Movie snacks turn gourmet in Munchtown

By Vladimir Bunoan,

Posted at Mar 27 2014 11:49 AM | Updated as of Mar 28 2014 01:42 AM

The striking dining area of Munchtown in the new Promenade. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

MANILA – Chef Robby Goco is out to prove that there is more to movie snacks than popcorn and chips.

In keeping with the new Promenade Cinemas 6, 7 and 8, which are equipped with the state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos surround sound technology, Goco also upgraded the standard movie snacks in his latest food venture, Munchtown.

In fact, it would not be entirely accurate to call Munchtown a cinema concessionaire stand since it could certainly give the other new restaurants at the Promenade extension a run for their money. While the Munchtown menu was created with the moviegoer in mind – the food is served in handy takeout boxes even if you’re dining in – Goco’s gourmet take on movie snacks actually deserve to be appreciated on their own in a sit-down environment.

“We just want to do things right,” Goco, whose restaurants include Cyma and the culinary hot spot Green Pastures, told a group of food bloggers at a recent food tasting about his concept for Munchtown.

Chicago Dog. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

Take Munchtown’s Chicago Dog. Goco said for a hotdog to earn this moniker, it must have the necessary ingredients, which include mustard, onions, pickle relish, pickle spears, celery salt, tomato slices and sport peppers. While some diners may be apprehensive at the sight of the whole sport peppers, the heat is actually quite mild when compared to Munchtown’s other hotdog specialty, the Chili Dog.

Chili Dog. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

The Chili Dog, which was the hands-down favorite, did not scrimp on the chili, which was rich and tasty on its own that one wished Munchtown would offer it separately.

But I was the only one who preferred the Chicago-style hotdog since one can really appreciate the smoked all-beef goodness of the dog.

Munchtown also offers a “naked” version of the hotdog, and three other variants, including what is dubbed as the Monster Dog, which comes with a deluge of toppings from Russian dressing to bacon bits and sauerkraut. Goco even has his version of the childhood favorite, corn dogs.

Given that Goco also started the popular Charlie’s Grind and Grill -- although he stressed that he is no longer involved – the Munchtown burgers are also exceptional. The burgers aren’t as elaborate in terms of add-ons but the Black Angus patty uses a blend of what Goco called better cuts, at least compared to what was available to him when Charlie’s was just starting out.

Double Cheeseburger. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

Munchtown offers basic yet juicy cheeseburgers (single or double). You can choose to add bacon if you so wish, as well as caramelized onions.

But if you’re getting a burger to eat while inside the cinema, it might be better to order the sliders, which uses the same patty but with a higher cheese ratio. (It’s also easier to eat these in the dark.)

Soon, Munchtown will offer the Chili Burger, which may be a just too messy to eat while watching a movie.

The other offerings at Munchtown are more attuned to movie-viewing in terms of easy handling, like the burritos, which are available in four variants (and can also be ordered as tacos or salads).

Pulled Pork Shoulder Burrito. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

The pulled pork shoulder burrito is packed and filling and bursting with flavor since it’s not predominantly rice and beans. (The other variants are chipotle chicken, barbecue beef brisket and a vegetarian option of chipotle squash.)

Vongole Pizza. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

The pizzas, which come in various albeit basic flavors, are rectangular in shape, making them easier to pack. We tried the Vongole, which is topped with whole clams (shell included). This is a light pizza, simply smeared with olive oil, cheese and hints of chili flakes, while the crust is perfectly crunchy and chewy at the same time.

French Fried Chicken. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

Acknowledging the Pinoy penchant for fried chicken, Goco opted for a French version with a Bernaise mayonnaise. The chicken has a slight sweetness, thanks to the honey herbs, and the meat was absolutely tender and juicy. This is served with a piece of biscuit and some coleslaw.

Fish and Chips. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

If you’re sacrificing meat for Lent, then opt for the Fish and Chips, which, Goco stressed, doesn’t use the now-ubiquitous dory. Using the sturdier flounder meat, this comes in a sizeable portion with a light and crunchy batter and three kinds of sauces.

Gourmet fries seem to be the specialty of Munchtown, which come in several variants and toppings, including the rather trendy Poutine, which arrived with barbecue beef brisket (an add-on); and the cleverly named Irish Nachos, which uses potato instead of the traditional chips.

Blue Cheese Fries. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

My favorites are the almost spartan-looking Black Truffle Fries, which includes bits of chicken liver (an acquired taste, I know); or the more elaborate Blue Cheese Fries, which also has chicken liver but with bacon and tomatoes.

Milkshakes. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for

Munchtown has also come up with some creative milkshakes like Oreo Overload, the delicious Peanut Butter and the still-trendy Salted Caramel, all of which are colorful and attractive for kids.

Goco reported that he has already received offers to open Munchtown in other high-end cinemas in the metro. His gourmet fries and designer dogs had just elevated the casual movie date into a serious night on the town.

Promenade 2, Greenhills Shopping Center
San Juan