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SM AURA: Premier Shopping & Foodie Supermarket Haven + Sky Park @SMAuraPremier Taguig! (First Impressions)

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UPDATE 1/12/13: SM AURA EATS: 10 Most Awesome Restaurants @SMAuraPremier to Kick Off Your SM Aura Food Trip this 2014!

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SM AURA PREMIER is the high-end shopping mall of Henry Sy's SM Group, located in the Bonifacio Civic Center in Taguig. Some call it the SM Mothership because of its unique design and because it's the flagship pet project of Ms. Tessie Cozon (daughter of Henry Sy) herself.

With its Grand Opening today, SM Aura goes into direct competition with Ayala's Market! Market! and Bonifacio High Street combined. The rivalry is interesting to see, reminiscent of the stiff competition between Globe and Smart. In the end, we the consumers benefit from the rivalry with new and exciting choices in food, stores, and new experiences.

Here are our first impressions of SM AURA -- what we think SM did well, what SM can further improve on in the mall and the supermarket, and the places you should try soon...

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SM AURA is located on the land bordered by 26th Street, McKinley Parkway and C5 in Taguig.

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The Main Entrance of the mall and the Parking entrance are located along McKinley Parkway, fronting Two Serendra. Technically, you can walk from Market! Market! or from Serendra.

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As you enter, you'll see one of the flagship stores in SM Aura: Paul Boulangerie Cafe. It is popular among Filipinos who visit Singapore. It's also the first restaurant cafe by the Bench Group.

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The store is not yet ready, but they imported a booth stall from France to serve their signature pastries just in time for the SM Aura opening.

 

SM SUPERMARKET AURA PREMIERE

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You have to go down to the Lower Ground Level to get to the new SM Supermarket.

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The SM Supermarket Aura is the flagship gourmet supermarket, inspired by the best urban supermarkets abroad. The SM Family is very excited to launch this 9,300-sqm progressive supermarket, designed by New York-based retail design firm Point Design Inc.

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It showcases Chateau de France offerings like French macarons, baguettes, pain choco, quiche, and croissants using imported ingredients from France.  I like their pistachio and fig macarons.

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They have a traditional deli and pate counter, integrated as part of the supermarket, that can rival the prices of other popular delis in the metro.

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They also import a good variety of different cheeses to complete the gourmet shopping experience.

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There is even a corner that has shelves and shelves of different types of bread.

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One of the biggest sections is the Fresh Section, featuring imported and specialty fruits and vegetables...

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...and locally sourced fruits like bananas, pineapples and watermelons.

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A wide selection of Highland vegetables...

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...and Lowland ones are on display.

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There is a good array of organic and aeroponic vegetables as well.

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The assortment is quite impressive, and I do hope they are able to maintain it over time.

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Best of all, you can avail of the Fruit Carving services for free if you want to entertain at home. :)

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You can also choose from an extensive variety of rice like brown rice, red rice, organic options, etc.

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Various kinds of tater cuts will delight the kids.

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And if you feel like making your own dimsum shabu shabu at home, there's something for you too.

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A lot of foodies are raving about the availability of thick, marbled US Certified Angus Beef!

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The supermarket also has local meat options for everyday cooking.

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You can have different cuts of meat from SM's own Farm Fresh or Market Fresh brands.

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There are also marinated meats, ready to cook at home. :)

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The fresh seafood display showcases the abundant fishes in the Philippines.

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Here's the Bangus and Tilapia in a similar glass display enclosure you would see in Europe.

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They also present the fishes very well sliced with the fish heads.

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I was impressed with the variety of local yummy delicacies you can only get if you travel to the different provinces.

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Thank you to SM for bringing in the Ube and Strawberry Jam products direct from Baguio.

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We were delighted to find Cheding's peanuts from Iligan,

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Durian products from Davao, and...

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...other delicacies you can only find in Bacolod, Iloilo and different parts of Visayas.

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Here's my wife's cousin Pam shopping with her family on the opening day of SM Supermarket Aura.

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Finally, a supermarket that carries a good assortment of local and imported beers at the right price!

