Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Rafael's Tapas Bar and Restaurant: Leveling Up Original Recipes

Wazzup Pilipinas!

“I want Rafael’s to be that kind of place where you always want to come back to every day because it’s home and the food reminds you of family” - Henjie Carmona, owner of Rafael's Tapas Bar and Restaurant

Our recent visit at Rafael's Tapas Bar & Restaurant was a bit surprising because I was expecting a Spanish restaurant yet it was actually better than what was lurking on my mind the first time the invitation was brought up by my fellow blogger John Cueto.

This was because I've been to many Tapas Bars and most of them are just playing around with the same Spanish dish concepts and just twisting their presentations. Rafael's Tapas Bar and Restaurant was totally different as it was more Filipino, if you'll based your assessment on their dishes, but still offers the familiar "Tapas Bar" ambiance though more personal in nature due to the fact that majority of the interior decors are from the owner's personal art collection. Truly, you'll be dining on comforting foods, drink special cocktails, fresh juices, various coffee concoctions, and other drinks, surrounded by masterpieces, that you'll want to return for more.

Named after the late father of the owner, Henjie Carmona, the Filipino Spanish-inspired restaurant aims to let you cherish home-cooked comfort meals without steering away from the familiar and well-loved favorites.

The first steps upon entry to the resto, will take you to their bar with Chinese red envelopes we more popularly know as "hongbao" or "angpao" hanging from the branches that also serves as part of their decor. This setup will be the first to greet you aside from the smiles coming from their charming lady receptionist (shout-out to Michelle) at the door. Maybe because it was recently Chinese New Year, that they still have they decors like that. You'll see more of these angpao inside and upstairs. They also have a tree inside near the entrance, not a real tree but part of the commissioned art pieces incorporated in the resto.

Then a few inches inwards, you'll see their main 50-seater dining area that also showcases framed paintings. If you'll look up, there's a DJs booth up there that would be operational soon as they want to add music to complete the mood.

The fabulous function room upstairs, which can comfortably seat around 20 persons, is named after his mother Petronilla, and this is another spectacle completing the tribute to the owner's parents. You can rent the room where they can serve customized or specially requested meals, and have access to a huge Smart TV, sound systems, microphones for karaoke, other multimedia equipments like a projector, so you can hold a small event, or even private meetings, whether for business, with your friends or family.

I forgot to ask if their golden toilet is also named after a family member or relative, but I'm sure it could be "John" - one of the terms to indicate comfort rooms. Ooopps! Sorry John! But they really do have this amazing CR with gold-plated toilet bowl, tissue dispenser, faucet, sink, trash bin, light switch and even the bidet. Dare you do a selfie inside! Post immediately on Instagram or any social media and your friends might do the same. There may come a time that restaurants and other establishments will stray away from the common and also go pimping their restrooms as an added attraction. They also have another comfort room at the ground floor though accentuated also by artistically painted walls but not as "golden" as the one upstairs.

Their cuisines are comfort Filipino Spanish-inspired foods - kaldereta, sisig, and other familiar dishes but elevated with Spanish-influenced concepts they would regularly improve.  Needless to say, they will surely add more to their menu when the demands come in or if needed and requested by their customers.

My favorites would be the gambas creatively named as Miss Gump in Hot Flashes, and their Kaldereta with Uber soft meat slices, plus the tapas, naturally expected as one of their best dishes, better matched with wine or any of their cocktails. 

Also check out their desserts! We were served their version of the Mahal Blanca, not so sweet but definitely a great way to end your dining experience. But wait, there's always their coffee to cap off the day.

We've uploaded several photos and videos, including exclusive interviews with Henjie Carmona, and another with Chef Jinggoy Fernando right inside his kitchen together with his staff, at our official Facebook page and a preview on our YouTube Channel.

