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The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla Panglao Bohol

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Brian Kennett

Brian Kennett

Amateur Chef and Boozy Traveling Foodie Extraordinaire

Swing into Flavorful Adventures at The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla! Bohol, the Philippines

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort panglao the philippines
Photo courtesy of The Monkey Bar

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontill / Best Restaurants in Panglao Bohol: I am going to flood you with photos for this blog review. I transcended to a heavenly place in this amazing locale in Panglao, Bohol. In the heart of the picturesque Bohol island in the Philippines, you’ll discover a hidden gem known as “The Monkey Bar” by Chef Jenzel Fontilla. Nestled within the beautiful BE Grand Resort, this al fresco dining spot offers not only a feast for your taste buds but also a feast for your senses.

Chef Jenzel is a kindred spirit to my ChillaxBBQ ethos. Meats and fish are low and slow-smoked, marinated, and chargrilled to perfection. He even said: “I agreed to open up tonight because you asked me if I could fire up the beach BBQ pit. Only a fellow BBQ enthusiast would say that.” Yep, I just found my new BFF Chef on the beaches of Panglao, Bohol.  I sense this is going to be a lasting mate-ship. 

Video courtesy of The Monkey Bar

The Monkey Bar Review Contents

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ pit on the beach all for wifey

The Monkey Bar Bohol by Chef Jenzel Fontilla.

As you step into The Monkey Bar, you’ll be greeted by the gentle sea breeze and the soothing sound of the waves crashing against the shore. Chef Jenzel Fontilla, the creative genius behind this culinary haven, takes pride in using locally sourced ingredients to craft dishes that showcase the rich flavors of Ilocos and the Philippines. From grilled Filipino favorites to innovative creations and ancient cooking techniques, every bite is a journey through the vibrant and diverse culinary history of the Philippines.

Whether you’re a food enthusiast like me, a beach lover like me, or simply someone in search of a delightful dining experience like me, The Monkey Bar promises to be a destination that knocks you for six with benchmark dishes. In this little review, we explore the delectable offerings of The Monkey Bar and uncover the stories behind each mouthwatering dish. Get ready to savor the flavors of the Philippines like never before!

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ pit on the beach chef on the tools
Photo courtesy of The Monkey Bar

You know me by now, I love food surprises and today was exactly that. Here is the MasterChef himself on the tools, Chef Jenzel Fontilla. We even share a lechon tattoo… Let’s be having you Chef!!! Let the grazing commence.

The Monkey Bar Menu by Chef Jenzel Fontilla

Nothing online yet for The Monkey Bar Panglao Menu. Plus Chef Jenz announced to me that the menu is soon to change. I’ll keep on top of this and ensure I post the new menu as and when it is released.

The Monkey Bar Bohol by DAY

Located within the luxurious BE Grand Resort in Panglao, the restaurant offers a tantalizing culinary journey led by Chef Jenzel Fontilla, renowned for his innovative take on Filipino cuisine.

This vibrant beach-fronted dining destination immerses guests in a relaxed al fresco ambiance, making it an ideal spot to unwind while savoring delectable dishes that celebrate the rich culinary heritage of the Philippines. Be that nighttime or day times: as you’ll see below.

The menu boasts an array of mouthwatering options, but some of the standout choices include locally sourced, perfectly grilled dishes prepared using the traditional “Abuhan” method (Abuhan means ash tray; ash; stove. Wood BBQ basically, whoop whoop) offering a unique and authentic taste of the Ilocos region, from where Chef Jez originates.

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol the interior

Check that decor. So very cool. Open and breezy, and open kitchen to boot. Al fresco dining at its best, a mere skip from the beach and topaz seas. I love everything about this decor, maybe even stealing a few ideas for Chillax Bar BQ

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol tuna tataki

TUNA TATAKI 

@ Peso 445

The gang went crazy over this one. It was put down on the table and returned empty two minutes later. Stunning plating too. Super-fresh produce, likely from the catch that morning. What a start.

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol Pulled Pork Nachos

PULLED PORK FRIES

@ Peso 350

Maybe the best ‘loaded chips’ you’ll eat in your life. Smoky pulled pork with skin-on wedges and a variety of tangy sauces. Killer!!!

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol prawn pasta

SEAFOOD PASTA

@ Peso 550

My Jhea had the Seafood pasta but then shared it around. Wifey said this was amazing. It would not surprise me if the sauce was made using the prawn heads as they are missing from the dish. That gives an incredible umami flavor to any prawn dish. plus again, simple but beautiful plating.

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol ragu pasta

BEEF RAGU PASTA

@ Peso 500

So much for the sharing platters. Strawb ordered the Beef Ragu pasta and sat on her table corner and devoured it, only returning an empty bowl to ‘share’ back to the wait staff. This must have been good. If only I had a chance to sample and comment.

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol burnt toast soup

BURNT TOAST SOUP

@ Peso 400

This one cracks me up, what a story, and what creativity! When they first opened Chef Jez taught his new crew how to make bread. During the 1st few attempts, the crew used to burn the bread frequently. Being sustainably biased, how to use this without the waste of throwing it away? Hence was created this masterpiece, Burnt Toast Soup.

Super-creamy with a hint of burnt toast (genius) and seasoned with Tallow from the roast meats. Double-whammy. Delicious.

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol empenadas with charcoal

BLACK EMPANADAS

@ Peso 300

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol beef shin

BEEF SHANK

@ Peso 2,500

WOOF!!! No, MOO!!! Holy cow (literally), I thought Chillax Bar BQ’s Tomahawks were monsters. This Beef Shank was HUGE. Enough to feed six I’d say. Accompanied with macaroni cheese, fries, squid ink tortillas, and a variety of homemade dippy sauces, Man Alive.

