OCEANA: Restaurant, Culinary School, and Events Place
First, Coach Rio’s marriage proposal courtesy of Up Dharma Down went viral. Then, Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo made their engagement very public at the season finale of American Idol 11. Inspired, our very own Ruth dela Cruz even wrote about five unique settings to propose.
When In Manila and knowing the month’s affinity with weddings and brides, allow me to kick off June with a feature about a proposal – my proposal.
Why Oceana @ SM by the Bay
When my fiance turned 18 (eons ago), part of my set of gifts to her was a crude drawing of us sitting atop Manila Bay‘s seawall as the sun was setting. (I was young and foolish then, and I didn’t know that doing so in actuality would make you puke because of the pungency of all the garbage that washes ashore.) Thankfully, SM reclaimed what was to become the Mall of Asia and the row of restaurants and bars jointly termed as SM by the Bay.
Beside the always filled and ever clattering Vikings buffet restaurant you’ll find a posh and sophisticated restaurant and events place by the Cravings Group and the Center for Culinary Arts. With its glass fascade, white and aqua interiors, and subtle accents that make the venue elegant yet fancy, seeing Oceana for the first time started something inside me, reminding me of my crude attempt for the sake of romance and artistry, the gears finally clicking with the singular idea that can only be described as “THIS.”
The Proposal @ Oceana
There are many perks to being a blogger. One of which is convincing your girlfriend that your proposal is just another blogging event.
With Oceana‘s headwaiter Jaypz, I briefed Annalyn that Oceana was rolling out a new concept and that we were the pilot. Since I would be writing and her cousin was taking the pictures, I told her and my sister that the two of them would be the ones trying out the “dining in the dark” experience.
Annalyn was blindfolded first, and I asked my sister to pretend that she was blindfolded as well. Jaypz led Annalyn to the table and my sister sat beside her, pretending for the rest of the night that she was also eating, clanging on the bare plate with her utensils every so often. Boyz II Men was softly playing in the background, and it almost gave the surprise away. Thankfully, the food caught Annalyn’s attention and made everyone else’s mouth water.
For good measure, I’d pull the blindfolds down to make sure that Annalyn wouldn’t be able to see anything.
Here’s Jaypz guiding Annalyn where the utensils are placed.
Biting into the salad (and making everyone else hungry).
Jaypz encourages Annalyn to explore with her sense of smell before digging in. For someone who was briefed only a few hours back, Jaypz did his waitering perfectly!
“A sip of your drink, my lady?” (Sorry, too much Game of Thrones, I guess.)
An HRIM graduate, Annalyn tried guessing the individual ingredients of the dishes. Everyone could tell she was really into the whole thing!
The chefs, waiters, and staff of Oceana fooling around while Annalyn was slowly savoring her meal.
The dessert. Nice, huh?
She thought it was some sort of chocolate and was on the verge of biting the box when I told her that she had to open it.
“Will you marry me?”
Somewhere between trying to chew on the box, scratching her head after she felt the ring inside, and responding with a “NYAY!” (not the response I had in mind) when I took off her blindfolds, the proposal turned out to be more comedic than romantic. But taking life and our relationship with a hint of comedy has been our little secret for the past eight years, and I guess this proposal wasn’t exempted from how we are as a couple!
What I Love About Oceana
As a restaurant and an events place, Oceana marries both concepts seamlessly. I love how the ceiling integrates wave-like designs, how the glass spheres hanging from the ceiling resemble bubbles, how every accent they incorporate into this elegant setting of white and glass is purposeful and themed according to the designers’ intentions of mimicking the peaceful yet majestic experience of the Great Ocean.
I love how spacious the place is, allowing for intimate conversations without fear of being overheard by the other guests present. I especially appreciate how exclusively refined the venue is, the perfect prerequisite for an uninterrupted proposal or whatever function one may have in mind. Most importantly, the venue sits on the clean side of the Bay. Nothing starts a great evening better than the Manila Bay sunset!
The dining space is an extension of the 350-seating banquet hall, and at that time the restaurant area was being transformed into a gastropub (I’m excited to see this!), along with a major shift on the menu. Chef Paolo, chef-on-deck during the proposal, offered the salad, appetizer, and main course dishes that they would be carrying over after the reboot. Trust me, guys: The food is as good as it looks! The ingredients are fresh and clean-tasting. Whether blindfolded or not, an HRIM graduate and a food blogger could make out the different ingredients, creating a flavorful experience with every bite.
Oceana Caesar Salad
Filipino-inspired Longganisa Tofu
Grilled Salmon Steak on top of Mushroom Rice Pilaf
To cap everything, the service at Oceana is simply impeccable. Jaypz knew when to come in, to offer suggestions (even while we were preparing for the event), and to assist Annalyn throughout the course of the proposal. Nothing tests an events place‘s servers like a meticulous, demanding arrangement as a proposal. And Oceana passed with flying colors! Everyone from the general manager to the waiters and staff were so courteous and accommodating, making our proposal a delightfully memorable experience.
Partner-in-crime Jaypz: Superb job with the service and the adlibs!
John Lloyd look-alike Sir Mario is the man behind the operations of Oceana.
When In Manila, life’s magical moments are created with the most important people and celebrated in the most special ways. Visit Oceana at Building A of SM by the Bay, SM Mall of Asia. “Like” them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/oceanaphils for the latest news, events, and promos from Oceana.
Restaurant. Culinary School. Events Place
Building A, SM by the Bay, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Open Mondays to Sundays, 4 PM to 12 MN
For reservations and inquiries, call 556 3195
“Like” them at www.facebook.com/oceanaphils
Special thanks to my sister for playing along so well and Merriane for the amazing photographs!
When In Manila, Proposals are More Special at Oceana: Restaurant, Culinary School, and Events Place