The Grid: A First Look at Rockwell’s Food Market!

Update 12/21/2018: As featured in 10 Best New Restaurants in Manila (2019 Homegrown Edition)! The Grid is the latest venture of Charles Paw, founder and CEO of the Tasteless Group, the same brains behind Century City Mall’s Hole in the Wall. Food halls and food parks have burgeoned over the last few years, all with their aggressive branding and marketing. But for the majority, their over-the-top ideas took the front seat; and quality, the back seat. The Grid focuses less on trendy and experimental food concepts, but more on familiar cuisine done with expertise. That being said, this food hall brings together some of Manila’s culinary industry’s most prominent names. Here’s a rundown of our first experience at The Grid: The Grid R2 Level Expansion, Power Plant Mall, Makati Operating Hours: Monday-Friday 11:00am – 10:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 11:00am – 11:00pm Facebook: The Grid Food Market Instagram: @thegridfoodmarketph The Grid is located in the 3rd floor expansion wing of Rockwell. The interior is a stark contrast to Hole in the Wall. At The Grid, the design is more sleek and contemporary, akin to the mall’s patrons. Here, the stalls do away with branding. All stalls look the same—from the window, to the menu, down to the signage. The concept behind this deliberate non-branding is brought about by The Grid’s desire for diners to take their time going around the hall and checking the offerings instead of automatically gravitating toward familiar names. The signage offers the three most basic information you’ll need: (1) the stall number, (2) the food, and (3) the chef or the name of the restaurant. Nothing more, nothing less. There are a total of 12 stalls, with only seven open at the moment. TSUKE MEN (Menu) Tsuke Men, a Japanese concept under the Tasteless Group, is headed by Noel Mauricio of Le Petit Souffle and Ping Pong Diplomacy. Gyokai Tsukemen (₱420) • Gyokai (fish) broth with bits of pork We loved this! The broth was thick enough to coat the noodles, and it was also bursting with flavor. The noodles have a good bite to them as well. Spicy Gyokai (₱430) This spice is more on the mild side and the broth is less viscous compared to the regular version.

TAPAS & PINTXOS BY RAMBLA (Menu) In photo: Dani Aliaga and Chef Ruben Flores of Rambla. Their menu focuses solely on pintxos and tapas—something they don’t necessarily concentrate on in their restaurant concepts. Tortilla & Jamon (₱250)Spanish tortilla topped with jamon and grated cheese Dani describes this as comfort food, and I concur. This goes at the top of my must-try list when you visit The Grid. Try to get a little bit of everything in one bite! Chipirones Pintxos (₱175), Croquetas de Jamon (₱170) I love the Chipirones Pintxo! The squid ink butter had no hints of graininess and was surprisingly bright. Texture contrast between the soft bread and the crispy squid was great. Excellent croquettes de jamon too! (Clockwise from top) Pintxo de Gambas (₱185), Chorizo, Quail Egg, and Manchego (₱195), Salmon Truffle (₱195) For me, there was a little bit too much mayo on the Pintxo de Gambas and there was perfect contrast between the sweet manchego and the salty chorizo. The Salmon Truffle, though, took the cake with its delicate flavor despite its humble appearance. By the entrance of the food hall is Happy Barrels, another stall from the same group. You can buy Spanish wines at retail prices and drink them at the food hall at no additional corkage. If you’re feeling a little bit fancy, cold cuts and cheese are also available for purchase.

LOBSTER, CRABS & SHRIMP ROLLS BY BUN APPETIT (Menu) The famous seafood rolls of husband and wife tandem Lawrence Cua and Iya Jimenez are finally available every day of the week. No need to wait for weekends to visit the Salcedo Market as you can now get their lobster rolls at The Grid. Lobster Roll (₱695), Crab Roll (₱495) • Imported Maine lobster and local crab sandwiched in potato bread The seafood portions are ever so generous and the minimal spice allows for the natural flavors to come through. Their signature potato bread serves as the perfect vessel for these shellfish. They’re a bit pricey in our opinion but good to try at least once.

LE CHON BY HAPPY ONGPAUCO-TIU (Menu) Happy Ongpauco-Tiu of Barrio Fiesta descent continues to bring Filipino food at the forefront. At Le Chon, you start with a choice among pork, beef, or chicken, followed by your flavors and sides and, lastly, with your choice of rice and sauce. Lechon Angus Beef Belly (₱480) • in Truffle at Bawang, with Grilled Talong, Kamote Frites, Original Butter Rice Must-try! Tender beef belly bursting with garlic flavor with subtle hints of truffle in between. The butter rice is not as greasy as it sounds. Lechon Manok (₱299) • in Truffle at Bawang, with Kamote Frites, Original Butter Rice and Adobo White Sauce Great choice if you’re looking for a lighter kind of meat. The adobo white sauce tasted a lot like ranch. The servings were huge to boot!

BANGKOK PORK CHOP, PAD THAI BY TANKCHOP XL (Menu) Lowbrow Casual Restaurants, the prime movers of Bad Bird, moved toward another direction for their stall at The Grid. Instead of Japanese and Chicken, they went for Thai and Pork. Pad Thai (₱290) The Pad Thai was decent, but we felt like it could use a bit more fish sauce. Pork Chop (₱290)with fish cracker, papaya salad and mung beans Great flavor overall. But Sean preferred the pork chop without the breading. Nothing too creative compared to the flagship menu of Bad Bird.

