MANILA — The food park craze is showing no signs of waning with developers eager to cash in on this food trend.
While more and more food parks are being built around the metro and beyond, Quezon City is still arguably at the center of this culinary craze and competition here among food parks is cut-throat as players, both old and new, continue to develop concepts to attract a seemingly insatiable market.
But one food park has just raised the bar as it promises to #ChangeYourCravings.
The Food Hive, a 620-sq.m. food park on Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, is counting on a strong line-up of talented young chefs to give it an edge in this tough market, led by Nino Laus (Alamat, Ninyo) and Ed Bugia (Pino, Backyard Kitchen).
“I liked the theme na it’s chef-oriented and quality food. I don’t want to open in a food park na wala lang,” Laus told ABS-CBN News.
Laus, who runs the modern izakaya Hamaru at The Food Hive, was invited to open there but the chef said he was still asked to present his food. “It’s up to their approval kung okay ‘yung quality for them. Hindi lang siya basta-basta food park na basta may food concept pasok na agad. May screening process talaga,” he explained.
Park manager Noel Castro explained that proposals were sent to “some of the famous brands” and food tastings were also conducted to assess if it fits the overall concept. “We want the best selections at Food Hive,” he said.
In addition, they got chef consultants for those that are being operated by the park itself. For instance, Bugia did the menu for Blaze Flaming Sizzlers.
“Yung challenge talaga is how how to differentiate us from others. I think our edge is we have our celebrity chefs. Food talaga is number one. Hindi kami mapapahiya,” Castro said.
He also pointed out that the ambiance has been upgraded, noting, for instance, that they don’t use Monobloc furniture. “Pinagkagastusan talaga namin,” he said.
Here’s what to expect at The Food Hive, which has become a destination for die-hard foodies in search for something new.
La Carnita’s Nachos ala Bomba (in photo) could well be the poster-dish for The Food Hive. The thin tortilla chips, which are grilled to a perfect crisp, are already worth ordering on its own. But this modern Mexican cantina has created a culinary ritual of sorts by pouring grilled cheddar shavings, mozzarella strings, ground beef, refried beans and its own cheese sauce over the chips while still bubbling hot — perfect for a night out with the barkada and a steal at P195. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Wingfather and the Fry Mafia
Chef Luigi Muhlach puts his own spin on the classic buffalo wings. For the Corleone (in photo, center), Muhlach used crushed Boy Bawang cornick for the crust and served it with a red pepper aioli dip, while the sinful Capone is covered with aligue (crab fat) with a subtle kesong puti aioli dip. Not that wild? The son of Aga Muhlach and Janice de Belen also served the more traditional maple buffalo wings with blue cheese. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
The humble kambingan goes full-on gourmet at Goatcha, which serves classic goat dishes like papaitan, kilawin (in photo), adobo and caldereta. Fancy a more Western presentation? There’s also the Chevon Burger and Salt and Pepper Cabrito. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Blaze Flaming Sizzlers
Chef Ed Bugia took the Pinoy favorite sisig to even more sinful levels with his Sizzling Bulalo Sisig (in photo). This is really a marriage of the two local dishes. The cabbage and corn that usually accompany the bulalo come grilled and the sauce is added on the table complete with flames and sizzle for dramatic effect. If you find this too rich, Blaze also serves regular sisig and other sizzling plates from steak to gambas. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Chef Nino Laus’s Hamaru is considered the signature restaurant of The Food Hive and has its own enclosed, air-conditioned space. Hamaru lives up to its lofty billing with Laus’s take on Japanese cuisine, with an emphasis on yakitori and sushi. (You can read more about Hamaru in this full review.) Los also included his sexy take on the Pinoy chicharon bulaklak. Called Black Sakura (in photo), Laus coated the chicharon in squid ink and artfully served with a creamy sauce of oyster and uni. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Chef Gem Tee blends Italian and Chinese cuisines with a touch of New York attitude to create Pappare. The specialty here are noodle dishes served in a cone-shaped version of the Chines take-out box. The dishes range from playful pastas like malunggay and basil pesto and the Crabonara (with crab claw meat and aligue) to the spicy Dan Dan (Sichuan pork). But I personally loved the rather simple Mee Gamberi Goreng (in photo) with its Asian flavors pumped up by shrimps, fishcakes and shiitake mushrooms. Another grab-and-go option is the Panini de Porchetta, a sandwich of thick, crunchy pork belly on a brioche bun. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Plamen Yordanov closed his previous restaurant to open at The Food Hive. “I had a store in Project 6 and when I started looking for some better place, this one popped up,” he told ABS-CBN News. Yordanavi certainly adds to the reputation of this food park as a serious culinary destination. After all, Bulgarian food is certainly not easy to find in the metro. The food here, which ranges from salads and sandwiches to mains and desserts, may be simple and straightforward, but the taste is definitely new for Filipinos. I’d go back here just for the Kebapche (in photo), the Bulgarian version of kebab, which was expertly grilled, tasty and filling with three scoops of well-made potato salad. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Bab and Boy’s Smokeshack
These days, no food park can be complete without smoked meats. Bab and Boy’s fills in this need with its fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs, which can be ordered as a single, half slab and full slab. There are five different sauces to choose from: its signature barbecue sauce, garlic, hickory barbecue, chill and beer-infused. Try all five when you order the Deli Buster, which come with three sides of your choice (choose from mashed potato, java rice, mixed vegetables and mac and cheese). Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Chefs Rosebud Benitez and Jonah Trinidad are out to make the potato exciting at Po-Bo, which is short for the house special Potato Bomb. Po-Bo also serves the expected gourmet fries (but with unique flavors like sisig, bulgogi kimchi, pizza and nacho fries) and the unexpected gourmet hotdogs. But the signature is the Po Bo, which is breaded and deep-fried mashed potato with ground beef, cheese sauce, corn kernels and caramelized onions. Taking this a step further is the Po Bae, which is a Po Bo with bacon and egg. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Bubble Wraps is betting that Hong Kong’s crispy bubble-shaped egg waffles will be just as big among trendy Pinoy foodies. Apart from the original, cocoa and matcha flavors, Bubble Wraps also has a make-your-own Dessert Bubble Wraps (choose your waffle, ice cream, toppings and syrup), and even savory versions with chicken with cheese or sausage topped with egg, nori and bonito flakes. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Chef Wado Siman brings the liquid nitrogen trend to Pinoy sorbetes in Cool Juans. Siman chose unique local flavors like iskrambol, tablea with sili, Chocnut and even sampaguita. He even made one for the drinking crowd with Kwatro Kantos (in photo, foreground), an ice cream version of the gin pomelo, which actual gin served on the side. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Another way of cooling down is with Mozafrio for frappes and milk teas. Order the Solana if you’re a salted caramel fan. Other flavors include strawberry and cream, cookies and cream, and vanilla late, among others. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Located at the second floor, Pixel Stop is a video game-themed bar serving cocktails named for classic games like Donkey Kong and Adventure Time. It also carries the Belgian-style craft beer Bel Ale, which is brewed in Paranaque. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News
Not a drinker? Not to worry as there’s Juicifi for your freshly brewed iced teas, lemonade drinks, milk and sodas. Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBN News