A Taste Of São Paulo

A Taste Of São Paulo


Get to know the new Brazilian-Japanese restaurant at the center of Metro Manila’s dining and nightlife scene 

This is an excerpt from MEGA May 2024 A Taste Of São Paulo story.

In the early years of the 20th century, the Japanese diaspora began spreading across Brazil, mostly in São Paulo, the country’s largest city. While this part of history is embedded with several complexities, it has also brought to life a fascinating kind of culture and cuisine. This is perhaps why siblings Alexis and Laura Offe decided to employ the Nipo Brasileiro lifestyle in their casual, fine dining restaurant Uma Nota.

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The idea for Uma Nota came to the Offes during a visit to Brazil a few years ago, and by 2017, the first Uma Nota was born in Hong Kong. A year later, the second branch opened in Paris. In March 2024, Philippines welcomed Uma Nota Manila, which partnered with businessmen Michael Needham and Amir Borsok. 

Uma Nota combines the flavor of Brazilian and Japanese cuisine in ever dish, taking your palate to São Paulo
Uma Nota combines the flavor of Brazilian and Japanese cuisine in every dish, taking your palate to São Paulo

Located at the foothold of Shangri-La The Fort in Taguig City, Uma Nota Manila masterfully merges the unique flavors of Japanese-Brazilian cuisine with a vibrant nightlife scene—an element that stirred excitement among the party-loving crowd in the country’s capital. “In terms of quality of food, food presentation, ingredients, etc. Uma Nota Manila is a fine dining restaurant, but we also want the space and service to feel warm and inviting,” says Gustavo Vargas, the executive chef of all Uma Nota restaurants. 

The interiors, designed by Asmaa Said, founder of Dubai-based The Odd Duck design studio, sends the message loud and clear. For instance, while neutral colors make up the walls and most furniture pieces, a preserved, actual tree occupies almost half of the restaurant’s entire ceiling, telling the guests straightway that an interesting experience is bound to happen. 

The Brazilian artistic movement Tropicália is being celebrated in an eponymous room painted with shades of clay. In another area, called the Meiji room, the Japanese culture and heritage are given tribute. The bar, in wood and marble, is where they offer drinks that play with the palate. 

A signature drink, the Uma Nota Cup Noodle (yes, it is served in a container that resembles a cup noodle) gives a tropical, refreshing taste through the plush flavor of toasted coconut liqueur, mixed with pineapple, cucumber, lime, and sesame oil. Another signature drink is the Kyoto Sour, where the flavor of the herbaceous Gekkeikan Traditional Sake is balanced with grapefruit, green Tabasco, lemon, and agave. 

Aside from the menu, the interiors evokes a vibrant nightlife scene --- an element that evokes every dining experience
Aside from the menu, the interiors transport you to the vibrant São Paolo for the full dining experience

Brazil’s traditional cocktail caipirinha is a good choice for those who want their drinks simple and straightforward: The classic ones are made of cachaça (fermented sugarcane juice), lime, and sugar. 

Food and Music

In common Brazilian culture and cuisine, street food, with rich, bold flavors, is part of everyday life; while the flavors of Japanese cuisine offer a lighter, elegant taste. Chef Gustavo takes all these different traits and puts them together in exquisite dishes that are hard to find anywhere else in Manila.

“For the culinary aspect, we don’t adapt,” Chef Gustavo says. “What we try to do is take into consideration what people in Brazil and Japan eat—either by preference, through ingredients, or technique. We try to bring those flavors here in the Philippines.” 

He explains, however, that they source some of their ingredients from different places in the country: “As much as possible, we try to use local ingredients. First, it’s because we want to help the local producers, and second, we try to reduce our carbon footprint.” 

Read more about how Uma Nota is bringing in the Brazilian-Japanese flavors and culture together in the Philippines in MEGA’s May 2024 issue, now available on Readly, Magzter, Press Reader and Zinio.

Photographed by: GRANT RABIA. Creative Direction and Production JONES PALTENG.

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