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Here's Bindoy and Lori Baltazar caught on camera, shopping on the opening of SM Supermarket Aura.

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One of the highlights of the SM Aura Supermarket: 12 aisles of imported food products -- bigger than Metro Gaisano's imported section but not as big as S&R's.

(This section is well-lighted compared to the other areas of the supermarket. I wonder if there's a reason for this.)

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You can enjoy shopping for Asian products,

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spices,

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unique grocery finds,

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imported chips you could only find before in Healthy Options,

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different jams, spreads, and peanut butter. (Although, there was no Speculoos yet on opening day.)

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They also carry a good variety of organic products scattered across the supermarket.

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It would be nice to convert the International section to ala Whole Foods - organic section so that all the organic products are accessible in one area.

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There are organic juices in the imported products section.

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They also have organic berries in the frozen section...

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...and imported organic vegetables.

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Check out the Health & Beauty section with its curvaceous shelves...

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...for the organic health & beauty products.

(Note: Most of the popular local organic products are not yet available though.)


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For dessert, we found Bambino Cones (!),

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Snickers Ice Cream, Twix Ice Cream, and other imported ice cream brands.

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SM Aura also has premium wines and brandy, like this pricey Camus Cuvee 5.150,

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a collector's item signed by Gilles Hennessy,

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Louis XIII collector's bottle,

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a 25-year-old Chivas Regal, and...

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imported liquor from France, Scotland, Spain and more.

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Even the eating stalls outside the supermarket have upgraded, clean-looking booth designs.

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Chatime opened its 29th store just outside the SM Supermarket. Our current Chatime favorites are the Strawberry Au Lait and Mango Au Lait. :)

Inside SM Aura-3.jpgAfter shopping for groceries, let me tour you around the SM Aura Mall.

SM FLAGSHIP BRANDS

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SM Aura showcases its flagship stores like Uniqlo and...

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Forever 21, which occupies the whole first floor block that is visible along 26th Street.

(Note: Rumor has it there'll be H&M in October, Victoria's Secret, and Sephora Makeup Cosmetics soon in SM.)

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For balikbayans, you can shop for Filipino pasalubong in the SM Supermarket and Filipino traditional souvenirs in Kultura on the 3rd level.

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SM Aura has a built-in SMX Aura Convention Center, also on the 3rd floor.

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The inaugural event in SMX was graced by no other than SM Department Store's global endorser -- Ms. Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP).

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Bringing in SJP was a brilliant choice (as if showing Ayala that SM Aura is here to compete. :) )

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She is considered a fashion idol by many style-savvy Filipinas.

Read related blog post: Chuvaness | The Sarah Jessica Experience At SM Aura

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Check out the new "The SM Store" with its elegant offerings and posh store design.

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Outside the department store, SM invested on large LCD walls fronting Two Serendra, showcasing the different SM Brands.

 

FOOD ON FOUR

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Most of the restaurants are located on the 4th level and the 5th level (where the Sky Park is located).

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Food on Four is the high-end food court of SM Aura.

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It has an urban vibe and...

Inside SM Aura-25.jpg...can be transformed into a bar with a performance stage.

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When we were there, the most popular stalls were the Pepper Lunch booth and...

Read Related Blog Post: Pepper Lunch: 8 Trivias About Pepper Lunch in the Philippines

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Brasas Latin American Street Food.

Read Related Blog Post: BRASAS: Kicking Off the Latin American Fever in Manila :)

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Food On Four is conveniently located just beside the cinemas and the first IMAX in Taguig. :)

(Thanks to SM for bringing the high-end cinema experience to Taguig! Great job! :) )

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You can also find boutique dessert places that we love like Mochi Sweets & Mother's Crepe & Cafe.

Read: MOTHER'S (MAZAZU) CREPE: Caramel Strawberry Cheesecake Soft Ice Crepe!

 

SKY PARK

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The most exciting part of SM Aura is the Sky Park, which is like a park in the clouds.

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It's a nice, landscaped setting with cool fountains found on the 5th level.

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Here's the view of McKinley Parkway and Two Serendra from the Sky Park.

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There's a large outdoor venue that would look very nice with gourmet food stalls.

