• Location: Unit 1B, Valdecon Building, 20 Jupiter Corner Antares Street, Bel-Air, Makati City
  • Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday 12 noon to 2 a.m.
  • Kind of establishment: Bar and Restaurant
  • Cuisine: Mongolian Barbecue and Asian Street food
  • Price per head: P350 ++
  • Signature drinks: Boba Fetish, Soju Passion, Chun-Li, Champow!
  • Promos:
  •        Roger Roger – one monday a month: Champow! + Wagyu Stick for P245.
  •        WWW (Wagyu Whisky Wednesday) – Wagyu Bao, Wagyu Stick, Suntory Highball, Suntory Shot for P88 each
  •        BTS (Behind The Scenes) Thursdays90s Alternative Music Night – Beer Bucket (6 local beers) for P395 and Barbecue Platter (eight sticks) for P395
  •        Seek Refuge on Fridays – bottle of Cazadores Tequila (100% blue agave) for only P1,200
  •        FOB (Fresh Off The Boat) on Saturdays – Jaegermeister bottles at P1,200 each.

Eat often and eat well. That caption is the Taiwanese eating philosophy of Nomads BBQ + Refuge. Located along Jupiter Street (where Distillery used to be), this safe space is a welcome addition to the food and drink establishments in the area.

“Eat often and eat well”, the Taiwanese eating philosophy printed by the buffet spread

The ambience is relaxed and gives off a street vibe, with the unfinished cement treatment and the buffet area that looks like a Taiwanese market stand. There are a couple of artworks on the walls courtesy of Tara Soriano (who also does the art at Starbucks).

“We started this concept out of love for Mongolian barbecue and there just aren’t enough restaurants where we could get Mongolian barbecue here in Manila,” says Head Chef and Person-in-Charge Alexandra Michelina. She and other friends from culinary school (Kelsey Uy, Joey Vargas, and John Spakowski) decided to put up something they were passionate about.

“While we were doing research, we found out that Mongolian barbecue actually originated from Taiwan,” she continues. “So we did R&D for Taiwanese cuisine, Taiwanese street food, that became our appetizer menu. That’s basically where our concept came from.”

The illustration on the walls were created by Tara Soriano

They opened their doors in June 2016 and the reception has been positive. Their Mongolian bowls (a single bowl goes for P295 and eat-all-you-can is P555), which they offer from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., boasts an extensive selection of about 50 main and unique ingredients (brown rice, edamame, kimchi, etc.) and five mother sauces: Signature Mongolian, Coconut Curry, Miso Butter, Spicy Kung Pao, and Peanut Sauce. Their other best sellers include the Taiwanese Chicken Popcorn, Hainanese Stuffed Chicken Wings, and Braised Pork Belly Bao with Crispy Pork Skin.

Braised Pork Belly Bao with Crispy Pork Skin

Why choose the name Nomads? “Because of the Nomadic culture of the Mongolians, basically just hopping from one place to another,” she explains. “It’s basically a barbecue and a refuge. We thought of it as a refuge because nowadays it’s kind of hard to find a hideout, a safe place, where you could listen to quality music, with affordable craft cocktails and food, and where you won’t see the entire Manila.”

Another draw of Nomads is its music programming. They have themed nights for almost every day of the week plus food and drink promos. “Sometimes we get big-name DJs from the big clubs to play here, and this is also a refuge for them,” says Alex. “To play their more experimental music, more underground. Nothing Top 40, nothing too commercial or too pop.”

They don’t have anything for Monday and Tuesday for now, although for one Monday a month, Sanya Smith and Ornussa Cadness take over and host a party called Roger Roger, where they bring the DJ booth outside. They offer the Champow!, their best selling shooter, plus Wagyu Stick for P245.

Champow! and Wagyu Stick for P245

Wagyu Whisky Wednesday, or WWW, is their busiest night. They offer Wagyu Bao, Wagyu Stick, Suntory Highball (not your typical Highball, because it has ginger syrup and lemon juice topped with soda water, mint with orange twist) and Suntory Shot for P88 each. This is also the night that they have their listening party, where they invite music bloggers to come and play their curated playlists (they start as early as 7 p.m.).

Suntory Highball, Wagyu Bao, Wagyu Stick, and Suntory Shot for P88 each

Thursdays feature BTS (Behind The Scenes), their night dedicated to ‘90s alternative music. This throwback to our generation offers a Beer Bucket and Barbecue Platter promo, where you get to have a bucket of local beer for P395 and a barbecue platter with eight sticks (two each of Wagyu Cubes, Tea-infused Quail Eggs, Chorizo Macau with Chili Orange Dip, Squid with Orange Ponzu Dip) also for P395. This is a good night to go with your barkada to share some drinks, grub, and stories as the music takes you to a trip down memory lane.

