NOT having been there for a while, I was surprised to see that the space between Hotel Sofitel and the Manila Film Center is now Seascape Village. Developed by Metroscape Enterprises, a Filipino-owned corporation engaged in design and construction, Seascape Village is the company’s first commercial venture of this scale. The developer is aiming for a “resort feel in urban spaces.” “We wanted to stay true to the architecture of the landscape,” says Christine Suntay, Seascape Village marketing and events head. Seascape aims to be the “freshest seafood destination.”
Initially, you think it’s just a mall version of a paluto, an upmarket paluto, if you will. But as you begin walking throughout the place, you realize how much more ambitious it aims to be. There is still a lot of construction going on. According to the release, we are only in phase one of the development, which involves the seafood market: “The Seascape Village Bay Market is the first of the four phases of Seascape Village, which are all set to open in the next two years. The second phase is geared toward lifestyle and wellness. The third phase of the development is all about events and entertainment, while the fourth phase will feature a hotel and commercial complex. Upon its completion, one of the main highlights of the property is a beachfront that accords a view of Manila Bay and its famous sunset.”
To sample the seafood goods, we first tried Mazu Seaside Diner. Mazu is named after a Chinese Sea goddess, who is the patron of seafarers, fishermen and sailors and there are said to be over 1,500 temples in her name. Because we went around the whole establishment, the participating restaurants only brought out samplers. Mazu served a very excellent and tender adobong pusit. I couldn’t get enough of their salted egg battered haricot vert (french green bean), and adds to the pantheon of other good ideas to encrust salted egg in. The tuna tataki, seared with a sesame seed crust, could have used a sauce. The interiors are eclectic and modern, despite the dramatic Chinese temple door for an entrance. Because this is a seafood restaurant, the nautical themes run throughout all the restaurants, particularly thick abaca rope lattices.
There weren’t a lot of vendors at the seafood market yet because it had just opened, but there were interesting offerings, such as lobsters, a medium one was going for P,6500 per kilo. According to seller Anne Tayag, medium lobsters were better bets than bigger ones because they have more flesh and they taste better. Unlike normal paluto markets, this one really takes pains to be cute, festooned with stuffed seahorses, fishes and other creatures of the sea.
As for the rest of the restaurants, Rainnes’ café seems to be only one specializing in desserts. Rainne’s specialty are the cheesecakes, and I was able to try the mango cheesecake, which is quite good, and a small dollop of cream under the mango adds a creamier touch. Darwin Cafe HK Special specializes in dimsum. The Big 1 is a milk-tea kiosk that serves bucket-sized teas and milk teas at regular prices. Golden China is a high-end restaurant, which has a wall of aquariums that features all kinds of seafood. Golden China isn’t really operational yet, but I can say that the bathroom walls are decorated with “scales,” along with a huge golden Arowana figure on the wall. Golden China’s private rooms are elegantly designed and named after Philippine tourist destinations. The Gelam Island room is the biggest private room, and because it’s so near the water, it feels like you’re aboard a cruise ship. It overlooks what is going to be a man made beach.
Yatai Asian Cuisine is a more casual affair and serves all manner of Asian dishes. They had a sampler of chapchae, a variety of makis, oyster with three layers of sauce, and wagyu beef skewers. If Wow Cow Fresh Beef Hotpot doesn’t get you by the name, the hip vibe of the interiors probably will. Wood and steel accents add a lot of elegance to the place, and there is an illustrated blackboard running through the entire bar, and you’re never too far from nautical ropes.
It’s early days yet at Seascape Village, and foodies will be glad with another destination they can sink their teeth in, and probably swim in, as well.