Chef Sonny Mariano revamped its menu with unique Spanish-Asian fusion dishes
After three years in the industry, actor and restaurateur Marvin Agustin’s Alqueria Tapas, Paellas y Bistecas just got a newly revamped menu courtesy of multi-awarded chef Sonny Mariano.
Chef Sonny created a menu so rich and bold featuring Spanish-Asian fusion dishes that are yet to be seen in the metro.
Expat sat down—and chowed down—with Chef Sonny to talk about Alqueria’s new offers and identity.
Young, brave, and a damn fine chef
Precocious might be an apt word to describe Chef Sonny. At 25, he has already managed to bag several awards from local and international competitions—with many years still ahead of him to hone his craft further.
This year, Chef Sonny was part of the Philippines’ National Culinary Team, which competed in the largest and most prestigious culinary competition in Asia: the FHA Singapore Culinary Challenge last April.
According to the LTB Chefs Association of the Philippines, “The team bested teams from Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia to win the coveted overall culinary team champion prize (Best Culinary Establishment) by bagging 17 medals (four Gold, seven Silver, six Bronze) in 17 culinary and pastry events.”
For that competition alone, Chef Sonny won two awards: the gold medal for the Tapas/Finger Food Category, and the silver medal for the Two to Tango Live Cooking Category, with his partner Janemar Gicana.
“I join competitions because I know this is one way honing my skills as a chef,” Chef Sonny told Expat. “We compete because we love what we do and we want more people to know that Filipinos are talented culinarians.”
It is Chef Sonny’s adventurous palate, inquisitive mind, and experimental attitude that led to Alqueria’s bolder menu, which are getting people’s attention.
Spain meets Asia
Spain is known for its rich tapas and appetizers, but Chef Sonny takes it to another level by hitting it with an Asian twist.
“I simply think of flavors that I—or most people—will like and then a lot of trial and error,” Chef Sonny said. “We never offer anything that’s not in its best possible form. We always improve our recipes to make sure guests will come back to something new every time.”
It’s hard to pick a favorite from Alqueria’s new menu, but I gotta say, their Surf and Turf Pai Tee is a sure win. It’s got gambas, salpicao, roasted garlic, and togarashi. Absolutely irresistible. You can’t have just one.
Alqueria’s Chorizo Croquettas with bechamel, aioli, and roasted pepper jam is extremely addicting. Crispy outer layer with a creamy, savory center… Oh boy, give me a dozen of these babies.
The Truffled Mushroom Tostada is a lavishly flavorful vegetarian appetizer made of three different kinds of mushroom with cilantro and truffle oil over a crispy whole-wheat tostada.
Meanwhile, the crowd favorite proves to be the Black and Claw Croquettas—an indulgent beginning to your Spanish-Asian culinary journey. It’s made of crab claws wrapped in mashed potatoes blackened with squid ink and seasoned to perfection.
This rainy weather is perfect for Alqueria’s flavorful Sopa de Ajo, a clear broth infused with garlic. It is an all-around treat for the senses: it’s beautiful, tasty, and smells like heaven.
This writer’s personal favorite out of Alqueria’s new main dishes is the Salmon Al Neri Paella. It’s squid ink rice topped with nori, migas, homemade roasted pepper jam, homemade calamansi aioli, and luscious salmon. It has a lot of ingredients, but believe me, it all works together very, very well.
Alqueria’s new menu also features Chef Sonny’s winning signature dish in his recent international competition in Singapore: Crab and Salmon Escabeche. It’s a decadent crab salad with saffron jelly, salmon carpaccio, sweet and tangy passion fruit dressing, and peppery arugula for balance. Indeed, this dish is a winner in so many ways.
The Spanish-Asian fusion continues all the way to the dessert selections, like the light but flavorful classic, Canonigo with Salted Egg Sauce; Manchego Cheesecake with fruits and apple cookie crumble; and Frio Caliente (cold-hot), a delicious play on flavors, textures, and temperatures containing homemade salted caramel and miso ice cream, a generous pouring of aerated hot chocolate mousse, and for texture: crispy banana chips, apple cookies, strawberries, and mangoes.
Alqueria Tapas, Paellas y Bistecas is located at the third level of the Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City. For inquiries, call (0916) 641-8785.
By CHING DEE