Craving for a different kind of food trip? Then let a Columbian chef whip you up a gastronomic feast that will have your tongue traveling all around Latin America with just one trip to a restaurant: Brasas.
'I started cooking when I was eight years old, my grandmother and my mom taught me how to cook,' Chef Nathaly says. When the chef finsihed her schooling, she went to culinary school, and later on worked for restaurants and hotels for five years in Columbia. 'Then I went to work in the cruise ship for three years, and then I met my husband, who is a chef. And then we came here, and then opened Brasas,' she shares.
When asked about the difference between Spanish flavors (which Filipinos are very familiar with) and Latin American flavors, the chef says that there is not much difference. "We have dishes that are similar, like caldereta, bulalo, bistek tagalog." The distinction, she tells me, lies in their use of spices and ingredients that make it just a little different--adding cumin, lime, cilantro, for example. 'If you think of Mexico, everybody thinks of chilis. Then if you go down a little bit in Latin America, they use more beans, cumin, cilantro, lime, paprika. Of course, there's corn. Corn there is like your rice here,' she explains. With her culinary expertise, Chef Nathaly brings to Brasas the everyday Latin American food, something you can typically find in their streets. A visit to Brasas can take your tastebuds to over five different Latin American countries for a fun and flavorful food tour. Here's a list of their new menu items you can order for that food tour all around Latin America.
Ay Caramba La Papa (P190)
Country of Origin: Columbia
'This one was created in a restaurant in Columbia,' Chef Nathaly shares. A restaurant in her hometown wanted to create something new for the drinking crowd to munch on, so they threw different things together: seasoned potato crisps, smoked bacon bits, pico de gallo. And ay caramba! It was a delicious surprise. Brasas' version is served with mild and creamy salsa de queso.
Empanadas Latinas (P190 single/3pcs, P360 sharing/6pcs)
Countries of Origin: Colombia, Argentina, Chile
Before, Brasas used to serve only Columbian empanadas, then they later on had frequent patrons from different Latin American countries asking if they will serve the other types from other regions. Now an order lets you savor three different countries: a sampler of Colombian (traditional beef brisket and corn), Argentinian (lengua/ox tongue and wheat flour), and Chilean (chorizo and wheat flour) empanadas.
Country of Origin: El Salvador
This appetizer is made out of grilled corn tortilla shaped like burger patties. Three pieces are stuffed with braised pork, cheese, and frijoles (refried beans). The slaw topping is called curtido, an El Salvadorean version of our atchara--pickled vegetables (cilantro, carrots, onions, and cabbage). The pupusas come with a serving of salsa roja, a spicy condiment made with chipotle peppers.
Aside from starters, mains, and desserts that showcase different flavors of Latin America, Brasas serves delicioso bebidas as well. Order the La Rubia (P210), Caribe (P140, non-alcoholic), and Mojito (P170) to quench your thirst, and make the most out of their happy hour promotion.
Caldo de Costillas (P360)
Country of Origin: Columbia
The chef shares that this hearty beef soup similar to our bulalo is very traditional fare in her country. "Especially on Sundays when you get together with your family," she adds. You can find people cooking caldo de costillas in giant pots along the streets, and the whole neighborhood would line up to get their share. Columbians would pour some aji (sauce made from bell peppers, onions, and cilantro) into the broth, and a little bit of hot sauce.
Pescado con Coco (P450)
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico
This seafood entree is from the Dominican Republic, but also features the mofongo, mashed green plantain with corn that is deep fried--a dish from Puerto Rico. The fish is flavored with sofrito in coconut sauce. Sofrito, as Chef Nathaly explains, is the base flavor of many Latin American food. It is a mix of cilantro, peppers, and onions, roasted in charcoal, and then blended.
Puerco Asado (P310)
Country of Origin: Cuba
This dish is not a new item at Brasas, but Chef Nathaly is very proud of their Cuban best-seller that she had it prepared for the evening. The serving of rice and beans that serve as the bed for the pork crackling and slab of meat is called Moros y Cristianos, typically served in Cuban restaurants and named so because of Cuba's history. The best part of this dish and why people keep coming back for it is the crunchy skin and the tenderness of the pork.
Visit Brasas in their following branches: Jazz Mall Makati, The Podium, SM Aura Premier, SM North Edsa, and Evia. Follow Brasas on Instagram (@brasasphilippines) and Like them on Facebook (/brasasphilippines).