CHECK IT OUT: Alba at Restaurante Español at Mall of Asia, Pasay City
It’s a Spanish oasis in the big city.
Alba Restaurante Español
Prism Plaza, Two Ecom, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
Tel. No. 808-8210; 808-2326
Open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Where the sea and the mountain meet comes Castilian cuisine, a plethora of earthy flavors, seafood, and spices. And in the Philippines, nothing quite exemplifies Spanish fare better than Alba Restaurante Español.
Alba is nothing short of tradition in the Manila restaurant scene. In its 60 years of serving the best paella valenciana (P490), chorizo (P250), and cochinillo (P550) starting with the founder, Anastacio de Alba, their namesake restaurant has consistently been the go-to place for giving customers an authentic taste of Spain. "Alba’s here to stay. We want to tell everyone that we want to carry the legacy for another 60 years," says Cachelle de Alba, wife of Chef Miguel, Señor Anastacio’s son.
The younger couple, who has since taken the reins from their patriarch, has been fashioning the quaint restaurant to cater to a younger market by opening more branches. "We don’t want to open a lot (of branches) actually. We still want to maintain the novelty that we are a destination restaurant," adds Cachelle of their fourth branch. Their newest at the Two Ecom Building in the Mall of Asia Complex is exactly that-a destination. Situated several yards away from the mall is a magnificent, upside-down U-shaped building that houses an oasis of Spanish tradition.
That delicious tradition starts with the buffet (P650+/lunch and P695+/dinner), one that’s varied but not overwhelming. Spanish favorites like Tabla Embutidos (homemade cold cuts), Lengua Sevillana (savory stewed ox tongue in a mushroom sherry sauce), Callos a la Madrileña (tangy ox tripe in rich tomato sauce), and Croquetas de Pollo (chicken croquettes) feature in the repertoire.
The company’s latest outlet is distinctly Alba-dim, romantic with muraled walls, dusky woodwork, a separate deli, and a modest buffet. It’s noticeably bigger, though-around 180 people worth of seating space-which is about the only major difference. But traditions are impervious to change for a reason; we can always count on Alba to serve us the best gambas al ajillo (P330) possible.