This Spanish restaurant’s key to great paella is a Filipino ingredient

The secret to their signature sangria is local rum


The first time I had a taste of Bueno was at an event for work where the restaurant was catering. One bite of their croquetas de calamares and it was hook, line, and sinker for me and this Spanish restaurant. They were light, and rich with a bit of cheesy consistency without being overstuffed with just one bite. The fry is just right, giving the outside that perfect crunch. After several of these (trust me, you cannot have just one), I just had to get more of Bueno. And so, on a sunny mid-afternoon, I went to the restaurant’s location at The Grove by Rockwell.

Bueno’s interiors don beautiful azulejos, the signature glazed and painted tiles of Spain, together with warm lighting, making their patrons feel like they’re in a true Spanish home

The first thing they served me was their tapas. The waiter laid two red clay pots the size of a platito on my table, one for their classic gambas al ajillo and the other for the tender callos a la Madrilena. With a light spice, these savory appetizers roused my taste buds for the hearty meal that was to come.

Callos a la Madrileña, slowly braised ox tripe, pork knuckle and ox feet served with a side slice of garlic bread
Croquetas de calamares, small breadcrumbed fried balls of rice with mixed with fish
Gambas al ajillo, spicy garlic and shrimp cooked in olive oil. This appetizer has a bit of heat in it, but nothing a four-year-old can’t handle

Then, they brought out the paella together with their sensational croquettas. Chef Kennedy Alfonso of Bueno says he makes the most authentic paella in the metro, having learned its traditional preparation in Spain. I might just take his word for it. He did travel all the way to Spain just to learn the traditional way of making all of the dishes in his menu. For that special Filipino twist, chef Ken added the distinct crunch of tutong or a layer of rice burnt to a perfect crisp found at the bottom of rice pots—something Filipinos love.

He also has a more refreshing version of the hearty rice dish called Paella Blanco de Chicharon. For this specialty, the rice is simmered down with coconut milk and topped with chicharon and pork belly.

Paella de marisco y pollo, shellfish and chicken paella served with the bottom layer burnt to a perfect crisp

By the end of the meal, I was relaxed and all responsibilities of the day had been pushed to the side of my consciousness. And then, I was served a glass of their sangria with a special Tanduay twist. One sip and my entire being was released from all burden, free to simply enjoy a good Spanish meal.

Bueno’s sangria

This is part of the pride of Bueno, their extensive collection of wines mainly from Spain.

As chef Ken described it, through a bottle of wine from Buenos, “you can feel the authenticity of the taste of the grapes and freshness of the wine, as in kakalagay lang sa bottle.”

Bueno has their impressive collection of wine on display through a hanging metal shelf over the bar

“Imagine yourself sitting on a bench, while sipping good wine, and then tumutusok ka ng chorizo. But of course, with cold weather. It’s really good.”

This was was the vision chef Ken had in mind when he and his business partner Melvin Uy were coming up with Bueno. With their authentic Spanish dishes, an extensive collection of wines mainly from Spain, and upcoming bossa nova performances at night, the dream isn’t so far off from reality.


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TAGS: Bueno city guide Croquettas eats paella Pasig sangria Spanish cuisine tapas the grove by rockwell wine