By Leony R. Garcia / Photos by nonoy Lacza
I have known Oakwood Premier Joy~ Nostalg Center Manila for its winetasting or wine-appreciation nights, which I attended several times in 2010. I was back to this sophisticated hotel apartment in 2016 when the BusinessMirror advertising team had its sales-planning seminar there.
That is the time I had the chance to take a closer look at its charming dining lounge—the Nostalgia.
As its name suggests, one could not help but be nostalgic once he experience fine dining in this simple and minimally decorated lounge complete with three thematic rooms that are all dressed to the nines—Old Manila, Bohemian Paris and Cosmopolitan Shanghai —for diners to choose from. Old Manila room reminisces about the glory days of 1900s Manila and can accommodate 14 guests; Cosmopolitan Shanghai can give six guests the feeling of dining in old majestic Shanghai; while the Bohemian Paris room can seat six persons who may want to relive the romance of France.
In the middle of the room sits an open cabinet filled with vintage items that hint on sentimentality. The music is also a throwback to days past. But the best thing there is Nostalgia serves good food! The buffet—be it breakfast or lunch and à la carte dinner—makes one’s tummy really happy and satisfied.
That’s why when the invitation came to taste its new dishes offering, Chef’s Signature Dishes, I readily agreed to come.
The dishes looked so good to be true! So Instagram-worthy that I posted photos of them right away instead of eating or tasting them. Good thing, Executive Chef Edgar Alejandria was on hand during the pictorial and he saw to it that we ate the newly cooked versions that was served before us.
In between food-tasting and sumptuous dinner, we learned that the amiable Chef loves seafood so much that most of the new dishes have prawns, shrimps, scallops and fish or a combination of these as main ingredients. This is because he hails from Olongapo City and he has grown to love its seafood harvest all his life.
The Prawns & Scallop with Bouillabaise Sauce is a real champ! Dubbed the chef’s heartier version of French seafood soup, the prawns and scallops are made tastier by artichoke mousseline, young onions and Bouillabaise Sauce.
The Seafood in Puff Pastry is light but filling. Alejandria attested that it is from one of his mentors’ kitchen, which he further improved by his favorite local seafood with mixed green salad and balsamic reduction. The amiable chef reminisced that during those times, he and his mentor were busy in the kitchen, the puff pastry usually comes as a rescue for their empty stomach.
The Pan Seared Tilapia is complimented by bell pepper compote, garlic and chives cream sauce. It is chef’s favorite local fish with his own special sauce!
For beef lovers, Alejandria has also came up a special combination of bistek tagalog, longanisa and bacon. It is called Beef Roulade complimented with Filipino-style onion sauce. One can have this if he wants a big breakfast or as pulutan over a bottle or two of his favorite beer.
Overall, the special sauces that Chef Alejandria lovingly concocts to perfection made the dishes truly special and one of a kind, which diners would look forward having for meal anytime of the day.
Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center Manila offers 229 units of luxurious state-of-the-art apartments with a mix of units ranging from 41 square meters to 185 sq m. Available for short and long-term stays, all units have a fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, and an in-shower steamer—a unique room feature. All units are designed for either an individual business traveler on a transient visit, a corporate traveler on an extended stay, a family relocating to the dynamic city of Manila, or even for leisure travelers who either want to shop or escape from their busy life at work. It is within walking distance to several shopping, commercial and business centers, and steps away from the Asian Development Bank.
Ranging from studios to three bedrooms, the sophisticated apartments offer free Wi-fi, as well as kitchens, washer/dryers and separate living areas. They also have steam showers. Room service is available. Amenities include an indoor pool and hot tub, a bar/lounge and a gym. There are banquet facilities and a business center.
The Nostalgia Dining Lounge has been serving the luxury hotel apartments’ tenants and guests all these years with much success—evoking good memories of dishes from the past, good music and events, excellent food and timeless elegance of the dining area.
Complimenting it is the Oakroom Lounge and Bar—home of over 140 malt whiskies of the world.
Chef Alejandria, for one, could not help but reminisced the good, first years the hotel was starting and his training with his mentors until he tried out as executive chef for other top hotel in the area. Backed up by his years of experience in luxury cruises and top hotels overseas, he went back to Oakwood for good “because there is really no place like home”.
Nowadays, he said, coming up with new dishes is still challenging because he is doing it for the hotel he has loved all these years. And also because, this time he has a name to take care of. But he also admits needing some inspiration.
“Coming up with new dishes is like writing a song. When the inspiration is there, you readily come up with the ingredients and recipe. Then the next challenge would be the execution,” Chef Alejandria shared.
We capped the night with several dessert offering which are equally pleasing to the palate. Complete with colorful stories to share, indeed, the food-tasting cum hearty dinner would be something to look forward to.
Nostalgia Dining Lounge is on the 6th Floor, Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center Manila, 17 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
Image credits: Nonoy Lacza