Words by Fe Esperanza Trampe
For the past few days from April 2 to 5, there was a safe haven for all kinds of foodies, and it stood at the center of SM Megamall’s Mega Fashion Hall. In nothing less than a celebration of food, some of the biggest names in the business, and the people behind their success, came together to put the spotlight on good food.
With fifteen food stalls, and demos and talks abound, Mega Food Fest 2017 was a dizzying sight and quite an experience for foodies young and old. If you dropped by, you know what we’re talking about. If not, don’t worry. We have a lowdown for you.
Here are the stalls in attendance at this year’s food fest:
15. Taco Vengo
This Mexican fusion restaurant went from food truck to taqueria, to Megamall must-try real quick, and they showcased what got them there with their very own stall at the food fest. It’s the most unusual mix of flavors from all over the world coming together in the soft shell of a taco.
Korean beef taco
With just the right amount to keep you wanting more, Taco Vengo’s Korean beef taco is a must-have.
Chef Joaquin Migallos preparing a shrimp taco
You can circle the world with one order from Taco Vengo. Their very own chef Joaquin Migallos was on hand to mix Japan with Mexico for a change, cooking up a tempura-battered shrimp taco from scratch.
Satchmi is a music store that doubles as a coffee shop, and it calls SM Megamall home. For a few days, it focused on just the coffee, and only the good kind.
There were the classics like the Americano and the latte, hot or iced, just the way you like it.
There was also their signature cold brew, a ready-to-drink blend brewed for hours on end before being meticulously handcrafted for your drinking pleasure.
13. Bliss Bowls
Are you craving for something sweet without the guilt? Aren’t we all? The Philippines’ first smoothie bowl bar graced the food fest to give us just that.
Their signature berry bliss bowl is yours for the taking, and so is their chia paradiso. Both are absolutely delectable concoctions so good to your taste buds, its bounty of health benefits will only come in second.
12. Le Petit Soufflé
After captivating hearts and taste buds in Makati, the baby of the phenomenal pastry chef Miko Aspiras just recently opened its second branch in SM Megamall. They too joined in on the fun at the food fest, and with only the best from Chef Miko.
Among their bevy of dessert offerings are scoops and scoops of ice cream in Valhrona dark chocolate, French vanilla bean, matcha, and raspberry flavors.
Chef Miko Aspiras and his take on polvoron
Chef Miko himself was also in attendance at the food fest, and he took it as a chance to momentarily step away from his restaurant’s distinct French and Japanese flavors. For a good few minutes, he went back to his roots with a sampling of his own twist on the classic Filipino polvoron.
After nearly twenty years in the industry, Cibo has made quite a name for itself. It is now a fine dining staple in the country, and it has already branched out to equally refined quality food products. Its stall at the food fest exhibits all of these and more.
Try Cibo’s limone te freddo (lemon iced tea). There’s no finer blend of iced tea around, and there’s no need to wait for a table to have a sip.
Chef Margarita Fores, the 2016 Asia’s Best Female Chef
Cibo’s years of success can only be credited to the woman behind it all, Ms. Margarita Fores, last year’s Asia’s Best Female Chef. She too graced the food fest with her presence, and recounted her long journey with food for everyone in attendance. She has traveled far and wide, from all the way in New York, to Italy, and finally to the Philippines, just to give us all the good food we know now.
10. LAVA Cheese Tarts
A team hell-bent on serving proudly Filipino-made cheese tarts hot and ready to give the Japanese delicacy a run for its money has also put up shop in SM Megamall. And all throughout the food fest, it has called passers-by to pay attention.
These sweet melt-in-your-mouth pastries are best paired with the brand’s own blend of coffee made of beans sourced from all over the Philippines.
9. Chelsea Kitchen
Chelsea Kitchen is that one rare place that can serve you any course at any time, and do it with style. They’re known for their cheese, because they sure know what to do with it.
Check out their truffled spinach cream dip. It’s served on a bread bowl, and is topped with cheese melted into perfection.
