MANILA – “Eat big, eat fast and eat like a dog,” the grandmother of chef Bernat Playa of new Spanish restaurant Perro Chiko used to tell her guests.
Perro Chiko diners might also heed this tip as the dishes here are really meant to be shared to emphasize the common dining experience that Spaniards share with us Filipinos.
The Lao family, the group behind Perro Chiko is the same behind the former occupants of the Uptown Parade space in Taguig — Choi Garden. It’s no surprise that they accorded the same respect and quality to Spanish cuisine as they did to Chinese cuisine.
For Laotians, the pandemic has been a time of experimentation as they explore other concepts to open and grow their business beyond Chinese cuisine.
Helping connect them to Playa was Chef Colleen Almazon, the daughter of a longtime trusted family employee and Laos scholar. Almazon worked as Playa’s Sous Chef at another high-end Spanish restaurant. Both moved to Perro Chiko, where Playa’s playful take on Spanish cuisine was a perfect fit for the new concept.
Playa is well known for its cuisine and has gained a number of followers. His specialties are the highlight of Perro Chiko’s menu.
Perro Chiko offers several types of croquettes. Here is the Jamon, the Escalivada Y Quezo Ahumado (vegetables and smoked cheese) and the Setas Y Truffa. These are great bites to start a meal with sangria from the bar.
There are a few Hispano-Asian dishes on the menu like this Vegan Cua Pao. which is probably the last thing one would expect to find in a Spanish restaurant. This has a fruity vinegary jackfruit filling that approximates pulled pork.
In the Salmon Glazeado, Playa topped the salmon and cauliflower mash with an Asian coleslaw.
Another example of Asian flavors is the use of calamansi-infused butter to add brightness to his Mahi-Mahi a La Mantequilla
A favorite was the Secreto Iberico, supposedly because Spanish restaurants would keep this entree low only to be served to selected guests. It’s melt-in-your-mouth Iberian pork with a sweet sauce that gives it a ham-like sweetness.
At first glance, the steak dish didn’t even look like a savory dish; it was more like a dessert, a deep dark chocolate cake. It was an extremely tender block of beef check with a red wine reduction topped with foie gras.
Any Spanish restaurant worth its salt should have paella. Besides the usual Valenciana and Negra, the paella to try is the Paella del Señorito. For diners who want to take the hassle out of peeling shrimp and seafood, this is the paella for you, as it has already been prepared by the kitchen. Sit down, enjoy your food and feel like the señor or señora of your own hacienda.
For really special occasions, Playa and her team can also prepare Cochinilio with a day’s notice, and yes, it can be sliced with a plate. In addition to the liver sauce, try it with Playa’s special paprika chimichurri!
Finish with the Tarta de Queso, a Spanish-style cheesecake with berry sorbet, or the Chocolate Half-Sphere Mousse which includes three textures of chocolate – hard shell, mousse and cake.
Perro Chiko is located on the ground floor of Uptown Parade at BGC. The restaurant’s opening hours are Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.