Grilla Bar & Grill in Makati isn’t exactly in my radar since it’s far from my place and I don’t like Filipino cuisine very much. Still, I had no qualms in attending Grilla’s taste-testing event last Saturday. This 2014, Grilla is celebrating a huge milestone as it remains to be standing strong in the restaurant business for 16 years. Wow! This only means that many customers are patronizing their food and are in full appreciation of their dishes which are scoured from all over the archipelago.

Below is a picture of me and Grilla Bar & Grill’s head chef. Together with the owners, he welcomed everyone heartily. We were served with some seriously tasty food on an exotic yet accessible menu that eschews the entrees for something much more than your usual Filipino food.

Review of Grilla Bar and Grill (Poblacion, Makati)

Ambiance: ★★★★☆

Dinner at Grilla is a dignified affair. Even with the menu comprising of mostly pulutan finds that complement beers and alcoholic drinks, the atmosphere is modern and classy. The lights are almost dim. The couches are comfortable, and the bar’s counter looks like the center of attraction upon entrance.

This branch has two floors and both floor areas are spacious. Grilla Bar and Grill must be a hit for those celebrating their birthdays, graduation, anniversaries, job promotions, etc., as it can accommodate plenty of guests on board.

Service: ★★★★★

The staffs were friendly and service was good and fast. I can’t comment any further as we were held in a group for the special event and I’m not sure how they function in normal day-to-day dining scenarios.

Food: ★★★☆☆

We started with Tofu and Sigarilyas Sisig (PHp 145), which unlike the regular sisig we know, did not consist of pig cheeks, ears and snout. Rather, it was more like a treat for vegetarians. Little squares of tofu and chilies abound. Squeeze that calamansi to make each bite more flavorful. It’s the kind of “pulutan” dish that’s easy to love.

Next was Ilocos Dinuydoy (PHp 300), a traditional Ilocano dish made of mashed squash and ampalaya with bagnet on top. When anyone at your table cries out with squeamishness, feel free to ignore them and order this to complete your meal with veggies and meat in one go. I didn’t eat the pork part. I can only comment that it smelled really good, one that would take you straight to “pork heaven.” The mashed squash was nice and the taste was not overbearing.

There are times when you’ll want something more then just a sour soup that warms the soul. In these situations, if you’re fond of Filipino food, pretty much you would end up getting a bowl of sinigang soup. But check this out: Beef Kansi (PHp 345) is a cross between a sinigang and bulalo soup that’s famous in Bacolod. The taste of sinigang x bulalo indeed is super strong, so eat it with rice. A soup like this shouldn’t be relegated to just in the rainy season. You may be happy to enjoy it during summer, too.

Inihaw na Manok sa Sinampalukan (PHp 225), or in English, grilled chicken in tamarind stock, is another dish that needs to be paired with rice unless you want that sourness and saltiness to emanate and rejoice in your mouth. The texture of the chicken was a knockout; its taste was just like fresh from the grill. After it’s put into the soup, the combination was structurally sound.

Of the offerings, Inadobong Tilapia sa Gata at Sili (PHp 225) is the one I vote as best. The crisp fish came bathed in a pleasingly salty, buttery-coconut broth laced with some spice. The delicacy in the layering of texture and flavor was apparent. It’s good to eat the tilapia together with rice and those greens in a mouthful.

Poqui Poqui (PHp 145) is simply eggplant torta cut into small strips. It’s a relatively light option among all these dishes. I prefer it with tomato catsup. 🙂

Lechon Liempo ala Cebu (PHp 850/kg) looked so fatty so I didn’t bother to taste it even a bit. I thought the pork actually went overboard on the oily cravings upfront. With visible pools of grease, the meat might have lacked the wealth of flavor that serves as a lifeline for many of health and diet-conscious folks. It’s okay to give it a shot if you’re really a huge fan of lechon liempo.

Cebu is known for its chicharon and Grilla Bar and Grill’s Chicharong Cebu (PHp 160). The pork skin was freshly fried and it had all the right textures: crispy, crunchy and bubbly. It gives you much more than your average snack. It’s obviously not the healthiest or most sophisticated, but just the best when you’re hungry, broke drunk or all three.

Pork BBQ and Salted Egg Triangles (PHp 185) had a sheer contrast of salt and sweet tastes. Dip the fried triangles in vinegar and you might find yourself gasping in awe. However, again I warn you: the dish is quite oily. Soak it on tissue paper to rid some excess oil.

Grilla-a-Palayok (PHp 695) consisted of maya-maya, mussels, shrimps, clams, thinly sliced beef and pork shortplate cooked over very hot stones served with pork lemongrass broth, sinamak, grilled eggplant and nilasing na mangga. The soup base, poured from the kettle, was lightly sour. I don’t know what the kitchen was trying to imply but we found that there were still sands inside the shells (clams and mussels). Did they purposely wanted to retain the sands? Of course, there’s the natural saltiness we tasted. On another regard, the presentation of food was unavoidable. I mean, look at that smoke from the earthen pot!

Okay, let me take back what I said… More than the Inadobong Tilapia sa Gata at Sili, the Halo Halo Spring Rolls (PHp 135) which was made of jackfruit and banana wrapped in spring roll wrapper (lumpia/turon) topped with ube ice cream was the one I liked best. This dessert came as a delightful surprise. With warm spring rolls and decadent cream, it’s the perfect ending to a scrumptious Filipino meal.

