|A platter of appetizers served in Buddha Bar Manila. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com|
MANILA, Philippines – Buddha Bar Manila, the first Philippine branch of the stylish Paris-based hangout, will soon have local dishes on its already extensive menu.
In an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com, Buddha Bar Manila executive chef Soc Santos said they are already preparing for the new dishes, which are likely to be unveiled at the end of the year.
“Some Filipino dishes will come out, but these are not your usual Filipino dishes,” Santos said without giving further details.
Buddha Bar is known for its “Pacific Rim” or east-meets-west dishes such as crunchy rice salmon rolls and sea bass with tamarind sauce.
Santos said the dishes served in Philippine branch are almost the same as those in the original bar lounge in Paris but with a few “improvements.”
The Thai-style curry red shrimp here, for instance, is served in a freshly opened coconut, better than the coconut husk used in Paris.
|Buddha Bar Manila's Thai-style curry red shrimp is served in a freshly opened coconut.Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com|
“We’d like to take advantage of the ingredients we have here,” she said. “When they (executives from Buddha Bar) saw it, they were so happy.”
But Santos was quick to add that she could not change the menu too much. “I cannot tweak most of the dishes because these are signature [Buddha Bar specialties],” she explained.
Buddha Bar Manila opened at Kalayaan Avenue in Makati City early this year, much to the delight of celebrities, socialites and well-traveled Filipinos.
With three floors and a seating capacity of over 500 persons, it is said to be the biggest franchise of Buddha Bar worldwide.
The interiors are posh, like entering an Asian-inspired five-star hotel. A giant Buddha greets guests who enter through the bar’s wrought iron doors. The lights get dimmer as the day passes.
|A look inside Buddha Bar Manila at Kalayaan Avenue in Makati City. Photo: Handout|
The spacious first floor is dotted with rich mahogany furniture and etched with gold and scarlet designs by Parisian painter Bruno Tanquel.
On the second floor are more tables and private dining areas, as well as a large turntable where Buddha Bar’s signature music is being played and mixed by DJs.
The third floor, meanwhile, allows guests to dine al fresco.
|The top floor of Buddha Bar Manila lets customers dine al fresco. Photo: Handout|
The kitchen, Santos said, is just as lavish. “I’m so proud of my kitchen. We even have a gadget here using a USB and a touch screen. It will steam, cook, whatever, according to the sequence. And the oven also automatically cools down,” she shared.
Naturally, Buddha Bar Manila’s fine finger food and fancy interiors come at a price.
The Buddha Bar Rolls or maki made of five kinds of seafood and wrapped in thin slivers of cucumber, costs a hefty P760, or about P127 per piece.
|Buddha Bar rolls contain salmon, shrimp, tuna, hamachi and lapu-lapu. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com|
“Cheaper” alternatives such as the Spicy Tuna Crunchy Rice costs P260 for five rolls.
For those who want to try the best of Buddha Bar Manila but are on a limited budget, Santos said they should get the hot appetizers such as the crispy boneless chicken wings, and a main course like the curry shrimp.
Other bestselling items include the Buddha Bar Chicken Salad, Deep-Fried Golden Duck Pao with Mee Bandung, or a soup with noodles, shrimp, chili and other spices, and the vegetable samosas.
‘The sea bass is also a must-try,” she said. “The concept here is sharing, so one dish is good for two or more people.”
Desserts are a hit here as well, with the most popular being the chocolate sesame bars, or three yummy sticks made of semi-sweet chocolate, wafer and sesame seeds.
|Chocolate sesame bars are popular in Buddha Bar branches across the globe. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com|
Of course, being a Paris-based establishment, Buddha Bar also offers crème brulee in three flavors – chocolate, coffee and caramel.
“We’ll soon come out with French macarons. We’re targeting Christmas,” Santos said.