We admit, we haven’t been to any food parks. For the past months, Metro Manila suddenly exploded with food parks of all shapes and sizes along with vendors selling all sorts of deliciousness. The idea of a food park is not new— it’s basically a food court with food vendors of about 15 or more situated within the space. However, food courts usually have food vendors that are already well-known. They’re mostly established restaurants that want to reach out to a wider audience by putting stalls or kiosks, thereby making their dishes more accessible. The thing we like about food parks is that they embrace homegrown brands. With food partners being mostly small to medium enterprises, food parks give local food brands the chance to showcase their food concepts to the consumers at a reasonable cost. We’ve seen food parks that operate in open wide spaces similar to weekend markets and food parks designed in a compound with enclosures to protect diners from the changing weather. Either way, they are good venues to catch up with family and friends while food tripping at the same time.
Speaking of food tripping, we finally got to have our very first food park experience when we checked out the newest food destination in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City called The Lokal Foodpark. Just a month old since they had their grand launch, The Lokal Foodpark has about 16 homegrown food partners that offer different cuisines and different types of food— from burgers to noodles to rice meals to chicken wings to milkshakes to name a few. They’re going to open more new food concepts in the next coming months so there are still a lot to get excited about. The moment we got to the venue, we instantly felt that easygoing, friendly vibe. We like the fact that the place is not cramped and the area is spacious enough to move about. They have a few parking spaces in front and since it’s beside a gasoline station, diners can also park their vehicles there. Since we’d like to enjoy more natural light and see the street from above, we got a table on the 2nd floor. We also saw some interesting murals on the 2nd floor where people can have their artistic photos taken which can up their social media game. We were so excited for this food trip that we arrived at 3:00pm, the exact time the food park opens.
We’re thankful that the place is well-ventilated with heavy duty electric fans installed in all possible corners so we didn’t need to worry about sweating like pigs while eating. As soon as we got our table, we headed to all the stalls to check out their food. Let us show you what we feasted on:
1. Potato Giant
We started off light. We figured we’d like to get to the snacks first then move our way to the meals so we will get full slowly but surely. When we saw Potato Giant, we instantly knew we’ll start our gastronomic journey with them. We got 3 items from them— Cheesy Bacon Pot Pots, Potato Balls with Bacon and Mozzarella, and Mojo Potato in Sour Cream. Pot Pots are simply thinly-sliced potatoes fried to a crisp. We like that the batter was light and airy that it didn’t weigh down the potatoes but it kept them crispy enough even when smothered with cheese and bacon bits. The potato balls were flavorful though we would’ve wanted more mozzarella to get that creamy and slightly chewy texture. The mojo potatoes, on the other hand, were crispy and generously covered with sour cream powder. Amongst the 3 items we got, The Cheese Bacon Pot Pots is the one we will order again.
2. Shuma Gorath
Next stop was Shuma Gorath. Just by the name itself, we couldn’t help but be intrigued on what they offer. Allow us to geek out a little bit here. As far as we know, Shuma Gorath is a fictional character which first appeared in comic books published by Marvel Comics and is considered the ruler of a hundred alternate universes. Shuma Gorath has one big eye in the middle (more like Mike Wazowski of Monsters Inc.) and has about 6-8 green tentacles (the drawings vary). So when we saw that they’re selling Takoyaki, we somehow had an idea on the origin of the store’s name. Shuma Gorath looks like an octopus and Takoyaki is a Japanese street food which means octopus balls. We appreciate the fact that Shuma Gorath uses real octopus and not squid. By the way, they also offer Matcha Iced Tea Latte which we think tastes better than some of the matcha drinks we got from well-known cafes.
3. Chicken Busters
Of course we’ve got to have some chicken wings. We are a big fan of chicken wings, especially the hot spicy kind but we decided to try their bestsellers— Honey Garlic Wings and Salted Egg Wings. Since we like the sharp, strong taste of garlic combined with the deep, earthy sweetness of honey, we totally enjoyed their Honey Garlic Wings.
