And… we’re back! My apologies for the prolonged absence. Due to some technical difficulties, we’ve had to limit ourselves to the occasional post on our Facebook Page. It seems we’ve been able to overcome the problems and so, hopefully, we can resume posting more lengthy articles on the blog.
A few weeks back, I was invited to take a look at the wine collection of the latest mega casino to open in the city – Okada Manila. I had heard about the fabulous Okada wine collection as I was myself one of the suppliers to them for their “casual” wine list. I could scarcely believe the stories I heard of hundreds of bottles of rare wines making their way to Manila to stock the cellar of the casino so, of course, I accepted the invitation.
I was met by the affable Damien Planchenault, Senior Beverage Manager in charge of Wine, and overseer of over P 100 Million in wine inventory. He was really quite excited to show me the bottles they had in stock. Lining one wall of La Piazza restaurant, their Italian outlet, were hundreds of bottles, many with prestigious names like Gaja, Masseto, Chateau d’Yquem, and many others. He pulled out a bottle of 1940 Chateau d’Yquem which would set you back P 346,600.00 if you fancied it.
But the real treasures were in a side room near the entrance of the restaurant. Damien pulled out a couple of bottles to show me. There were several bottles of virtually unobtainable Henri Jayer Burgundy, now probably the most expensive wine in the world.
There was a Petrus from 1961 (the picture at the top of this article), and the legendary Cheval Blanc 1947 – considered by many to be among the greatest Bordeaux wines ever made, and a relative bargain at less than P 2 Million, although it must be said, the ullage in the bottle didn’t look too promising.
If you happen to hit the jackpot, you might want to splurge on the most expensive wine they have, a 1978 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at over P 5 Million. In all, they have 357 bottles of the various Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines.
You might think it was all French, but there were also row upon row of top Spanish wine Vega Sicilia Unico, California cults Screaming Eagle and Harlan, and many others.
The whole wine list is on iPad for easier navigating, although they do have a traditional wine list as well.
While La Piazza houses a great collection, in truth, this is only about 40% of the total number of bottles. The rest are going to be held at the as yet not named Chinese restaurant.
I finished the cellar tour just as the fountain show started. This is the world’s largest dancing fountain so you really should make it a point to watch the show when you are at Okada.
After the show, Jocel and I were treated to dinner at La Piazza. We scanned the menu and were pleasantly surprised that the prices were quite reasonable, with starters in the P 700 range while main courses were most come in at around P 1200.00 to P 1500.00. We decided to let Damien do the ordering for us.
We started with two excellent appetizers, one caponata and one bresaola. As appetizers,these are large enough to be shared by 3 or even 4 people . They would actually make a good light main course of you don’t want something too heavy.
This was followed by two pastas, cavatelli and some rather large ravioli. Both were very good, with Jocel preferring the meaty cavatelli, while like the lighter ravioli more. Pastas also go four around P 700.00.
We had one fish and one meat dish for our mains. While the fish was perfectly cooked – light and flaky, we both agreed that the outstanding dish of the evening was the lamb chops, easily some of the best lamb we’ve had in Manila. Highly recommended.
To wash this all down, we had the house Prosecco, a white from Frescobaldi, and a medium-bodied Nero d’Avola from Sicily.
We barely had room left, but since we were already here, we just had to try the dessert. We had the Signature Tiramisu which I washed down with a bit of grappa.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Okada. The wine cellar was amazing with all the rare bottles, we were able to catch 3 shows of the fountain, and the food at La Piazza was outstanding. Well worth a visit!
La Piazza is located at Okada Manila, New Seaside Drive, Entertainment City, Parañaque City. Tel 555-5799.