A rooftop bar in Makati is slowly becoming a favorite haunt among the Poblacion crowd looking for something a little refreshing in the neighborhood. Inspired by outdoor gardens lush with greenery, The Wild Poppy is that secret hip garden along Don Pedro street that allows you to kick back next to nature, while enjoying loungey sips and eats.
"This was two years in the making," shares Kaity Chua, one of the co-owners. "Actually, the idea of the place didn't begin with the food, it began with the concept of a rooftop area." She then shares that two other partners (all owners are high school friends), Marie Garcia and Mimi Quiogue, came up with the idea when the two were in London for a vacation. They've been seeing all these different outdoor concepts and going to a lot of rooftop gardens and though to themselves, why don't we have something like this in Manila?
"We really wanted was a place that's very chill, a laid back area where you feel you can hang outdoors," Kaity says, "We're always in a mall, or enclosed. And opening this [concept] -- we understand why not a lot of people would want to go into a rooftop concept. It's raining most of the time, right? But during the days when it's not raining, it's such a good vibe." The fact that most customers request for the restaurant's outdoor/garden area when they have an indoor airconditioned space goes to show how people are enjoying something new and refreshing with their dining experience. "Seeing that they'd rather get the outdoor area shows how some people like this kind of concept, which is lacking," she shares.
Why name it "Wild Poppy?" It goes back to the idea of a rooftop garden, Kaity answers, the restaurant a poppy flower grown wild in the area of the red light district fast becoming gentrified to the benefit of Makati's foodies and night owls. Food here is also "wild," in the playful sense, thanks to the collaboration with Chef Nicco Santos (Your Local fame). "He is a good friend of ours, and when we were looking around for the perfect person to help us out in terms of food, he was the only one that felt right," says Kaity.
The Wild Poppy offers modern Asian bites and small plates that complement the casual garden setting of Wild Poppy, such as the crowd favorite Yaki Tomorokoshi (P150), a take on the grilled cheesy corn or the spice-filled Mexican elote. Their version is topped with kesong puti, yuzu smoked aioli, scallions, onions, and cilantro. For a punchier start, try the Ping Pongs (P110 for 2 pieces) which take the ikan bilis (crisp dried anchovies that typically accompany the Nasi Lemak) and rolls it with fried peanuts and makes up the center of deep-fried balls of coconut cream mashed potato. It's topped with spicy sambal for extra kick. A personal favorite is the Pok-Pok Bites (P160, P260 with wild rice), a bite-sized version of lipsmacking Asian chicken wings. Here, they're pop in your mouth fun minus the chicken bones, the nuggets of chicken fillets coated with the lightest batter that's flavor-loaded, and topped with shallots and cilantro.
The Wild Poppy still keeps it colorful for heftier items, adding a touch of whimsy to their savory buns, sandwiches, and rice toppings. The Hoi, Belly! (P115/in a fried mantou bun, P265/with wild rice) is served in a fried bun making the initial bite crisp, then yielding to a softer mantou in the inside. It is filled with succulent hoisin-glazed pork belly that has been braised and pan-seared. The Indonesian rendang, which is traditionally cooked using beef, comes in the form of sweet and spicy chicken you can enjoy in a fried mantou bun or with wild rice (their version of Hainanese chicken rice). The Chicken Ren Damn (P115/in a fried mantou bun,P220/with wild rice) only has tickles of heat, which is then tamed by the cucumber croutons, and cilantro. An early customer favorite of the rooftop bar is the Kim and Reuben (P260), the 'wild' version of the classic American reuben sandwich. Giving an Asian twist to this one is kimchi instead of sauerkraut, and a soft bun flavored with curry. The smoked corned beef is also joined by Kewpie mayo, Swiss cheese, and rocket.
For the thirsty, The Wild Poppy offers handcrafted cocktails using fresh ingredients, and all are well-priced for a Makati bar. You can get a drink below 200 Pesos, while local beer sells for P65 per bottle. The most popular cocktail is the gin-based Cucumber Frost (P170), refreshingly combined with lemon juice and fresh cucumber that it'll convince your tastebuds that it's still summer. A sweeter cocktail that most ladies prefer here is rhum-based The Naughty Pirate (P190), with a mix of pineapple juice, macadamia nut syrup, and lemon juice. A personal favorite is Lazy Lemons (P180), a lemongrass infused bourbon cocktail with a blend of lemon juice, ginger and chili. It's got some spikes of spice from the ginger, keeping it playful on the palate, tricking your tastebuds that you're sipping on something very refreshing and healthy, but enough kick in the end to remind you that it's just a little wild.
Visit The Wild Poppy at the second floor of 5666 Don Pedro Street in Poblacion, Makati (located near Z Hostel). The restaurant is open Monday to Thursday 5pm to 12mn, and Friday to Saturday from 5pm to 2am (closed Sundays). Follow The Wild Poppy on Facebook ("The Wild Poppy") and Instagram (@thewildpoppy).