6109 Albert Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) It’s commonly argued that food is itself a form of art, and nobody knows that quite like the folks of KONDWI. We’ve featured the art part of the equation—with glass ornaments, small plants, terrariums, a giant even lit-up wire art on the ceiling, entering the space feels like stepping into a mystical forest of sorts. But art does not stop at the visual sort, and KONDWI extends the experience to the art of sustenance—that is, to food.
It was managing partner Marvin Agustin's vision to create the multifaceted space that would not only be a treat to the eyes and the ears, but to the tastebuds, as well. Though head chef Alexander Craig Tan shares that he was given enough freedom to play around with the menu as he wished, he nonetheless follows a few simple guidelines, such as focusing on light bites that won’t leave you bloated through the night. And while Asian flavors feature heavily here, Tan makes it a point to ensure the flavors don’t compete with that of the cocktails. You’ll find classic starters given their own twist, including a silky-smooth Chicken Liver Mousse (P320), whose liver-y flavor comes balanced with the sweet-and-tart tandem of balsamic vinegar and candied walnuts. Oysters (P300) can be had fresh (with cucumber) or grilled (choose between the just-hot-enough Chili, or zestier Herb variants). And their Gambas (P580)—made with meaty tiger prawns—is as garlicky as can be.
A standout starter is the Tomato Salad (P300)—and don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t just any tomato salad. Here, KONDWI shows off the versatility of the fruit by having it in different forms: diced tomatoes, grilled tomatoes finished with smoked oil, pickled green tomatoes, demi-sec (half-dried) tomatoes that they dry in-house, and cherry tomatoes. Further adorning the salad are watermelon balls, which add a surprise sweetness to contrast with the tomatoes’ tartness, and salty bits of feta to round out the rest of the flavors. Finally, it’s topped with a scoop of a tomato granita made with tomato water—that’s the liquid from the tomato trimmings, which the KONDWI team uses in an effort to combat food waste. Mix it around and enjoy the mix of different textures and flavors you get in each bite.
Meanwhile, their skewers take inspiration from Asian classics, beginning with the Pork Sinigang (P250). Featuring juicy cubes of pork flavored with tamarind, these don’t hold back on the sourness, but it all works with the richness of the pork and comes balanced with kangkong and radish placed on top. The Chicken Satay (P290), on the other hand, takes after from the Indonesian dish of the same name, with chicken redolent with the flavors of sambal and peanut sauce. The Tofu (P250) skewer is patterned after mapo tofu, coming flavored with chili and fermented beans and topped with sweet-savory pork floss. Then there's the Duck (P200) skewer, with cuts of duck breast marinated with soy, honey, and ginger for a resulting flavor profile like our own adobo.
KONDWI also has a short but sweet selection of wines and cocktails. The Green Sky (P495) is as refreshing as it gets, with gin, cucumber juice, and green tomato jam coming together for a zingy sip. The Kondwi Sour (P495) is their take on a timeless whisky sour, made with Laphroaig 10 Years, bourbon, ginger shrub, and frothed up with an egg white. A burlier option is the Viking Paloma (P495), which has grapefruit soda spiked with tequila, mezcal, and port. And if you’re feeling celebratory, go for the Ugo Spritz (P495), which has the vibrant mix of cava, elderflower liqueur, and vermouth. And if caffeine is more your thing, KONDWI delivers with a line-up of coffee drinks made with a blend of beans from Ethiopia, Itogon, and Brazil for a brew that’s both fruity and chocolatey.
“The spirit of KONDWI lies in collaboration," explains art space manager David Laboy. "It's really a collaborative space." Part-art space, part-cocktail bar, and part-restaurant, KONDWI merges the three elements seamlessly with food and drinks that support the art aspect—while being good enough to hold their own.
Photos by Majoy Siason