideal for al fresco dining. The elevated canopy brings in the breezes as well as natural light in a visually stunning design. What better way to enjoy brunch, lunch cocktails or dinner? Arya Plaza at Arya Residences is the pioneer development of Artha Land, and the first and only LEED and BERDE-certified residential condo development in the country. Artha Land raises the bar in urban living, and dining, at Arya Plaza (for more on Arya Plaza and its restaurants, see my short video at

The open layout features graceful lines that add to the aesthetics of the space, incorporating the latest in cutting-edge technology with its sleek protective canopy made with corrosion and extreme temperature resistant ETFE. That's the same translucent insulation material used in Singapore's famous Clark Quay and Beijing's iconic Water Cube.

It's the perfect setting for some of the metro's best dining establishments starting with the innovative Savage, an open-fire restaurant highlighting the return to pre-industrial cooking methods using fire, smoke and ash to complement its emphasis on the essence of the raw ingredient. With Chef Josh Boutwood at the helm, here's what you can expect... 

With its sleek and edgy interiors exuding modern industrial chic and a contemporary yet casual vibe, the stark and upfront directness of its thematic design reflects their approach to flavors and textures using fire, smoke and ash. There's just something real and honest about cooking with wood, fire and smoke, almost primordial. It's a philosophy that drives the whole concept behind Savage, shunning the conveniences of a modern kitchen and returning to the roots of cooking where "the ingredient is the king." Sourcing locally and emphasizing zero waste, Savage offers a refreshed repertoire of inspired cuisine where each dish is "stripped down to its bare essentials" with the use of pre-industrial techniques. Take the Deviled Eggs (P 260) for example, a simple yet classic starter that's elevated with smoked oil and ash. The smoked oil and ash add a depth of flavor to the dish, capped by the textural contrast and distinct notes of fresh micro-greens. 

The delicate notes of fresh and succulent seafood are refined even further with the Smoked Crab, Potato and Flying Fish Roe (P 560), an elegant salad that highlights the freshness of each ingredient with its clean flavors. Smoke adds a subtle yet defined layer of flavor to the fresh crab meat, capped by the textural contrast from the flying fish roe and fresh micro-greens. There is a rustic simplicity with the dishes at Savage, yet each dish is defined by rich and bold flavors. 

For the mains, Savage shared their savory dishes, fresh from the wood-fired grill... the Pork Belly, Cola, Pineapple (P 510) with tender pork belly marinated in soda complimenting the flavors of the pork with its sweetness and grilled low and slow over fire. The charred outer layer adds even more flavor to the pork belly with its richness perfectly tempered by the tart pineapple chutney, red onions and minty notes of the fresh greens and herbs. Each distinct flavor complements the other in a fine balance following Chef Josh Boutwood's culinary philosophy of "triangular balance."

The Barramundi, Arugula, Preserved Lemon & Olive (P 1,200) is another dish reflecting the primal approach of Savage, with a perfectly grilled whole fish topped with garden-fresh arugula and preserved olives. The fresh and clean notes of the barramundi come through with each bite, delivering a briny sweetness followed by a whisper of smoky hints. A squeeze of the preserved lemon along with the olives and arugula complete the flavors for another elegant dish masterfully executed at Savage. Clearly, this is one of Chef Josh Boutwood's best yet. I've covered many of Chef Josh Boutwood's dining concepts for The Bistro Group, and I'm glad to see him continuously pushing the envelope.

What better way to cap a feast made with fire and smoke than an indulgent dessert like Sticky Toffee Pudding Vanilla Ice Cream (P 320) in the cool al fresco area of Arya Plaza, surrounded by verdant greens? And that's just the first of five restaurants, with four more to go at Arya Plaza...

Next stop, Japanese cuisine with a modern twist. Discover a taste of Modern-Traditional Japanese cuisine at Fukudaya Japanese Dining where traditional flavors are enhanced by modern techniques (for more on Fukudaya Japanese Dining, see my earlier post, A Taste of Modern Japanese Cuisine at Fukudaya Japanese Dining).

Chef Koji Oki prepares fresh Dashi to bring out that distinct umami flavor of Japanese cuisine, a flavorful soup stock made with dried bonito, seaweed, shiitake mushrooms and sweet sake. But what differentiates Fukudaya Japanese Dining from the usual Japanese restaurant is its fusion of modern cooking methods like the French sous-vide technique with traditional Japanese dishes for a refreshed and modern dining experience.  

