Have you ever tried this food concept where in you'll be given a bowl to fill in with an assortment of ingredients that includes meat, seafood, veggies, tofu, noddles, rice and sauces? You can make a tower out of it or just fill it up to the brim - give it to the wait staff and they will stir fry for you. Familiar? Mongolian Bowl is what they call it and there a couple of stores offering this kind of experience in the Metro. Most would not let you get all the meat you want and you would have to play the guessing game in terms of the taste because they don't have a guide when it comes to the sauces. It's totally DIY and you'll end up really liking or hating what you've created. Then you only have one shot so it's a major hit or miss.
Husband loves this kind of food. We would always settle for the mediocre type that's usually found in malls since our favorite is located far off in the beautiful island of Boracay - Mango Ray. I usually go with him to support him but honestly, and he knows about this, I'm not impressed. We would sometimes find an option but still, nah. Until I got an invite to try this resto bar along Jupiter, in Makati - Nomads BBQ + Refuge.
|Nomads BBQ + Refuge, Jupiter St., Makati|
I scheduled our visit on a Saturday night and tagged along the husband and my very good friends from foodsocietyph. Nomads BBQ + Refuge x foodfanaticph = YAY!
Found along Jupiter Street in Makati, this restaurant was born out of the love of Mongolian DIY Bowls of four friends. They haven't really found a good restaurant to satisfy their cravings after they have tried the authentic in Taiwan prompting them to open their own (fun fact: Mongolian BBQ originated from Taiwan). Offering Taiwanese Street Food, Unlimited DIY Mongolian Bowl and affordable drinks and cocktails, Nomads BBQ + Refuge is open from lunch until around 2AM. Perfect place to eat, drink and chill, it can even be your after drinking session refuge for comfort food!
|Al Fresco area - photo courtesy of Nomads BBQ + Refuge|
The restaurant has two sections - an al fresco area that's perfect for the smokers and an air-conditioned section that's near the Unlimited DIY Mongolian Bowl area. The ambiance was very relaxed and casual since they wanted to capture the Taiwanese Street Market vibe in this nook.
|In door dining area - photo courtesy of Nomads BBQ + Refuge|
Unfinished walls served as canvass for huge wall art, warm tones from the wooden tables and chairs, and an open kitchen where you'll see their chefs in action.
|Open kitchen and Unlimited DIY Mongolian Bowl area|
They also have this banner right in front of their kitchen that reads "Eat Often, Eat Well" which is a Taiwanese culinary philosophy, according to their Head Chef and part owner - Alex.
Alex prepared their best selling street food for us to try and she also had us try their Unli DIY Mongolian Bowl.
|Hainanese Rice Stuffed Chicken Wings for 250Php|
If you are looking for something unique, then, you have to order this! Inside each wing was flavorful Hainanese Rice. Dip the chicken into the usual ginger mix, take a bite and let all the flavors explode! So good that it's hard to stop from munching.
|Mushroom & Okra Chips with Green Sriracha for 195Php|
A vegetarian's delight, the breading worked like magic giving each piece a delightful crunch and a good flavor. The Green Sriracha that this order came with was home made and it was so spicy!
Tender and tasty chunks of braised pork with a slice of cucumber and a crunchy piece of pork skin or chicharon, sandwiched in a soft bao. Simple but good.
Then we tried their Unlimited DIY Mongolian Bowl. Offered from 7PM to 10PM, you can opt to get a Single Bowl as well during this time. If you came in after the unli offering, you can still enjoy the DIY flare since their Single Bowl option extends until closing.
What sets them apart though from other DIY Mongolian Bowl concepts are the following --
1) You can go back again and again if you avail the unli option unlike in other places where you can only fill a single bowl with all the ingredients that it can hold. This means you can try a mix and match of the ingredients that you want, without any limits!
2) They have brown rice as option aside from the usual white rice and noodles!
3) You can control the amount of meat that you'll put into your bowl unlike in other restaurants were you can only choose a combination and they will determine the portion.
|An assortment of sauces!|
4) No guessing game when it comes to the sauces because they have 5 ready sauces that you can choose from!
|One of their chefs posing gamely, as requested!|
They're also considerate of their vegetarian guests since their customized round griddle has a partition that separates vegetarian orders from the rest. This means no trace of meat, whatsoever, when they stir fry!
|Sauces and eggs!!!|
It was fun doing the DIY. Choose your carbs, get some veggies and spices, choose your protein from their selection of meat and seafood, mix in your sauces and choose how you want your egg/s done. A chef is always waiting by the kitchen window to help you out so do not be shy to ask! They'll do the kitchen magic for you and all you have to do is sit back, relax and wait!
I was pretty satisfied with my creation. I opted to put in more meat (buwahahaha), 2 servings of the Classic Mongolian Sauce and a serving of their signature Miso Butter. I was so full after my first bowl!
We also got the chance to try their desserts - Fried Milk Balls and Tinutong Rice Ice Cream.
Does this ice cream flavor sound familiar? Hmmmm... I'll let you guess where they got this. I haven't tried this flavor yet so I was giddy on how it will turn out. Served in a fried lumpia wrapper turned into a cup, honestly, this is a flavor that's not easy to love. The base was smooth and creamy and I must say that the flavor of burnt or toasted rice was captured on point. The characteristic bitter taste was there!
Each order has five balls and you can choose from plain, white chocolate and Matcha Kit-Kat. We tried all flavors and honestly, the plain one is the best way to go. Served with condensed milk on the side, I loved this dessert! Each bite reminded me of my favorite childhood snack - Ginataang Halo-Halo! Since they used coconut milk, the "gata" flavor was evident. Crunchy outside but exploding with coconut milk goodness inside, ahhhh it was so good! Dipping into the condensed milk made it even sweeter but I didn't mind because for a sweet tooth like me, it was a bonus!
Overall, we loved our dinner here. The place can get packed especially at night. The husband loved this place so much that he's determined to go back! Also curious about their lunch menu, I will for sure go back to check this out.
4 out of 5 Stars for Nomads BBQ + Refuge!
--- Nomads BBQ + Refuge: G/F Valdecon Bldg, 20 Jupiter cor. Antares St, Bel-Air, Makati City