Neighborhoods: Rockwell and Palm Village
Originally the residential zone of Bel-Air Village off EDSA, the Rockwell-Palm Village area has become a thriving upscale commercial center, but residents have managed to maintain a neighborhood feel.
Who says you can’t have village life in the city? The Rockwell vicinity and its environs possess a laidback vibe that goes beyond the posh Power Plant mall. Originally the residential zone of Bel-Air Village off EDSA, this area has become a thriving upscale commercial center, but residents have managed to maintain a neighborhood feel-"you’ll spot yuppies running errands at the mall, couples walking their dogs on evenings, Korean couples headed home with their little grocery bags, and several fashion designers, editors, stylists, and artists who’ve gravitated towards the quirky charm of the ’70s-style apartments in Palm Village.
Those who love to explore little shops and get away from the crowd will delight in the odd places with character, most of which are run by the owners themselves. Though the red- light Burgos district is distinct from busy Makati Ave, and a world away from the glitz of Rockwell, the authenticity of life on these streets makes everything more fascinating.
A tiny retail outpost of the popular San Lo-based bakery, Panaderya ni Gng. Bukid was created with non-Makati residents in mind, says owner Mike Policarpio. Get their famous "Best Maja Blanca", whole wheat pandesitos, challah, bagels, organic sugar, and other home-baked goodies without having to drive through the Makati CBD traffic. Soms Noodle House is one of the most talked-about restos in this area. Cheap and filling, Thai dishes are tweaked for the Filipino palate at this open-air roadside food station that’s evolved into a foodie destination. Crowds of after-office or after-badminton folk flock here in the evenings so be prepared for the busy and anything-goes ambience. After a spicy dinner at Soms, proceed to The Ice Cream Bar for dessert. A banana split al fresco is a perfect way to cap the night. This dessert bar of gourmet ice cream brand Fruits in Ice Cream (FIC), has the feel of an L.A. sidewalk cafe, offering soda fountain-inspired treats like parfaits, milkshakes and hotdogs, as well as their popular tarty-sweet Frozen Yogurt in natural and green tea.
Panaderya ni Gng. Bukid is at 78 Estrella at Zodiac St. (in front of Colegio de Sta. Rosa/Palm Village), Bel-Air Village. Tel. 815-4552; Mobile (0916) 286-0900.
The Ice Cream Bar is at G/F Joya Tower, Joya Drive, Rockwell Center. Tel. 403-0891.
Som’s Noodle House is at 5921 A. Alger St. Poblacion (back of Rockwell). Tel. 757-8079; Mobile (0917) 922-7648.
When you’re in the mood to spend on a good dinner but prefer a low-key atmosphere, try Manna Garden Restaurant in the Koreatown district (on Kalayaan from Rockwell, turn right into the little streets). Insiders choose this for their Korean food fix. Most evenings you’ll find it filled with Korean businessmen-"with their cars and drivers taking up all the parking spaces. So go for early or late dinner and feast on Bibimbap, ChapChae, Beef Stew, and Korean BBQ cravings. Stop by the neighboring grocery for your fill of fun Asian snacks and desserts. For tried-and-tested Persian, Indian and Arabic cuisine, the 25-year-old institution Hossein’s hits the spot every time, with attentive service and excellent (albeit pricey) dishes. From the appetizers like hummus and motabal to their to-die-for kebabs and saffron or biryani rice, everything here keeps diners amazed and coming back. Don’t miss their homemade yogurt or mango lassi-"probably the best in town.
Manna is at Don Pedro Street, Poblacion. Tel. 897-8552
Hossein’s is at 7857 LKV Bldg., Makati Ave. Tel. 890-5928 or 890-6137.
Espresso and wine will soon be offered while you browse, says owner May Castillo of Vint, which offers a wonderful collection of vintage trunks, old radios and cameras, beautiful antique clocks, and collectible tin cars from the ’60s. Visitors ranging from Teddy Boy Locsin to Jolina Magdangal have dropped by to ogle the merchandise, which have been culled from the U.S. and Germany, and from the owners’ private collections. They also have furniture, old posters, as well as beautiful hardbound editions ranging from Dante’s Inferno to an 1873 copy of The Holy Bible. This gem of a store should stay an insider’s secret-"too bad they’re opening a branch in Power Plant mall soon. For designer clothing, troop to the House of Laurel for Rajo Laurel’s fabulous fashion empire. You’ll get your fill of glamorous and feminine day to night wear, plus accessories, at this one-stop retail shop. Rajo’s sister, makeup artist Gela Laurel-Stehmeier also offers exclusive beauty and makeup services here in a plush, private setting. Clean-lined pieces and menswear-inspired designs have catapulted young designer Joey Samson to the top of his game. His home atelier is also a testament to his spare and modern sense of style.
Vint is at 2/F, A-Venue Mall, Makati Ave.
House of Laurel is at 6013 Villena St., cor. Manalac St. Poblacion. Tel. 895-5688. Email: email@example.com
Joey Samson is at Camia Street, Palm Village. Mobile (0918) 959-2541. By appointment only.
Yuppies de-stress at Three Sixty in owner Bong Velasco’s stylish red-hued interior lounge. Sample the Asian eclectic menu-"think dimsum as tapas-"to bossa nova or sexy house music. Velasco worked at North Park for over a decade and formerly owned Bamboo Lounge in Boracay. Fashion-lovers won’t miss the dramatic communal table, inspired by Buddakan, the NYC resto prominently featured in the Sex & The City movie. Don’t miss their Buchi Ferrero Rocher and Buchi Truffles. Claiming over 100 imported draft and bottled beers on their roster, the corner bar Beers Paradise offers a break from the party scene. Here’s where one can have a real conversation and even flirt a little bit over unflatteringly bright light and so bad-it’s-good music (think ’80s or love tunes). But that’s part of the charm, the unpretentious vibe of the place, while you have a Leffe Blonde and some really spicy squid. Non-drinkers can still feel at home by sampling their fruity beers (think apple cider). Don’t be fooled by its seedy location, your total bill could surprise you, with the average price of P200 per bottle.
Three Sixty is at 2/F, A-Venue Mall, Makati Ave.
Beers Paradise is at Polaris Street, Bel-Air. 895-9271, 896-0193. 895-9272