Date Night Diaries : Barbacua

It was a night of a hundred stars…okay, maybe not a hundred, but let’s just say there were a lot of stars there–famous people from the showbiz, culinary and publishing worlds.  But the real stars in this venture of Manila Pop Up was the food!!!  Amazing, wonderfully sublime food!

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The brainchild of Chef Bruce Ricketts, Dee Jae Paeste, Mike Concepcion and Erwan Heusaff, Barbacua is a one-night-only gastronomic thrill. This second initiative of the Manila Pop Up team featured food with a mix of Thai and South American flavors.

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Potential patrons were invited via social media (twitter and IG), and were contacted through email.  Information was given regarding seating schedules, location, cost per food item, and the type of cuisine to expect, but that’s pretty much it.  Guests were instructed to bring along their sense of adventure (and cash!  Hahaha!), as they were invited to join this culinary escapade.

I just love pop-ups!  While it’s not entirely a new concept, it is only starting to gain popularity in Manila.  I love the mystery behind it, as well as the novelty. While I’m not big on snobbish, velvet rope exclusivity, there was nothing snobbish about this event, despite its limited seating and it being held for one night only. It is for these very aspects that I find this pop up to be intriguing and exciting!  For those of you who read my blog, you also know how I love new and different experiences!  And this, definitely, falls under that category :).  Without a doubt, this experience ups the ante in Manila’s culinary scene :).

On to the food…

The menu was pretty much composed of small sharing plates and several kinds of punch cocktails.  Our “waiter”, Erwan Heusaff himself, recommended that we each get 2 plates, so that we can try out a variety of the dishes.  We eventually settled on the tuna, oxtail, skirt steak, lapu lapu and sea prawns.

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The tuna arrived at our table first.  It was soooo good!  The dish was served with green papaya, avocado, soy and bone marrow.  It had a bit of cilantro in it as well. I looooooove cilantro!  It makes everything taste so fresh and crisp!  This was a wonderful dish to start the meal with :).

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Next came the sea prawn.  It was served on top of a bed of crab rice and uni (sea urchin).  Can you say winner? 🙂  This dish was AMAZING!  I enjoyed the mix of the seafood, as well as the different textures they each had in my mouth.  Mouth party!!!

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While I’m not usually into oxtail, the H happens to love it!  And because it came highly recommended, we decided to give the ox tail plate a try.  And I’m so glad we did because again, it was such a wonderful dish!  The ox tail was so tender, so soft and extremely flavorful.  That it was served in tiny taco bites was also perfect, and made it easier to eat by hand.  And don’t you sometimes think that eating with your hands makes the meal all the more enjoyable?  Even though I don’t usually like getting down and dirty when I eat, there was something about the juices dribbling down my mouth and fingers that made eating this dish particularly fun and pleasurable! 🙂

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Seasoned with black garlic, accompanied with some peanut sauce, avocado and market veggies, and topped with a fried egg and some oregano, the skirt steak was another favorite, and satisfying dish.  Again I loved the different textures and flavors rolling around in my mouth with each bite!  Call it a more sophisticated version of steak and eggs.  Hahaha!  While I would never think to mix it with peanut sauce and avocado, the combination surprisingly worked very well! 🙂

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Of all the dishes, the least I liked was the lapu lapu.  There was nothing wrong with it per se–it tasted really good as well–it just didn’t have the same WOW effect as the others.  It pretty much tasted like other ceviches I’ve tried.

For drinks, only 3 types of punch cocktails were served.  Because I hardly drink any alcohol nowadays, this was a bit disappointing for me.  However, when I took my first sip of the Pilgrim’s Punch (a combination of pineapple syrup, gin, green tea and bitters), I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was! I could hardly taste any alcohol!  It was light, yummy and refreshing, and went really well with our meal!  The H even ordered a second serving for himself!

The verdict?

Everything about Barbacua was fantastic!  The concept, the food, the flavors, the experience–chalk one up for the Manila Pop Up Crew!!!  It was a date night to be remembered for the H and I.  I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that the eye candy was a big draw as well.  Hahaha!

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Grabbed these IG photos from Jae Pickrell and Nix Alanon.  Was too dyahe to take my own photos.  Hahaha!  I didn’t want to come off as an awe-struck groupie.  Hahaha!

I can’t wait for their next event, Kabukicho!  Slightly different in concept, it is a dive bar/food/music event, done in collaboration with Yabu.  For those interested, shoot the Manila Pop Up team an email at mnlpopup@gmail.com.

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