When In Manila, and craving for genuine Spanish comfort food, head over at Beso Cucina Vinoteka. Tucked in the good eats place of Bonifacio High Street Central, the good Chef Carlo Miguel greeted us. Chef Carlo would ring a bell since he was a Biggest Loser Asia participant two years ago. He is of Spanish heritage and his inspiration was his Mom who cooked Spanish dishes in their former Australian home in his childhood. Beso was born of his pleasant childhood memories and much of the ingredients has been adopted from his mother’s heirloom recipes but improved with his culinary learnings.
Beso’s Tapas of Shrimp and Chorizo Croquetas with Romesco Sauce
Baccalao Croquetas with Coriander Aioli from Beso‘s Tapas
Tapas are staple in Spanish Restaurants and served bestsellers! Among those are Spanish Croquettes or las Croquetas. Shrimp and Chorizo Croqueta is an obvious favorite with the flavors of sea and land playing. Shrimp gives a savory taste which is a seafood characteristic while Spanish Chorizo gives body. The Romesco Sauce from roasted almonds, red peppers, paprika and olive oil compliments the dish. Forget not Baccalao Croquetas made from salted cod and is a potato-based croqueta. Coriander Aioli backs the taste of salted cod and balances the taste.
Beso’s Gambas sauteed with Chorizo, Garlic and Parsley in White Wine
Squid a la Pancha cooked on a flat grill with Parsley and Sherry at Beso
Gambas with heads everyone? I am happy that shrimps in Gambas still has heads since it has the strongest flavor that is characteristic of shrimp. Seafood soups boil shrimp heads for flavor as natural alternative to MSG. Chorizo was also added to build flavors with white wine. I could eat a lot but save space for Squid a la Plancha. Plancha is the same word as plantsa in Tagalog but in Spanish, it referes to any hot surface so this means the a flat iron grill was used to cook the squid with garlic, parsley and sherry to infuse flavors. Squid is perfectly cooked and blends with flavors though just a bit chewy.
Jamon Serrano Flat Bread with Arugula and Manchedo Cheese at Beso
Beso Paella with a harmony of pork and seafood, a classic Spanish
Jamon Serrano Flat Bread surprised me since it looked Pizza but mistake it not, its one of Beso’s flat breads topped with a variety of ingredients. This one is with machego cheese, topped with jamon serrano and chopped arugula. Flat bread shouts carbs but it was surprisingly light with the arugula going well with the salty taste of jamon. A Spanish Restaurant is never complete without Paella and Beso has it that way I like it. Beso Paella is the halo-halo of main dishes with the mix of seafood ingredients like bacon, prawns, squid, imported mussels, clams with pork and chorizo. It is a must try in Beso.
Crispy Skin Pork Belly laden with herbs cooked to perfection at Beso
Fall-off the bone Lamb Shanks cooked sous-vide with Chorizo
Crispy Skin Pork Belly and Lamb Shanks everyone? One must love Crispy Skin Pork Belly with its crunchy skin yet with the meat still juicy. This one was done well and compliments the rice pilaf. I got thrilled with Lamb Shank when it was placed on our table since it is nice with tomatoes, peppers, chorizo and chickpeas. It was a big chunk cooked sous-vide or stuffed in cooking pastic and cooked slowly in warm temperature for hours. The result was a fall off the bone Lamb Shank but still intact and tender. The spice, sweetnes, saltiness and sourness all balanced in taste with meat still juicy.
Beso’s Chocolate Leche Flan with Pedro Ximenez Sherry
Beso’s Churros sprinkled with cinnamon and spices in dark chocolate dip
Desserts are out of the ordinary at Beso. Leche flan or Churros might be the usual fix in Spanish Restaurants but Beso got more than that. Chocolate Leche Flan anyone? Say goodbye to your boring and unusually chunky leche flan since this one has chocolate, melts in your mouth and has Pedro Ximenez Sherry on it. Amazing! Churros is as amazing too, sprinkled with cinnamon and spices to taste! I have not seen yet Churros that you can eat by itself but check out the dip, it is 58% dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is my kind of chocolate, strong but has sweetness with it that makes you want to have more eats.
Creme Catalana, the Catalan version of Creme Brulee at Beso
Beso’s zesty orange Bread and Butter Pudding
Chocolates are not the only things best for desserts but also oranges. Oranges or orange zest is not a common ingredient in most Filipino desserts or European-inspired one but in Spanish cuisine, it is a common ingredient. Creme Catalana seems like creme brulee but this one has a dominant orange taste as orange zest was added. Beso‘s Bread and Butter Pudding has a more obvious orange taste since you can see orange and almond bits stuffed in. The sauce is caramelized orange juice. Not a fan still of orange desserts other than the fresh fruit or juice but I have to admit, these were great treats.
When In Manila, go for authentic homey Spanish cuisine and build memories here at Beso Cucina Vinoteka. They are open daily from 11am to 2:30pm, except on Sundays where they close at 12:30am. Beso alternates to a bar lounge every night with live music starting from 10:30pm until closing time. Visit their Facebook and Twitter for more updates.