INDUSTRIAL STANDARD: “We are not a food park,” so goes the disclaimer of Industrie Food Loft’s Kevin Lachica, who fashioned the new dining hall into an industrial and pop-art gastro stop, with ample seats cool air-conditioning, hip interiors, and a hotter tenant mix.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: The six-man team of Industrie Food Loft, (from left) Ken and Angela Lachica, Maemae and Kevin Lachica, Lauren Laudico and Kirby Lachica.
For some time now, the City Golf compound has been holding the best-kept winning and dining secrets of the Ortigas area, being the breeding ground for now-booming food and beverage concepts like Bugsy’s, Barcino, and Frankies. Behind them all are the Lachica brothers, those who gave them the needed boost with their ample and strategically positioned property. This time though, from mere landlord, they decided to be full-on players, who will hopefully changing the game of the neighborhood food scene.
“Typically, the career path of the people in the food industry would lead into working for hotels or restaurants, but I bet you, they all want to have their own place. So, we wanted to provide an avenue for them to get their concepts across,” Kevin Lachica one-third of the brother team explains of their new dining concept, Industrie Food Loft.
“We pretty much knew what we wanted, but we’re also sure of what we don’t want to be. We didn’t want to be a food park. We wanted the experience to be different,” Lachica adds. So, together with their romantic partners, they went around building a one-stop place for binge eating that serves up everything that you may crave from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., of course, in a swankier and cooler spot.
"We didn’t want to be a food park. We wanted the experience to be different,” Lachica adds. So, together with their romantic partners, they went around building a one-stop place for binge eating that serves up everything that you may crave from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m."
“We knew what we wanted, we wanted Wagyu sticks, laksa, burger, fried chicken, and from there, we personally invited these individual concepts,” Lachica adds. And of Industrie’s dirty dozen tenants, when they say there’s unity in diversity, perhaps, this makes an excellent point. “We’re very happy with our mix now, and we wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Lachica.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE: The food captains of Industrie, (top photo, from left) Kelvin Yap of Loklok Asian Streetfood, Janica Ribo and Tinne Alonzo of Prime Shack MNL, Joaquin Tolentino of Opsters, Anna and Ron Mislang of Hoka, Chef Marco Olives and Kyla Olives of The Broken Oven, and Freence Tecson of Krates. (lower photo, from left) Raffy Carlos and Brian Salcedo of Noonchi, Mika Leoncio of The Pullet, Mars Gotauco, Igo Yuchico and Claudin Mjares of Niku Niku, Kristine Nable of Tornado, Paolo Reyes and Jason Go of Manila Creamery, Inigo Dulay of Buns & Bros, and Lui Ribo of Prime Shack MNL.
STICK UP: Niku Niku’s wagyu stick in house flavor, beef belly with chio flavor, hangar steak in curry flavor, and tenderloin in tare flavor, served with chahan, and a side of sprouts.
Meats in a stick, sounds simple enough for a nation built on a diet of barbecue, but what Claudine Mijares and Mars Gotauco really does is elevate the foolproof street fare into a one-off food find. “We’d travel a lot as friends, and we got this inspiration when we went to Taiwan and Japan. The stalls there, even if they are so simple, offer the best beef skewers anywhere,” Mijares says, and judging from their menu mix of wagyu, tenderloin, hangar steak, or beef belly sticks, Niku Niku is far from your average griller.
“We make our own sauces too, so we make sure that we don’t use anything that comes straight from the grocery,” she goes on to talk about their slathers, which you have a selection among the savory house blend, sweet Tare, smoky Chio, or zesty curry. If you’re not one for hard choices, opt instead for their Kampai set, which sends out 8 of their variety sticks marinated in different sauces, and comes with a complimentary cheer of, ‘kampai’.
NATURAL DISASTER: For its heavy serving and its red-hot sauces, Tornado’s quarter slab and peri-peri chicken is destructive for anyone watching his weight.
Roasted chicken or ribs are the easiest choice when opting for a filling meal, but Christine Nable of Tornado makes sure they’re far from the mundane. “The way we cook our peri-peri chicken combines the Portuguese way with the Filipino. But what’s unique about us is our sauces,” she says. So you can turn the knob from mild or wild with just a choice of her potent sauces, be it the Original, the Tiger’s Fury or Dragon’s Breath, which, really, can render some taste buds momentarily paralyzed.
In true Filipino fashion, though, Tornado loads up on the sides and rice, to make sure you’re not leaving wanting. But if you can’t determine between the poultry or the pork, pick the mix and match, which puts both in one plate.
GET HOOKED: Hoka’s Volcano and Spicy Shake Rolls give the traditional Japanese sushi a more addictive edge.