Price for Value: ★★★☆☆

We walked away really stuffed. Grilla Bar and Grill in Makati is an all-time good restaurant you’d want to visit for a good bonding with friends, especially those who want to get high at night. With entrees ranging from over PHp 100 to PHp 400 on the average, the prices are friendly. It’s wise to share small plates as food’s portion sizes are generous.

If you’re into drinking alcohol, their menu is perfectly set up for it. My only advice is to order rice because almost all the dishes are very salty. Probably that’s what Ilocos cuisine is primarily about.

Thanks, Aldous, for the invite!

8491 Kalayaan Ave. corner Rockwell Drive, Poblacion, Makati City
For inquiries, contact (02) 899-8775, (02) 899-6722
Date Published: 03/10/2014
15 / 20 stars

Other branches:
Ground Floor, Promenade, Greenhills, San Juan City | 02 7266200
Sumulong Highway, Across Valley Golf, Mambugan, Antipolo City | 02 5700499


Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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46 Responses

  1. theresa

    It’s very Pinoy nga cooking in the Palayok. I want that vibe for restaurants. Looks like hip to me. 🙂

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The hot pot was a stunning presentation that’s special-occasion worthy. In this case though, all the drama stays on the plate. The taste was just so-so.

  2. Shekinah

    The liempo and halo-halo rolls looks delicious. I actually stared at the photos for more than 20 seconds. I want them all. I’ll check out the resto’s fb page. 😀

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      More than 20 seconds viewing of one photo? Whoa kaya pala the photo went missing and I was wondering why. 😛 Nakain mo na kasi virtually hehe kidding aside, the halo halo spring rolls were really yummy. 🙂

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The food here are okay but in relation to the similarly priced offering from any other similar restaurants that I have reviewed, I think that comparing Grilla favorably to them would be telling a fisherman’s tale.

  3. Franc Ramon

    We use to hang out at Grilla at their Poblacion Branch after our class at Ateneo for my MBA before. It’s really a perfect place for the gang there.

  4. Fernando Lachica

    I’m cooking this beef Kansi with a twist of sinigang broth and dinuydoy with shrimps. They have awesome foods here, truly Filipino. Nice place to dine with family.

  5. Mindy

    Hmmm, those pictures make me even more curious about Filipino food, but i must admit the salty part (i cannot stand salty food) scares me a little. LOL, i know you said you don’t consider stuffs like bacon milkshake as an unusual food, but i am nowhere near your calibre when it comes to trying out foods, anything that’s out of my comfort zone is unusual for me! Pig snout included!

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha haven’t you ever tried Filipino food? Expect a bomb of strong flavors! 🙂 Pig snout is out of the question for me as well. I don’t like those exotic ones.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The Tofu and Sigarilyas Sisig has just the right amount of salty and savory and pretty well decorated with greens. Presentation-wise, it’s executed correctly. You must try to know for yourself. 🙂

  6. Jem Alvarado (@esupermommy)

    These are Filipino Dishes with a different twist in preparation and cooking. I like to try them all especially the Inadobong Tilapia sa Gata at Sili – Parang mas nakakagana kumain ng rice 🙂

  7. cococute

    I love how are they able to came out with that recipe – the Tofu and Sigarilyas Sisig. Both of the main Ingredients are my favorite.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh nice. 🙂 Grilla’s menu offers the usual standard of Filipino fare seen in every menu on common PH restuarants. What I liked was that Grilla offers some regional dishes that are not found in others like that Tofu and Sigarilyas Sisig dish.

  8. Leira Pagaspas

    I love the food in Grilla.. I love their sisig!! I think its good that they re-invent their dishes so their customers have something to look forward to everytime they visit.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Updating menu once in a few years is a great advantage for marketing as restaurants realize there may be a change in tastes and preferences also of the current generation. 🙂

  9. plumpandpretty

    I visited Grilla just a couple of weeks ago and I was amazed by how the kitchen revamped the menu. I personally think that the pork dishes were just amazing. I was able to taste a little bit of everything.

    Grilla basically caters to every Filipino dish from all regions, so why do you even bother to go if you don’t like Filipino food? For a health junkie like yourself, I suggest you bring a salad next time 🙂

    I would just like to comment on the pork dishes — pork has natural oil, if you don’t know, and eventually will turn into grease. as a blogger, you don’t write about something when you haven’t really tasted or done it, it takes out the authenticity of the writer. I also suggest to bring a better camera next time 🙂

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hi there! I was just invited to attend the event and was curious on what Grilla offers. It was my first time to taste most of the food and thought they were okay to eat once in a while but not every day. Those bloggers who were on the same table as me also agreed.

      The area was very dark and I don’t have a separate flash kit for my camera so I apologize for the quality of the pictures. I don’t claim to be a pro photographer. I’m always open to learn how to capture great photos.

      Most of my readers already know that I really do not like eating pork. In fact, it’s written on my “About” page. Still, I strive to describe the tastes according to my honest perception. (Note: I didn’t say that the dishes were bad.) In any case, thanks for your suggestions!

  10. Prince

    Oh the Inihaw na Manok sa Sinampalukan!!! I am practically addicted to sour foods and the name of the dish sounds sooo inviting! However stay away from alcoholic beverages, I guess this place isn’t the one for me (especially because I don’t spend that much time eating with friends). Thanks for the honest review! 🙂

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh right. I guess we’re not their target market. I’m not into alcoholic drinks as well. I try sometimes but in super little amount. 😛 Sure, you’re welcome!


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