Entrepreneur Henjie Carmona launches Rafael’s Tapas Bar and Restaurant at Resorts World Manila to share his father Rafael’s passion for home-cooked dishes, his mother Petronila’s elegant homemaking, and his penchant for art collecting to the upscale hotel-casino complex’s food, wine, and fun loving clientele of high rollers, junkets, and the fancy set.
“I want to offer them a place to come home to not only for familiar but original home recipes that have been leveled up for their discriminating tastes but also to cozy up, chill, and unwind after spending hours playing and gaming,” said Carmona, who has been in the hotel and restaurant industry for more than two decades now.
Lessons from Father
“Opening Rafael’s isn’t a childhood dream, but everything that went into it has been inspired by my dad who taught me all I need about food and cooking,” Carmona confessed. “First, good food is all about freshness—meaning, nothing stays long in the freezer, nothing canned is used, and everything is made in-house, even the pasta and especially the sauces.
Rafael’s is that rare mall space where you not only find the most original tasting dishes but also the most fastidiously interior decorated restaurant where diners eat and drink surrounded by towering Toto Aguilon wire spires, commissioned paintings from artists Tanya Gaisano Lee and Angelo Tabije, John Lloyd Cruz photographs, red and black draped tables, golden trumpet chandeliers, and a golden washroom!
“Second, you never ask your guests if they have eaten already or if they want to eat or not. Third, food is everybody’s game, just like my father said everything’s done with food: deals closed, relationships opened, victories celebrated, wrongs amended, and sins forgiven,” he concluded.
There’s no compromising quality in the dining experience at Rafael’s, where groups of 10 to 15 can avail of the posh Petronila VIP mezzanine room for a consumable reserve price of P200K which comes with the mandatory Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV that can be hooked up to Resort World shows. “Plus, sky’s the limit from cocktail drinks at P400 per pop to exquisite bottles of Remy Martin Louis XIII and Dalmore 25!
“All our dishes are all-time familiar favorites that offer a unique twist in taste and presentation,” Carmona beamed as he introduced Rafael’s house specialties, which have interesting, oftentimes intriguing, names.
For their signature tapas or appetizers, they have their ritzy rendition of chicken skin—Chicken that Crossed the Road (P380) served with chili malt vinegar, pickled carrot, and radish puree, which are extra crunchy along with their classy version of gambas—Miss Gump in Hot Flashes (P720) with black garlic and Chardonnay roasted chilis and lemon, or Duck Sisig with aioli and quail egg (P680).
They too have pasta and rice offerings such as the First Love (P1150)—spicy soft shelled crab risotto with homemade chorizo and chicken thigh charged with lemon—which is as crispy as they are tasty and Smoke Break (P525)—their own version of ricotta tinapa tortillini pasta.
Another must try is the spicy Dinuguan with grated chocolate (P380).
For lunch, one may opt to order the Rib Eye Tapa (P1,550)—roasted prime ribeye, honey spiced tapa sauce topped in omu-corn bell pepper rice—which is one of the most expensive standalones item on the menu.
Included in their ‘Land Meets Sea’ main courses are Chicken Hitchhiker (P850)—or brown sugar brined chicken roast Inasal with caramelized pineapple and pineapple rice and Slow Matador’s Bull (P1,280)—their very own version of wagyu brisket caldereta.
Guests ought to make sure they try the new Maja Blanca with caramelized popcorn and ganache (P320)—for dessert to complete the Rafael’s experience.
“The concept behind all these is simple. I want Rafael’s to be that kind of place where you always want to come back to every day because it’s home and the food reminds you of family,” Carmona summed up.
For the full menu, reservations, and more information, please visit @rafaelsrwph on Instagram and Rafael’s Tapas Bar and Restaurant on Facebook.