Husband and wife team Ron and Anna Mislang may have already made a dent in the food biz with their fast-serve donburi and sushi Jap Box concept, but since Filipinos are trailing Tokyo by the droves these days, they know they had to level up. “It kind of serves the lower-tier market,” Ron Miclang modestly reveals. “But now that my wife has sharpened her skills in sushi making, we got into making higher quality Japanese food,” he adds.
Still sticking with the sushi and the rice bowls, the team decided to add a bit of fire to their brand. “Hoke means torched in Japanese, so most of our sushi rolls, particularly the oburi based ones, are torched,” Ron says. Add to that, only the premium ingredients get into their hand-rolled creations, whether it is the tangy, crunchy Volcano Roll, or the beer-matching Spicy Shake Roll.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS: While Opsters serves Negrense breakfast such as tapa and chorizo recado, the main draw of the no-frills eatery is its killer kansi.
Bacolod native Borgy Torres had since been missing the taste of home here in Manila, so with some childhood friends and golfing buddies, he decided to build his Negrense kitchen here instead. “We thought of offering breakfast food from how we do it from home in Bacolod, so everything is homemade, our adobo flakes, tapa, chorizo, and karne norte,” he says.
But he warns not settling for those alone. “Our star here, the one that’s been getting the most feedback, is the Kansi. It’s the Negrense bulalo with stronger flavors, and the key ingredient is the batwan which gives it a sour kick. We weren’t really happy with the kansi that they offer in Manila. Theirs have a kinder taste to them. Ours is strong, just how you’d get it in Bacolod,” he promises.
So whether it’s recovery food or a midnight craving, Opsters can either give you a serving of something totally new or familiar, with only one caveat: “we’re not fancy, we’re not fine dining. Three Ms lang kami: mura, masarap, madami.”
BREAK IT TO ME GENTLY: The Broken Oven suggests you leave your diet out of the door, with its PB+C Sandwich, Chicken Iberico Melt, Original Pork Belly, and Sisig Kaninballs.
THE BROKEN OVEN
Right before Christmas, the Olives’ home oven broke down due to the load of orders for their pork belly. Considering how busy they were, it seems like a perfectly good problem, only with terrible timing. “We named it The Broken Oven to remind us where we came from,” Kyla Olives modestly explains. With the demand their customers still have for their pork belly, how can they forget?
“To make our diners happier, and to offer something more exciting, we decided to open something more special, more gourmet,” she reveals of the new food concept she shares with chef and brother Marco. Still working with the fares that earned them fame, The Broken Oven now serves their pork belly in a sandwich with kesong puti, arugula, in a baguette bun, or their sisig buried inside savory rice balls, or their chicken Iberico on a bed of chorizo rice and topped with melted cheese.
And with the buzz these dishes were generating, after only three days of operation, their oven broke again. “So, I think we got karma with the name,” Kyla says. Really, though, it is your diet that they want to break.
POUR OVER: Krates takes the best of its Kopi Roti roots by using its original brew as ice-cube base for its Red-Eye Coffee.
Jens Tecson’s Kopi Roti may have been a solid café proposition, built on traditional Malay milky coffee and kopi buns. But as coffee shops become growingly more conceptual, he decided that, perhaps, it is time to explore further.
“We wanted to have a third-wave café, as opposed to the traditional Kopi Roti, and this is our try-out,” he reveals of Krates, which offers newer ways of brewing and serving their signature coffee blend. Take the Red Eye, for example, which combines the traditional Kopi Roti brew served in ice cubes, and with a pour-over of Krates’ own, black-bottom brewed espresso blend and caramel milk, definitely a wake-upper.
But despite pushing the boundaries of his new brew, Tecson notes, “we still serve your kopi buns and kaya toasts, though.”
STREET TREATS: Loklok had us crazy for its Asian skewered balls and cold cuts, best served drowning in its tasty sauces.
LOKLOK ASIAN STREETFOOD
For most of us, our travels around Asia come with a mandatory, to consume as much street food as we can. Luckily, Singaporean Kelvin Yap had enough foresight to bring them all in one place, saving us on currency exchange losses and flight tickets. “It’s basically comprised of Singapore, Malaysian, and Hong Kong street food that we offer boiled, deep-fried, or grilled,” Yap explains.
With what really is a buffet of balls and cold cut skewers, you can select among Loklok’s display, decide how you want them cooked, and they’re placed in mason jars where you can drench them with their specialty hoisin (a favorite), garlic, satay, or laksa sauces.
BIG BUNS: Buns & Bros shows how it plans to shake up your usual burger starting with the buns, with The Assasin and The Heartthrob.
BUNS & BROS.
Inigo Dulay used to be a competitive cross-fitter, until one freak accident caused him to lay down the iron. This was also the time that he had the epiphany for a totally new kind of calling. “We thought of offering the ultimate burger experience,” Dulay says, and together with partner Nikki Silos, went about the gospel of elevating the burger concept starting from the bun.
