Hey Brew Eatery + Bar
G/F Theatre Mall, Greenhills, San Juan City
Open from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Sunday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Friday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) You can get almost anything at Greenhills nowadays—clothes, shoes, furniture, gadgets, you name it. Now you can even get a nightcap and some Instagram-worthy bar chow, thanks to Hey Brew Eatery + Bar.
This restaurant is the newest collaboration between Chef Niño Laus of Ninyo fame and mixologist Kalel Demetrio, the man behind Destileria Barako. The two friends have worked on opening restaurants before, being the brains behind popular bars Agimat and Alamat in Poblacion.
Both Laus and Demetrio say that their newest concept, which is a collaboration with restaurant owner Janica Lao, is all about bringing a tropical vibe to a busy city. That’s clear from the restaurant’s interiors, with murals of palm leaves and tropical fruits painted on the walls, the use of bright yellows on the doors and the stools, and lots of exposed wood. A giant neon sign that says, “Hey Stranger,” can also be found just above the bar, welcoming everyone who passes by to stop in for a drink.
Laus is known for his unique take on Filipino cuisine, so it comes as a surprise that he’s infused some international flair to Hey Brew’s menu. He’s utilized French cooking techniques and combined them with Asian and Middle Eastern elements like harissa, a spicy chili paste in Tunisian cuisine, and dashi, a type of Japanese cooking stock, for his culinary creations.
These experiments have resulted in dishes like the Foie Gras Chawanmushi, a dish that’s the perfect combination of East and West. The rich and buttery foie gras is perfectly paired with the briny uni, topped off with some ebiko, which gives this silky dish a nice textural contrast as the fish eggs pop in your mouth. It’s also visually cohesive, with the egg pudding being encased in eggshells.
Other Asian-inspired dishes are the Gochujang Braised U.S. Short Ribs—tender pieces of beef, coated in a spicy and garlicky Korean hot sauce. The heat hits you right away, but it’s easily tempered by the ribs’ fattiness. Meanwhile, chicken-and-waffle lovers should try the Dashi Chicken and Mochi Waffles. It is a nice play on textures, thanks to the crunchy chicken and the chewy waffles. The Japanese broth drizzled on the chicken lends just a hint of umami to the dish. The Braised Lamb Shank takes its cues from Chinese cooking, being smothered in a sweet hoisin sauce. It’s extremely tender, with the meat falling off the bone.
Other flavors include the Middle Eastern-inspired Grilled Prawns. The prawns are marinated in a spicy harissa sauce before being finished off on the grill. These prawns are smoky and come with a light heat that dances on your tongue. It’s served on top of a tangy yogurt and smoked eggplant purée, savory roasted tomatoes, and crunchy fried chives.
If you could only order one dish off Hey Brew’s menu, it has to be the Beef Ox Tongue Sandwich, which can be best described as a flavor bomb inside a nifty little package. There’s the salty and tender ox tongue, the rich salted egg sauce, the vinegary red onion pickles, and an earthy hit from the mushrooms, all sandwiched in between two pieces of buttery brioche bread. Laus says it takes a whopping seven days to create this dish, with the ox tongue being braised for 72 hours and all the other elements, including the bread, being made from scratch.
And to complement all the food is Demetrio’s impressive drinks menu. There is something for everyone, from fizzy drinks like the sweet and zesty Hibiscus Passion, a house brew spritz made with a tea-and-fruit blend, and beginner-friendly cocktails like the Empire State Sour, a fruity concoction made with whisky, lemon juice, honey water, red wine, and egg whites. You can also try Demetrio’s personal favorite, the Italian Mafia. Think of it as an adult version of a milkshake: a creamy drink made with salted caramel vodka, dark rum, chocolate liqueur, orange juice, pandan syrup, and egg white.
But if it’s milkshake you’re looking for, there’s the Brown Sodium Milkshake, a liquid take on the salted-caramel cheesecake. It’s topped with a pretzel, which brings a salty flavor profile to this already sugary drink.
When asked about what they hope to bring to Greenhills, Laus and Demetrio summed it up in three simple words: a new experience. And with Hey Brew’s experimental flavors and international flair, it’s a welcome experience for an area that’s usually overlooked as a foodie destination.
*Prices to follow
Photos by Kai Huang