This "Secret" Bar in Poblacion Is Done Hiding
Ms. Gee revamps their look and menu.
Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Sunday to Wednesday) and 6 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. (Thursday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) If you’re a Poblacion regular, you’ve most likely seen the hidden bar beside Wild Poppy—you’ve probably been inside, too, if the long lines didn’t deter you. But Ms. Gee, if their new, bright red sign is any indication, is done hiding.
“I envisioned Ms. Gee as a speakeasy,” shares co-owner Milka Romero, “But the location was good and our DJs are really good. So we renovated and made Ms. Gee a sit-down restaurant.”
Renovation meant making the space bigger than before to accommodate more dining tables, and a huge sign announcing Ms. Gee at their entrance. But their cool, grungy vibe—thanks to retro Hong-Kong propaganda posters, a variety of vintage knickknacks, and a bright red neon light behind the bar that’s certainly Instagram-bait—is still present. It’s an edginess Romero wanted their newly revamped menu to reflect.
“Before, our menu was medyo traditional,” she shares. “We only had kropek or small dim sum plates. But we really realized that the vibe of Ms. Gee is ‘go with the flow.’ We don’t really have any rules. We just make our own thing.”
The menu is still very much Cantonese-cuisine inspired—but with Ms. Gee breaking the rules a little. Their version of hakaw, the Shrimp With Coconut Lobster Foam (P330) comes with a passion fruit puree, red caviar, red seaweed, and a caviar tulle. But the star remains the shrimp dumpling, with the snap and subtle sweetness of fresh shrimp in a thick but not too chewy rice-paper wrapper. Meanwhile, the S.S.S. (P300) comes in a gorgeous shade of jade, thanks to a spinach-infused wrapper, and with black caviar for pops of bold saltiness.
The biggest addition to Ms. Gee’s new menu is the mains, which come in shareable plates. “We really want to push not just the bar chow, but also our dinner dishes,” says Romero.
It’s not every day that you find an excellent duck dish outside a fine-dining Chinese restaurant, but Ms. Gee’s Smoked Duck (P350) could fool you into thinking that you’re somewhere fancy. Plated exquisitely, the fork-tender roast duck slices are drizzled with a blueberry sauce, with a fruity tanginess that plays against the smokiness of the duck perfectly.
The Sweet and Sour Fish (P370) doesn’t look like your usual, whole-lapu-lapu-doused-in-sweet-and-sour-sauce affair. Instead, Ms. Gee uses hefty fillets of grouper, with the homemade sweet-and-sour sauce gaining complexity from subtle spicy notes. Meanwhile, the Cereal Prawns (P350) should come with a warning for how addictive they are—but then, it’s really hard to beat the combo of tender prawns and a crunchy, subtly sweet cereal coating.
If you’re still in the mood for bar chow, Ms. Gee has you covered with gems like the Zucchini Mushroom Spring Rolls (P300), which are bursting with so much umami, you won’t notice immediately that they’re meatless, and the Crispy 5-Spice Squid (P270), tossed in five-spice and coated in garlic, which is sure to be devoured in seconds.
While you can now enjoy a nice sit-down dinner at Ms. Gee—that is, if you drop by early enough to avoid the crowd of party-goers—they also have a drinks list worth looking into. Ms. Gee puts a lot of effort into their G&T menu: The Ginger and Honey (P300) has a nostalgic spiced sweetness that pairs well with the Chinese-inspired dishes. But if you’re up for something, well, showier, have the Forbidden Forest (P450). This gin-based cocktail is a blend of Hendricks gin and green tea-infused gin, which the bartender lights up for a dramatic smoke effect.
Ms. Gee’s official Instagram handle is @whoismsgee, so we knew it was a question that needed to be asked. And we’re honestly not surprised to find out that there was no actual “Ms. Gee.” The name, Romero shares, is a play on MSG. It’s the kind of playfulness we’ve now come to expect from this Poblacion joint—and their creatively fun (and tasty!) take on Chinese fare will have you stopping by this hip district, not just for drinks, but also for some pre-game grub.
Photos by Jilson Tiu