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Here's a view of the 26th Street facing Two Serendra and Market! Market!.

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Fitness First will have its Platinum Gym on the 5th level near the Sky Park.

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The 5th floor will also house signature restaurant concepts and resto brand extensions like Lugang Cafe,

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La Trattoria by Chef Chris, and...

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...the much-awaited The Food Hall by Todd English!

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Congratulations to Happy Lemon for beating all the other restos in opening on the 5th floor on the Grand Opening day. :)

Read Related Post: Happy Lemon, I Like!

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Overall, I was impressed with the new SM Supermarket and the Sky Park concept. I can't wait for The Food Hall by Todd English and Paul Boulangerie Cafe to open in SM Aura!

However, I was underwhelmed by the mall itself probably because I'm a guy who cannot relate to the different fashion stores. Although, I heard the ladies are impressed because of the signature branded stores that opened/will open there first in the Philippines (and you can't see them in any other malls). It's the type of mall that Sarah Jessica Parker would go to and shop when in Manila. 

Congratulations to SM and the Sy family for building a beautiful SM Aura Premier!

SM AURA PREMIER
26th Street, corner McKinley Parkway at the Fort
Wikipedia: SM AURA PREMIER
Facebook: SM AURA Premier
Twitter: SM AURA
Telephone: +632 815-AURA (2872)

SM AURA FOOD TRIP SERIES 2013

Related Blog Post: SM AURA: Premier Shopping & Foodie Supermarket Haven + Sky Park @SMAuraPremier Taguig! (First Impressions)

 

Live an Awesome Life,

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Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
Follow @antondiaz in Twitter and @OurAwesomePlanet in Instagram.
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If you have tips on awesome food and travel destinations, please email me at anton@diaz.ph.

Full Disclosure: We were invited by SM Management for the gala opening of SM Aura. I wrote this blog post myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company mentioned in this post or any organization promoting it. As a policy, I do not accept advertising from food and travel places we feature in the blog.

P.S. The downside in the opening of SM Aura is that there will be more traffic on C5, especially the roads going to BGC. :(

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Nice! Looking forward to visiting that mall when I go home! And my fave Bundaberg is available in the supermarket! =)

Snickers ice cream!!!!! will definitely check out the supermarket there. was hoping that they would do an ala Whole Foods type of set up. i like their international sections but this one has a wider selection! i guess they'll compete against Rustans.

the imported beers have are on display too in their other supermarkets.

would love to check out the open deck too.

and its now causing terrible traffic on C5 -_-. Hope they can fix this.

I hope their freezers in SM Aura are better than the regular SM Supermarkets, which have mediocre freezers. We have bought spoiled meat from SM Supermarkets more than once so we have stopped patronising SM for frozen goods. To me, SM stands for quantity and not quality.

they built a beautiful building.. hopefully, they can maintain it.

Is the building still unfinished? I wonder what's on the far-end side of the building, SM condo? I would be more impressed if SM waited for the whole building's full construction. But this is a good competition to Ayala's BGC where the stores are high-end but boring.

Just got back from there. SM Aura off to a nice start, the SuperMarket will definitely be my new super market (sorry, MarketMarket!) there's such a great selection and I really liked the deli, the SkyPark is nice I guess -- will be good for events. But there's still a lot of stores waiting to be open.

The eating options are terrible/non-existent right now though. The 2 popular restaurants in the food court were popular because they are the ONLY 2 restaurants in the food court, haha. What the deal there? Are they still building more? But where? I was disappointed. We walked to Market Market to eat (M2 will always have that advantage I believe).

Traffic is going to be another issue. I jumped out of the taxi on 26th street and just walked the rest of the way there. But the mall was packed for the opening, plus it's Friday.

Thank you Anton for writing this. Saw you and Rache at the blessing but didn't get to greet you as you were quite far away. See you soon!

By the way, the correct tel. no for SM Aura is 815-AURA (2872)

What camera are you using? the pictures are so clear and vivid. I want one too.

