In one of Greenbelt 5’s seemingly tucked-away corners, an old favorite is spicing up their menu to discover something new in Spanish cuisine. For years, Tapella (Ground Floor, Greenbelt 5, Makati City; 757-2710) has been a go-to for traditional, rustic Spanish food—their seafood paella long tauted as a signature dish. Though he took over the restaurant from his aunt in 2012, New York-trained Chef Robert Spakowski has been introducing fresh sensibilities and a personal twist to Tapella as of late.
With several new additions to their menu, Tapella is striking the balance between the curious and the familiar. As he traverses Spanish and Filipino influences to bring different flavors together, Spakowski has ushered in new ideas and combinations still served in a simple way. That’s not always easy but revisiting receipes is an exercise in curiousity—finding the harmony between the flavors we remembered and those we may not have tried yet.
The platter known as Chef’s Selection of 8 Tapas (PhP495.00) epitomizes the kind of variety that the new menu embodies. From Spanish-chorizo-and-Vigan-longganisa mini-burger with cheese, to Moroccan beef skewer served with a side of aoili, to mini chorizo lumpia paired with a shot of crema de calabaza, the selection is an array of bright colors and flavors. Fresh and fried all over, it easily captures the festive tapas culture of Madrid, inspired by Spakowski’s travels throughout Spain.
For Spakowski, playing around with different flavors is an opportunity to experiment, but it still comes down to simple, approachable food at the end of the day.
For instance, the mango gazpacho with salmon roe and crab (PhP175.00) is a play on a classic recipe. The fruitiness of the mango commingles with the fresh tomato base, which has surprising pops of salmon roe along the way.
A salad of mixed greens combines slices of tomato and onions, sweet candied walnuts, and lightly creamy goat cheese, with a reduced balsamic vinegar dressing that has the pleasant acidity of tamarind (PhP200.00).
Tapella’s sisig (PhP275.00) will be notorious for its combination of classic sisig and Spanish blood sausage over a bed of crispy shoestring potatoes instead of rice, that, with bright-yellow yolky eggs, can be mixed together the way sisig is meant to be enjoyed.
Based on an old family recipe, the truffle cream pasta (PhP395.00) is another staple comfort food that is full, creamy, and rich, topped with crunchy jamón serrano.
With their signature sangrias, even Tapella’s drinks have the sprit of mixology behind them. The Ronin Sangria (PhP350.00) is a white wine sangria with Japanese sake, cucumber, and freshly made candied ginger that follows on a clean and refreshing finish. For a stronger kick, the Banzai Sangria (PhP210.00) mixes Spanish white wine, sake, and vodka, with lychee and an assortment of fruits marinated in the alcohol.
Tapella had always been modern for its time, yet for a while catered to a more European palate. With its new menu of Spanish—plus Filipino, Japanese, Italian, and even Moroccan—flavors, it seems that there’s much more for everyone to be curious about.
Tapella Tapas Bar & Restaurant is located on the first floor of Greenbelt 5. It is open daily from 11AM to midnight.