It hit me like a brick; this restaurant was named after an action associated with being ridiculously full (yes, that motion where you lay your hand on your stomach, palm-side down, and move it in a circular motion). If that doesn’t get you excited to try out a certain restaurant, then nothing will. Belly Rub has been on our radars for quite a while now, and thanks to some very alluring flat lays of their bestsellers from fellow Southsider Erika V. (shout-out alert!), we made the decision to finally put an end to our curiosity and try it ourselves.
Belly Rub is located in the bustling compound of Commercenter and thus tends to get lost amidst the other more popular dining options such as Mona Lisa, Army Navy, and Buffalo Wings and Things. To make matters worse, foodie favorite The Black Pig is situated right beside it as well. It was a big ask for Belly Rub to be good enough to catch our attention, let alone win our affection.
We ordered two mains and a sandwich (you know by now the extent of our appetite). We tried the Peruvian Roast Chicken (Php 360), half a perfectly-cooked chicken seasoned so well that I didn’t even glance at any of the condiments on the table. Flanked by mashed potatoes and a tasty mushroom chorizo stew, the dish boasts of plenty of body. In fact, the contents of this plate are a well-balanced meal all to itself. The pickled onion and cilantro garnish provide the tartness and freshness that take this dish to the next level. These subtle additions highlight Belly Rub’s attention to detail in ensuring that the customer’s culinary experience is nothing but top-notch.
We also tried the Boneless Pork Belly (Php 375). The succulent pork belly is twice-cooked, ensuring that the heavenly slab of meat is a perfect golden brown, but not at the expense of its juiciness. The combination of white beans and Mexican corn on the cob supply the earthiness which pays homage to the protein’s origins. The crispy onions may seem redundant, but a dish this complex can never have too much crunch. The Chimi Churri, an Argentinean sauce usually made from parsley, garlic, oregano, and vinegar, balance the fattiness of the dish with its bright acidity. Make sure every bite contains this palate-pleasing green sauce.
This may just be nitpicking, but one thing I might suggest is to prepare the skin separately from the rest of the meat. Since the meat is cooked twice, the skin is almost at the point where it crosses over from crispy to hard. Some parts of the pork were difficult to slice due to this. Presentation-wise, I think it would be stunning if the skin was served leaning on the rest of the slab, symbolic of the symbiotic relationship between two key elements of this pork dish.
The Cubano Sandwich (Php 310) was a late addition to our order. Similar to a panini, the Cubano is a sandwich layered with multiple fillings then pressed on a grill to achieve toasted bread and melted cheese. Belly Rub’s rendition went the more classic route, sticking to the tried and tested combination of ham/roast pork/mustard/swiss cheese/sweet pickles, then kicking it up a notch by adding mozzarella cheese and spiced mayo. The Cubano was superb, and, as seen in the picture, they did not scrimp on the filling. Gooey. Salty. Meaty. Sweet. Crunchy. Wonderful. Simply put, this sandwich was a symphony for the senses. To add even more value, the french fries and salad were prepared with as much care as everything else served to us that night.
After the meal, we couldn’t deny the simple fact that this restaurant was so aptly-named. Rarely can you find a place anywhere, especially in Alabang, that can boast of the combination of excellent food, chill ambiance, and attentive staff, all at a reasonably affordable price. The meal clocked in at just a touch over Php 1,000 and without a doubt, it was worth every peso.
Pictures taken, plates emptied, and bellies rubbed, we left the restaurant with a sense of fulfillment, joy, and anticipation. Fulfillment due to the positive experience we had, joy that we finally got to try their food, and anticipation due to us looking forward to the next time we would have the opportunity to visit again.
Belly Rub has definitely caught our attention. Needless to say, it has won our affection. My suggestion to our beloved readers is simple. Get dressed. Hop in the car. Make the trip to Commercenter. Eat. Then find yourself happily rubbing your belly with the same feeling of bliss that we got to experience.
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