If you’re wondering what’s been up with Rob Pengson, one of the OG celebrity chefs of the Philippines, just look for his hidden restaurant, Beso-Beso, along Chino Roces, Makati.
2019-2020 was supposed to mark his comeback after years of hiatus from the culinary scene. He had just set up his culinary arts school, the Aleanza Institute, and the Spanish-Filipino restaurant, Beso Beso. But the pandemic had other plans.
On top of surviving several seasons of lockdown and restrictions for business owners, Chef Rob has also just recovered from cardiomyopathy. But as this writer has seen during the intimate preview of Beso Beso’s new menu for 2023, the chef is in bright spirits.
He told us about his time in Spain, which inspired his new dishes. “I ate there and I remember everything was just charcoaled and so simple,” he said. “And that’s where I matured, I think, as a chef… Now I realized less is more.”
He applied this less-is-more mindset, as well as culinary innovations that his branding is known for, to create Beso Beso’s evolving menu.
What’s New In Beso Beso
We started with tapas (appetizers)—croqueta de manchego curado, with ewe’s milk cheese from La Mancha, Spain. We sampled three variants—truffle honey, boquerones (anchovies), and jamon (ham). Each was served with 30% manchego cheese, which, as revealed by Chef Rob’s team, is the perfect ratio of croqueta cheese without going overboard. This cheese lover agrees.
Next was the huevos rotos or “broken eggs,” a popular dish served in Spanish taverns. Beso’s version is a combination of poached eggs and chorizo with black truffles, croutons, and Spanish paprika. Still high on my truffle honey croqueta, I lapped up my creamy huevos rotos while letting that telling essence of truffle linger in my senses.
The gazpacho, a cold tomato soup widely eaten in Spain and Portugal, was the perfect accompaniment to one of the hottest summer days in the Philippines. Chef Rob’s version adds a twist: piquillo pepper sorbet fills up the pepper topped with anchovy, migas (bread chunk), and basil. While slurping on the soup and biting into the pepper, my tastebuds immediately went on fire, and as I was ready to grab the nearest glass of water, the cold sorbet brought my tongue back to earth. No need for that glass of water. I wanted another shot of this unique gazpacho.
Next was the Iberico secreto, often referred to as the “Wagyu of pork.” These thin slices of succulent meat from the neck area of an Iberico pig were served with teriyaki glaze and a side of creamy mashed potatoes.
Steak lovers, this one’s for you: Beso-Beso’s txuleton or chuleton (ribeye) is prepared in the old Basque tradition, which is what Chef Rob was referring to when he said, “less is more.” Whether you get the 300-g or 600-g of chuleton to share, it comes with onions and romaine lettuce with garlic milk that I slurped like soup.
For dessert, we were served leche y mango, milk and vanilla bean with mango, passion fruit, and popping boba, a fun alternative to the usual tapioca pearls.
Free Paella Promo
When you visit Beso Beso this month, you’ll see a temporary menu that includes some of the featured dishes in this article. The new full menu will be unveiled on June 6, 2023.
So what about the free paella? Just drop by to order something from their new menu, ask about the free paella (tell them you heard it from KateWasHere.com!) and you will get a freshly-cooked pan of paella de dia, a.k.a. paella of the day, on the house! This promo is available for a limited time only.
“We’re developing our paella dishes,” Chef Rob said. His kitchen is experimenting with pigeon meat paella, which is what we were served that day, and Japanese-influenced okonomiyaki paella. The free paella you’ll get may not be the usual Negra and Valenciana, but a surprise concoction.
Tell me what type of paella you’ll get at Beso Beso. Buen provecho!
Beso Beso is located at Room 101-A, 2/F Aleanza Institute of Arts, Autometics Center, 2257 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati, Philippines. Mobile no. +63917-179-2562.
Reservations are suggested, while walk-ins are welcome from 5-10 pm.