One of life’s hidden blessings is living a short walk away from nice eating places. It doesn’t always have to be fancy, swanky places or franchises of big chains. Personally, we at Happyfoodies are big fans of small establishments, hole-in-the-walls and mom-and-pop operations whose offerings defy their size and relative obscurity. Stumbling upon BonBanhmi along Mayapis in Makati is a good example, a small nondescript shop operated from the house. If it weren’t for the small sign, it’s fairly easy to miss. The giveaway sight is the usual display counter. For an eating area, it has a converted garage furnished with monobloc tables and chairs. But if the place is simple, the food is anything but.
The last time Happyfoodies attended a lunchtime wine tasting event, we left the venue slightly inebriated. As we boarded the lift with some editors, we seem to share a collective feeling of being primed for taking an afternoon nap and foregoing the tasks reserved for the rest of the day. When we set our appointment with Nectar Restaurant in Makati for some lunchtime wine and food tasting, we thought history might repeat itself. Happily, with a bit more restraint, it did not. Oh, we’re not big wine drinkers, certainly no connoisseurs, but the concept of promoting a more democratic wine dining tradition sounded very interesting and too good to pass up.
The shop is small with only four tables and save for some huge prints on the wall, it was rather nondescript, resembling the hole-in-the-wall eateries in Binondo. The two aircon units look fairly new but on several visits, they were never on. Not even the Binondo eateries were this hot. If you close your eyes for a moment and take a sniff, you can imagine being in a Chinatown restaurant instead of a Makati hole-in-the-wall.
The steady stream of Chinese patrons coming and going seems like a good indication of how good (and authentic) the food is. Diners brave the stifling heat at (Old Beijing) Peace and Happiness Dumpling House so the food must be that good, right? That will take a taste test to find out.
The facade looks so much more welcoming with the clear floor-to-ceiling glass covered this time with bamboo slats in lieu of heavy drapes. Stepping inside, the interior is light and airy. The last time Happyfoodies was here was two years ago. A lot can happen in that span, in fact, a few of the restaurants we reviewed has sadly come and gone. Happily, Aquaknox has stayed on, reinventing itself along the way.
It literally takes a lot of guts (pun intended) to call your shop, “Offbeat,” when you’re located at The Collective in Makati City which is an art-meets-commerce kind of space, and adjectives like ‘quirky’ and ‘unusual’ are terms shared by all the shops. Short of offering bizarre food, how can Offbeat, The Wieneke Kitchen be true to its name? That we intended to find out for ourselves.