I’ve been hearing about this new Latin American restaurant making waves in the local food scene ever since it opened last October. As I wasn’t familiar with its location, I had to ask around for directions and the restaurant’s name didn’t roll off the tongue quite easily—for me, at least.
Puñta (pronounced pun-ye-ta) is an oasis in the heart of Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong. As I made a left turn inside the establishment’s parking space, I was bowled over by the restaurant’s site and ambience. The place was huge, with an al fresco area that could accommodate around 50 seated guests. The interiors were another story. I was intrigued at how they were able to juxtapose the sleek industrial look with the homey vibe of the wooden accents and customized seats.
I couldn’t wait to have lunch in one of the tables outside so I could take in the cool breeze while enjoying the big, bold flavors of Puñta.
Puñta is the first resto-lounge of television personality Paolo Bediones, who put up this venture with partners Adrian Capunfuerza, EA Tejada and Anj Valencerina.
The team decided to create a good mix South American fare—getting inspiration from the cuisines of Peru, Brazil, Patagonia, Colombia and Mexico.
The names of the dishes may twist the tongue, but their flavors please the palate. I started my lunch with some anticuchos—skewered meats or innards that are traditional Peruvian street food.
The pork barbecue or Pincho de Cerdo (P220) was a safe order. The tender meat was made even more delicious with the sauces topped on it—crema de ajo, chimichurri, salsa roja and pico de gallo.
But the standout dish for me was the chicken liver or Higado de Pollo (P165), best eaten with grilled tortilla. I’ve never had liver like this before. It was tasty but not too “iron-y”, and it didn’t have that grainy mouth feel. I even added some drops of aciete de Puñta (chili oil) to spice things up.
I also sampled the slow-cooked Ropa Vieja (P440), which is shredded brisket stewed in crushed tomatoes and peppers. It may sound cliché but the beef was so tender that it practically melted in my mouth like ice cream. Plus, the sauce had just the right amount of tanginess so it was definitely a winner for me. I couldn’t resist eating this dish with some Spanish rice or Arroz Amarillo (P55).
A healthier option is a Plato Asado of Pechuga de Pollo (P330), chicken breast steak with a choice of Spanish rice or spiced fried potatoes and side dishes. The thing about chicken breast is that it could get dry from cooking, but this one was still moist. The house sauces—crema de ajo, chimichurri, salsa roja, pico de gallo—also packed a lot of punch. The dish was good for two, but my friend Sandy, who I had lunch with that day, told me she could finish a whole serving of it.
I ended my meal with a Frozen Margarita—the tallest one I have seen in my life. I was eye-level with the cherry on top of the mountain of crushed ice, and I tried to conquer the summit to no avail. I think I was only able to finish one third of the drink until some ice toppled over.
There are other must-try menu items like tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, and other carefully chosen dishes to fit the flavor palate of Filipinos. The Puñta chefs made sure that they captured the real flavors of Latin America.
The chef also disclosed that they will be adding more seafood items in the restaurant’s menu. “All of us made a promise that not one item in the menu would exceed P500. Everything is below P500, and everything is good for two,” said Tejada.