4. Everything But Cheese
In some cases, being too cheesy is a good thing. Most especially when one talks about the Pizza Cheeseburger where you can barely see the beef patty because it’s covered entirely in cheesiness; or about the Honey Parmesan Cheeseburger where the blend of sweet and salty comes in play; or about the Cheese Fondue where you can dip all the sausages and fries you like in a pool of melted gooey cheese on a bread bowl. We totally enjoyed their Cheese Fondue. If you want to go all out cheesy while on a date, this is the one to get. Not only does it tastes good, it’s also a good conversation starter.
5. Pizzeria Manila
A food trip won’t be complete without pizza and we’re glad that The Lokal Foodpark has Pizzeria Manila. They have more than 10 different pizza varieties but one thing caught our eye when we were looking at the menu— Seafood Pizza. It’s not often that we see squid and mussels as pizza toppings so naturally, we got curious. Our curiosity paid off because their Seafood Pizza is very good. The breaded squid were tender, the mussels were buttery, and the nori strips tied everything together with its mild sweet-salty flavor. We also like that even though the crust was thin, it held all the ingredients well without being soggy.
6. El Bigotilyo
True story: We love Mexican food. We love it so much that there was a time when we’d make it a point to eat in different Mexican food joints being run by Mexicans at least thrice a week the last time we travelled in the US. Not to mention the frequent lunches and dinners we enjoyed that our Mexican neighbors hosted. That’s why we got excited when we saw El Bigotilyo’s Mojado. Their massive wet burrito is deep-fried chimichanga-style smothered with salsa roja and salsa verde, topped with torched mozzarella and cheddar cheese. One bite of their wet burrito made us dance in our seats. The flavors just exploded in our mouths. We can appropriately say that El Bigotilyo‘s Mojado was bomb. No wonder it’s their signature dish. Had we not ordered food from other stalls, we’d easily wipe the plate clean!
When we saw the word kebab, we knew we’ve got to try Bucketlist. We wanted to order more dishes from them but since we still had a lot more food vendors to go to, we got ourselves their Chicken Kebab Rice. The chicken was tender and has that distinct Persian flavor that we’re looking for. The sides of onions, cucumber, and tomatoes gave the dish more vibrance. The sauces were garlicky, spicy, and has a hint of sweetness. As for us, we’ll request them to put the sauces on the side the next time we go back so we’ll be able to play around with the flavors.
8. Chuckatoo’s Steak Shack
On to the meaty part of our gastronomic journey. We know that if we won’t try Chuckatoo’s Steak Shack, it’s going to be a huge misteak! A family-owned business, their main objective is to provide the best steak experience to the food-loving public at an affordable price. We got 2 items from them—Signature Steak which is beef tenderloin cooked with their secret spices and Porterhouse Steak which comes with their homemade special gravy. The steaks were cooked and seasoned well which are big pluses in our food books.
We’ve always been on a seafood diet. Whenever we seafood, we eat them. So obviously, we consumed iSeafood‘s Garlic Buttered Shrimp the minute we saw it. Amongst the food we love, shrimp is one of them. We love it so much that whenever we get the chance to go to the fresh seafood market, we’d buy them in kilos, cook them in different styles incorporating different flavors, and eat them with our bare hands. The thing we like about iSeafood‘s dish is that the shrimps were plump and meaty which made eating it enjoyable. We would’ve wanted to get their paella, sea and chips, and few other dishes but we still have more stalls to try so we’ll have them next time.
With all the K-drama and the K-pop coming out, it’s no wonder Filipinos are more curious now about what the Koreans eat. Korean cuisine has been in the Philippine food scene for a long time but it was only a few years back when the consumers started to pay attention to Korean food. One of the things we tried in The Lokal Foodpark‘s Mang-Si-Peng was their Korean Ramen. IT.WAS.THE.BOMB. Not only were the pork, vegetables, kimchi, egg, and noodles flavorful, the broth was something else. It was light, well-balanced, comforting, and most of all HOT. Hot in terms of temperature and hot in terms of heat level. We immediately felt as if we were punched on the face by just having one long sip of the hot broth. It was everything we wished a Korean ramen would be.
