Growing up Spanish cuisine was always present at the dining table. My dad would cook an intensely rich callos, tender lengua, a seafood-filled paella and homemade Spanish-style chorizo. That is why I was delighted when ArroZeria in Bonifacio Global City invited me to visit and taste their food.
We started lunch with one of their all-day dining offerings, the crispy calamari roll. The squid has been lightly battered and quickly fried to retain the freshness and crunch. It’s served in a ciabatta bread that’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with greens and topped with black (squid ink) and white aioli. It’s a great sandwich if you’re looking for something that isn’t too heavy.
I’m not a huge fan of vegetables but I came to love it when it’s prepared deliciously such as the cauliflower casserole. Fresh and crunchy cauliflower is topped with cheese and béchamel sauce and baked until the cheese turns golden. It’s a great way to get people to eat vegetables that my gracious host admits she tells her children the cauliflower is chicken. If I was a kid I would’ve probably believed her.
A visit to ArroZeria wouldn’t be complete without trying their paellas. I tried the rossejat which is a paella made with beef shank, pork knuckle, chorizo and chickpeas. What makes their paellas extra special is they use Tinawon Ifugao, a heirloom rice from the Cordillera region of the Philippines, that is very similar to the arroz bomba they use in Spain. When asked how I wanted my paella I responded that it should be soft and wet yet had a crust at the bottom, the socarrat. And it is delicious! Rich and salty – just the way I like it.
Eating is great when it’s done as a group and ArroZeria has boards that are good for sharing between four to six people. The Surf and Turf is their board version of the popular dish with grilled tuna, squid, shrimps, chorizo and angus sirloin beef that is rounded out with greens and rustic potatoes. It is served with lemon butter, aioli and Spanish red pepper sauces. The seafood is fresh and lightly cooked while the beef is cooked medium rare giving it a beautiful pinkish hue.
A meal wouldn’t be complete without postre or dessert. We sampled two desserts: The Malagos Chocolate Brownie and the White Chocolate Amaretto Tart. The Malagos Chocolate Brownie is made using single-origin cacao from Malagos Chocolate in Davao. It is dry rather than moist and has a distinctive earthy flavor compared to brownies made from more commercially made cacao. The second dessert, the White Chocolate Amaretto Tart, is a gelatinous white chocolate with the addition of amaretto liqueur and topped with strawberries making it a refreshing dessert.
ArroZeria serves a different take on Spanish cuisine yet respects tradition and heritage. If you’re tired of the usual offerings at old school Spanish restaurants in Manila a visit to ArroZeria would be a good place to start.
ArroZeria is located at U/G C3 Building, Bonifacio High Street Central, 7th Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines.