Yes, there are still places to explore in Makati’s own ‘Williamsburgos’. Poblacion is more than just the red light district. The neighborhood, just outside of the posh Rockwell Center, boasts a hodge-podge of culture, tastes, and experiences. My girlfriend and I frequent this part of the snobby financial district, because it is anything but. I love Makati, and I love even more that this part of town has glorious traffic on the weekends. It’s usually Car-maggedon the rest of the week.
This weekend, we stayed at the Element Boutique Hotel, Restaurant and Bar.
This place is just a tad bit pricier than our usual staycation places, and with the photos they have of it online, our expectations were fever pitch for this place. And at first glance, they did not disappoint.
But the thing is with appearances (and I say this a lot), with the onset of Instagram and making everything look so ‘artisanal’ or ‘hipster’ even, a lot of restaurants and hotels are just that. Appearances. They forget that the word of mouth is still the best form of marketing, and sad to say, Element was one of those places. I couldn’t say much about the restaurant as it is on the very pricey side, but the hotel had nothing special about it (I mean, they didn’t even have coffee in the room for fuck’s sake!). This was sad, because I really wanted to like this place.
As Element’s restaurant prices were obviously for the men and women with a more discriminating taste (meaning it was expensive as hell), we went out for a stroll to look for something to eat. We wanted something different, this was evident with my GF’s want for Chinese food. That rarely happens.
Lucky for us, we didn’t have to look long. Right down the street from Element was LSQ Chinese Home Cuisine.
It was so cool because it had all the makings of a legitimate Chinese restaurant. I loved it, and for an hour that we were there, we were instantly brought back to Hong Kong (the only China we’ve been to — so far.)
In stark comparison to the feels the restaurant gave us, they served Northern Chinese & Sichuan cuisine. Not Hong Kong. The food was served timely, and they didn’t have soy sauce or calamansi for the dumplings we ordered. They only had black vinegar. It was so legit, but also feels kind of dirty, but that’s why it was fun. Seriously the best Chinese food out of Binondo. We ordered Beef and Kutchay Dumplings (💣💣💣💣 by itself,💣💣💣💣💣 when dipped in black vinegar!), Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Yang Chow.
We met up with our friend, Christine, on the second night and went to Bucky’s. You might have seen them at your nearest Toby’s Estate, but they’re more than just brownies (that aren’t brownies, apparently). We had Beet Salad, Fried Chicken, and Baked Ziti with Ragu.
I’m not a mashed potato kind of person, but the ones that came with the fried chicken, I could rave about (💣💣💣 bombs)! The Baked Ziti was the star of the show though. I’m lactose intolerant, but I couldn’t keep my chill with the Baked Ziti with Ragu (💣💣💣💣 bombs! Super must-try). The Beet Salad was also great, but I’m not a fan of beets, but I loved that this salad came with pistachios and goat cheese!
Overall, the weekend was one for the books, we’d recommend to pull off a staycation in Poblacion. More than the hidden gems here, there’s so much more the neighborhood has to offer, and then some.