Michael Tinsay, the owner of the classy, modern American comfort food restaurant, Belly Rub, in Commercenter, Alabang must have an incredible love for sandwiches.
We mean, we experienced it firsthand. During one afternoon in April, we trooped on over to the newly-opened join, and asked Michael to serve us a meal fit for a real man. Boy were we in for a treat. The food that Michael served us—four types of sandwiches we'll discuss more below—had us drooling the moment they came out of the kitchen. It fit the very definition of manfood: big enough to feed at least two people, and packing a level of flavor that would make us want to schedule a return trip the moment we finish eating it.
Just looking at his creations, you knew that a lot of love went into putting two slices of bread together, with immaculately cooked slabs of delicious meat in between. Tinsay tells us that part of the secret is that they infuse their infuse traditionally bland-tasting American dishes with the bolder flavors that an Asian might prefer. We're guessing they did it right, because we're Asians, and we absolutely loved what he served us. Tinsay also adds that many of their ingredients, from the sauces to the meat, are homemade to make sure that they have complete control of the flavor and the quality.
Now, let's have a closer look.
1) The Cubano
For anyone who has seen the movie Chef, and was intrigued about the cubano, look no further than Belly Rub's indulgent version of the sandwich.
It featured the rich textures of Belly Rub's homemade ham and roasted pork, and a burst of flavors from the caramelized onions, mustard, gruyere and mozzarella cheese, pickles and their signature spiced mayo. Keeping all these ingredients together are slices of French baguette that offer the right kind of bite—a toasty prelude to the awesomeness lurking below. It's good enough that if we were Cubans on tour here in the Philippines, we'd take it back home—if only to show people that the sandwich tastes great even without Cuban bread.
Get it for: P310
2) The French-Dipped Reuben
A staple in New York restaurants, Belly Rub gives this classic its own memorable spin with its homemade corned beef brisket that oozes with flavor with every bite. Instead of the usual sauerkraut (sour cabbage) , it features coleslaw in cider vinegar and generous servings of swiss and mozzarella cheese.
It's their special reuben sauce though that makes it extra special which features beef stock (think bulalo) and chicken stock, for an overall flavor that straddles the line between spicy and sweet.
Get it for: P390
3) The Adobo Media Noche
Want something more familiar? Move over Cuba and New York. Belly Rub has its own sandwich that pays tribute to Manila itself: the Adobo Media Noche. And yes, it's as festive as its name states.
Created to showcase Filipino cuisine in an American way, the media noche makes it feel like it's New Year in your mouth with its mouthwatering combo of pork belly adobo, homemade ham, an interracial mix of kesong puti and mozzarella, atchara, clamped in between the crispy crusts of ciabatta bread.
Get it for: P295
4) The 50/50
The crème de la crème of Belly Rub's creations. The competition is stiff in the burger arena, but their 50/50 is easily one of the best we've had.
The joke is that given how indulgent it is, 50 percent of yourself is already on its way to heaven the moment you take a bite. The real reason: the half-pound patty is half-bacon and half beef patty. Yes, it tastes as good as it sounds. That overflowing pile of caramelized onions and that fried egg on top turn up the flavor meter further for this amazing burger.
If you intend to visit Belly Rub just once in your life, and you're a man looking for something really rewarding to eat, make sure to order this one.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Belly Rub is on the second floor of Commercenter, Alabang and is open from Tuesday to Thursday and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, it is open from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.