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Century City Mall offers new dining options to executives

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Century City Mall offers new dining options to executives

OVERKILL: Mac n cheese with Hungarian sausage and foie gras

OVERKILL: Mac n cheese with Hungarian sausage and foie gras

Executives tired of the usual Makati lunch scene have a new playground: Century City Mall on Kalayaan just off Makati Ave.

It’s a posh, relatively new mall, and still smells new, too. For shopping, the choices are still limited. But there are a few new unique restos for those who are always on the lookout for something new.

Hole In The Wall

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The food court upstairs, called Hole in the Wall, offers a lot of unique choices. For chicken lovers there is Bad Bird, which offers “umami fried chicken” or chicken that is flavor-packed. For Chinese food, there is Kwong’s for noodle soup and other unique Chinese delicacies such as Hainanese chicken ma chang. Try the bacon dan dan mian, a noodle soup with pork and peanuts. It’s totally Chinese meets Filipino flavors! And for dessert, try the creations of Scout’s Honor.

Le Petit Souffle

Another restaurant in this mall that has a most enticing interior is Le Petit Souffle on the 3rd level.

JAPANESE beef curry soufflé

JAPANESE beef curry soufflé

The ambiance is relaxing, reminiscent of a country garden with “trees” as dividers. Hanging from the “trees” are baking pins. What a lovely concept. I imagine souffles instead of apples falling from the trees when they “bear fruit” and are ready to fall!

The restaurant itself is not yet in full bloom though.

While waiters knowingly recite what they have been taught, service here has yet to get its groove on. Our server on my first visit, for instance, just went on reciting the specials even as the rest of the table was talking, defeating the purpose of what she learned by rote. It took a while to get a waiter’s attention, even if there were several of them nearby. But to give credit, they were very friendly and accommodating once their attention was caught.

The kitchen, too, has yet to fully develop its menu, and the manager made this clear by continuing to announce the restaurant was on its soft opening stage, although it has been months since it opened. I have always respected the soft opening sign on restaurants and believe that restaurants should not be reviewed while this sign is up, but six months is a little too long to be soft, don’t you think? While it’s not fair for critics to review a restaurant while it is on soft opening, neither is it fair for a restaurant to keep this sign beyond a limited period of time, charge full prices, but expect to get away with glitches because it is allegedly not yet fully operational.

Creative menu

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The chefs, though, have delivered on creativity. It seems management gave them a free hand and like prizefighters they just went at it!

They offer a mac and cheese that is sumptuous to begin with but made whopping with the addition of Hungarian sausage and foie gras. And by foie gras I mean plural—I counted at least three chunks in our bowl. The element of liver was a revelation in textural compatibility. Who would have thought it would work? Props to the chef.

Another beauty on the menu is the Japanese Boeuf (just say it like Martin Short in Father of the Bride) Curry Souffle. The base is reminiscent of sukiyaki and rice—simple enough. Then the chef throws in that curry dimension. And to top it off, he envelopes it all in a cheese souffle. Wow! The fluffy souffle teases and tickles you as you eat the otherwise plain though hearty staple. It’s such a fun and delightful main course. (Although it could use a little more and slightly better beef.)

Excellent desserts

For desserts, I am told credit goes to the tandem behind Scout’s Honor, Chef Miko Aspiras and Kritine Lotilla.

Aspiras was part of the team of the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines that went to Lyon last February to compete in the pastry competition of the Bocuse d’Or, the most prestigious world competition for chefs. He has truly been shining as a pastry chef.

There are various choices for souffle such as a dark chocolate souffle or a vanilla bean souffle. But for those who are looking for an alternative to sweet, try the restaurant’s matcha parfait.

It is very Asian in flavor, not the very sweet kind of American dessert that we are used to. If you like green tea, you will love this. He also decorates the parfait with mochi, coffee jelly and matcha jelly, and adzuki beans. And if you dig deep enough, you will find chocolate crumbs and matcha Kitkat. It’s full of surprises without becoming achingly sweet. A truly tasteful creation.

Courage

I truly hope that Le Petit Souffle finally has the courage to officially open its doors soon, after having in fact been fully operational for months.

On my second visit, I did witness a funny thing. The Duke ordered rice to go with his duck confit (on the Specials menu). He peered at it through his

MATCHA Parfait by Chef Miko Aspiras

MATCHA Parfait by Chef Miko Aspiras

thick-rimmed glasses. Upon realizing it was just plain rice, he requested that it be returned to the kitchen to be cooked in the duck fat of his confit.

“Imagine, serving plain rice and not of the best kind, when you had all that duck fat … Outrageous,” he chuckled. (Rice was not part of the menu.)

So there might still be a bit of tweaking to do here and there towards perfection. But this restaurant has the potential to be one of the greats because it is not following the trend of boring but rather shaking up the scene with its ingenious creations, and putting its own signature on dishes instead of copying what others have done.

In other words, it is not what Cherie Gil would call a “second rate, trying hard copycat.” I am rooting for its success!

Le Petit Souffle. 3/F Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati. Reservations recommended only on weekends. Call 886-3056. Major credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible by elevator.

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TAGS: Century City Mall, dining, food, Hole in the Wall, Le Petit Souffle, Restaurant
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