MANILA -- Ruby Jack’s in City of Dreams Manila keeps it exciting for diners with an adventurous menu that features ingredients from around the world.
“We wanted to upgrade the menu and make it more fun for the guests, more fun for the kitchen team, and the service team. It motivates people to change things around. And we’re lucky that we have the luxury of being flexible with the menu,” explained chef and co-owner Matthew Crabbe.
Using boutique tomatoes from Japan, truffle and olive oil from Italy, shio konbu from Japan, coconut rum from Africa, house-made ricotta cheese, and the best local ingredients on hand, to name just a few of its pantry of flavors, Ruby Jacks’ new menu runs the gamut of not just steak but also seafood, dishes with tropical fruit, and even those flavored with lambanog, a local spirit.
“My food is all about being simple – simple but with flavors that we want the guests to go ‘Wow!’ when it gets to their table,” Crabbe said of his approach on creating this menu.
And he succeeds. Beyond dry-aged steak wonders and luscious oysters, dishes like the Black Angus Carpaccio look stunning on a plate – slices of the sweetest red boutique tomatoes are crowned with a dollop of homemade tangy ricotta cheese and some micro-green arugula, which must be eaten with where it sits – a layer of thin slivers of angus speckled with white pepper, dried capers, and maldon salt. From the salt, the different textures, and the tangy and sweet flavors, all of these combine to massage the tongue into delight.
Umami, meanwhile, is the star of his Sizzling Scallops -- seared to perfection and served on a sizzling plate, bathed with a butter sauce flavored with prime umami flavor from shio konbu. To balance things out, he adds just a touch of fruity acid from burnt dalandan.
Last but not the least for the starters (and this author’s favorite), the Coconut Flamed Foie Gras. I must admit to a predilection to liking the opulent richness of the foie gras, and serving it on a sizzling plate ensured a crusty exterior that I’ve always enjoyed. Pineapples and foie gras are a controversial thing in my head (and in some places too), but blessed with the lightest touch of coconut from the flambe of African coconut rum, the combination makes for tropical/African foie gras experience that I would like to repeat in the near future.
Moving into the entrees, non-meat eaters can get some good eats in Ruby Jack’s. Enjoy some "tuna-ception" with char-grilled local yellow fin tuna served with a tonnato sauce (tuna, anchovies, mayonnaise, capers, seasoning) and a salad of pickled cucumber and rocket, or some teppan-grilled Atlantic salmon that sits atop soil-like lemon and black sesame dust, with kale.
Meat lovers, meanwhile, have more reasons to rejoice. Dry-aged or wet-aged steak? Ruby Jack’s serves up high-quality steak every time. New sidings are on offer like mashed potato garlic chips, torched peppers, and truffle-cauliflower gratin.
Only available on October 17 is Ruby Jack’s Jack Daniels infused-dry aged Japanese steak, which commonly sells out in their Tokyo branch in less than a day.
For dessert, almost all of dishes of Ruby Jack’s pastry chef Christine dela Fuente had sweet and savory elements (also alcohol), straddling that thin line of – is this a savory or dessert?
“I wanted to do something adventurous and new,” shared dela Fuente.
Probably the most challenging to the tastebuds -- but remarkably the most refreshing after a heavy meal of meats -- Pimm’s No. 1 Garden’s core is a lemon cheesecake with Pimm’s No. 1 jelly (orangey-flavors), surrounded with sliced vegetables (cucumber) and fruits (strawberries). A large scoop of cucumber ice cream brings it all together — it’s the “dressing” of this salad as it melts.
What should surely be a bestseller is the Pearls of Asia, which has a lychee sorbet surrounded by a pool of coconut espuma dotted with tapioca pearls and fresh pineapple. Light and refreshing, very Asian.
From another continent, the best of Italian olive oil was used in making Ruby Jack’s Olive Oil Pistachio Cake. Rich with some light fruity notes, a piece of cake may be dense but it’s nicely lightened with whipped ricotta and lavender jasmine ice cream.
Getting points not only for its taste but also its presentation, the Double Baked Sizzling Cheesecake was a crowd-pleaser. Coming to your table in a sizzling plate, the salted caramel sauce bubbles merrily around the New York-style cheesecake. Wait a while for the bubbling to stop and in the meantime, cool down with a spoonful of its accompanying coriander ice cream. But save some though, because the cheesecake with the ice cream makes for a satisfying mouthful of hot and cold.
While Ruby Jack’s is primarily a steakhouse, with this new menu, we get a glimpse of how they do things in Tokyo, where they change the menu corresponding to the seasons. And while Crabbe describes changing menus in the Philippines as something done "on a whim" (versus being seasonal), this direction should inevitably pay off for Ruby Jack’s Manila, as it separates them from the many high-end steakhouses that now abound in Manila.