Setting. Papa Loa in Bonifacio Global City is relaxed but vibrant. There's a small reception at the ground floor however all the action happens on the second floor. Going up the stairs, I was instantly struck by the eclectic mood. Colorful patterns adorn the wall. The second floor features the same chill atmosphere that's inspired by the tropics. Images of the beach and personalities like Bob Marley are on display, serving as backdrop to eight to 10 tables lined along the wall and the windows. Further back is a fully-stocked bar that serves colorful cocktails, and tucked at the opposite end is a DJ booth.
Food. Papa Loa's concept is "modern Asian meets Tiki bar". The selection is distinctly geared towards Japanese flavors. Every portion is enough to satisfy the diner, but leaves enough space for the next dish. Try the aburi to kick off the meal, torched salmon ceviche (P260 or US$5.39) served with crispy corn, coriander and coconut dressing.
Highlights also include the katsu bun (P110) steamed bao bun with a generous slab of deep-friend chicken cutlet topped with slaw and various sauces like sosu and hot mustard. The chicken's crunch and bun's softness combined with the sweet toppings make the plate a fine play on textures and flavors. Skewers are a specialty here as well, especially the beer-battered eggplant skewers (P75), steamed eggplant wrapped in a sweet and crispy coating. The beef skewers (P115), soy-glazed and quite sweet, topped with crispy rice, are a good choice. It also comes with plantain (a type of banana) mash.
Service. The staff know the dishes well. The wait staff recommend serving the dishes one at a time.
Prices. Surprisingly affordable. Good value for the dishes offered.
Verdict. Highly recommended, especially for groups who prefer a more chill after-work eat-and-drink place.
Book a table at Papa Loa BGC, Forbeswood Heights, Rizal Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, +632 511 7638. A meal costs about P500 per person, with some dishes good for sharing.
Cover photo is a screengrab from Papa Loa Facebook page.
Published September 2016