The newest luxury casino and leisure complex — City of Dreams Manila [COD] — had its official grand opening last Monday, February 2, just when my friends and I decided to pay a visit. The world-class, billion-dollar project sits on a 6.2-hectare property along Roxas Boulevard. It houses three posh hotels for guests who want to stay longer: Nobu Hotel, Hyatt Hotel and Crown Towers. We were fortunate enough to have a quick guided tour of the entire facility aboard a golf cart driven by Bien, one of the very friendly and highly-trained staff of COD.
Since I don’t know the first thing about casinos, I’m foremost interested in the dining establishments in the area. There are several operational restaurants already aside from the hotel dining outlets, but my friends and I decided to have lunch at Red Ginger on the casino’s upper ground level. Red Ginger is open all day and showcases a variety of popular Southeast Asian dishes on its menu. Plus, I believe this restaurant is the most affordable choice.
We started with Fragrant Thai Fish Cakes (P220) served with “baby cucumber and house made sweet chili sauce”. I can’t quite agree with the “fragrant” part because the fish cakes smelled, well, fishy. There are 4 pieces per order and since there were 4 of us dining, we only had one fish cake each. It’s good but I’ve had better.
Next came the Lemongrass and Forty Cloves of Garlic Chicken Wings (P320). It’s no secret that I love chicken wings and this dish easily hit the spot for me. Served with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice and 3 different kinds of sauces, the wings were so tender and tasty with just the right level of spice.
We also tried Red Ginger‘s take on Popiah (P360) — crispy fried rolls stuffed with barbecued duck and vegetables accompanied by lettuce leaves and chili garlic dip. They’re also nice and flavorful.
There’s a lovely array of desserts on display aside from the ones listed on the menu, but I had my eyes (and heart) set on this: Lemon Madeleines with Green Tea Spread (P190). Because I’m addicted to all things green tea, I loved it. The marriage of freshly-baked madeleines and the bittersweet flavor of matcha was just so delightful.
City of Dreams Manila excites me. Unlike Solaire — where there’s not much to explore — COD promises to be a more dynamic entertainment spot for those who like to unwind within the city. I have never set foot in Las Vegas but I think COD gives us a glimpse, a taste of what it’s like to be in the Entertainment Capital of the World. I’m looking forward to the opening of Dreamworks’ DreamPlay in March or April. It’s a wholesome interactive play attraction for kids and fun-loving adults. Surely, it will give me another reason to visit this urban resort called City of Dreams, with my daughter Bea in tow. Can’t wait.