The comfort that comes from dining at Okada’s Catch by the Bay

Published February 18, 2021, 3:09 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

Having a meal with the scenic view of the Manila Bay makes it a top notch dining experience

With its modern Chinese cuisine, Okada Manila’s Catch by the Bay is a food and beverage outlet the integrated resort (IR) can be very proud of. If “catch” can equate to “bounty,” my best takeaway from the special lunch tendered by senior vice president for Hotel Operations Ivaylo Ivanov, wasn’t just the facts that Catch by the Bay is open, or that Okada Manila has just received its second five-star rating from Forbes Travel Guide. More than that rating, what we can be especially proud about is that Okada Manila, with its unique blend of Japanese hospitality standards and Filipino warmth, can boast that the IR is run by an 8,000-strong member staff that’s 99 percent Filipino. That’s some bounty the IR can truly boast about.

SVP for Hotel Operations Ivaylo Ivanko welcoming us to the Catch by the Bay lunch

In a time of pandemic, Okada Manila has stayed its course in providing quality service, and being a strong bastion of employment. In January, digital health leader Sharecare, awarded the verified certification badge to Okada Manila for being equipped with industry-leading and comprehensive safety protocols—not only for its guests, but for its staff as well. For the many overseas working Filipinos who welcomed the opening of the IR’s, and how it meant an opportunity to return home and still earn substantially, that should be welcome news, of how Okada Manila leads in the transition to being a responsible place of work during this COVID time.

As for Catch by the Bay, it’s situated on an elevated section of the Okada property that overlooks the outdoor recreational area and pools, and beyond the scenic Manila Bay. Filled with light, airy, and tasteful design, it’s a comfortable ambiance that lends itself to the sumptuous and imaginative cuisine.

It’s Chinese cuisine, but treated with little tweaks and modifications that allow familiarity and comfort, while still offering dishes that one will only find at Catch By the Bay. That will always be the mark of a true dining destination for me—not only that you get the familiar done very well, but that there are also menu options that you don’t find anywhere else.

Our first course this special lunch was the very traditional Crabmeat Corn Soup. What was nice was how the serving didn’t leave you wishing for more. The next course was the Sautéed King Prawn with Cheese and Butter. Here’s where you were getting something expected, but given a twist thanks to the cheese and butter, which are utilized in Western cooking.

The Crabmeat Corn Soup
The Sautéed King Prawn with Cheese and Butter

The Braised Black Mushroom and Duck Feet in Broccoli was our third course, and it was a move back to something more traditional. I loved how the mushroom was so plump and juicy. The Steamed Seabass with Cordyceps Flower was my personal favorite of the whole meal. It was like having a personal, generous portion of steamed fish, with the flower adding to the flavors that one could enjoy.

The Braised Black Mushroom with Duck Feet and Broccoli

The Deep Fried Spareribs in Thousand Island sauce initially had me raising my eyebrows. The sauce is straight out of an American kitchen, and one had to make sure one was reading it right. The funny thing is that it actually works, the Thousand Island sauce enhancing the spareribs.

The unusual Deep Fried Spareribs in Thousand Island sauce
Steamed Seabass with Cordyceps Flower

The courses that followed brought us back to the expected, but executed very well. These were the Crispy Chicken, the Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage, and our Chinese pastries of butchi and snow balls. Of note, was the Double Boiled Pear with Snow Fungus and Lotus Seeds. This is a closing dish that I would recommend, and return to Catch for.

Okada Manila is surviving during the ongoing pandemic, thanks to the weekend staycations that Filipinos are flocking to the resort for. It’s nice to see how this kind of support is keeping such an establishment alive, during a period when the influx of foreign visitors is still something we’re waiting for.