Long before Makati or Bonifacio Global City, Maginhawa Street in Quezon City, or Kapitolyo in Pasig, Malate was the place for young workers to unwind, and for families to dine in the weekends.
Who could forget Cafe Adriatico, the Blue Frog, or the Khahi Club, which enticed leisurely and pleasurable dining experiences?
But today, to say that you are headed to Malate would beg the question, “Why?” The popular hangout places are gone and less than a handful of good old restaurants managed to survive. What has remained, instead, is the connotation that this once vibrant piece of Manila is again the infamous red light district it was before the second wind Malate in the 1990s.
A new restaurant called Braska, however, is out to try to change all that negative vibe, one serving at a time.
“We felt that there was something missing in the market, not necessarily the food but more options that expressed the spirit of Malate as it was,” the restaurant’s brand director Mark Abellon stated.
Unbeknownst to many, the famous Jorge Bocobo St., one of the streets in the district of Malate, was called “Nebraska” before the 2nd World War. And, with the goal to provide the warmth and cordially of Old Malate, Braska decided to take the old name of the street, which they now call home.
Old favorites, new twists
Just like its name that spins a classic for an updated appeal, the menu of Braska incorporates traditional dishes presented in novel ways.
Take for example Guava Jelly French Toast, a specialty of the restaurant that is reminiscent of a classic.
“Many Filipinos are familiar with the sweet and tangy flavor of guava jelly on warm bread. Additionally, for me, this is something you eat that can brighten up your day,” Executive Sous Chef Poch Hogar, a Malate girl herself, relayed to The Manila Times.
Another example is the restaurant’s Shrimp Avocado Salad, which elevates avocado.
“When avocado is in season, we Filipinos love to mash it up, put milk and sugar and have it chilled. We love it as a dessert, but for Braska, we decided to make it as appetizer,” Hogar detailed.
Adding to this list of twisted classics are the Calamansi Tart that makes use of the country’s native lime; Longoniza balls, which use the classic Pinoy sausage to in a Scotch Egg presentation, and of course, the soon-to-be official National Dish—if the pending House bill be passed—the Adobo which they serve in form of rice bowls.
With an array of comfort food and a stone wall interior—punctuated with decorative installations, including a map of the old Malate—Abellon hopes to bring diners back to Malate.
“Yes, people can now dine at malls, where everything is placed in one area for the convenience of customers, but there’s something about eating at a restaurant that’s not too busy nor too loud. Here you can have unhurried meals or simply enjoy a cup of coffee while people-watching. Malate used to be that, with feeling of ease and happiness, and we hope to bring that back,” Abellon finally noted.
Did you know…
Nebraska Street, much like most streets in the charming district of Malate before the war ravaged Manila, was lined with splendid turn-of-the-century homes and early American colonial abodes surrounded by expansive lawns and gardens. Stately acacia and narra tress stood in rows along the pavement. On Sunday mornings, families drove in automobiles, or walked in their best garments to hear mass at Malate Church.