BGC eats: Tomatito's new chef reimagines Spanish favorites in playful menu

Joko Magalong-De Veyra

Posted at Oct 11 2019 06:44 AM | Updated as of Oct 11 2019 06:55 AM

MANILA -- Spanish food with cocktails has always made for a great night out and for Bonifacio Global City’s Tomatito, the fun hasn’t stopped since they opened in 2016.

Tomatito is not only named after the moniker of a famous Flamenco guitarist Jose Fernandez Torres, as it also translates to "little tomatoes" in Spanish. It’s a name that implies playfulness and vibrant flavors, which the restaurant is set to continue delivering on with a new executive chef and menu.

“The motto is we do Spanish food that people can recognize as Spanish but always with a little bit of something interesting,” explained Ivan Fernandez, the restaurant's new executive chef.

Before coming to Manila, the Madrid native enjoyed a 9-year stint in Tomatito’s sister restaurant in Shanghai, and he seemed excited and eager to take on the challenge of pleasing Filipino palates in his new kitchen.

“I'm in love with them. I love them!" Fernandez said of his staff. "Coming here, it's a culture that I find closer to my culture. I find Filipinos very ‘Latin’, so it's very easy for me to talk to them.”

“They told me a Filipino person will always try to go for the balance, so a dish that doesn't have at least a little bit of each of them (sweet, sour, bitter, salt) will be wrong and it will be boring to them,” added the chef.

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During a recent preview of the Tomatito menu, Fernandez served a meal with tart flavors, rich creamy delights, and undercurrents of spice that indeed showcased Fernandez’s commitment to the cause, most especially in his Chef’s Specials.

“[The Chef’s] Specials is a way for me to test what people like the most, what they like, what is not working... I may want to change the menu at least three times a year,” Fernandez said.

Here’s a sneak peek of the restaurant’s new menu that officially launched this October. Say "gracias" to familiar Tomatito dishes, and "hola" to reimagined versions of old favorites, as well as some of his Chef’s Specials.

A big chunk of this list consists of Tomatito’s tapas, which the chef said should be best eaten with “two fingers, and in one bite”. The Salmon TNT is an old Tomatito favorite pairing Balik smoked salmon, honey and truffle. Jeeves de Veyra

These "ham bombs" or Bombas de Jamon were included in this author’s favorite bites of the year when it was tasted long ago, thanks to the luscious combination of Iberian shoulder ham, and a profiterole filled with cream cheese, truffle and paprika. Jeeves de Veyra

Another Tomatito bestseller, Chipirones a la Andaluza is deep-fried crispy baby squid done right — to be eaten with a squeeze of lemon or dunked into lemon aioli. Jeeves de Veyra

This new version of an old menu item had the table excited. Tuna TNT features lightly cured slices of tuna atop a pillow filled with a tangy and refreshing Bloody Mary concoction made for an eye-opening, mouth-puckering delicious bite. In this, Fernandez nailed the Filipino palate beautifully. Handout

Crispy mini truffle and mushroom tacos were a hefty bite despite their size, filled with creamy shiitake mushrooms balanced with pickled onions, and topped with manchego cheese and some fried potato chips. Jeeves de Veyra

This Mexican-inspired Paella de Mole Mexicano is a Chef’s Special, using mole made from Malagos Chocolate. It has flavors reminiscent of a traditional Paella Valenciana albeit imbued with more smoky and spicier flavors and topped with sautéed shimeji mushrooms. Mole may not be commonplace yet in the Philippines, but this paella should taste comfortingly familiar. Jeeves de Veyra

Less adventurous types may opt to order the Paella del Chiringuito. Inspired by casual beach-side dining, this seafood dry paella is straightforward and filling with mussels, shrimps and other seafood, served with aioli and lemon. Jeeves de Veyra

The Filete a la Parilla has been a bestselling Tomatito dish. This classic pairing of meat and potatoes has 200 grams of premium tenderloin served with jus, confit and mashed potatoes, as well as grilled asparagus. Jeeves de Veyra

Fernandez presented two luscious Chef’s Specials desserts. Love chocolate? The Marquise de Chocolate has chocolate mousse topped with Bailey’s ice cream resting on a pool of warm salted caramel sauce with fresh fruit. If you’re opting for something tart and refreshing, the Apple Liquid Cheesecake served in a glass has tangy apple sauce on its bottom later, followed with a creamy semi-liquid cheese mousse, and finished on top with a crispy crumble. Jeeves de Veyra