Case in point: a group of relatives go home to the Philippines after eight years of living in Europe. They’re hankering for Filipino food. Where do you bring them?
Am sure you’ll agree with me when I say Barrio Fiesta is one of the best places to take them to. Even with the abundance of restaurants serving Filipino cuisine around, Barrio Fiesta is a favorite mainstay. I think there’s no pairing more classic than crispy pata and kare-kare – it’s exactly the two specialties they’ve built their business on.
Alas, a recent visit to a Barrio Fiesta branch in U.N. Avenue gave me the impression that the place is decaying, even though the name endures. I was certainly glad that the new generation of Ongpaucos (the family which owns BF) is giving the resto chain a facelift. This is by way of the new resto Ibayo by Barrio Fiesta which opened last May at the San Miguel By The Bay strip, in front of Mall of Asia.
I easily felt the modern vibe the minute I walked in the door. There’s a lot of difference that the choice of color scheme can do. The addition of hanging lamps and chairs in dark tone add to the mood. My only misgiving is that the area seems to be more elongated than spacious. This probably explains why the young owners Tristan and Tyrone Ongpauco decided to transform the place from resto to bistro, a bar or watering hole to relax in after office hours.
Their fishbowl sago at gulaman (P120) makes for a conversation piece. Traditionally made of tapioca pearls and jelly , it’s the biggest serving of the drink I’ve seen
We had several dishes that night, but my taste buds hovered to their adobong puti. A mix of chicken and pork pieces cooked adobo-style, sans the soy sauce (hence the name). It was savory and creamy, which made me wonder if they also used coconut milk, aside from the vinegar.
Guinataang kuhol (snails in coconut cream)! A few of my friends like this, so am uploading for their sake. Kuhol sa gata is listed in Ibayo’s appetizer menu @ P180 per serving and its yummy meter is kicked up further by the addition of green veggies like kangkong (watercress).
Another house appetizer is the Ibayo Firesticks which is mini egg roll filled with sliced jalapeno peppers and cheese. Wish this was more spicy though. Some of the dishes in the resto (like the Firesticks) cannot be found in the Barrio Fiesta traditional menu. These include some of the bar chow and alcoholic cocktail drinks which were specially concocted in keeping with the bar/bistro ambiance.
Finally, maja blanca for dessert! This is a traditional Filipino delicacy made of coconut milk and sweet corn kernels.I wish I ended my meal with this and brewed coffee, but the place being new, they don’t have the coffee maker yet. Still, the maja blanca was a winner. (P.S. they have puto bumbong too)
Ibayo by Barrio Fiesta
Building G, Unit 7-8
San Miguel by the Bay
SM Bay City (bayside, across MOA)
Call 0917-5376062 or 0906-5002782