With The Corner Market, Expect a Revival of Food Halls in the Metro
It's been four years since we've been introduced to the concept of a food hall, but it seems that we're only now just moving on from the usual fast food-based food courts and its scruffier cousin, food parks, to this type of culinary environment.
The Corner Market, which is literally at the corner of the newly minted The Podium and the corner of ADB Avenue and Julia Vargas, is one of the new food hall concepts to get excited about this year.
Linfred Yap of the Relish Group, which curated the offerings, says he was inspired by other covered markets from around the world, like Madrid's Mercado de San Miguel. "We're the first farmer's market food hall in Manila. Here, you can get fresh produce as well as ready-to-eat meals inside the convenience of a mall," he explains.
It's on the second floor of the new The Podium.
Food halls typically do away with the usual concessionaires and The Corner Market sets up 17 vendors made up of local food artisans, hidden gems, as well as faster or more casual concepts of established eateries in a 450-seater space.
The theme is all about access. Prices are easier on the pocket compared to stand alone venues (and if not, the food looks desirable enough to persuade you to stretch the budget a little) and as it puts together culinary offerings from around the world (Thai, Mexican, Spanish, Korean, Chinese), it also introduces you to other undiscovered must-tries around the Metro, places you might not have be tempted to go with the congested traffic all in one neat space.
There's CaPhe Saigon from Marikina, which is owned by part Vietnamese mother-and-daughter team Mary Rose and Apple Bonifacio. It has a vertical basil garden for customers to pick for their pho. There's El Taqueria de Chupacabra, which is supposedly a scaled-down version of Poblacion's famous El Chupacabra, but really offers all the same things.
Barcelon de Calderon
From deep in San Juan comes Barcelon de Calderon, a concept by the owners of cult tapas favorite, Calderon, which peddles paella (staples like Valenciana, negra, and setas) and pintxos. Hamaru, a restaurant hidden behind food park Food Hive, steps out of the shadows with Inari, offering Kyoto-style rolls using brown rice. Pizza Morena from Salcedo Saturday Market is also getting a wider audience with their new place in The Podium.
Offerings from Char
Char, on the other hand, is a concept from Singapore that focuses on all things charsiu or barbecued pork.
Mini Meat Depot
The Corner Market also provides a venue to highlight fresh produce. The Mini Meat Depot, the "little brother" of a butcher shop from BF, Parañaque, stocks up on frozen meats that you can also have cooked on the spot. Gusto! showcases produce from a farm in Rizal. Apart from serving delicious vegetable- and fruit-based dishes and drinks, it also sells a stunning variety of fresh produce, from gorgeous kabocha to the highly coveted adlai–all for very competitive prices. Grocery favorite Cold Storage also put up Catch of the Day for seafood lovers.
Sundays by Merry Moo
More familiar concessionaires are Korean chain Kaya and Mediterranean eatery Sultan. Ice cream artisan Merry Moo also opened their own DIY craft ice cream concept, Sundays while Yap put up the second outlet of Relish's specialty chicken house Birdhouse.
With The Corner Market being the first to get us excited over a well-culled food hall since 2014, it seems that the game is quickly changing from opening restaurants here and there to offering that same quality and experience in a tight, no-brainer, all-access setup where you can just eat and commune and maybe take a few pictures.