When Shangri-La Hotel in The Fort, BGC, first opened its doors to guests early last year, I immediately went around the place for a quick stroll and did my own tour of it. It was only the ground floor back then that was accessible to the public. This posh hotel is still in the works to date, and its construction would most likely be done before the year ends. Nonetheless, some parts of it are ready and accessible to guests, including one of their restaurants, Samba, which is now up and available to the dining public.
“It is located on the 8th floor,” replied the concierge when I have inquired as to where Samba exactly is in the hotel. I reiterated my question, and made a follow-up by asking if she is sure of her info, of which she politely responded and gave confirmation to.
It was a great surprise for me actually to see Samba’s location. Samba has a fitting setup, with it being located near the hotel pool, adding up more good vibes to an already impressive restaurant theme. Together with other foodies from Zomato, we were all seated in the resto’s al fresco dining area, and were all in for a banquet on a sponsored invite. This feast is nothing like any other, as it boasts of a complete array of special dishes, unlimited drinks, and social interactions with the restaurant’s local and foreign guests.
Along with a number of players in the restaurant industry having a consistent flow of patrons coming in, are the dining place owners that are serving South American cuisines. They have been slowly but surely inching their way into penetrating our own local food scene. Proof of this is the dining public’s display of appreciation and support for Cocina Peruvia, which is situated a block away from Shangri-La The Fort, BGC. Despite this resto’s upscale food, the place gets packed on most nights with dining customers who are willing to splurge so much on food. Cocina Peruvia should keep their eyes open though for competition, especially since Samba’s now around to serve a unique lineup of food offerings and authentic Latin American dishes to a number of food lovers.
Now let me make a rundown of all the dishes we were served in Samba that night.
The first appetizer that was served to us is Peru’s signature ceviche, Ceviche Limeño. It had all there is to it that you love most about seafood. The red onions, coriander sprouts, tobiko, and the leche de tigre dressing complemented the flavors of shrimps, octopus, scallops, calamari (squid), and the lapu-lapu fish. The soup base was a nice combination too of garden fresh herbs, spices, and citrus flavors.
The next dish that was served to us is the Salmon T-R-A-D-T-O. It was a lighter meal compared to the Ceviche Limeño. This flavorful dish is composed of thin salmon slices, that were simply tossed in oil and mixed with lime juice.This omega-3 rich dish would have your appetite wanting more. The Salmon T-R-A-D-TO is also available in tuna variety.
The presentation of their Conchas al Carbon would surely steal people’s attention as it is served flaming. I assume that the fresh scallops in it were all raw, given that the heat of the flame would already cook them good. The scallops were nicely laid out with their shells on, and they were seasoned with salt, and accentuated with the fragrant cilantro and the sweetness of red onions.
Another scallop dish that was served to us that night was the Chalaquitas. In this dish, the scallops were perfectly combined with the onions, tomatoes, lime juice, coriander, and corn. I’d have to say that I like this better than the Conchas al Carbon for its balmy characteristic.
The first entree that was served to us during the evening was their Anticucho de Pulpo. Since most of the foodies have gotten most of it, I was only able to try out a little. And man, was it so delightful and worth raving about, even if I only had the chance of getting a little taste of it. The chargrilled octopus was slightly chewy, yet tender to dig your teeth into. I also love the generous serving of grilled bell peppers garnished with the rocoto carretillero that came together with it.
I thought that South Americans’ cooking expertise centers on mostly meat dishes, but I was proven wrong. Samba served us with another great-tasting seafood dish, which was the Brazilian Moqueca de Camaro. Together with this dish was a serving of Malagueta chili chowder, which was later on poured into a bowl of lapu-lapu fillet and prawns. I was like a wee little kid that’s too jumpy to do the thing myself. For me, the process definitely made the whole dining experience all the more exciting.
My favorite of all the dishes that was served in Samba that night was their own version of the Spanish paella. They have used Peruvian rice in their Arroz con Mariscos, with generous portions of calamari, octopus, shrimps, and scallops. It definitely went well with the white wine, paprika creole seasoning, Parmesan cheese, and coral butter. This plate will surely bring heaven and happiness to my pescetarian friends. (Sorry for my French, but if you aren’t familiar with what “pescetarian” means, then a ‘pescetarian’ is a person who doesn’t eat meat but enjoys wolfing down fish.) I like this dish because of its creaminess, just like how it is with risotto.
The night is young and the novelty dishes by Samba just keep on being served to our table. Their pork Anticuchos Con Salsa de Adobo was served on a crispy sourdough bread. Apparently, this pork belly dish bursting of rich flavors of panca peppers, oregano, and red onions, was cooked for 18 hours! The flavors were made even better with its sauce. Yum.
Pleasing the meatlovers was Samba’s Chuleton de Res. This 800-gram sous-vide black angus prime rib most definitely took the spotlight. The flavors in this juicy and tender meat were heightened even more with its well-tasting pepper sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beetroot and asparagus. But lo and behold, a platter of this will cost you Php 4,500. But I assure you, you will definitely get what you pay for.
For the final lap of this whole food ensemble, we had a variety of Samba’s desserts. It was a sweet ending to a delicious gastronomic adventure. First up, we had the Picarones, a Peruvian pumpkin donut, glazed in sugarcane syrup and topped with a sorbet. The contradicting temperatures in it makes this dessert a pleasure to the palate.
Another dessert that we got to try out was their Merengado de Guanabana. In order for us to have a taste of this unique sweet piece, we have to crack this sphere-shaped dessert by dropping it from a foot high off of the table. Inside it was guyabano cream, crispy almond meringue, and blueberry and strawberry coulis. I never had guyabano this good, and I liked it for tasting so nicely with the sweet and sour flavors in it.
The entire course was capped off with their Peruvian home-made ice cream. You will go crazy over their concocted Queso Helado (milk, cinnamon and cheese), Lacuma (Andean chesa), and Choclo (corn) ice cream. The Queso Helado was hands down my fave among the three, with the salty cheese bits overwhelming my palate.
What a great night that was. It wasn’t exactly just the thought about Samba’s dishes that’s pleasing for me, but the efforts exerted alone by the people behind them, who are all passionate to satisfy their dining clients. Thanks to Samba for that wonderful experience, especially to their beautiful chef, Chef Mya Pamintuan, for a masterfully done set of recipes that she prepped for us that night. It was truly a great memory I would always look back on, especially when I’m craving for a well-curated menu.