This Restaurant Adds Corned Beef to Mac and Cheese and It's Surprisingly Good
And ICYDK, Salamangka is inspired by Filipino mythological folklore.
Eastwood Citywalk, Eastwood City, Quezon City
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.
(SPOT.ph) Coffee, cocktails, and craft beer—these three Cs form the soul of Salamangka, the latest restaurant-slash-bar to open in Eastwood City. It's an unholy combination on paper, catering to crowds that mix like oil and water. But for Salamangka, attracting a broad market is a calculated risk that should help them reach their goal.
"We want to enhance the drinking culture here in Eastwood, to challenge conventions and change mentalities," says co-owner Brian Banta. "Is there apprehension on our part? Sure, but we feel we have products that will leave people quite content and craving more." Though still in its experimenting stages, the Salamangka’s offerings already have the makings of crowd favorites.
The latest project of the 121 Group, Salamangka was conceptualized as a place that possesses a "mystical appeal," laden with elements of Filipino mythological folklore from its interiors down to the last drop of coffee. A mural of a balete tree looms on one corner, drop lights hang like floating candles from the ceiling, and menu items take the names of mythological entities like the manananggal, aswang, and sigbin. It's a theme that should resonate with anyone, as they call to mind the tales our grandparents and yayas scared us with as children.
Despite these spooky elements, the restaurant has an easygoing vibe similar to any coffee shop. Being a corner location, Salamangka is blessed with natural light in the morning, making it an enticing stop for coffee or lunch. "One thing we're trying to do is make [Salamangka] your 'third place' after your home or office," says Banta. "If you want a morning or afternoon coffee, we have that for you. If you want happy-hour draft beer or late-night cocktails, we've got you covered."
Salamangka's coffee selection is quite interesting as it can satisfy almost anyone. A cup of Single Origin Coffee (P150) is a must-try for coffee lovers, with choices ranging from a nutty Costa Rican blend to a fruity Ethiopian blend. Those with a sweet tooth can sample unique flavors such as the Chocnut Latte (P185) and Coconut Latte (P185), while health buffs looking to jumpstart their day should try the Bulletproof Coffee (P180), or a shot of espresso with butter and coconut oil extract. The baristas even brew their own version of three-in-one coffee using high-quality ingredients, for only P150!
Salamangka's coffee menu is matched by their craft-beer selection. It's a risk to sell craft beer in Eastwood with all the neighboring bars, so having affordable price points was a priority. "The market here in Eastwood is very value-conscious. It would be difficult to sell craft beer that's upwards of P250, so we had to make sure our prices could compete with our neighbors," Banta says. They partnered with Engkanto Brewery, one of the biggest brewers of craft beer in the country, and their craft beer have four variants—the Lager (P99/12oz, P131/16oz), Pale Ale (P121/12oz, P141/16oz), IPA (P131/12oz, P151/16oz), and Double IPA (P151/12oz, P171/16oz). Those interested in trying everything can order a Beer Flight (P171), which is already a ridiculously cheap price for premium beer.
Equally affordable are the homemade cocktail infusions. All are crafted to send tingles down your spine, which is what you'll probably feel when faced with the mythological creatures they're named after. Don’t forget to get the Mambabarang (P100/glass, P349/pitcher), named after a witch in Filipino folklore, which blends lime juice, cucumber, and mint with gin for a taste profile that's both cleansing and invigorating. The Wak-Wak (P100/glass, P349/pitcher), which is rum mixed with lime juice, mango purée, and mint, is a sweet, innocent drink that's quite unlike the blood-thirsty creature it derives its name from.
With how adventurous the beverages are, the restaurant's food are also variations of typical comfort dishes. The Corned Beef Mac and Cheese (P375) is primed to be one of Salamangka's bestsellers, as the corned-beef chunks go surprisingly well in this familiar recipe. Diners also can't go wrong with the Apilog (P299) and Tapilog (P299), which combines adobo and tapa with pita bread and egg, respectively.
Being a place for drinks all but assures a variety of bar chow on Salamangka's menu. The Itlog na Maalat Pakpak (P349) is as tasty as it gets, with a salted-egg flavor fried right into the skin, eliminating any powdery texture. For a quick yet satisfying meal, the recommended dish is the Keso at Bawang Quesadilla (P219) with shoestring fries, which goes well with a glass of Engkanto beer.
The desserts carry a localized flavor as well, particularly the Tres Chupitos (P299), a triumvirate of familiar desserts with a Salamangka twist. The raspberry taho is inspired by the Baguio delicacy, while the mango float and ube coffee jelly are interesting versions of classic desserts.
Salamangka appears to have every base covered when it comes to being a "third place." The place is a shape-shifter, able to function as a coffee shop, lunch place, or a late-night spot for drinks. That it wants to serve beverages of high quality instead of the usual swill is a welcome approach, and promises a different experience for those craving a drink. Don't be surprised to find yourself bewitched by any of Salamangka's concoctions—you won't be able to help it, anyway.
Photos by Jericho San Miguel