Southern, smoky and spirited

Inside Rob’s, chef Rob Goco’s new American bar concept at Newport Mall.

Walking through the busy corridors of Newport Mall, it was as if the pandemic never happened. The food and beverage tenants are as busy as ever, joined by a number of new players trying their luck with the endless barrage of diners from the surrounding hotels and casino guests.

At a prime location in the center of it all is Rob’s, the latest American bar concept from the indomitable duo of chef Robby Goco (Cyma, Souv!) and restaurateur Raymund Magdaluyo (Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, The Red Crab). Rob’s is about everything good and delicious from the American south.

While chef Rob Goco is best known for his long-running Greek restaurants, his heart clearly belongs to American soul food and Cajun cuisine.

Their tandem has proven its mettle with their Spanish seafood concept Cangejos Locos in Alabang, standing its ground in a market that knows good paella. For Rob’s, Magdaluyo continues to be quite the valuable partner with his long-established relationships with seafood suppliers.

Rob‘s partners Raymund Magdaluyo, chef Robby Goco and executive chef Leina Bolinas
Rob‘s partners Raymund Magdaluyo, chef Robby Goco and executive chef Leina Bolinas. Business Partner

“Raymund’s Red Crab Group, as you know, is one of the most enduring restaurant groups in the Philippines,” Goco points out. “He knows all the good suppliers, they have been working with him for years.”

Rob’s, after all, is not just the chef’s nickname, but it also stands for the three specialties of the house: ribs, oysters, and bourbon. With seafood at the forefront, they need a consistent supply of the freshest and finest there is.

The concept, too, draws from Goco’s strengths and he is finally able to showcase recipes that are longtime family favorites. Apparently, his seafood and andouille sausage gumbo is one of his most requested dishes at gatherings and so he built a menu around it that consists of soul food classics, San Francisco boardwalk staples, and some fun new creations.

Rob's ribs

Alongside lavish seafood towers are original starters like Rob’s sashimi which is a fresh assortment of raw tuna, hamachi, snapper, salmon trout with a bright olive oil citrus dressing, capers, and crunchy shallots.

For the ultimate indulgence, the Awwww Shucks brings together roasted bone marrow and garlic-herb buttered oysters, best enjoyed on top of sourdough toasts. With a spritz of lemon and chased with one of the bar’s delicious bourbon or whisky-based cocktails, it is an experience you will not easily forget.

Aside from the much-talked about gumbo, which is surely a must-try, another comforting seafood dish Rob’s does really well is their pan roast. Bits of shrimp, crab, and scallop swim in a thick tarragon cream bisque and best enjoyed with rice, it is your new favorite comfort food. While the smoked chicken inasal and bourbon baby back ribs are well-executed and paired perfectly with the usual soul food trimmings, the seafood dishes at Rob’s undoubtedly reign supreme.

If you look at Goco’s portfolio of past and current restaurant concepts, he is clearly not one to shy away from experimenting with different cuisines. While he is now best known for his long-running Greek restaurants, his heart clearly belongs to American soul food and Cajun cuisine, and it really does show.

These are tried and tested dishes that his friends and family love, plus food that makes him happy accompanied by his poison of choice. You know when a chef loves what he’s serving his guests— you taste it in the food and you feel it in your bones. Rob’s will be one of those places that you cannot help but love because it is loved, and it will be for a really long time.

Rob’s is located at 2/F Newport Mall, Newport World Resorts.

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