11. Pok & Wok
When you see Chinese food being prepared by Chinese folks, you know you’re in for a delicious surprise. And that’s exactly what we got from Pok and Wok. We ordered 3 items— Honey Fire Chicken, Asado Back Ribs, and Vegetarian Fried Rice. Everything was delicious. The chicken was tender with well-balanced flavors of sweet and salty and the heat is just enough to keep you salivating for more. The ribs were perfectly cooked with just the right amount of smoky and earthy. The fried rice can already be a meal in itself. Amongst the 3 items we tasted, the Honey Fire Chicken wins.
It basically means “what’s inside the box”. They offer Filipino bar chows and food that you can often pair with beer (which can be almost everything for us Filipinos). We got their all-time favorite Chicken Ala Savory which boasts of flavors close to, if not similar, to the well-loved chicken restaurant Classic Savory. We can say that if you’re far from Classic Savory branch or if you’re craving for a good chicken while in The Lokal Foodpark, Wattabox‘s chicken dish will satisfy that craving.
13. Maceo Maceo
This is one food item that we can’t wait to get our hands on again. This is called Arroz Con Pollo. Imagine a deconstructed version of chicken arroz caldo but still with all the bells and whistles. One would think that it’s just a simple sautéed chicken that came with fried rice, egg, and fish sauce. But as the old cliché goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, we definitely shouldn’t pass judgement on this one yet just by the way it looks. The rice is cooked in arroz caldo broth incorporating all its flavorful goodness making the rice taste like you are seriously eating an arroz caldo. The dipping sauce is a patis-calamansi vinaigrette which has ginger and garlic bits to make the flavors bolder and sharper. There’s a rhyme, rhythm, and reason in eating this dish. Let’s start with the rhyme and rhythm— 1) break the egg on top of the rice to enjoy some egg porn; 2) mix the egg with the rice; 3) get some pieces of chicken; 4) dip the chicken in the sauce; 5) eat it followed with rice or eat it together with the rice. Very simple instructions. Now for the reason why you need to eat and try Maceo Maceo‘s Arroz Con Pollo: because it’s one of the best things we’ve tasted! Amongst all the rice dishes we ate in The Lokal Foodpark, we emptied the bowl up to the last grain of rice with this one.
14. Food Bliss
Another set of rice meals that we had was Pork Salpicao 2.0 and Hungarian Sausage from Food Bliss. Not only do we like the portion sizes, we also like their dishes. The pork salpicao was perfectly tender and beautifully marinated. The Hungarian sausage was how we always prefer our sausages— thick and meaty. Between the two, we’d go back for the Pork Salpicao 2.0.
Just when we’re about to inhale the food, we found out that Food Bliss also serves coffee and coffee-based drinks. Since it was a particularly hot day, we decided to give their Banoffee Pie Frap a shot and we were so glad we did! The flavors were so balanced that we could taste the coffee, chocolate, and banana all in one sip. It was creamy and dreamy. Definitely a must-order.
15. Tutti Frutti
Just from the name itself you know that you’re going to have some delicious fun. As soon as we saw Tutti Frutti‘s clean white stall with pops of colors here and there, we decided to get something playful, colorful, and wonderful. We got their Nutella Milkshake with all the cute gummy bears and their S’mores Milkshakes with all the marshmallows. Both were yummy, so it’s a tie. If we were you, we’d just get both.
16. Gulp Station
When you’re thirsty, Gulp Station has your back. They sell drinks from iced teas to lemonades to juices to local beers to imported beers to cocktails. One of the things that got us saying ‘whoa’ was their Blue Lemonade that’s in a bubble gum glass container. They figured having tall glasses might not cut it for the super thirsty so they decided to go short but stout. Their regular-sized Blue Lemonade is good for 1 to 2 people. We also ordered their large Red Iced Tea that’s good for 3 to 4 people and looks like a sink!
We got to successfully try the food in all of The Lokal Foodpark‘s 16 food partners. Here’s our Top 5:
- El Bigotilyo
- Maceo Maceo
- Pok & Wok
- Food Bliss
We spent about 3 hours eating, drinking, and chatting. We like that the music is not too loud so we can still hear each other. The staff were very helpful and courteous. Shoutout to our favorite staff, Ryan, who was extremely attentive, friendly, and funny.
We can now say that we’re no longer food park virgins. To The Lokal Foodpark, thanks for a good first time experience!