Is sm aura pet friendly?

got excited with the organic and veggie section of the supermarket and thinking of going there to check it out but after seeing the manta on display in the seafood section, i changed my mind.

now you will never be able to get even into the fort because of SM....

a small 2 lane rode from the north and south ?

Thank you, SM, for bringing more traffic along a road with horrible traffic already

So they had SJP... displaying Manta Rays... they must be animal friendly... hope they have an adequate horse-staple for Sarah, not that they have to kill her and display like the Manta ... disgusting

@Blaine - I'm a proud Canon DSLR User! I use a Canon 6D with 14-17L lens.

Latest update on the Stingray from Noem Lardizabal-Dado @momblogger:
"@antondiaz SM Aura apologized. The sting ray is not real. And was removed from the display"

The manta ray incident just shows how stupid and insensitive SM really is. All they care about is profit. They are in the best position to do what is right for the environment, instead they choose to ignore the issue. Chopping pine trees, selling manta rays and other threatened marine species, exacerbating traffic, building dense condominiums, this is your branding SM.

I think the usual target market of SM got confused when they went to this Mall with more high end stores than usual with just barely a handful of stores that use to cater to SM's usual market.

I hope this doesn't change the image of BGC... This mall was made with total disregard about the environment i don't care if it's a LEED certified design. The BGC community was a utopia of some sort with most people following traffic rules both pedestrian and vehicular... now with an influx of people just because of SM, we see people jay walking everywhere. i witnessed close to accident type situations today because of these jay walkers!

The design is totally tasteless specially the interior. Concrete panels not even done properly... steel railing painted a wood color to make it seem "HIGH END". I'm not an expert on this subject but i've for sure seen better structures... not necessarily more beautiful or unique but just made a lot better and with more thought.

According to reliable sources this mall didn't even have proper planning so you can bet your money that this mall has a lot of kinks that its trying to hide until natural factors take over just like what it did to MOA.

@ron: what is the "image" of bgc?

i loled at your first sentence. i guess you are not part of this "usual sm target market", right?

SM Aura looks impressive. I just hope customer service at the supermarket and department store is of premiere class as well (like Rustan's) 'coz based on experience, SM customer service is not really good. I also hope security inside the mall is good as well and that they have a way of discouraging "tambays" inside the mall or at the Sky Park (as if it's a public park) so that "real" shoppers can have a great shopping/malling experience.

SM will always be SM. Salespeople will still follow you around and be obstrusive. Feeling more binabantayan kasi shoplifter ka.

>Finally, a supermarket that carries a good assortment of local and imported beers at the right price!

Landmark supermarket has had an impressive assortment of international beers for a few years now since their big renovation, and priced very fairly. The supermarket of Market!Market! does too.

Does the mall has an elevator for people with disabilities?

From a brand perspective, to segregate this as a premier development of SM, they could just drop the SM logo and branding and go with something different (like how they developed the Podium)

SM branding is in reality for a broader market segment which seems to contradict the impression of what Aura is supposed to have been(let's be real). Unless the end result that the SM group wishes to achieve here is to invite the broader market here in the hopes that the more aspirational status that SM Aura brings will alter their purchasing behavior as well as their lifestyle preferences.

- Ray
fror
Lynne-Enroute.com

Disgusting. I have to agree with everyone else though that SM has no thought whatsoever with the thoughtlessness of just building and building without considering the environment. It's so tasteless how a new SM establishment just pops up from nowhere. They're like cement mushrooms. They should learn how to stop at some point or else our country will turn into one huge SM. More malls like this just translates to more shallow Filipinos who find happiness in a concrete structure. Get out, experience the Philippines and support locals. That's way better than patronizing mall giants who have no consideration for the environment whatsoever.

I hope they can coordinate with the local government for traffic management. Really, it's also traffic in front of SM Calamba in Calamba and it chokes the entrie province because it's in the national road going eastward to Quezon.

I tried grocery shopping there today. It was just an ok experience, and the negatives outweighed the positives:

1. I hope they never give SM that access from that intersection with Market Market and Serendra. If they do, traffic will be choked all over, destroying the efficiency of BGC.

