A Little Hang-out Corner at the Fort (an evening at the Bonifacio Global City)

The Bonifacio Global City, more commonly known simply as the “Fort”, is perhaps the fastest developing piece of real estate in the Philippines. Carved out from Fort Bonifacio (the Philippine Army’s Headquarters) during the large scale conversion of military bases in the mid-1990’s, the Fort is now the country’s up and coming business district, a successor to the now crowded Makati CBD a few kilometers away.

When I transferred to Manila back in 2000, the Fort was still a largely vacant expanse of land, save for a few buildings close to Makati and a few restaurants and bars in the middle. Back then it was more of a “hang-out” place for the yuppies of Ayala Avenue and the rest of the MTV generation (and the HQ of the now defunct MTV Philippines was right it the middle of it too).

It was in the mid-2000’s that things really started to pick-up at the Fort. The Ayala Group, the family behind the growth of the Makati CBD, opened two major commercial centers in the area. One is the Market!Market!, a middle-class mall located close to C5 in the west (where public transport can be accessed), and the other is the Bonifacio High Street, a more upscale, low-rise, open air development located in the interior where there is less traffic.

High-rise office buildings and condominiums soon rose one after the other, and the Fort’s skyline rapidly changed, and is still changing month by month as I write this article.

As offices and condominiums began to grow in number, so did the number of bars, restaurants and cafes in unexpected places. Going around the Fort will yield you some restaurants, bars and cafes scattered around the place, many of which not even long time Manila residents have heard of before. These are the places where some office workers take their lunch, and then down a drink or two in the evening.

One of these small restaurants scattered around is a place called Mozu, at the ground floor of a residential high-rise along the 2nd Avenue (though they also have a branch in Ortigas). It’s one of those places that live as quiet restaurants during the day, and transform as loud bars with booze and music in the evening. You would notice it the moment you look at the menu, where the entire back side is filled with drinks and cocktails.

The offer the usual things that make up a meal, like pasta, sandwiches, salads, and even all-day-breakfasts, plus desserts. However, what my workmates really go after are the rice meals. With distinctly Filipino dishes like the bagnet, the lechon kawali (on a bed of laing), the pork binagoongan, and even soup dishes such as sinigang and nilagang baka, plus many others, there’s enough variety in there to keep regular patrons from getting bored.

The quality of the food may not blow anyone off the roof, but I would say it’s above average. I’ve myself have personally tried both the lechon kawali and the binagoongan, and I could say that I wouldn’t mind going back for the same dish time and again. It’s not the kind that you would drive miles for, but if you happen to be in the vicinity for some reason, like work or leisure, then it’s certainly worth stopping for.

Lechon Laing

Pork Binagoongan

Typical of restaurants in business districts, Mozu is a lot less crowded during weekends.

* Photos taken last November 2011, with Panasonic Lumix LX5.

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