UPDATE 1/12/13: SM AURA EATS: 10 Most Awesome Restaurants @SMAuraPremier to Kick Off Your SM Aura Food Trip this 2014!
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…
SM AURA is located on the land bordered by 26th Street, McKinley Parkway and C5 in Taguig.
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.
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.
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
You have to go down to the Lower Ground Level to get to the new SM Supermarket.
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.
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.
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.
They also import a good variety of different cheeses to complete the gourmet shopping experience.
There is even a corner that has shelves and shelves of different types of bread.
One of the biggest sections is the Fresh Section, featuring imported and specialty fruits and vegetables…
…and locally sourced fruits like bananas, pineapples and watermelons.
A wide selection of Highland vegetables…
…and Lowland ones are on display.
There is a good array of organic and aeroponic vegetables as well.
The assortment is quite impressive, and I do hope they are able to maintain it over time.
Best of all, you can avail of the Fruit Carving services for free if you want to entertain at home. 🙂
You can also choose from an extensive variety of rice like brown rice, red rice, organic options, etc.
Various kinds of tater cuts will delight the kids.
And if you feel like making your own dimsum shabu shabu at home, there's something for you too.
A lot of foodies are raving about the availability of thick, marbled US Certified Angus Beef!
The supermarket also has local meat options for everyday cooking.
You can have different cuts of meat from SM's own Farm Fresh or Market Fresh brands.
There are also marinated meats, ready to cook at home. 🙂
The fresh seafood display showcases the abundant fishes in the Philippines.
Here's the Bangus and Tilapia in a similar glass display enclosure you would see in Europe.
They also present the fishes very well sliced with the fish heads.
I was impressed with the variety of local yummy delicacies you can only get if you travel to the different provinces.
Thank you to SM for bringing in the Ube and Strawberry Jam products direct from Baguio.
We were delighted to find Cheding's peanuts from Iligan,
Durian products from Davao, and…
…other delicacies you can only find in Bacolod, Iloilo and different parts of Visayas.
Here's my wife's cousin Pam shopping with her family on the opening day of SM Supermarket Aura.
Finally, a supermarket that carries a good assortment of local and imported beers at the right price!
Here's Bindoy and Lori Baltazar caught on camera, shopping on the opening of SM Supermarket Aura.
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.)
You can enjoy shopping for Asian products,
unique grocery finds,
imported chips you could only find before in Healthy Options,
different jams, spreads, and peanut butter. (Although, there was no Speculoos yet on opening day.)
They also carry a good variety of organic products scattered across the supermarket.
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.
There are organic juices in the imported products section.
They also have organic berries in the frozen section…
…and imported organic vegetables.
Check out the Health & Beauty section with its curvaceous shelves…
…for the organic health & beauty products.
(Note: Most of the popular local organic products are not yet available though.)
For dessert, we found Bambino Cones (!),
Snickers Ice Cream, Twix Ice Cream, and other imported ice cream brands.
SM Aura also has premium wines and brandy, like this pricey Camus Cuvee 5.150,
a collector's item signed by Gilles Hennessy,
Louis XIII collector's bottle,
a 25-year-old Chivas Regal, and…
imported liquor from France, Scotland, Spain and more.
Even the eating stalls outside the supermarket have upgraded, clean-looking booth designs.
Chatime opened its 29th store just outside the SM Supermarket. Our current Chatime favorites are the Strawberry Au Lait and Mango Au Lait. 🙂
After shopping for groceries, let me tour you around the SM Aura Mall.
SM FLAGSHIP BRANDS
SM Aura showcases its flagship stores like Uniqlo and…
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.)
For balikbayans, you can shop for Filipino pasalubong in the SM Supermarket and Filipino traditional souvenirs in Kultura on the 3rd level.
SM Aura has a built-in SMX Aura Convention Center, also on the 3rd floor.
The inaugural event in SMX was graced by no other than SM Department Store's global endorser — Ms. Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP).
Bringing in SJP was a brilliant choice (as if showing Ayala that SM Aura is here to compete. 🙂 )
She is considered a fashion idol by many style-savvy Filipinas.
Read related blog post: Chuvaness | The Sarah Jessica Experience At SM Aura
Check out the new "The SM Store" with its elegant offerings and posh store design.
Outside the department store, SM invested on large LCD walls fronting Two Serendra, showcasing the different SM Brands.
FOOD ON FOUR
Most of the restaurants are located on the 4th level and the 5th level (where the Sky Park is located).
Food on Four is the high-end food court of SM Aura.
It has an urban vibe and…
…can be transformed into a bar with a performance stage.
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
Brasas Latin American Street Food.
Read Related Blog Post: BRASAS: Kicking Off the Latin American Fever in Manila 🙂
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! 🙂 )
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!
The most exciting part of SM Aura is the Sky Park, which is like a park in the clouds.
It's a nice, landscaped setting with cool fountains found on the 5th level.
Here's the view of McKinley Parkway and Two Serendra from the Sky Park.
There's a large outdoor venue that would look very nice with gourmet food stalls.
Here's a view of the 26th Street facing Two Serendra and Market! Market!.
Fitness First will have its Platinum Gym on the 5th level near the Sky Park.
The 5th floor will also house signature restaurant concepts and resto brand extensions like Lugang Cafe,
La Trattoria by Chef Chris, and…
…the much-awaited The Food Hall by Todd English!
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!
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)
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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. 🙁