Pintxos Are Aplenty at This New Spanish Restaurant in Poblacion
It is easy to overeat at Hola Bombon, the vibrant enclave that recently joined Poblacion's throng of eateries. Servers are constantly roaming the restaurant with trays of pintxos. It has the same effect as conveyor belt sushi, roving churrasco, and dim sum in carts. You'll just keep picking things up. There are cold pintxos and hot pintxos, pintxos on the counter and pintxos on the menu. There's no limit, except maybe your budget.
Hola Bombon is run by six female friends, five of whom grew up together. The 99-seater modern Art Deco-slash-Spanish colonial restaurant is an extension of this deep friendship. All of them are actively involved in the restaurant, greeting guests, explaining the menu, and chatting with customers. The vibe fits in seamlessly with the close-knit neighborhood that Poblacion has maintained even past its gentrification. All the women are seasoned in the industry, having opened millennial favorite Wild Poppy in 2016. Hola Bombon, they say, is a natural progression, a more mature restaurant to show their growth not just as restaurateurs but also as people. One of the owners, Maria Garcia, realized this dream when she took culinary training in Spain. There, she met inevitable partner Alberto Sbabo, a Catalonian, who now fronts the restaurant.
Hola Bombon uses a mix of imported Filipino ingredients to color Spanish cuisine. The entire restaurant plays with balance, from the traditional Machuca tiles to the edgy geometric accents to the quirky yet nostalgic menu. The Miguel's Sandwich, for example, is a throwback to a grade school flying saucer, but with a deeply flavorful pulled pork filling that's quite unlike the usually overwhelming sweet-smokey barbecued pulled pork in most other restaurants. The Jungle Gym, one of the signature drinks, is an unapologetic rum cocktail with a little sachet of pink powder. It's actually dehydrated Campari meant to mimic the days when we'd lick Tang orange powder from the packet.
The Miguel's Sandwich
The Gilda, the Hola Bombon masterpiece with boquerones
The Jungle Gym
Though the pintxos are the highlight, they're only a small fraction of the menu. There is charcuterie. There are tapas. There is a variety of paella. Everything is as splashy as the restaurant itself. And everything is on a level 10 on the flavor scale. In fact, get the Paella Y Chistorra de Costilla, with Spanish sausages and mustard aioli, and you might want to ask for plain rice on the side.
It's not a Spanish restaurant without jamon.
Paella Y Chistorra de Costilla
But even the lighter options make a bold impact. The Bravas Hola Bombon, which is ideal as an appetizer or bar chow, takes a serious departure from the usual cubed fries. Instead, Hola Bombon presents them almost like churros, long golden pieces standing upright in a glass. Up close, they're made of layers and layers of thinly sliced potatoes held together before being fried, a secret technique that multiplies the crunch in every bite. The aoili is excellent, but not necessary. It would be hard to enjoy regular fries after this.
Bravas Hola Bombon
Yes, that is chicharon peeking between those cakes.
There are so many reasons to enjoy Hola Bombon. The chorizo burger. The churros. The foie pintxos. Each one a stellar case for braving Poblacion traffic if only for an inspired meal.
5887 Fermina Street corner Enriquez Street, Poblacion, Makati; open from Tuesday to Thursday (6 p.m. to 1 a.m.), Friday to Saturday (5 p.m. to 2 a.m.); Sunday (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)