I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to The Podium, and to me, it's reminiscent of the Erudite's HQ in Divergent...or the homebase of literally any movie where the "elite" class is casually investing in human cloning. Basically, it felt like even the air was too expensive.
But I also know a lot of people who frequent the mall—people whose budgets are similar to mine and who genuinely love it there! So as an experiment, I visited five different food spots at The Podium: Easy, Tiger, Cocina Peruvia, Motorino Pizzeria, Nikkei, and Gusto! Both Easy, Tiger and Gusto! are in Corner Market, The Podium's food court. To make things more interesting, I gave each restaurant a P500 budget and let them decide my food for me. I swear, didn't even look at the menu.
I wanted to give all five establishments the chance to put their best food forward (hehe), given the price restriction. To my surprise (and elation), all the servers rose to the challenge.
Ahead are the *best* dishes you could find at Easy, Tiger, Cocina Peruvia, Motorino Pizzeria, Nikkei, and Gusto! for P500.
What was served: A set meal for Grilled Thai Sausage that came with tom yum broth and green papaya salad (P180) + an upgrade from steamed rice to bagoong rice (P30), Tom Yum Noodle Soup (P200), and Thai Milk Tea (P80).
Honest review: That's a lot of food for P500! Though not the best, the Tom Yum Noodle Soup was good for its price. The Grilled Thai Sausage was too salty, so it may have been better paired with steamed rice. Unsurprisingly, the real winner here is the Thai Milk Tea.
What was served: A Salmon Skin appetizer (P130) and Brochetas de Pollo (P300).
Total: P430 + P38.39 service charge = P468.39
Honest review: Out of the five restaurants, Cocina Peruvia was the most surprising! We arrived there relatively early so the place looked empty—which I never take as a good sign for a restaurant. But both the appetizer and the main dish were EXCELLENT. Contrary to what the name suggests, the appetizer wasn't just salmon skin; it came with fries, too. The chicken was perfectly seasoned, and the portion size was generous. 10/10 would go back!
What was served: Shrimp Pesto pasta (P450)
Total: P450 + P45 service charge = P495
Honest review: As they say, it's not about quantity; it's about quality. I'm a fan of anything covered in pesto, and I never say no to shrimp. Plus, this one dish can feed two people. At this point, I was filled to the brim so I took the rest of the pasta home.
What was served: Pomelito (P225) and Spicy Tuna Roll (P175)
Total: P400 + P35.71 service charge = P435.71
Honest review: They had complimentary potato chips, and if there's anything in this world that's better than good food, it's free food, amirite? If you're wondering what is in a Pomelito, it's tuna, passion fruit, caramelized sunflower seeds, pomelo, mango, chili, and cilantro. I must admit, it tastes as wonderful as it looks, but it wasn't the easiest to eat, lol. I don't think I'd ever drop P225 again, but I appreciated the experience. The Spicy Tuna Roll was delicious, but I wouldn't go to Nikkei starving—especially if you're on a budget.
What was served: Lemon Yogurt Bowl with Adlai (P250) and Sesame Soy Bowl with greens and tofu (P250)
Honest review: I have no complaints about these bowls! TBH, I don't eat a lot of salad, so it was refreshing to be able to try Gusto!'s dishes. I also think about the empty calories I consume on a daily basis, some of which are more expensive than P250, and I feel better about these options. Of the two, I'd buy the Lemon Yogurt Bowl again, only because it takes a lot for me to swallow tofu, lol.
What should I try next?
The Podium is located at 12 ADB Ave, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong.