I gave up alcohol for Lent and Niner Ichi Nana (NIN) is where I celebrate my going “back to the bottle,” if you will. It’s a mouthful of a name for a bespoke cocktail bar, but its location on the first floor of the Globe Tower at the Fort explains its distinctive moniker: ‘ichi’ is ‘1’ in Japanese as is ‘nana’ for ‘7’; I won’t mull over the semantics of the ‘Niner.’
Anyway. NIN is a sufficient, sophisticated space where the terms “handcrafted” and “infused” are used reverently. Some cocktails have two prices, a standard and a premium depending on the quality of alcohol/brand used. I’m not yet versed enough in cocktail terminology to discuss the merits of one over the other; at this point, I’m still exploring and experimenting.
NIN knows the business of crafting cocktails and thank goodness there’s none of that “chicer-than-thou” snob factor that other places seem to thrive on. The bartenders have fun with the beverages, using lots of fruit and fancy like passion fruit, figs, and wait, is that popcorn I see on the menu? Though my sweet tooth teeth are out of control, I prefer my cocktails more sour than sweet.
The Dark and Stormy (on right) melds lemon juice and rum with a one-two punch of galangal (Thai ginger) and ginger beer. Last week, I enjoy a Sour Puss, a mouth-puckering, crazy-inventive delight off the summer menu that plays with champoy and tamarind.
The notorious – can we call them that – duck fat fries at NIN should have a “Dangerous” inserted right before its name. I love these fries so much that I hate them – they’ve destroyed me for all the other fries I eat in Manila. Long fingers of potatoes are fried in duck fat, and why would you do that? Because it imbues the fries with immense flavor and the oil’s high smoking point transforms them into an appetite-orange hue; yes, orange is the color of appetite. Raked with nubby bits, the spuds’ starchiness is stunted by the synergy of steam and heat giving way to crunch. Dipping them in ketchup – don’t! – destroys their devilish intent. Instead, fashion a fry with a needle of rosemary, a nugget of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a roasted garlic clove. Crispy-steamy, it’s addiction defined for the french fry freak in all of us. Hot damn.
Next door to NIN is The Hungry Hound (THH), a gastropub. It’s ironic that last November the Michelin Guide editor called for an end to the term, ‘gastropub,’ for whatever officious reasons. Pity, because the term describes THH’s menu quite well, pub grub with European flair, and the entire menu has been injected with new blood courtesy of their new secret weapon, Chef Mikko Reyes.
Formerly from 2nds, he’s igniting fires with his foie gras nuggets. Yeah, you read right – foie gras nuggets. A stiff panko crumb encloses the treasure – bite, and as teeth sink into it, the familiar and feral flavor of liver floods the mouth. Soft, smooth, succulent, a desire for more blisters through me. I dip the nugget into the accompanying sauces of chili-pomegranate and soy-BBQ: now my desire has teeth, it bites and suddenly, I don’t want to share these nuggets with my friends.
Thank goodness it’s the weekend. Time to head to the pub for some grub.
Niner Ichi Nana
G/F The Globe Tower, 32nd St cor 7th Ave Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
0917 876 9999
The Hungry Hound Pub & Kitchen
G/F Globe Telecom Tower, 32nd Street corner 7th Avenue (across MC Home Depot), Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.
On Twitter: HungryHoundPH.
0916 696 4385 / firstname.lastname@example.org