Below is the official press release provided for the event:

The Place He Wants to Come Home to for His Dad’s Original Recipes, Leveled up!
Entrepreneur Henjie Carmona launches Rafael’s Tapas Bar and Restaurant at Resorts World Manila to share his father Rafael’s passion for home-cooked dishes, his mother Petronila’s elegant homemaking, and his penchant for art collecting to the upscale hotel-casino complex’s food, wine, and fun loving clientele of high rollers, junkets, and the fancy set.
 “I want to offer them a place to come home to not only for familiar but original home recipes that have been leveled up for their discriminating tastes,” he said, “but also to cozy up, chill, and unwind after spending hours playing and gaming.”
Although he’s a communication research graduate by degree and initially a banker by profession, Carmona has been in the hotel and restaurant industry for more than two decades now. His group having pioneered the condotel (condominium + hotel) format and the executive breakfast lounge, he wanted to challenge himself further by offering ala carte.
Lessons from Father
“Opening Rafael’s isn’t a childhood dream, but everything that went into it has been inspired by my dad who taught me all I need about food and cooking,” Carmona confessed. “First, good food is all about freshness—meaning, nothing stays long in the freezer, nothing canned is used, and everything is made in-house, even the pasta and especially the sauces.”
He reminisces how his father never allowed helpers to cook, reserving that privilege and honor for the head of the family, and made sure to prepare their meals himself every weekend despite being swamped by his business all week.
“I’d remember craving for his signature dinuguan (pork blood stew) and lechon (roasted suckling pig) pairing while Matt Monroe wafts in the air,” he recalls, adding that this time it’s not just about taste, but also being Instagrammable. Thus, all Rafael’s dishes are plated with delicate artistry worthy of being photographed and shared (pun intended).
“Second, you never ask your guests if they have eaten already or if they want to eat or not,” Carmona explained. Not only would it put off guests as an excuse for lack of preparation or not having enough food, it would also give an impression that hospitality is not one’s forte,
He assured that there’s no compromising quality in the dining experience at Rafael’s, where groups of 10 to 15 can avail of the posh Petronila VIP mezzanine room for a consumable reserve price of P200K which comes with the mandatory Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV that can be hooked up to Resort World shows. “For that, it’s the sky’s the limit from cocktail drinks at P400 per pop to exquisite bottles of Remy Martin Louis XIII and Dalmore 25!”
“Third, food is everybody’s game,” Carmona concluded, “just like my father said everything’s done with food: deals closed, relationships opened, victories celebrated, wrongs amended, and sins forgiven.” Nobody loses with food and the best businesses invest in it.
Thus, Rafael’s is that rare mall space where you not only find the most original tasting dishes but also the most fastidiously interior decorated restaurant where diners eat and drink surrounded by towering Toto Aguilon wire spires, commissioned paintings from artists Tanya Gaisano Lee and Angelo Tabije, John Lloyd Cruz photographs, red and black draped tables, golden trumpet chandeliers, and a golden washroom!
Rafael’s Specialties
“All our dishes are all-time familiar favorites that offer a unique twist in taste and presentation,” Carmona beamed as he introduced Rafael’s house specialties, which have interesting, oftentimes intriguing, names.
For their signature tapas or appetizers, they have their ritzy rendition of chicken skin—Chicken that Crossed the Road (P380) served with chili malt vinegar, pickled carrot, and radish puree, which are extra crunchy along with their classy version of gambas—Miss Gump in Hot Flashes (P720) with black garlic and Chardonnay roasted chilis and lemon.
For dinner, they have First Love (P1150)—spicy soft shelled crab risotto with homemade chorizo and chicken thigh charged with lemon—which is as crispy as they are tasty and Blackened Angus Ribeye (P2900)—prime steak with corn and zucchini succotash and chimichurri sauce—which is the most expensive standalone item on the menu.
Capping every meal or visit, guests ought to make sure they try The Big Bang Theory (P390)—a delicately sweet triple nut, three-layered cake of butter and dark chocolate cake revelation, their version of “Choc Nut”, revealed Chef Jinggoy Fernando—for dessert to complete the Rafael’s experience.
“The concept behind all these is simple,” Henjie Carmona said summing up: “I want Rafael’s to be that kind of place where you always want to come back to every day because it’s home and the food reminds you of family,”
For the full menu, reservations, and more information, please visit @rafaelsrwph
on Instagram and Rafael’s Tapas Bar and Restaurant on Facebook.

The restaurant had a soft opening last December and is located at the 2nd level of the new expansion wing of Resorts World Manila.

Best to enter via Maxim hotel main entrance.

#RafaelsTapasBarAndRestaurant #larawanatkape #LarawanAtKapeNet #WazzupPilipinas Rafael's Tapas Bar and Restaurant Wazzup Pilipinas

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