5663 Alfonso Street, Poblaction, Makati City
Open from 5 p.m. onwards (Wednesday to Saturday), 11 a.m. onwards (Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) IYKYK—the hustle and bustle of Poblacion’s Don Pedro street is undeniably alive literally every night. That being said, take a quick turn into Alfonso, walk a little past the vine-entangled walls, and tuck into Keepers—a cozy bar filled with colorful modern art on the walls, black leather seats, and gold-accented decor. You might find a low-key crowd of barkada hangouts, tech-savvy individuals shaking hands, and food lovers from all walks, because Poblacion is now home to the country’s first Web3- and NFT-powered gastropub.
Also read: Pub Crawl: Poblacion, Makati (2020 Edition)
Here are the must-tries from this new Web3- and NFT-powered cocktail bar in Poblacion:
You might be asking yourself: how are restaurants and NFTs related, exactly? For the uninitiated, Web3 refers to the next evolution of the Internet in which main principles include decentralization, privacy, and security, where ownership or control is held by its users and community. Emerging technologies that stem from this concept include the metaverse, shared digital virtual reality, machine learning, and NFTs or non-fungible tokens, which are records on the blockchain that signify ownership of something in the digital world.
Whether brought about by the pandemic or modern technology’s natural progression, we’ve seen an explosion of digital expression and interaction in the past years—minting NFTs, trading crypto, and online ordering and food delivery have become the norm. With many people seeking to understand how to be part of this nascent digital world, innovative phygital (yes, that’s physical + digital) concepts can help introduce new users in a safe, secure, and fun way.
Meet: Keepers, a Web3 gastropub that serves Asian fusion comfort food and unconventional drinks, a joint project between Kaya Founders-backed startup Commonwealth Labs and Eric Dee’s cloud kitchen concept, Kraver’s Canteen.
“Keepers sits at the center of food, tech, and culture," says Commonwealth Labs founder Gabie Tanjutco. "With the continuous merging of our physical and digital identities, we want to build a space that encourages both worlds by educating and onboarding those who are curious about the Web3 space."
The food is currently overseen by legacy cloud kitchen and food delivery platform Kraver’s Canteen—a first for founder Dee in creating a hybrid setup and serving their dishes in a physical space. “By launching together with Keepers, we can capture the best of both the online and offline market,” he says.
What sets Keepers apart from every other bar in Poblacion? Its very own collection of Keepers NFTs, which marks the first digital loyalty program maintained on the blockchain in the Philippines.
To translate, purchasing a Keepers NFT could result in owner-style benefits and rewards, like access to pop-up dinners, gallery shows, and networking events. Keepers NFT holders can also participate in community-based decision-making and share in the success of Keepers. “We want to promote the exchange of ideas and build spaces where all feel welcome,” Gabie explains.
For food lovers who are excited to interact with the restaurant, a Keepers NFT could afford them some pretty cool perks. “Access could allow the community to vote on which dishes are served, help decide on the events that could be thrown in the space, pick the art that’s displayed on the walls, and even choose which playlists go live in the space,” says Eric.
Whether you go into the NFT program or not, the menu and bar program are enough to visit Keepers, sans an interest in the Web3 world. The menu is split into two segments: main dishes for sharing and small plates to pass around.
“The menu gears towards Los Angeles-style Korean plates and some of my favorite personal bar chow dishes,” says Dee. “The idea for the menu was to be communal since Keepers is all about community.”
All main dishes are meant to be shared among three to four people. The L.A. Galbi (P1,600) features tender bulgogi-marinated shortribs and the Bo Ssam (P1,200) pairs grilled pork belly with a fermented shrimp sauce; both dishes are served alongside kimchi, a scallion salad, lettuce, perilla leaves, ssamjang, and sesame oil. You know the drill: take a lettuce or perilla leaf, add meat, rice, your sauce(s) and side(s) of choice, wrap, and eat.
Their Flaming Shortrib Stew (P1,600) is an uncommon homey braise to see in this district, but is a warm and delicious welcome with tteokbokki (rice cakes) mixed into it. The mixed cheese topping is torched tableside.
Have the mains with a selection from their sides: the Kimchi Bone Marrow (P350) features kimchi rice with bone marrow sitting atop; noodle lovers can dig into the Scallion Noodles (P100) for a flavorful mix of ramen noodles, scallion oil, and soy sauce.
Don’t leave without ordering an array of small plates. The Crispy Salmon Belly (P200) is a crowd favorite with an umami-rich miso-honey glaze; Rendang and Kropek (P250) packs a powerful punch with spice-heavy traditional beef rendang tempered by the light crunch of prawn chips; and the Chicken Satay (P300) features smoked Indonesian chicken satay, housemade peanut sauce, kecap manis, and fried onions.
Plant-based picks include an addicting Marinated Cucumber salad (P90), chili-heavy and indulgent Tofu Sisig (P310), or crunchy fried Shishamo (P300) a.k.a. willow leaf fish served with ponzu and Japanese mayo.
“We wanted a menu that was impressive but had value in mind, hitting all the different price points, whether you want to have a quick meal or an impressive date or meeting,” says Dee.
Nightcaps are welcome as the bar program is helmed by The Spirits Library’s Lee Watson. Currently, the menu consists of playful takes on the classics: the NFT and Tonic (P380) is a colorful G&T that uses a touch of blue Curacao gin; the BAYC (P380) is fashioned after an amaretto sour, featuring rum, banana liquor, and chocolate bitters; and the Bitcoin (P380) is an old fashioned served alongside a gold chocolate coin.
“Keepers is shaking things up, adding a different dimension to Poblacion,” Lee comments. “We’re excited to work with the team in capturing the essence of Keepers into the growing nightlife scene.”