New Restaurant Alert: Soil at Molito Commercial Complex, Muntinlupa
The sibling duo behind the farm-to-table restaurant promises down-to-earth modern dining.
Unit 16, Molito Commercial Complex, Madrigal Avenue corner Alabang-Zapote Road, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Open from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) The new addition to the growing Molito complex looks familiar but not quite. The typical industrial design elements are there, but completed by a touch of finesse. Soil is rustic yet refined, sophisticated, yet still inviting.
The two-storey restaurant can fit up to 45 diners during the busy service hours. There are bar seats which provide a nice view of the kitchen where all the action is, plus neatly set tables with immaculate ornaments. What captures people's attentions, however, is the mural.
"The mural is a depiction of a farmer and a fisherman using the images of my grandfathers. We draw inspiration from the people's hard work or from the source of our food. It's very refreshing to be able to help local farmers, to get them noticed. It's become more of a vocation for us," shares Iñigo Pimentel, Soil's co-owner and general manager.
We love the spacing.
Best seat in the house
Lovely refined details
The farm-to-table restaurant in Alabang is the Pimentel family's first attempt to enter the food business. Iñigo's brother Chef Lorenzo trained in kitchens abroad under the mentorship of esteemed chefs like Jason Atherton (of the Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social) and Andrew Walsh (of Singapore's hit Cure), which makes him the natural choice for Soil's kitchen. Their mother Ces, meanwhile, leads the business end.
Soil quietly opened in January. The menu features seasonal dishes made from local, organic produce, prepared using modern cooking techniques. Flavors are not limited to any particular cuisine. "We want to provide diners with an adventure where they can explore different flavors that they don't normally try," explains Chef Lorenzo. "But we're not going too far to a point that it's not appealing to the Filipino palate anymore.”
Crispy Baby Squid with Chorizo Ketchup, Coriander, and Lime
Balsamic Chicken with Fried Mantou, Ginger, and Egg
To start, there's the Crispy Baby Squid with Chorizo Ketchup, Coriander, and Lime (P320), where perfectly seasoned seafood is boosted with a mild chorizo flavor and a kick of heat. The smooth, creamy, and crunchy textures of the Balsamic Chicken with Fried Mantou, Ginger, and Egg (P320) are also great teases to the palate.
Inspired by the local sinugba, the Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Pork Belly, Tuna, and Coconut (P325) is an exciting medley of flavors, thanks to the refreshingly cool greens and smoky proteins. A true star on the menu, however, is the unassuming Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Confit Potatoes and Potato Chips (P295). Topped with mushrooms and crispy kangkong, the dish is absolute comfort in a bowl: warm, creamy, delicate, and intensely aromatic.
Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Pork Belly, Tuna, and Coconut
Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Confit Potatoes and Potato Chips
For seafood, try the Tea Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi, Atchara, and Orange (P395). The plate, which also carries salted caramel cream, nuts, and greens, is a showcase of flavors from sweet to salty, nutty to earthy, plus a dash of citrus notes here and there. The Kingfish Ceviche with Wasabi Soba, Soy Caramel, and Chicken Skin (P395), meanwhile, is for those who love bold flavors and a lot of heat in their dishes.
Tea Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi, Atchara, and Orange
Kingfish Ceviche with Wasabi Soba, Soy Caramel, and Chicken Skin
Roasted Pork Belly with Tinapa Mash, Pork Crackling, and Fermented Apples
Pan Seared Duck with Fresh Lasagna, Foie Gras, Mango, and Pineapples
Another standout item is the Roasted Pork Belly with Tinapa Mash, Pork Crackling, and Fermented Apples (P395). The pork belly is well seasoned and juicy, the mashed potatoes hint at the right level of smokiness, and the apple purée beautifully teeters between sweet and sour. Clearly Chef Lorenzo is a master at layering flavors: the Pan Seared Duck with Fresh Lasagna, Foie Gras, Mango, and Pineapples (P450) is another great example. Make sure to get fresh pasta, pinkish duck slices, and guilt-inducing foie gras in every forkful to truly comprehend the role each ingredient plays.
Bacon Cheesecake with Lime Basil Granita, Ginger, and Strawberry
Off-Menu: Balsamic Vinegar Ice Cream with Honey Dew Syrup
For dessert, sweet and savory come together in the deconstructed Bacon Cheesecake with Lime Basil Granita, Ginger, and Strawberry (P285), while Asian flavors take the spotlight in the Green Tea Parfait with Milk Rice Pudding, Monggo, and Aloe Vera (P290).
Iñigo carefully curates the drinks menu. He says, "I want to bring in things that have a story to tell and blend well with the concept. We have Bread & Butter wines that have a very buttery and creamy aroma and taste to them. For the beers, we serve Inedit by Ferran Adrià, a beer brewed to go with fine and complex food, as well as Pedro, a local craft beer brewed in San Pedro, Laguna."
Some of Soil's unconventional flavor combinations may seem slightly far out, but the Pimentels are careful to remember who they're cooking for. “We always keep in mind that our customers are Filipinos. We try to stick [to] our roots and with the ingredients we have here. That's the focal thing I really want to give emphasis to in my dishes—prestige for our local ingredients," says Chef Lorenzo.
Photos by Majoy Siason