It’s 12 o’clock. After you and your office friends partake in a seemingly endless ping pong of “saan tayo kakain?” “ikaw?” “ako, kahit saan” consultation, you find yourselves lining up for one of the outlets in your building’s trusty food court. One chicken BBQ. One rice. One iced tea, please. Manang quickly zaps your food in the microwave. Express cook. 30 seconds later, the sad, overly-glazed, drier-than-your-non-existent-love-life BBQ-thigh lands on your tray. Just another lackluster lunch day.
Now, I know you feel bad about your microwaved food court meal. But prepare to feel worse once you find out what the working peeps from around the Rockwell Business Center Sheridan get for lunch. On a day to day basis, they get to choose from Cebu Lechon Belly, Adobo Flakes Rice Bowl, Red Curry Chicken, Tortilla Pizza, and Fresh Salmon Salad among others -- all cooked a la minute in different tiny open kitchens, housed in one spacious food hall.
Operating since June 15 of this year, Open Kitchen Sheridan is the first indoor food hall of the Open Kitchen group-- the same team that manages the Congressional Ave. and P. Tuazon food parks of the same name. “Our second branch, the P. Tuazon one, is right beside 53 Benitez which is managed by Rockwell. They liked the concept so they invited us to put up a food hall in their new business center in Mandaluyong,” Felise Aurelio, Marketing Manager of Open Kitchen related.
Before you dismiss Open Kitchen as another one of those fly-by-night food halls in the metro, know that behind the group is CA Exhibits-- a family business with 30 years of experience in organizing food fairs and bazaars in malls and other events spaces. In short, these guys have been curating food concessionaires and connecting them with foodies long before food parks went trending. Apart from their impressive street cred in the business, Open Kitchen also considers consultant ex-MasterChef Asia contestant Jake Aycardo (who’s now a full-fledged chef and operator of several food businesses) as an edge over other food hall operators. “Every one of these stalls go through our strict taste testing process. And it doesn’t end there. We do quality check every month to ensure that the quality is the same as when we opened,” Felise related.
Okay, so now let’s pretend you’re from around the area (lucky you, if you really are!) and it’s the first time you’re visiting Open Kitchen. Let’s go through all the options in store for you here on a typical lunch day.
Timplador de Cebu Lechonand Takoyaki Magi
Right across the entrance of the food hall is a shared space between Timplador de Cebu Lechon and Takoyaki Magi. I’ve seen Timplador in several food parks all over in the metro already, and whenever I do, I get a Boneless Lechon Belly with Rice (P120). Their belly has always been consistently crispy and herby, I won’t mind if I’d have this for lunch all days of the week. For bigger groups, you may opt to share a slab of Boneless Lechon Belly (P220 - ¼ kilo good for 2-3 pax; P440 -- ½ kilo good for 5 to 6 pax).
Steam and Boil
Next up is something you don’t usually get to enjoy in an office food court: hot pot and shabu shabu. For P150, you can get a Hot Pot cauldron with 5 pieces fishballs and veggies in chicken or pork broth at Steam and Boil. They have a couple of tables with induction cookers if you want to do the cooking yourselves. Otherwise, just request for your hot pot to be delivered to your chosen corner in Open Kitchen. They are also the resident Chinese restaurant in the hall so for dimsum and fish fillet in tausi cravings, this is where you line up.
A breakthrough star in Open Kitchen, Manna advocates healthy eating. This outlet uses organic and healthy ingredients as much as possible, but doesn’t scrimp on the flavors. First timers are advised to try their best-selling Fresh Salmon Salad (P215).
Flow Handcrafted Ice Cream
Those who believe that dessert comes first, will be delighted that Flow is just a few steps away from the entrance of Open Kitchen. You may be familiar with the rolled ice cream concept of Flow as they’ve done rounds in different food fairs in the metro. Their ice cream is made upon order, using a homemade recipe. We recommend for you to try their Rocksalt and Cheese (P120) and Oreo Dinosaur (P120).
