My grandfather is a farmer. At an early age, he (through my dad) taught us the value of rice and not leaving any food behind on the plate. Truly, good food deserves such respect, and our visit to Arrozeria has given me a greater appreciation of our staple rice.
Upon entering the place, you can definitely feel the very-much-at-home vibe of the place, though a bit upscale. The restaurant manager, Alvaro, welcomed us with a glass of their fine Sangria on rocks served in a wine glass with a cinnamon stick and a few thin apple slices. The drink itself is sweet and has body. The apple and the cinnamon definitely help in giving the Sangria a fuller flavor.
Alvaro then walked us through what they’ll serve us that afternoon: the Arrozeria Chorizo Burger, Glazed Pork Ribs, the Frito Board, the White Chocolate Torte, Squid Ink Battered Shrimp, and the Negro Paella.
Whoever thought of putting chorizo in a burger is a mad genius!
The first dish we got to try was the Arrozeria Chorizo Burger. Trust me, it works. It’s awesome. You have to taste it to believe it. The smokiness of the chorizo definitely hits home here. It’s also quite juicy, but not enough to be messy when eaten. The combination of aromatic and sharp flavors make every bite a wave in a flavor explosion. And in case you find the flavor explosion overbearing, you can take a break with the potato wedges on the side.
There’s a frito for everybody!
Next up is the Frito Board. This is just one of the sampler boards they have on the menu, and this one is filled with some of my favorites!
The lengua (ox tongue) was just magnificent! Bite into it and you’ll be greeted by a crunchy exterior immediately followed by that creamy bechamel sauce, with the ox tongue providing that smooth texture and earthy flavor to balance everything out.
The croquetas (croquettes) are also good, actually! Really wish I had more. Similar to the ox tongue, they are crunchy to the bite, but creamy on the palate. Texture-wise, I’d give it to the lengua, but the croquetas do give more variety.
Of course, there’s my favorite calamares. Fresh? Definitely! Love how it’s not overly crunchy to hide the squid. The flavor’s also spot on, and the squid isn’t overcooked/rubbery. Gordon Ramsay would approve.
That’s one fine-looking torte.
For those with a sweet tooth, this White Chocolate Torte will deliver. Don’t be tempted by its looks. While it looks light for a dessert, a bite into it will fill your palate with a heavy sensation. The torte is a bit on the dense side, so you might want to enjoy this dessert slooooowly. Bite in it too much and you’ll be greeted by a wave of sweetness enough to trigger sugar rush.
Get pulled into the dark side.
The Squid Ink Battered Shrimp has got to be my favorite execution of fried shrimp and might give the best tempura out there a run for its money. While it may not be as crunchy as your regular tempura, the depth of flavor that the squid ink gives to each bite is more than enough to compensate. They’re still crisp, make no mistake, but really, the flavor of both the shrimp and the squid ink shine marvelously. It makes perfect sense to combine two neighborly flavors as the result is a more intense, yet more refined natural flavor. However, use that dipping sauce and BAM! Just. Delicious.
Glazed Pork Ribs: Beautiful sheen, amazing flavor!
Paella aside, my favorite of the bunch has to be the Glazed Pork Ribs! In a meat lover’s dream, seeing meat fall off the ribs effortlessly feels like something so good that it shouldn’t be done in public. My eyes were treated to that sight exactly as I easily took meat off the ribs. No knife needed!
The flavor? Definitely has that smokiness inherent in Spanish cuisine, but the sweet glaze enhances that and delivers a delightful sensation on your palate. The mashed potato and cauliflower on the side were also seasoned nicely, just enough to not steal the show from the ribs.
Rice truly is the hero in the Negro Paella!
I’m not exactly a fan of Spanish cuisine, to be honest. Because Filipino cuisine is heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine, I didn’t see anything special in the latter…until today. The Negro Paella is nothing short of amazing!
The aioli jives well with the squid and the octopus which mingle altogether over the earthy flavor of the rice! In my book, a dish is waaaay above average if I’m distracted enough to be unable to describe its goodness. This paella did just that! And I believe everybody on our table would agree that – of all the dishes we tried – the paella is the best of the bunch. It just had that ridiculously delightful flavor that kept us wanting more even after we finished it.
Arrozeria just woke the Spanish cuisine fan in me. I’d honestly come back again with my girlfriend, family, or maybe some friends just to try more of their paellas. While their other offerings are really good, the rice takes the starring role at the end of it all. Truly, rice is the hero at Arrozeria.
Arrozeria is located at the C3 Building, Bonifacio High Street.
Photography by: Elaine Quion
Videography by: Eden Rose Hernandez
Fort U/G, C3 Building, Bonifacio High St. Central, 7th Avenue, BGC, Taguig