PAO Foodies SAMBA the night away

by Yvette Marie B. Santiago, MD

A group of eyeMDs decided to get together one December evening, not to dance the night away but to try out the latest Peruvian restaurant of Shangri-La Hotel at the Fort in Bonifacio Global City, Samba.  During that dinner, we decided to call ourselves the PAO Foodies*—on a mission to go around the metro for the tastiest meals and share our personal critiques. Our review of Samba was to be our first assignment. 

The place: Samba is inconspicuously located on the 8th floor of the hotel.  The restaurant interior has a festive yet relaxing vibe.  Outdoor dining is also available, overlooking an illuminated swimming pool.  They offer a full bar with a good variety of South American booze—rum and tequila – as well as other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.  However, the cocktails are rather pricey at P400/drink.

The food: We shared a variety of appetizers, a couple of main courses, and desserts

Appetizers: Grilled scallops on flambe (Conchas al carbon) was the perfect plate to start our meal.  It was not only so beautiful to look at, it was also deliciously light.  Everyone’s favorite was the Beef tenderloin empanadas—tender, perfectly seasoned minced beef in a flaky crust, with chimichurri and lime on the side. We had to order 2 more plates of these.  Ceviche limeno was the recommended dish among the raw appetizers but was not a big hit among the group.  I personally found the undercooked grilled corn that was mixed with the seafood off putting.  It might be an acquired taste.  Pork anticucho con salsa de adobo was a promising appetizer—18 hour slow cooked pork belly in a sourdough bread.  A special sauce is poured over the skewers of meat upon serving.  This dish did not taste bad but it was not as impressive as its presentation.   The star of the appetizers was the artistically plated Anticucho de pulpo- perfectly chargrilled octopus tentacles in fancy skewers, served on a hot iron plate with a choice of 3 sauces.  It was so good, even the non-octopus fan can be converted!

Conchas al carbon: chargrilled scallops, aji amarillo ceviche, cilantro leaves, red onions
Ceviche Limeno: shrimp, octopus, scallops, calamari, lapu lapu, red onion, coriander sprouts, tobiko, leche de tigre
Beef tenderloin empanadas: stuffed bread pastry, braised US prime beef tenderloin, rocoto honey chimichurri salsa
Anticucho de pulpo: chargrilled octopus, panca pepper, roasted potatoes, ocopa sauce, rocoto carretillero
Pork antichuchos con salsa de adobo Pork antichuchos con salsa de adobo (right): 18 hour slow cooked pork belly, panca pepper, fresh oregano, red onions, crispy sourdough bread bowl; Frankenstein Tiki Cocktail (left): 3 kinds of rum, citrus juices, and grenadine served with lime flambe.

Main courses: Filled with appetizers and cocktails, the group ordered only 2 main courses- their specialty seafood stew, Parihuela, and more of the grilled octopus, this time served over roasted Creole pasta (Sopa seca con pulpo de anticuchero). Both dishes were delightful but not mind blowing. We were told that the Chuleton de res—an 800g sous-vide chargrilled U.S. angus prime rib—is excellent. At 4,750 pesos an order, we think it should be reserved for a more special occasion.

Parihuela: Peruvian boullabaisse, grouper fillet, shrimp, squid, scallops, crab, Peruvian panca pepper, fresh cilantro
Sopa seca con pulpo de anticuchero: roasted creole pasta, basic evoo, panca pepper, chargrilled octopus, antichucho sauce

Desserts : To conclude our Peruvian culinary adventure, we ordered two desserts: a classic South American cake, rich and toothsome, Tres leches, served with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream (Queso helado); and the fun Merengado de guanabana – a white chocolate balloon that is dropped on the plate to reveal guyabano cream and fresh blueberries over almond merengue.


Tres leches (left) : soft genoise sponge cake soaked in three types of milk, torched meringue, blueberry cheesecake ice cream; Merengado de guanabana (right): guyabano cream, crispy crusty almond merengue, fresh blueberries, strawberry coulis, white chocolate balloon

After our meal, we met the restaurant’s Peruvian Chef, Carlos Huerta. He explained how each dish on the menu represents various regions of Peru and the influences of Europe (Spanish cuisine, in particular) and Asia (Chinese and Japanese cuisines) on their cuisine; much like Filipino food. He wanted to introduce South American food to the Filipino palate beyond the more popularly known ceviches and empanadas. Chef Huerta, of course, gives a touch of his personal flair with the way the dishes are artistically, even theatrically, served- from flaming scallops to breaking white chocolate balls that reveal a complex, yet, surprisingly delicious sweet treat.

PAO Foodies with Samba’s Chef Carlo Huerta (from left): Dr. Roby Papa, Dr. Yvette Santiago, Dr. Christine Santos, Dr. Pipo Ronque, Dr. Sherman Valero, Dr. Badj Bolinao, and Dr. Odj Reyes

Overall, we think Samba is a great place to wine and dine. The food is worth the cost (each of us spent around P800/person, including taxes but excluding drinks). For those unfamiliar with Peruvian cuisine, Samba would be a good place to introduce your taste buds to this diverse, yet, unsurprisingly familiar flavors.

*The “PAO foodies” is an unofficial group of eyeMDs who share a common love for food and dining out. The activities of the group are not compensated by the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology in any way. ** Food photo descriptions were taken from the menu of Samba

About The Author

Dr. Yvette Marie Santiago is an Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon who has been a part of the eFP editorial staff since 2012 and was editor-in-chief from 2014-2015. Apart from being passionate about anything that has to do with the orbits, she is a shopaholic in denial and an obsessed gastronome with an indomitable wanderlust. She dreams of someday enrolling herself at the International Culinary Center in New York, so that she can learn how to cook all the fine food that she wants.