If you love rice like most Filipinos do, read on because this new and exciting restaurant that just opened last February 1st, is all for the love of rice! Arrozeria, the brainchild of the same group behind Vask Manila, prides itself in serving the most authentic Spanish Paella in town. And why not, when Chef Chele Gonzales, the noted Spanish chef who has been based in Manila for a good number of years now is at the helm?
Chef Chele as some of you may already be aware, is most known for his delicious and authentic Spanish dishes in his restaurant, Vask. He is also the main man responsible for bringing Madrid Fusion to Manila this coming April. (A big culinary affair where Manila will be hosting several Michelin-starred chefs from Spain. If you want to know more about this exciting gastronomic event, click here.)
So it comes as no surprise then that Chef Chele and his team have just added another exciting restaurant concept under their belt. This time around, ArroZeria is focused on the country’s bounty and the Filipinos’ first love : RICE.
So what did we have for dinner in ArroZeria?
We started off with an appetizer of : Chicken Liver Mousse on top of crushed garlic bread crumbs.
Then we had Croquetas Trio, which had 3 kinds of fillings : Fish and Seafood, Porcini Mushrooms and Stewed Bechamel.
What’s a Spanish meal without a glass (or two) of Sangria? We ordered their Agua de Valencia (sparkling sangria) and La de Siempre (red wine with fruits). Both were refreshing and satisfying, really the perfect accompaniment to the dishes coming next.
Tabla de Pates was our next order, and this was something I really enjoyed.
It had 4 different kinds of terrine : Campagne, Cochinillo and Mushrooms, Chicken Pistachio and Fish. On the side there were : black olive, parsley and porcini mushroom mayonnaise — best eaten spread on top of the terrine on toast.
Up next was an interesting dish called : Gambas con Gabardina Negra. These are shrimps covered in squid ink batter and served with mojo picon dip. This was one dish that we all scrambled to get our hands on as quickly as possible and fought for till the very last piece!
The flavor of the squid ink was quite pronounced which made the shrimps very tasty. It was also delivered to our table still very hot and crispy which added to the excitement of the dish. But more than anything, I think it was the spicy mojo picon dipping sauce that made this gambas extra ordinarily good!
Then our rice dishes started arriving.
Paella in ArroZeria can be served in 5 different ways : Al Dente and Thin, Soft and Wet, Caldoso (soupy), Meloso (saucy) and Risotto (creamy.) Fideua is also offered for those who prefer noodles instead of rice. We chose 3 kinds of rice dishes for this meal.
The first Paella we had was : Cerdo Adobado y Boletus. This is Paella with marinated pork and porcini mushrooms and it was served Meloso style, or with a bit of sauce in it.
The second paella we tried was : Paella del Señorito. This is Paella with chicken and seafood, and this was served al dente and thin.
Chef Chele shares that his Paella here in ArroZeria are “more fun and more approachable” than what he usually serves in Vask. The place itself has a more casual and fun vibe, making the whole experience more family-friendly, more laid-back and more enjoyable.
Our third rice dish : Pancetta y Trigueros, creamy Risotto with pork belly and asparagus.
Not content with having 3 different kinds of rice (and the tapas we had before that), we had room to order one more dish, and this time we wanted meat : Pollo ala Cazadora. This is crispy chicken with white wine, Serrano ham, mushroom sauce and potatoes.
On to our desserts…we ordered 3 kinds too!
First we tried the Torrija de Coco Caramelizada or Caramelized Coconut Brioche with Pineapple Sorbet.
Second, we had the Cuajada al Momento. A unique and interesting dessert since the goat milk curd was formed “instantly”.
The milk had to be poured fresh on the glass, then we had to wait for a few minutes to see it harden and set. And as soon as it was “done”, the goat milk developed a texture like that of panna cotta or something similar to our local taho — which can already be eaten as is or with toppings.
Toppings included : toasted walnuts, honey and apple compote. If you like milky and creamy desserts, this one is a big GO!
But of course…how can I end my meal without my chocolate?? Definitely, a must in my every meal!
This Cremoso de Chocolate made of chocolate cremaux, streusel, tuille, ginger confit and raspberry jam (hiding at the very bottom of the bowl) was my perfect ending. It had good quality dark chocolate, plus a little bit of zing added to it (ginger and raspberry) — to surprise even the most jaded chocoholics out there.
No doubt about it, in ArroZeria, rice is the focus. This is one place where you are sure to get the best quality of rice and that — they will cook it the way it’s supposed to be cooked. As the restaurant’s tagline says, this is where “Rice is the Hero”.
But this doesn’t mean that they don’t have tapas or main dishes to satisfy other cravings. In fact, they even have a section on the menu dedicated to just Bocadillos or sandwiches — which is quite a good option for non-rice eating customers or those who are in need of a quick but still hearty lunch fix. (I also spotted Cochinillo and different kinds of Steak on the menu, giving me another reason to go back and try.)
To end, you will be proud to know that the rice they use here is local, and not Spanish as one can easily assume knowing that this is a Spanish restaurant headed by a Spanish chef. The rice here is sourced from our Cordillera mountains’ International Rice Research Institute. As Chef Chele briefly explains, he wants to help promote our country’s agriculture and rice industry to show the rest of the world our rich harvest and what we are capable of with our bounty.
Tel no + (632) 217 6563 or (0920) 9744742
4th floor of Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati.
I first wrote about ArroZeria’s Paella Marisco on the blog as part of my birthday dinner last November. Click here to read about what Chef Chele Gonzales prepared on my special day.