The simple yet elegant Salmon Carpaccio with Sliced Radish Pickles (P 380) is the perfect starter at Fukudaya Japanese Dining, with the fresh and clean briny sweetness of the salmon contrasting with the sharpness of the crisp radish pickles. The contrasting notes come together in a perfectly seamless blend, capped by the vibrant notes of fish roe.

The Shrimp Tempura Roll Sushi (P 480/8 pcs) with crisp shrimp tempura, fresh cucumber and tobiko is another tasty starter at Fukudaya Japanese Dining, playing with both flavor and texture with every bite. With one foot firmly on tradition and another facing progressively forward, Fukudaya Japanese Dining offers comfortingly familiar yet bold new dishes for a different take on the usual Japanese dishes.

But it's the Australian Wagyu Steak in Garlic Sauce with Assorted Grilled Vegetables (P 1,550) that makes Fukudaya Japanese Dining a must-try at Arya Plaza. The fork-tender, melt in your mouth wagyu beef just coats your palate with its savory richness followed by the nutty notes of garlic. Just perfect. Served in a cast-iron skillet with grilled vegetables, this dish adds an exclamation point to your dining experience at Fukudaya Japanese Dining.

A few steps across is a familiar name known for years for its meticulous and elegant French-Mediterranean style fine-dining. With its name inspired by the mythical lost island, Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar has consistently been named as one of the most romantic restaurants in the metro. And you can now find it at Arya Plaza.

There is a formal old-world elegance at Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar that always makes dining at one of the metro's best so special. From its graceful interiors to its pristine white table linens for the dinner service, Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Wine Bar takes fine dining to Arya Plaza with its classic menu and impeccable service. From starters to mains and desserts, Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar lays on a class act that made it synonymous with fine dining over the years. Start with the Braised Lamb And Apricot (P 365), a savory buckwheat crepe with fork-tender pulled braised lamb in red wine sauce and apricot chutney...

...or the beautifully plated Foie Gras Trio (P 1,150) with indulgent foie gras prepared three ways in ballotine, mousse and pan-seared for the ultimate starter. It's the perfect tasty bite before the mains...

...and Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar offers signature dishes that have become all-time favorites since they first opened their doors in Horseshoe Village. The Duck Leg Confit with Cassoulet (P 1,310) brings traditional French flavors with tender duck leg topped with delicately crisped skin served with a hearty French white bean stew. There's just nothing like juicy duck with its perfectly crisp skin for that velvety and satin-like mouth feel. Paired with the hearty Cassoulet masterfully prepared by Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar's talented chefs, it's no wonder this restaurant has been on every top list for years.

But there's more. The impressive Sea Bass (P 1,260), delicately pan-seared sea bass with a choice of mushroom or squid ink risotto drizzled with sauce vierge, is another show-stopper at Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar. The buttery-soft sea bass melts in your mouth releasing its rich briny sweetness with the nutty notes of the mushroom risotto completing the symphony of flavors.

The traditional Beef Bourguignon (P 940), a classic and rustic dish with US Short Ribs braised in red wine for over eight hours with shallots, carrots and lardoons add that quintessential French flair to your dining experience at Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar. Slow-cooked for hours until all the flavors of each ingredient is infused with the other, both time and premium ingredients make this dish a popular favorite at Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar.

The exquisite cuisine at Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar is matched with their impeccable service for a dining experience like no other. At Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar, everything is made from scratch, from homemade artisan bread to indulgent ice cream.

The indulgent Lemuria Cheesecake (P 296) made with fresh carabao's milk topped with strawberry compote and dulce de leche ends your feast on a high note at Lemuria Restaurant and Wine Bar. And it's now here at Arya Plaza...

Just a few steps away is one cool spot where you can eat, drink, sing, and celebrate in a lounge highlighted by a grand red piano. Perfect acoustics, sumptuous cuisine and never-ending rounds of drinks, welcome to The Red Piano (for more on The Red Piano, see my post, Eat. Drink. Sing. Celebrate. At The Red Piano Resto Lounge...).

For owner and chef Carlo S Llave, the idea behind The Red Piano began when his batch mates from De La Salle were looking for a spot for a get-together. Finding none, The Red Piano was born. Where else can you find the One Big Crackling, a massive crispy pork chicharon in the metro? That's just one of many reasons to visit...

At the lounge, the perfectly designed acoustics allow guests to converse while live performers belt out their tunes accompanied by the vibrant red piano. But that's not the only hit here at The Red Piano. The open kitchen below serves up their own signature hits, starting with the signature San Fran Clam Chowder (P 550), an absolute must-try at The Red Piano with fresh clams, potatoes and double-smoked bacon in a thick, creamy and peppery chowder served in an artisanal sourdough bread bowl. Carlo S. Llave guarantees this will be the best chowder you've tasted. And why not. Made fresh daily with flavorful clam juice extracted from more than a kilo of succulent clams in each serving, The Red Piano's signature San Fran Clam Chowder is made with a whole lot of love and passion. The thick pepper-infused cream broth and double smoke bacon provide the finishing kick. Go ahead and have a sip, and you'll find yourself digging down all the way down to the bottom of the sourdough bread.

This is how the classic carbonara should be. The Red Piano's Spaghetti alle Carbonara (P 365 with local pancetta/P 510 with guanciale) is made with eggs, authentic guanciale hand-carried from Italy capped with pecorino and reggiano cheeses for a classic carbonara. At The Red Piano, the kitchen takes no short cuts. And this is one of those dishes that will have you singing a few tunes at the lounge.

The Osso Bucco (P 1,500) with imported veal shank cooked for hours, low and slow in the classic way, with Pinot Grigio and rich brown stock topped with gremolata and served on pasta or risotto is also a certifiable hit at The Red Piano. Prepared long and slow, the dish bursts with a richness that can only come from hours of simmering with premium ingredients.

The Boeuf Bourguignon (P 1,100) of The Red Piano draws inspiration from Julia Child's signature recipe with tender braised beef simmered in red burgundy for hours with pearl onions, mushrooms, and baby carrots served with pasta or risotto. Live entertainment and sumptuous food, it's a rare and winning combo you can't find easily in the metro. But you'll find it here at Arya Plaza.

Right across, the eclectic flavors of Sydney and Melbourne's cafes are recreated at Martin Place Social for a taste of Modern Australian cuisine. With Chef Philip John Golding at the helm, bring on your appetite (for more on Martin Place Social, see my earlier post, Fine Cuisine, Fun Cuisine and Sunday Fun Days at Martin Place Social).

Martin Place Social by Ausphin International Institute is a live kitchen designed for training, education and high-quality service for the integrated restaurant and hospitality institute. Ausphin is a recognized traineeship provider supporting hundreds of venues across Australia for aspiring Filipino chefs and hospitality professionals. They say you'll find Martin Place Social's soul in the plate, simple but authentic, and done well. You'll find specialty coffee as well as handcrafted cocktails at Martin Place Social, best enjoyed at the cool al fresco area of Arya Plaza.

When the sun sets, it's time for cocktails. That evening, we sampled many of their signature cocktails for a tipple before the feast. Martin Place Social also serves a comprehensive Brunch menu as well, from their Too Right Vegemite and Toast to the MPS Benny and Aussie Beef Short Ribs for that perfect mid-morning start. 

Martin Place Social's Secret Fish Taco (P 320) is a sumptuous starter with crisp battered fish fresh from the market topped on Asian slaw drizzled with secret sauces for bright and zesty flavors. Each bite brings a range of vibrant flavors and contrasting textures, perfect with a cocktail.

The wide selection of tasty offerings at Martin Place Social has something for everyone, from the Apple Crisp (L) to the Organic Grilled Chicken Breast (P 630) with gnocchi, shiitake mushrooms, and sweet corn to satisfy any appetite. And while you're at it, have another cocktail.

That evening, more of the signature Secret Fish Tacos were served along with their Mixed Wild Mushroom Bruschetta (P 450) with feta cheese, grilled chicken, herbs and poached egg from their Brunch menu for a taste of Martin Place Social's laid-back Australian-inspired cuisine.

The Mountain Pork Belly Salad (P 480) is a favorite, with slabs of pork sous-vide and fried to a juicy crispness laid on tart Asian slaw, crispy shallots, pickled carrots and drizzled with a sweet caramel glaze and mildly spicy nam jim Thai sauce. The richness of the pork is perfectly tempered by the tartness of the slaw, while the crispy shallots, pickled carrots and nam jim Thai sauce weave in more layers of flavor with every bite. That's my kind of salad.

But save room for dessert. Martin Place Social's signature Macy's Cheesecake (P 280) topped with strawberry and raspberry coulis and laid on chocolate soil with chantilly cream rounds out our experience at Arya Plaza. 

With five restaurants offering their own distinct cuisine and a sixth restaurant soon to open, Arya Plaza is Bonifacio Global City's best kept secret for intimate al fresco dining. The secret's out. The chefs and management of Artha Land invite you to experience the hottest and newest al fresco dining spot in BGC, at Arya Plaza...

The Plaza at Arya Residences is located at McKinley Parkway corner 8th Street, Bonifacio Global City. For more information, you can visit

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