COFFEE, JUICES AND COCKTAILS BY EDSA BDG (Menu: Coffee, Juices) EDSA Beverage Design Group literally takes center stage at The Grid. Right in the middle of the food hall is your go-to establishment for drinks. (Clockwise from left) Almond Fig (₱160), Sangria Passionfruit (₱160), Lychee Grapefruit (₱160), Turon Ginger Beer (₱160), Anysour (₱300) Given that it was late at night, we ordered crafted juices instead of coffee. We found the Turon Ginger Beer to be a fun local twist. All concoctions were well-crafted and worth a try. Plus points for the metal straws!

LA CHINESCA BY  CHEF BRUCE RICKETTS LA CHINESCA is the hole-in-the-wall, solo venture of Chef Bruce Ricketts  that started in BF Homes, dedicated to his first love–Mexican cuisine. While this place is not a traditional Mexican resto, eating Bruce’s creations will not disappoint. Tuna Tostada (P135) Chipotle mayo, salsa fresca, lime, Maggi, orange, onion, peanuts My favorite is the tuna tostada! I love the refreshing marriage raw tuna, onion, peanuts, mayo, cilantro and lime sauce on a hard tostada shell. The textures and flavors will blow you away. I’m also curious about the uni and oyster version. But my budget does not permit me right now. Maybe next time? 🙂 Carnitas (P130) Achote pork confit, roasted pineapple, bean purée, pickeld onion, chicharrôn, cilantro Love the combination of pork confit with sweet roasted pineapple, and pickled onions. Wagyu (P250) Beef cheek, salsa borracha, roasted bell pepper sofrito, sesame seeds, cilantro While the wagyu tostada did not meet my expectations. Best to skip judging by the taste and price. The tacos and tostadas are served open, they may appear small and can be eaten in two to four bites, but believe me, this is how you eat Mexican street food.

BURGERS & BITS BY JOSH BOUTWOOD Burgers & Bits is Chef Boutwood’s newest comfort food concept featuring burgers, loaded tater tots, and fried chicken. Chef Josh Boutwood is the Executive Chef in The Bistro Group and recently opend Savage, Helm and of course Burgers & Bits. Tex Mex Loaded Tater Tots (P165/ P270) Chili, cheddar, black beans I loved the tater tots loaded with ground beef, queso sauce, onions, and cilantro. But I think it needs more onions to cut through the monotony of the appetizer. Ancho Pancho (P395/ 6 oz) Monterey pepper jack cheese, ancho pepper sauce, chipotle feta sauce, red onion &cilantro The Ancho Pancho was may favorite, you get the spicyness from the ancho pepper, the acidity from pico de gallo, and when you bite into it you you get a covergae of the whole palette. No one said that’s enough cheese (P395/ 6 oz) American cheddar, Monterey pepper jack cheese, aged comte, mozzarella & jalapeno cheese sauce The cheeseburger was my least favorite since the cheese overpowered the meat. Fun fact about Burgers & Bits is that each burger is uniquely pressed on the grill nothing preformed. They also added a little bit of dry aged beef to give that mustiness or character to the burger. Saigon Chicken (P395/ 2 pcs) (all served with rice) Order the Saigon Chicken with its potent acidic sauce drizzled on their generous serving of golden brown fried chicken. Served with fragrant spiced rice that adds complexity to the dish.

WORKSHOP BY LE PETIT SOUFFLE Workshop by Le Petit Souffle offers a variety of pastries that work well as daytime snacks or meal enders. Don’t these look so inviting? Workshop also has its own seats if you just wish to have a bite of the pastries and nothing else. Basque Cheesecake (₱245) Light and airy, this cheesecake is the best ending to a night full of savory dishes. The best-sellers are the chocolate and strawberry 7-layered cake! It’s best to buy the cakes ahead of time as they do run out. We wanted to try the 17-layer chocolate cake we saw earlier in the evening, but it was already sold out when we decided to buy it at around 9:30 pm. Maybe next time. I got to try the strawberry version. It’s not overly sweet as how I love my desserts. Best to be eaten with all the three layers to experience all the flavors of the cake.

What’s next? The other unopened stalls include concepts are Risa Chocolates and Bucky’s.

FINAL THOUGHTS Overall, we loved the quality of the food at The Grid. This is a great place for friends who can’t decide where to eat. The best thing about The Grid is that there’s something for everyone. Looking for a heavy meal? Go for the Le Chon rice plates. Looking for something warm on a rainy day? Go for the Gyokai Tsukemen. Looking for nibbles to go with your wine? Go for La Rambla’s Salmon Truffle and Chipirones Pintxos. Budget at Php500/head. Note: It closes one hour after the mall closes so you can enjoy your wine or drinks a little longer. We can’t wait for the other stalls to open so we can pay another visit!   The Grid R2 Level Expansion, Power Plant Mall, Makati Operating Hours: Monday-Friday 11:00am – 10:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 11:00am – 11:00pm Facebook: The Grid Food Market Instagram: @thegridfoodmarketph Live an Awesome Life, Monique of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: Our meal was courtesy of The Grid. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. P.S. They’re also selling these controversial ring-shaped biscuits at Happy Barrels.

2 thoughts on “The Grid: A First Look at Rockwell’s Food Market!

  1. Nice concept except for the entitled crowd. They make the small dining area a parking space to nurse their drinks with their computers. Obviously, this causes a lot of stress for the diners w food and drinks on hand and nowhere to sit and eat. You would think that a sign that says “diners only” would not be needed in a place like Rockwell but you’ld be surprised. Maybe they should model the place like the food hall in Ginza 6 where one needs to be seated first.

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