When I first received the invitation for a seven-restaurant food crawl at Evia Lifestyle Center, my first concern was: What time should I wake up to make it to the 10 a.m. call time? Being a northie, I know what it’s like to travel to the southern part of the metro, having to negotiate Edsa traffic every day to get to our office in Makati City. But Daang Hari Road in Las Piñas? This destination better be worth waking up at 6:30 a.m.
I was pleasantly surprised that Skyway traffic was relatively a breeze. Before I knew it, I was in the upscale commercial center that brings together the sprawling community project that includes three master-planned residential estates spanning 600 hectares of prime land across Metro Manila and Cavite.
The first stop was at Tiger Leaf restaurant where we tried its catfish salad (the catfish served a la okoy instead of flaked) and the tender chicken satay. Its beautiful interiors with a distinct Thai-Indochine vibe set the stage for its Southeast Asian cuisine.
Next was Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen, which prepared a luxurious grazing table of cheese and cold cuts as well as two new menu items: braised short ribs pappardelle pasta and the spinach and honey goat cheese with truffle pizza.
“This is the second largest branch. We can seat up to 150 customers here. We decided it would be strategic to get more floor space because we expect Evia’s market to continue to grow,” said restaurant owner Crystal Tremblay-Sison in an exclusive interview.
Merlion’s Cuisine, as the name suggests, serves Singaporean comfort food, including authentic bak kut teh pork soup, Hainanese chicken, and roasted pork – the last two were served with what initially looked like a carrot carving but turned out to be molded orange-colored salt. For dessert, the restaurant offers the refreshing mango-pomelo bowl with sago and coconut milk.
Most of us who were invited to the food crawl were already stuffed by this time, but there were four more restaurants to visit, and the truly committed foodie must trudge on.
The fourth stop was at Mesa, a favorite choice for delicious Filipino dishes. No visit to Mesa is complete without ordering the sinful crispchon which is served two ways – first, wrapped in Mesa’s own pandan crepe (similar to how Peking duck is served) and second, deep fried with chili and garlic. It comes with three sauces – Hoisin, lechon sauce, and my personal pick, garlic mayonnaise dip. The restaurant’s waiters also made a demonstration of cooking live suahe on hot rocks.
The casual dining restaurant Another Story was next, and we were greeted by its eclectic décor. Here we tried two no-brainer go-to choices for comfort food: the Angus prime ribeye steak served with potato gratin and herb-crusted grilled salmon.
I missed the sixth and seventh stops of the Evia food crawl at Teppanya and The Cheesecake Fairy, respectively. Based on the schedule, Teppanya was to serve its signature Wagyu ribeye (with an impressive beef marble score of 9, which means the meat has extraordinary marbling) and its salt-crusted Hokkaido oysters. The Cheesecake Fairy was considerate enough to give a box of Nutella cheesecake with almond slivers – it was moist and not too sweet and perfect with hot coffee.
“Our foot traffic is steadily increasing – we have about 15,000 mall-goers on weekdays and 20,000 on weekends. And we are completing our mall expansion and the third phase should be ready either by the end of the year or early 2019,” said Krystal Padua, Evia’s marketing head.
She added: “We have a well-curated mix of restaurants. We offer more than just delicious dishes but a complete gastronomic experience.”
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