CHECK IT OUT: Corazon at the East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong
The sun also rises on this new Spanish-inspired restaurant.
Level 4, Shangri-La Plaza East Wing
Shaw Boulevard corner Edsa
Tel. No. (0917) 817-8298
Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
(SPOT.ph) Ask a waiter about Corazon's bestsellers, and she'll ask, "In the Spanish menu or the Filipino menu?" You see, Corazon may be a "Filipino-Hispano" restaurant, but they're definitely not fusion. Instead, two menus-gussied-up Pinoy classics and homey Iberian fare-jostle good-naturedly for your culinary attention.
"In Spanish, the word corazon means heart, compassion, love," says Christopher Yatco, who runs the Florabel group of restaurants along with his wife, Chef Florabel. Their inspiration for Corazon came from a trip to Spain, but in a most unexpected place. "When we went to Madrid, there was this restaurant that had vaulted ceilings. ’Yun yung naging inspiration ko for this restaurant."
Corazon features its own vaulted ceiling, which, along with the ornate candelabra (crowned with the drippy oversized gothic candles) gives the restaurant the vibe of an airy cathedral-though we have yet to see cathedrals that come with their own well-appointed wine bars. Book a table outside the resto proper to experience a more "fiesta in the plaza" vibe, with candy-cane-colored woven chairs, artificial greenery, and a modern-art mural splashed across one side of Corazon's outside wall. All you need now is some bull-running, though we doubt Shangri-La management would approve.
"I wanted to highlight the Filipino food more," says Yatco of the Corazon menu. A little biased, sure, but we won't argue with the results. Ciudad Real (P395) is a creamy and delectable laing-the coconut milk is practically frothy-topped off with indulgent slices of crispy pata. The spice-averse will be glad to note that the liberal slices of chili pack a more subdued heat; it's less spicy than it looks.
If you're in the mood to order a table centerpiece, the Torres (P350) just might be your fish. Peeled, deep fried, topped with a mix of greens and a sweet chili sauce, then plopped in front of your table in all its upright glory, this tilapia is a natural-born showstopper. The light tropical taste cements its star status.
Chef Florabel's flair for presentation doesn't end there. The curled bamboo skewers and shot glasses of the Suman Latik (P180) put a smile in our faces. Its charms are more than decorative, though-those shot glasses contain some dangerously delicious Batangas tsokolate.
On the Spanish side of the menu, we were lucky enough to try the Paella Valenciana (P595). "Yung paella namin dito is authentic paella," says Yatco, unlike the paella in their sister restaurants Crisostomo and Elias, which lean more on the fusion side. Corazon's version is mealy, creamy, and like the best kind of paella, a complete meal in and of itself. If you can only order one thing here, let it be this one.