It started with Mexican diners. Then we started getting a taste of Cuban, then Peruvian, and now just about every Latin American cuisine has popped up around the city with varying interpretations and dishes. Some pride themselves on being more authentic than others, while others bask in their ingenuity, the ability to fuse cuisines so seamlessly that they translate into unique and palate-pleasing dishes.
Photos by Kevin Liao (@kevinliaooo)
Recently, however, there has been an influx of Latin American-inspired restaurants around the metro, each coming up with its own twist on the famed regional cuisine that it can be a daunting task for a kitchen to set itself apart from the rest. Alegria in Bonifacio Global City, however, is showing much promise with its worldly take on Latin American food, as well as priding themselves on being the first sangria bar in the city.
Tucked away at the rooftop of the C3 Annex in Bonifacio Global City, Alegria is decked out in Latin-inspired decor, with bold colors and murals that provide a vibrant and jubilant atmosphere.
And if you’re hoping to bond with friends over some drinks, there’s good news for sangria lovers — Alegria offers the first-ever sangria bar in the city, with nine different sangria concoctions to suit your palette, instead of the usual red or white. Here are just four of what we tried:
Sangria Vermelha – red wine, gin, blackberry, lavender
Sangria Branca – white wine, vodka, elderflower, lychee
La Quica – rosé wine, vodka, cherry, rose
Cava Sangria – cava wine, gin, passionfruit
Behind Alegria’s colorful dishes is Chef Charles Montañez, who whips up modern takes on Latin dishes, while maintaining its usual festive spirit. Chef Charles was previously sous chef of Ibiza Beach Club in BGC, and has previously worked with Chef Rob Pengson of The Goose Station. But with Charles fully at the helm of the kitchen this time, expect soulful Latin food laced with different influences — it’s like a global fiesta in your mouth, basically.
Here are some of the dishes we tried at Alegria:
Prawn, squid ink batter, napcha kimchi, ssamjang aioli, smoked esquites
It’s a true marriage of Asian and Latin American flavors, resulting in a punchy, complex dish that allows you to taste each of the flavors that surprisingly work well together. It’s savory, smoky, spicy, and tart at the same time, which according to Chef Charles, is the best representation of him in one dish. “Like when a chef punches you in the face”
Misono steak, wasabi aioli, nori crisp, smoked esquites, roasted peppers, tomato salsa
These Japanese-influenced tacos show a harmonious marriage of Japanese and Mexican flavors, with the nori and the wasabi adding just the right edge in flavor. Really, when it comes to tacos, you can’t go wrong with tender hangar steak.
Portuguese for “the noodle”, this dish is a Jalapeño aglio olio with pollo lima, chimichuri, kesong puti, and cherry tomatoes.
The best aglio olio dishes are those that are able to pack in a lot of flavor for such a subtle dish, and this one by Alegria did not disappoint. The dish was a dance for the tastebuds — garlicky, savory, and punchy at the same time. Meanwhile, the peruvian chicken was tender and well-seasoned, and will have you asking for seconds.
Mexican street corn with pork cracklings. We predict that this appetizer will quickly rise to become one of their best-sellers. It can quickly serve as bar chow with its explosive flavors —Sweet and savory, mild and spicy all in one. The cracklings also provide a great play on texture against the succulent corn.
Puerto Rican rice, vino, sundried tomatoes, peppers, chorizo kolbasz, tiger prawns, king calamari, chilean mussels
This rice dish was a flavorful medley of seafood, sauteed with shrimp stock. Fans of shellfish would surely love this with its generous servings, savory flavors and well-cooked seafood that was anything but rubbery.
steak fajita, avocado mashed potato, red onion petal, chimichuri, mango salsa, baby elote
From its name alone, Fajita Moderna is a modern, deconstructed take on the classic fajitas. The cook on the meat was spot-on, tender enough to let the meat’s natural flavors ooze through. The coconut milk mashed potato, substituted for the seasonal avocado, was creamy with a velvety texture, giving a nice backdrop to the steak, almost like a classic steak-potato mash combination, with the coconut milk providing a subtle sweetness. The mango salsa, meanwhile, provided a bright contrast in taste, without being too tart.
Pork Chop in Apple Brine
For those looking for a quintessential hearty meal paired with rice, this pork chop marinated in apple brine for 48 hours is a great choice. Pork chop was tender and juicy. The side sauces — chimichuri, sundried tomato hummus, bell pepper sauce and salsa creole — complemented the pork chop nicely, adding a sharp contrast in flavor.
Hearty Latin American flavors with a sophisticated touch, as well Manila’s first sangria bar — it’s always a festive time at Alegria.
Alegria Cozinha Moderna & Sangria Bar