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The Common Good: Fusion Without Confusion

I’M Hotel brings together nine concepts to form a dining venue set satisfy as many palettes as possible.

WORDS BY KENDRICK GO / IMAGES BY DIORELLE ABOGADO

Roast beef. One of the buffet items served by the venue.

The guests of I’M Hotel may come from different backgrounds and places of origin. But, on the 4th floor of this Makati City sky scrapper, they’re bound to find more than just common ground.

This, at least, is the theory as shared by its food and beverage department. The place, after all, has just recently launched The Common Good which is dubbed as I’m Hotel’s “food playground.” As the hotel’s newest dining venue, it is ran by chefs Paul Cruz and Ranuka Hettiarachchi to pursue of one primary goal.

“We want to cater to all the tastes and preferences,” Cruz said. “It’s that simple.” How it manages to do this, however, is far from that.

Sprawling on the location that used to house the now defunct Bloom, the Common Good is a buffet restaurant unfolded after at least three months of extensive research and a conceptualization of at least two weeks. Following a soft launch last March, it is now—at least in the mind of its creators—ready to meet the hotel’s international market through nine different dining concepts.

At the forefront of this union is Paul and Ranuka, which is named after its head the venues head chefs. A station that serves healthy food options, its key highlights include open faced sandwiches that proudly displays the station’s fresh organic ingredients.

“Just like [our] Green Egg Sandwich,” Cruz explained, “we don’t hide anything. You can see it’s fresh, it’s clean, very healthy. We put our name on it because we wanted to guarantee our guests that this particular station serves very straightforward and healthy food.”

Adding to its theme of wellness, the station also serves an enzyme drink unique to I’M Hotel. According to the establishment, this kombucha-like beverage is made of “100% fresh organic fruit that is allowed to go through a secret fermentation process.” It is through this that the drink’s components release natural sugars and probiotics that theoretically aid in digestion while promoting skin radiance.

“We have the big enzyme bottle which where we put in the fresh fruits,” Hettiarachchi explained, “then we leave it to ferment for three to four days before we get the final product.”

A non-alcoholic beverage, the enzyme juice is an addition meant to make Paul and Ranuka a popular choice for guests.

But for those who want a different treat, there are other stations they can choose from. For instance, there is Tiffin, which serves Indian food like its spicy Prawn Masala and Roti Paratha, a flatbread dish flavored with Indian clarified butter. Another option is Parilla, which Hettiarachchi admitted to be one of his favorite sections; it serves grilled dishes like the smoky, subtly spicy Open Pit Peri-Peri Roasted Chicken. Meanwhile, those longing for rice dishes can go to either One Bowl Wonder (which makes use of cooking traditions prevalent in Japan and Hong Kong) or Perfect Four where the culinary highlights include Nasi Lemak. In the Philippines, of course, Chinese cuisine is quite popular, which is why the hotel continues to serve them through the widely popular Empress Jade that used to be a standalone concept prior to the Common Good’s launch. Italian dishes with a Pan-Asian twist meanwhile, can be sampled at Al Dente. Supporting these sections are the beverages from Fountain and the desert items served by Sucre.

Clockwise from top left: Guests of The Common Good can enjoy the enzyme drink unique to the venue; Chef Paul Cruz; a myriad of choices are available for the restaurant’s guests; Chef Ranuka Hettiarachchi.

“With nine different concepts under one roof, the possibilities are endless and you will be spoilt for choice,” I’m Hotel’s website states. “For the experimental [and] adventurous, no two visits are the same yet, each time, the quality of cuisine remains consistently high.”

This, according to the hotel, is one of the reasons why “we pride ourselves as a food playground.” But according to Cruz, it isn’t the only reason why they fit the mantle.

“We [also] try to mix tradition with innovation,” he said, “that’s our foundation for all the recipes we do.”
He later added that the Common Good seeks to redefine fusion. “Some dishes, they go fusion and what you end up with is confusion,” he stated. “ For us, it’s just like the Sisig Pizza (served by Al Dente.) It’s the Italian and Mediterranean way combined with sisig. It’s as simple as that.”

Clockwise from top left: roasted items available for guests; Death by Chocolate; Macha and Mango Sago; Green Egg Sandwich.

Officially launched to the press last week, the Common Good is I’M Hotel’s latest expansion, a follow up to establishment’s ongoing attempt to secure its standing in the now highly competitive Poblacion area. Currently, the hotel is known for being one of the most prominent structures rising over its immediate vicinity. In 2017, it was the only Philippine hotel nominated for the Best Urban Hotel award of Asia Spa. It may have lost the award to Tokyo’s iteration of Mandarin Oriental but it remains to be a leading brand in the local market especially since it has the biggest urban onsen spa in the Philippines. Meanwhile, its prominence continues to grow through extensive media coverage.

These days, I’M Hotel is eyeing to become one of the major wellness centers in the capital. According to its Marketing Manager, Melissa Lim, the hotel this year may even begin offering wellness retreat packages to take advantage of its widely popular spa. And with the launch of the Common Good—which is highlighted by its healthy Paul and Ranuka station—the place has taken what its managers believe to be a necessary step towards becoming a haven for wellness in the city.

“Since 50 percent of our clientele are from the spa, we would like to shape your priorities just like a doctor,” said Cruz. “We would like to provide healthy food no matter what.”
Cruz reiterated however that he wishes not to be mistaken. If a particular guests comes to the Common Good for something other than wellness, it will do its best to please.

“The concept behind this is to create a restaurant that implies that food is a universal language,” he said. “That’s food is the common good of everyone.”

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