BTS (Behind The Scenes) promo: Beer Bucket and Barbecue Platter promo with two each of Wagyu Cubes, Tea-infused Quail Eggs, Chorizo Macau with Chili Orange Dip, and Squid with Orange Ponzu Dip

Friday is called Seek Refuge, where they play house music all night and offer a bottle of Cazadores Tequila (100% blue agave) for only P1,200.

Saturday is FOB (Fresh off the Boat) Hip-Hop night with a promo for Jaegermeister bottles at P1,200 each.

The Asian influence doesn’t just stop at the food; it flows into the cocktails as well. “We wanted to highlight Asian flavors in our drinks,” shares Alex. With the help of Larry Guevarra as their cocktail consultant, they were able to come up with a cocktail menu that gives a nod and a wink to nostalgia. Some drink names like Boba Fetish (a play on Boba Fett, the bounty hunter in Star Wars) and Chun-Li (one of the famous female fighters in Street Fighter) are pop culture references, while others, like the Soju Passion and Nomads’ Gin Pomelo are a take on popular drinks of the ’90s (SEE THROWBACK DRINKS).

Their craft cocktails are affordable, ranging from P180 to P250 and featuring Asian flavors and fresh ingredients.

Boba Fetish

Boba Fetish (San Juan Lambanog, matcha syrup, soy milk, mango nectar, vodka, and mango nectar-infused dark pearls) is a delightful and playful drink. This cocktail tribute to the Taiwanese pearl milk tea is delicious and rich. The matcha gives it a distinctly Asian flavor and the lambanog gives a good buzz that spreads slowly instead of hitting you hard. This is also great for those who are lactose intolerant, since it has soy milk instead of dairy.

Soju Passion

Soju Passion (soju, passionfruit puree, and Yakult, garnished with a basil leaf) is a take on a soju and Yakult mashup. It smells fresh and fruity and has a strong passionfruit flavor.

Nomads Gin Pomelo

Nomads Gin Pomelo (Bombay Sapphire Gin, triple sec, simple syrup, soda water, muddled fresh Davao pomelo) is a twist on the modern Filipino classic, Gin Pomelo. It’s like a gin and tonic with a burst of pomelo in the end when you get to eat the pomelo fruit. It’s fresh and refreshing, and a new way to enjoy the iconic Gin-Pom http://drinkmanila.com/2016/07/25/gin-pom-the-quintessential-pinoy-cocktail/.


Chun-Li (Bombay Sapphire Gin, Tsingtao Beer, lychee syrup) is light beer cocktail that’s surprisingly good. The gin and beer may be a scary combo but the lychee syrup ties them together. It tastes sweet and familiar.

San Juan Sour

San Juan Sour (San Juan Lambanog, calamansi liqueur, lemon juice, egg white) is a solid alternative for Whisky Sour drinkers out there. This cocktail leans a bit on the sweet side and has a tart finish.

Champow! (lambanog shot with champuy powder dropped into Tsingtao beer with lychee syrup) is equally infamous and dangerous. This drink takes you from zero to seven in no time. This twist on a Submarine is sweet and perfumey. The champuy powder has a sweet-sour-saltiness that adds a depth of flavor. Even though it’s meant to be consumed in one go (this is why it’s dangerous), there are those who enjoy it as a long drink. If you’d like to have a long, leisurely night out, we suggest you do the same.

Pick Me Up (Berocca dissolved in half a glass of water, plus muddled cucumber, cranberry juice, and ginger syrup)

Nomads also offers non-alcoholic beverages. And for those who are recovering from a night of indulgence, there’s the perfect Pick Me Up (Berocca dissolved in half a glass of water, plus muddled cucumber, cranberry juice, and ginger syrup). It’s a refreshing drink that has balanced fruity flavors and a fizzy finish. It’s healing and invigorating, perfect for the morning after a long, fun night, or any time you want a pick-me-up.

“When people come to Nomads, we want them to feel like this is a refuge,” Alex adds. “We want them to feel safe, and very comfortable. It’s a place to relax and enjoy your drinks and food, and good conversation and quality. We want people to come here a sense of calm and just have a good time.”

For more information follow Nomads BBQ + Refuge on Facebook 

Photos and video by Star Sabroso

Chrysmas is your go-to gal for all things involving alcohol. She maneuvers her way through the Metro's traffic in her black boots and fishnet stockings, scouring places where one can indulge one's self in libations of all kinds. From Poblacion to Pasay, Malate to Makati, Tagaytay to Taguig. Ask her where to go to get your choice of poison and chances are she's already there holding a good stiff drink in one hand and a pen in the other.

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