"Just fill out this card so we can know a little more about you and what type of drink you like, then we can create your own bespoke cocktail," Erwan Heussaff tells us. As the main man behind the bar Niner Ichi Nana, he makes sure their loyal patrons never leave Niner (or '917') parched, and completely sober. Thirsty folk have been flocking to this BGC estabishment for their craft cocktails, while those hankering for gastropub fare tumble along its next door neighbor, The Hungry Hound. Both establishments opened mid-2013, and have been challenging their own reinterpretations of food and drink by continously evolving their offerings.
At Niner, some of the best-selling drinks are the classic duo of Old Fashioned and the Whisky Sour, while Erwan recommends their modern cocktails such as the Pink Blush (P430) and Wood Picks (P320/P410). Each time I visit the bar, I never fail to order one (or two) of the Eurasia (P370/P480), a spicy, tarty, and sexy whiskey based drink of elderflower, cucumber, and fresh lemon juice.
917's Tropical Cocktails: Sour Wat Punch and Perpetually Happy
To have the full Niner experience, however, having the Bespoke drink option (P500/P900) is a must. Have a seat by the bar and have Erwan and his team of top-notch bartenders create unique cocktails just for you--based on your mood, preference, the bar's daily infusions, and market fresh produce. Erwan himself can be seen behind the bar at least once a week, if you feel like giving him a cocktail challenge of sorts. After filling up my card, I was presented with my drink in a martini glass, dotted with a line of little burnt-orange hearts on top just like latte art. A slice of dried lemon completes the decoration. Light and zingy, a sip of the cocktail zips into my mouth with a slightly sweet aftertaste. It leaves a strong kick, yet its piquant flavors never intimidate the tastebuds. It's my kind of whiskey drink.
Erwan Heussaff guest bartending at the World Class Bartender of the Year 2014 kickoff event, where Niner Ichi Nana was part of the stellar line-up of Manila’s best bars and bartenders
My own bespoke cocktail by Niner Ichi Nana
Another unique cocktail creation prepared for a customer
While Erwan is at the helm of Niner's artisanal cocktails, Chef Mikko Reyes is in charge of feeding the hounds at the next door gastropub. As the new chef of The Hungry Hound, he recently launched a 'freestyle' gastro pub menu which showcases traditional dishes with a modern approach.
Chef Mikko Reyes
The chef has retained some of the old favorites and best-sellers from the restaurant's old menu, and is excited for old patrons and new diners to sample his take on modern gastropub fare. "A lot of the food here has a lot of Western technique. There are a lot of dishes with English influences, as pub food is English. I also try to inject a bit of Asian, like a bit of Korean, but still prepared with Western technique. With making menus, I try to make it diverse," Chef Mikko shares to me.
Excited and hungry to try the new gastropub grub of The Hungry Hound? Here are ten items from the new menu for you to check out!
1. Old Bay Crab Croquetas (P297)
Very flavorful and pillowy soft croquettes are made with spiced lumped crab and breaded bechamel. They're good as is, but there's some dill caper aioli and charred corn relish to tease your palate with more flavors in every bite.
2. Chili Whipped Lardo & Pate Toast (P179)
For your ciabatta toasts, a duo of spreads in pots, featuring Don Papa chicken liver pate and garlic confit. Try the combination of spreading the liver pate on the rounds then topping it with the sumac apple chutney for some sweetness and bite.
3. Spiced Crispy ChickenSandwich (P367)
"One dish that I really like--I'm not sure why it hasn't been ordered much--is the Spiced Crispy Chicken Sandwich," shares Chef Mikko. It's his personal favorite because it's his take on the Zinger, his favorite sandwich. This tribute to the famous chicken sandwich has a lot to be proud of, its unique combination of spices making it distinct, and not a copycat. The sriracha aioli and sesame radish slaw gives this sandwich a little Asian twist.
4. 1 Kilo Shortloin Steak (P3,568)
Gather your band of meat-loving bros for this one. Featuring USDA Prime and dry aged beef, the meat is topped with foie gras butter, melting into the crevices of the steak as your server delivers the dish to your table. The shortloin steak is drizzled with maker's mark jus, and also comes with chorizo roast potato for your carbs and cherry tomato and fine bean salad (just so you can say you had your veggies).
5. Hanger Steak & Chips (P725)
Here's another steak dish to relase your hungry carnivore self. Embraced with the same foie gras butter, the hanger steak comes with mealy truffle fries, and drizzed with maker's mark jus.
6. Paprika Broiled Salmon (P535)
Underneath the broiled salmon is a mound of tasty spinach risotto, which I found myself mixing with the drizzling of chili bacon vinaigrette all around the plate. The added topping of salmon skin cracklings, film-thin and addictingly crisp, gave the dish an extra boost of texture and saltiness.
7. Smoked Duck Ham Aglio Olio (P458)
The classic Italian spaghetti aglio e olio meets the French duck breast in this pasta dish. Completing the lineup of ingredients are garlic, chili flakes, cherry tomato confit, and two pieces of ciabatta toast. Simple and clean flavors for someone wanting a filling dish for the night.
8. Brioche French Toast
"It looks like a fluffy sofa... that I can eat," I muse. I was happy to discover that this version of the French toast is surprisingly light, not overly drenched in sauces and drizzles. Topping the two pieces are walnut streussel, pomenegranate cream, bruleed apple, and cardamom syrup.
9. Banoffee Trifle
Both this and the Brioche French Toast are very brand new items, with the banoffee served that evening for the first time. "How do you like it?" asks Chef Mikko. I'd like it more, please! my sweet tooth exclaimed, but I had to temper myself. I manage to reply that I liked it a lot. This trifle features rum stewed banana, salted cashew brittle, toffee cream, and spiced banana cake--the play of textures made every spoonful extra pleasurable.
10. Foie Gras "Nuggets" (P765, from Niner Ichi Nana)
I've saved the best for last. It's a bar chow item from Niner Ichi Nana that was brought over to The Hungry Hound, but it's too memorable a dish not to mention in the list. Chef Mikko upgrades our childhood favorite of deep-fried chicken nuggets into a marvelous plate of four pieces of fatty liver encrusted with golden panko crumb. It comes with kikkoman bbq sauce and pomenegranate sweet chili. They say meals are best ended sweetly with dessert, but this absolutely sealed the evening's festivities.
The Hungry Hound and Niner Ichi Nana are located at the ground floor of The Globe Tower, 32nd Street corner 7th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Call +63917.876.9999 for reservations. Like on Facebook (HungryHoundPH and NinerIchiNana), and Follow on Twitter/Instagram (@HungryHoundPH and @NinerIchiNana).