8. Sweetea’s by da.u.de
Tea is love, and tea is life. Da.u.de proves this once again with Sweetea’s by da.u.de, a shop tailor-made to serve full leaf and high quality iced teas at an affordable price.
No matter what flavor you choose, whether it be honeydew, lychee, strawberry, or citrus, trust that their blends are made of only the best and freshest ingredients. It only takes one sip to know it.
They also serve warm classics such as oolong and green tea.
7. Ippudo + Mighty Quinn’s + Yabu
Three of the biggest names at the food fest joined forces at this one stall by the stage. As different from each other as they may be with Ippudo best known for its ramen, Mighty Quinn’s for its barbecue, and Yabu for its katsu, they all proved that they know how to make a damn good sandwich.
Yabu’s hire katsu burger
Compare and contrast between Ippudo’s pork bun, Mighty Quinn’s beef brisket sandwich, and Yabu’s hire katsu burger. We doubt you’ll find a clear winner.
Go around the regions of Spain with just your taste buds. At Alqueria, it’s possible. Their varieties of paella include the paella mechada and the paella negra, which will bring you to the sea and back with one bite.
From left to right: paella mechada, paella negra, chorizo croquettes, and truffled mushroom croquette
They also have the most savory croquettes to snack on. Cheese lovers can try their 3 cheese croquette, while herbivores and carnivores alike can fest on the truffled mushroom and chorizo croquettes.
Makansutra has come all the way from Singapore to show just how much of Asia is infused in the cuisine of their small but proud country. Their combination of spices when it comes to cooking hits close to home, but is still a welcome change.
Braised chicken with yam rice
Try their braised chicken, and pair it with either noodles or yam rice. Soothe the flavors that have tickled your taste buds with Makansutra’s sugarcane drink. It’s a (healthy!) sweet and refreshing way to wash down all that you’ve eaten for the day.
Here’s to food that’s truly ours. Proudly waving the colors of the Philippine flag at the food fest was Sarsa, and its impeccable take on the best of Filipino food.
Sarsa’s pancit palabok
The flavors in their pancit palabok will make you feel like you’re at the most liveliest of fiestas in a town far away with one bite, and safe and warm at home with your family the next. It’s sweet, and tangy, and truly Filipino.
3. Fireside by Kettle
There is no better comfort food than fried chicken, and it is a fact that Kettle boasts one of the best fried chicken recipes around. Its sister restaurant Fireside by Kettle has its own buttermilk fried chicken, and it’s just a mouth-watering. It’s soft and crunchy, and just plain good.
And although it already comes with its own pair of biscuits, it goes great with their truffled potato chips.
2. 8 Cuts Burger
The burger may be the main star of 8 Cuts Burger, but it is adored by many for more than just its savory beef. Their skinny fries are quite delicious, but it is their deep-fried onion rings that have caught everyone’s attention.
One bite will be enough to assure you why it’s called the best onion rings in Manila.
1. Linguini Fini
Linguini Fini is the Little Italy of the food fest, but it goes beyond just the land of pasta. It also a serves up a mean slice of pizza reminiscent of those famous in New York. The Bronx pizza is an all-meat extravaganza on a crust.
Linguini adobo gremalota
It is yet another restaurant that calls SM Megamall home, and it has since embraced Filipino cuisine upon docking on our shores. The classic puttanesca pasta is good, but the Filipino-infused linguini adobo gremalota is really something different.
It was four days of nothing but good food and good company at the SM Megamall Fashion Hall. The Manila culinary scene has never been in a better shape, and this event is a testament to that.
From left to right: Chefs Miko Aspiras, Margarita Fores, and JJ Yulo
In the words of the food fest’s host Chef JJ Yulo of Pinoy Eats World, the event was but a prelude to Madrid Fusion Manila which will be held from April 6-8 at the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia complex.
Although all good things must come to an end, there’s no need to worry for those who missed the Mega Food Fest 2017. All of its participants are locals of SM Megamall, and they’re here to stay. You will not need to go far to #EatMega.