So now, his weight loss regimen turned into more of a weight-gain habit, with carbs from his black roasted sesame bun, stout-beer bun, or classic brioche bun, protein from his loaded burger patties and cheeses, and, well, plenty of fat from him sriracha or wasabi burger sauces, and side fix-ins of Cajun Fries, Garlic Feta Fries, or Onion Rings (or the Half-and-Half, which cuts the decisions by putting two kinds in a plate).
It may be a cause of an extreme turnaround, but for Dulay, with burgers this good, you wouldn’t mind doing double on the circuit, even if you risk limb for it.
RECOVERY BOWL: Noonchi takes everything on their fridge and put it in this Chicken in a Hangover bowl, hoping it’s the cure-all for your head, heart, and tummy aches.
K-pop craze aside, Noonchi, the namesake of Angel Biscocho and her three other male partners’ Asian comfort food stall, is a Korean word for instinctive service born out of high EQ. It may sound like a lofty ideal for a food concept, but judging from their menu of mashing up of home food favorites with Asian flavors, may seem like a natural fit.
Take its best-selling “Chicken in a Hangover”, for example. “This is a result of our chef’s terrible hangover. After a night out with the boys, he was too lazy to get out of the house, so he opened his fridge and put everything there and surprisingly, it turned out to be one of our bestsellers,” Biscocho shares. Trust that a chef would have all these ingredients in his fridge, the dish has ramen egg, garlic-peanut sauce, fried chicken bites, and egg noodles drizzled with either sweet ketchup manis or spicy sambal, truly a eureka moment in a bowl.
If you’re not up for nursing the morning after, opt instead for the Bulgogi Cheesesteak which puts strips of beef bulgogi, caramelized onions, and a signature sauce in a squid-ink bun.
DANGER CHICK: What’s more addictive than fried chicken? Fried chicken with everything on it, as The Pullet proves.
A toast to feminist chicken, Mika Leoncio opens The Pullet, for the can-do, must-do chick who has everything. “Everyone loves fried chicken,” Leoncio says, “and we just made a twist to it by dressing it with our house-blend powder, which sorts of separates us from the others.”
The Pullet doesn’t stop at the special sweet-spicy powder, however, because she also offers it with a barrage of sides, from corn in a cob, waffles, dirty rice, or fries, and a variety of addictive sauces, house gravy, sriracha-tabasco honey, lemon-butter maple, served, rather suitably, in syringes. For its finger licking, injection pumping, lip-smacking chicken, The Pullet does have that sinister pull that one may find hard to resist.
PASSION FOOD: Prime Shack MNL’s baked oysters is a definite turn-on.
PRIME SHACK MANILA
“Filipinos are mostly meat eaters, and everybody likes a good steak,” Chef and carnivore Lui Ribo makes a claim no one would dare dispute, “but we opted to make it more of your surf and turn restaurant.” Perhaps, he did have our best interest in mind when he pitted his Australian rib-eye steaks (which are a steal at over 200 pesos a pop) with equally tasty seafood such as Cajun shrimps in a bag (which you can have shelled for an additional 50 pesos), or the cheesy baked oysters. After all, the sibling team of chefs Lui and Janica has their diverse diet disciplines, the latter being an obsessed seafood fanatic.
One thing they can agree on, however, is that their meat, be it the steaks, shrimps, or the shellfish, should be always fresh. “We get our oysters from Bulacan, farm-source our shrimps daily, and limit the stock of our steaks. If they run out, we just politely tell our patrons,” Lui says, which, judging from Prime Shack MNL’s supreme quality, affordable price, and hearty serving size, may be a recurring issue.
COOL RUNNING: Manila Creamery’s Leche-Mansi, Milk & Honey, and Macha Taho Gelato Shake shows off its new soft-serve ice cream quite ingeniously.
If patriotism was ever sweet, Jason Go’s Manila Creamery is its proof. “We use everything local, Malagos chocolate, Benguet coffee, salted egg from Bulacan, mango from everywhere. So it’s a great way to show Filipino without making it too in-your-face,” Go speaks of his craft ice cream, served by the scoop, with flavors like Mangga’t Suman and Tutong na Kanin. Pretty legit!
The stars of the two-man team’s second store, however, are the soft-serve ice cream which come in two flavors Leche Flan and Mindanao Milk. “We source our milk in Northern Mindanao, and it has that distinct taste because the cows there are completely grass-fed. If anything, you could taste a bit of the grass, which I don’t know if it’s a good thing,” Go says. Of course, grass is always a good thing.
Industrie Food Loft is located at the second floor of City Golf compound, Julia Vargas Ave., Pasig City.