Oji-San Yakitori Bar
To the left is Oji-San Yakitori Bar which offers quality yakitori, sushi, sashimi, donburi, and ramen at affordable prices. Yakitoris are at P50 to P110 (Wagyu cubes) a stick. Tempura is at P150 for 3 pcs. Groups who want to share the bestsellers can order Oji-San Platter for P480.
Cartel’s Cali-Mex Grill
Cartel’s Cali-Mex Grill is owned and operated by two balikbayan Filipinos who lived in California for 13 years. Their menu is simple and quite flexible. Diners are given options to design their own burritos, tacos, and quesadillas according to their meat and sauce preferences. But everyone who loves Cartel’s knows that the best-kept secret is their BBQ Chicken Tortilla Pizza (P250), which is a great, if not a better food hack of a famous BBQ Chicken pizza from a well-known American chain.
Track Bites, Steakation, and Zapata Burger + Nachos
For American food cravings, you’ve got Track Bites which serves Buttermilk Fried Chicken (P170) and tender Louisiana BBQ Ribs (P185), as well as Steakation which cooks your meat on the spot according to your preferred doneness. A Porterhouse Steak meal here will cost you around P248. If you’re extra hungry, go to Zapata Burger + Nachos, where they serve Zapata Burger XXL (P320)-- a â pounder with grilled sausages and fried egg.
If you’re after straight-up Taiwanese-style fare, Chickenzilla sells Boneless Taiwanese Fried Chicken with different powder flavorings. At P140, this bigger-than-your-hand chicken fillet and a generous serving of rice is guaranteed to get you through a hectic work day.
Do Yoon Korean Restaurant
One of the more affordable offerings in Open Kitchen, Do Yoon Korean Restaurant offers rice bowls for as low as P95. Their Bibimbap Rice Bowl (P120), with beef, egg, and assorted vegetables, is a steal for its price.
Ligaya Altanghap, the one with most lines during lunchtime, makes a great representative for Filipino cuisine in this hall full of international dishes. Their seemingly basic Adobo Flakes Rice Bowl (P155) packs a punch and delivers big flavors despite its very basic ingredients. It’s no-frills Filipino food, done fresh and well. Try it and discover why it’s a far cry from the microwaved lutong bahay served in other corporate food courts.
Quick and affordable Thai food is a rarity in the metro, much less in office buildings. Lucky for those working in RBC, there’s Golden Hat which offers basic Thai dishes like Tom Yum (P175 to P260), Pomelo Salad (P190), and Pandan Chicken (P140). We love how Golden Hat lets you customize your curry according to heat level and meat preference. Their spicy Red Chicken Curry (P220 - single; P360 - shared) comes with high recommendations.
And last among the more unique offerings in Open Kitchen is Molana Delicatassen. You’ll find here your favorite Mediterranean and Persian favorites like Beef Shawarma (P150) and Beef Kebab Wrap (P180). If you’re dining with a group, go ahead and share a Kebab Platter (Beef P220 ; Chicken P195) that comes with rice and fresh salad.
For quick meriendas and snacks, Open Kitchen also has your food court staples like Aboy’s Fresh Lumpia, Fruitas, Jamaican Patties, Potato Corner, Churros Stop, and The Lemon Central.
In the next few weeks, we’ll be seeing Warung Indo open here, completing Open Kitchen’s line-up of international fare. It’s also good to note that the food hall has recently received their alcohol permit, making it not only a viable lunchtime destination, but also the place to be for post-office chow and drinks.
Now how we wish all other office food courts will take Open Kitchen’s heed and up their food game for the rest of the metro’s corporate crowd.
Check out Open Kitchen food hall from 10am to 10pm at the second floor of Rockwell Business Center Sheridan, Sheridan corner United Streets, Mandaluyong. For inquiries and reservations, call 0917-7019937. Like Open Kitchen on Facebook (/OpenKitchenFoodPark) and follow on Instagram (@openkitchenfoodpark).