On our last Day in Davao a few months ago, we had plans to have lunch with relatives since our flight wasn’t until late afternoon. Location-wise, we were already near the airport so we opted not to venture far in case of any delays. One of Davao’s premier (and newer) malls, SM Lanang, was just a hop and a skip away from the hotel we were staying at so it seemed like the most logical choice.
SM Lanang is a modern-day mall designed similarly to Taguig’s SM Aura- with glossy interiors, high-end shops, large open spaces, and of course, a good number restaurants to choose from for our last Davao lunch. Being based in Manila, this makes us sort of tourists in Davao, and we wanted (or at least I did) to try out unique Davao dishes instead of the usual ones. This is where Selera Bistro comes in.
Located at the Fountain Court of SM Lanang, home to a row of restaurants overlooking the fountain with a large fixture that reads DAVAO in colorful block letters, Selera’s clean and homey ambiance made it a good choice as any.
It didn’t hurt that their staff nicely offered us to taste their free appetizers and introduced their specialties when they noticed we were hovering outside while looking for a place to eat at. The interior has nice neutral hues of beige and white accented by mahogany shelves and various local artwork, giving for an elegant and pleasant design. But we’re not here to dwell on the design. Let’s get on with the noms, shall we?
We started off with appetizers- the free not-on-the-menu-yet chicken fingers, a plateful for sharing of Bam-i Noodles, and Bacon Wrapped Bagaybay.
I ordered that last one knowing what a “bagaybay” was. The dish had me at “bacon wrapped”, which is usually a safe choice, albeit not the healthiest. Before continuing, what is most important to note is that I enjoyed it these little salty appetizers. Upon further research (and I mean just now), bagaybay is the term for testicles of a tuna.
Yes, ladies and gents, without knowing it, I ate actual fish balls. And I liked it.
Next came the entrees- Salpicao (technically an appetizer), Crispy Tadyang ng Baka, and the good old Crispy Pata. Review? K, k, k. They’re all okay but none stand out particularly. The Crispy Tadyang ng Baka was a lot less crispy than I would have liked, but perhaps that’s a personal reference. Salpicao had some gummy bits, but then again, maybe I’m too nitpicky. The Crispy Pata is yummy as usual, but a little on the small side for the price. They aren’t Selera’s specialties, so I’ll forgive them.
This next one though, is the most unique dish of all, if I may say so. Davao, of course, is known for the abundance of their produce of durian, aka the king of fruits. Selera thought to infuse it with seafood curry, a dish prepared with coconut milk and curry powder (or paste). I thought it would make for an interesting mix.
The Seafood Durian Curry definitely smelled of durian, and the flavor of the fruit gave the usually rich, milky dish a slightly bitter taste. While many dislike the strong aroma of durian, I don’t think it’s any worse than the smell of other tropical fruits langka and marang. The distinct flavor and creamy texture of the fruit is more than enough to forget about the scent. However, in this case, it didn’t seem like the flavor complemented the dish. It wasn’t horrible, but I think I would rather keep durian and seafood curry separate. It did make for an interesting combination, thumbs up to Selera for offering a unique mix.
And on to desserts!
The Mangosteen Mousse caught my eye from the get go. I mean, where can you get a mangosteen-flavored dessert in Manila? I’d say probably nowhere. It’s a frothy little number with the distinct sweet and slightly sour flavor of the mangosteen. Nom! The only problem I had with it is that the serving size was way too small, I could have finished it in two spoonfuls.
Thankfully, we had other desserts to share. One of them is the Caramelized Tapioca with Choconut Ice Cream. Sweetened sago is topped with a scoop of chocnut flavored ice cream. It was really sweet, but it’s chocnut ice cream! We gotta live a little sometimes. 🙂
Last but not the least is another mangosteen-flavored sweet, Mangosteen Ice Cream with Biko. It tasted like a creamy version of a ripe mangosteen. Sweet and sour at the same time. Having biko on the side was also a nice touch, for when you need to take a break from the summery flavor of the ice cream. To top it off, the plate is drizzled with mangosteen syrup, which is nom. You can also choose to not get the biko for a little less.
My aunt said that the word selera means tasty in Malay. It’s a fitting for this bistro, everything was pretty darned tasty. My favorite of the night was Mangosteen Ice Cream. Yum-o!
- Dishes are infused with unique Davao flavors.
- Desserts are nommy.
- Nice staff and comfy ambiance.
- Besides the few unique dishes, the rest are just alright.
3 bacons! Selera has a distinctly Davaoeno menu that not only caters to tourists, but has enough appeal for locals as well. Prices are not too bad, servings are a slightly on the small size but their menu offers you a unique taste of Davao. Props for thinking up unique dishes!