2. I view BGC as one thing Filipinos can do right, world class with an emphasis on two things Filipinos are not known for: efficiency and planning. But with the entry of SM Aura, these two things will be nullified- read: the traffic mess and the mass of people it attracts who do not obey traffic rules.

SM is a bastardization of BGC, an attempt to homogenize what is essentially a unique creation. Money cannot buy good taste!

No to homogenization and bastardization!

SM Aura made Greenbelt 5 seem "just like a Rockwell mall experience." - I don't get this. Haha.

"As you enter, you'll see one of the flagship stores in SM Aura: Paul Boulangerie Cafe. It is popular among Filipinos who visit Singapore. It's also the first restaurant cafe by the Bench Group."

There is also a Paul Boulangerie Cafe at Bench Tower corner 30th St . and Rizal Drive, right inside BGC.

SM Aura is not part of BGC. So where do SM Aura is and where is BGC really is?

I love the SKYPARK concept, I hope they'll make it a non-smoking area!

Stumbled upon this article. My cousin works for SM, and even she admits that SM illegally built on land that was zoned for civic use.

http://www.interaksyon.com/business/62127/sarah-jessica-parker-inaugurated-illegally-built-sm-mall-bcda-says

This is such a beautiful structure. It made Serendra look outdated all of a sudden. I will definitely visit SM Aura when there are more stores opened. Looks like it will soon be my favorite place to shop.

Sorry but SM Aura's as beautiful as the people who goes there. Faces and economic stature aside, the ethics of using the elevator was the one the triggered the ire in me. Imagine, people actually took a roundtrip from the lower floors so that people who waited patienrly on the top floor couldn't get in. I didn't mind if it was just me but what if someone really needed to ride it (priority riders like PWD or senior citizens)? This just shows the no matter how "high-end" the mall is, it's only as good as how the people treats it.

Oh, and btw, SM is quite notorious at opening "too early" with their establishments.

Were you paid to remove your photo of the manta ray?

No it was not removed. The photo was posted here in the first place:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151592498394509.1073741834.8063094508&type=3

Very nice blog! :)

so have you seen the flooded parking of SM AURA. Just few weeks ago. Pls google it so you'll be aware, when it rain, it pours.

SM Aura made Greenbelt 5 seem "just like a Rockwell mall experience." - I don't get this. Haha - ME TOO!
SM tries to be high end but again.. You can never buy class. High end mall with fast food inside.. You don't see that in greenbelt. SM will be SM. just look at the crowd...

I haven't been to the mall, but based from the comments, I wouldn't be begging to go either.

@Letty- there are Jollibees is Greenbelt 1 and Powerplant!!!! Stop whining social climber *****!!!

Dear Mr. Anton Diaz,

I wonder if you have been to the SM Aura Supermarket since you wrote about it?
I was just there last Monday, July 15. I'm sorry to say that it was a big disappointment.
All that I found different about SM Aura was its size. What turned me off was the smell
of non-fresh meats, vegetables, fruits. Out of curiosity, I still went to the Meat Section in spite of the offensive smell. I wanted to know what selection of meat they had. I was further turned off when I saw that most of the butchers did not know how to cut meat. I saw a lot of long strands - meaning they do not know how to cut across the grain!!!

This is my beef with butchers - their lack of understanding of how to cut meat correctly. They don't realize that if they cut the beef with the grain, and you see all the long strands, no amount of pressure cooking will make the beef tender.

A friend I had lunch with did tell me that she had returned beef she had bought as it was not eatable anymore.

I also went to the Customer Service counter to tell them of my observation about their meat section.

Those Victoria's Secret Perfumes in SM Aura Department store are they Authentic? I was shocked to know that they r only 600 pesos!

I was there yesterday... The mall itself was just okay, however, at least there toilets are at least cleaner and with tissue compare to all the SM.
One thing that bothers me is there so called security check... They frisked women as if we are in the airport... That's a NO! NO! NO! to me if Rockwell and Greenbelt 5 do not do that to us.
I have heard this from a lot of expat women here in Philippines and complain about it.
SM PEOPLE Listen; if you want Rich women to go and shop there. YOU SHOULD KNOW WHO TO FRISK! Not the sosyal!!!

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