It’s All About East Meets West Opulence at This New Hidden BarAugust 24, 2015
Mandalay, one of Manila’s newest bars, is hidden somewhere within the grounds of new pub and restaurant, Belle and Dragon in ever-trendy Legazpi Village. Walking down a narrow hallway at the back of the restaurant will lead you to a wardrobe with intricately designed, heavy wooden doors, which act as an entrance to a different world. In contrast to the Belle and Dragon’s more casual atmosphere, Mandalay is dimly lit with a dark, old-world glamor look and feel. The first things that greet you are a pair of four-foot Chinese guardian lions on lit-up pedestals, and surrounding you sit tall display shelves that showcase some of Mandalay’s extensive whiskey selection. There are tall stools by the bar, tables with elegant, tufted leather lounge chairs, and private rooms made to enjoy a cigar.
Mandalay’s concept is inspired by, and named after, the poem by British writer Rudyard Kipling, which portrays the musings of a Western man, engrossed by a beautiful Burmese woman. The bar’s interiors are an envisioning of the poem’s setting; once you open the large wooden doors, you enter the old world of Mandalay.
While the bar’s main events are their cigars and large whiskey collection from around the world, Mandalay also offers a simple food menu to go with your drinks. Like most small bites, the umami crisps and house roasted mixed nuts are dangerously addicting; don’t expect to be content with a single handful, because the second you put the last chip or peanut in your mouth, your other hand will already be halfway to the plate to pick up some more. Their ika karaage is crunchy, and its meat has the right level of flavor and softness—there is far too much bland, excessively chewy squid, out there, and this is the clear opposite of that. But a clear winner was the pulled Peking duck confit in baked pineapple buns, which was a great mix of salty and sweet. Don’t forget to put some of the pickled carrots on before each bite; they give an extra kick of acidity.
Mandalay’s cheesecake is one you shouldn’t miss out on. They offer a deconstructed take on the dish, with regular, chocolate, and matcha cheesecakes in bite-sized portions, that are just enough to satisfy the sweet tooth. They sit on top of a bed of chocolate soil, and edible flowers that give the dish both pops of color and texture. Just a note—Belle and Dragon’s and Mandalay’s cuisines are not to be confused: the former is a British-style pub and restaurant with Indo Peninsula influence, while the latter serves Asian cuisine with Western accents. Their short menu offers the perfect pairing notes to their extensive whiskey selection, which is without a doubt the longest and best in Manila.
In the spirit of speakeasies, Mandalay has no sign and can easily be missed. When driving down C. Palanca St., look for the teal and white Belle and Dragon storefront, go up the stairs, and sift your way through the crowd to get to one of the trendiest after-dark establishments.
What’s your favorite bar in Manila? Which beverage concept would you like to see in the city? Talk to us in the comments below!
Mandalay Whiskeys and Cigars
Address: C.Palanca St., Legazpi Village, Makati (On top of Family Mart)