Almost everything is new at the reopened Made Nice, except its name. The restaurant quietly reopened last May 16, but this time at the corner spot in Joya Loft and Tower that Kafe Batwan by Sarsa vacated. At the helm of Made Nice are two young chefs—head chef/owner Jack Flores and his sous-chef and co-owner Raul Fores—whose combined experiences serve as the basis for the restaurant’s more Asian-inspired menu that leans heavily on Japanese influences and ingredients. Flores’s pastry chef wife Gabbi now provides much needed front-of-house support as the restaurant’s manager.
The newly renovated space boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and an entrance that gives you a good view of the new interiors. First thing you’ll notice is a suspended modern assemblage on the right side of the dining area that creates booth-like spaces for the tables on that side. Bespoke ceiling lamps in varied shapes, made with wood and bamboo, complete the set-up.
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In contrast, the left side feels a bit bare, with a modernist modular sofa that provides seating flexibility for bigger groups. Prominently set at the back wall is the central bar that separates the main dining room from the kitchen and the restrooms. A staircase leads to a mezzanine level dining area that can be booked as a private dining room for small groups.
“We are looking to do more family/sharing style food compared to the old Made Nice that concentrated heavily on individual-sized servings,” says Flores on the changes from the first restaurant. “The addition of a full-service bar will also enable us to expand our menu further to include lunch specials and bar chow.” These changes translate to an opening menu that presents six different categories.
A section called “Share” offers small plates good for sharing, including an addicting platter of Chicken Liver Pâté served with spiced honey, pickled herbs, and onions.
The eclectic Appetizer section has Made Nice’s best-selling Octopus dish from its Legaspi Village days, plus a well-seasoned version of Caesar Salad, and a stellar new addition of Miso-Cured “Foie Gras” Torchon served with sourdough bread. (I was first able to try this during a pop-up dinner held in Lit Bar in Serendra last December.)
Raul Fores handles the Handmade Pasta section, and makes a Chitarra pasta served with hand-cut, fresh herbs pesto sauce finished with grated Parmesan.
Those with bigger appetites can peruse the Mains and Big Plates sections which offer options good for one to four persons. My friends and I enjoyed sharing a main simply called “Beef,” which was a perfectly cooked to medium (our collective preferred doneness) Wagyu flank steak with a delicious smear of miso hollandaise sauce, and a brick of layered sweet potato that looked like it was cooked au gratin style.
We balanced the meal with an equally perfectly cooked “Halibut” with mushroom dashi and kamote tops, served with a side of tutong rice.
During my first visit, my dining companions and I almost skipped dessert, as we had already started dinner with a couple of rounds of cocktails.
But I’m glad that we did end up sharing one, as it would have been most unfortunate to have missed Flores’s brilliant take on a “Tres Leches” cake with dulce de leche. In my opinion, it is (now) the best tres leches in town. It was so good we were all tempted to order one each to take out.
G/F, Joya Lofts and Towers, Plaza Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati City. Call (0917) 183-6423 (NICE) or follow @madeniceph on Instagram, open Monday to Sunday, lunch 12 noon to 3 pm, dinner 6 to 10 pm
Photos by Cyrene de la Rosa
Follow the author on Instagram or Twitter @cyrenedelarosa