It came with bear claws, but the Chef then cut it up into a huge pile of super-soft, tender, smoke-pinked, delicious meaty goodness. What a cracker. It sure has that WOW-FACTOR!!! 

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol grahams

SKILLET SMORES

@ Peso 450

One for the kidlets to get deep in and messy. Come on I mean… make your own Smores. Served in a hot skillet is the intense chocolate sauce, topped with flamed mallows, and served with biscuits. Get in there and DIY Smores away. Jude had chocolate all over the place, even on his elbows…

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla best restaurants in panglao bohol nightime

The day gradually ebbs away and the egg-yolk sun sets over the North Bohol Sea, casting its amazing reflection amidst the fishing and dive boats. It’s now time for the nighttime experience.

The Monkey Bar Bohol by NIGHT

The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla / by NIGHT: Magic happens, and dining is not just about the food – it is an experience that engages all your senses.

As soon as you walk up to the front, you are greeted by a lively and vibrant atmosphere, with beach-seating, cool toonz wafting, sea breezes, starlit skies, and roaring fires in the BBQ pit. All this sets the mood for the most memorable dining experience.

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ pit on the beach

I don’t want this Fire Pit BBQ. I NEED this in my life. Watch this space for Chillax Bar BQ…

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ pit on the beach looking back

Looking back from the sea to The Monkey Bar itself. Twinkly light magic. Just a superb, and uber-special setting. I reckon this would be a killer for weddings, birthdays (as we did), and even corporate events and celebrations that are not so formal. 

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ pit on the beach all for wifey

That is Wifey standing there in the middle of her private party area. Yes, all this was hers for this most amazing of birthday dinners with the family. 1/ Private BBQ pit. 2/ Four personal Chefs, including Chef Jenz. 3/ EIGHT courses. 4/ Plating area. 5/ 12-seat Private Dining Table with toes-in-sand. 6/ Two (4 PAX each) floor seating tables on the sand. 7/ Cool toonz wafting through the sea breezes. Yeah, it doesn’t get much better, believe me. 

We had 14 pax, 10 adult, and 4 kids, and that came to the incredible price of only $300 SGD, can you believe it?

The Monkey Bar Panglao: Unveiling the Dishes we had the pleasure to enjoy this night

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines chefs plating

SEA URCHIN PANNACOTTA WITH CAVIAR AND CITRUS FOAM

Oh my goodness gracious me. Not for me as you know as I can’t do seafood, and again, having seen this plated up I am kicking myself. I loved the introduction of this dish from Ched Jenz: “80 sea urchins gave their life for the making of this dish.” Cracked me up because usually it’s: “No animals or children were hurt in the making of this movie…”

I think Wifey, Earl, and Mae had about three each of these bad boys, and when they were chomping, silence reigned supreme, even down to the occasional silent mouthing of ‘WOW’. Great work Chef, this was a WOW dish for the Wifey’s birthday: THANK YOU!!!

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines empenada

BLACK EMPANADA

Pastry infused with activated charcoal. Filled with pulled pork and vegetables, plus this insanely good gravy. These Black Empanada were just so very good: beer food and some. Quality reigns supreme!!!

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines vegetarian charcoal empenadas

ILOCOS EMPANADA

Dough made from ground rice and infused with activated charcoal. But these Ilocos Empanada were so so different from their brother above. Crunch, then ever-so gooey chewy (which I LOVE), and the kapow of chargrilled super-savory and soft vegetables. Flavor pops everywhere, and then send your palate to heavenly heights with the native vinegar. I tell you, this was one of my favorite things tonight. I had three of these beauties. 

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines bbq veggies with soil

BBQ VEGETABLE WITH SOIL

Wowser. Soil made from olives and something I just can’t remember and maybe some activated charcoal. That’s mixed in with likely the best vegetables I have ever tasted. Smoky and some, these almost tasted like a perfectly seasoned and seared steak (even Strawb called that out). Literally an off-the-charts veggie dish, that I hope you all get to try one day. BOOMSKI!!!

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines pasta with bacon and tallow

BBQ PORK TALLOW PASTA

Yep, like ChillaxBBQ Chef Jenz is pushing the BBQ uses. Like we do we use the BBQ as a grill, hob, hotplate, oven, and so on. Same with Chef Jenz and his crew. Here is this smoky pasta, perfectly al dente, seasoned with pork tallow, with crunchy bacon bits and fresh herbs. 

The BBQ Pork Tallow Pasta is the one dish I’d call out as needing a little sea salt and Kampot cracked black pepper. Sorry Chef, hey, it’s only one. It was good, really good, but I think with that little extra seasoning this bad boy would have popped…

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ potatoes and 3-day rice

BOILED and BBQ’d SPUDS with THREE-DAY FRIED RICE

The spuds were truly stellar. Perfectly cooked, with sea salt to punch that flavour up. I loved them and would have kept chowing on these, but that damned food coma kept slapping me in the face.

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ pomfret in banana leaves

BBQ FISH IN BANANA LEAVES

Not for me of course, but I sat opposite Wifey as she cut into this with a spoon, such was the softness of this fish. Cooked to perfection in that marinade, juicy and dripping. Gone in the blink of an eye, including the sucking of bones, eyeball popping, and arguments over who gets the cheeks. 

Great job to the Chef and Crew as Wifey is VERY critical of her fish, and she called this as some of the very best she has ever eaten!!! Chef Jez that’s like getting a Michelin Star fella!!!

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ beef brisket bellychon roast chicken The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla Panglao Bohol

KINUDAY

An Ibaloi word for smoked meat, traditionally a technique used for leftover meat to make the meat last (no fridges back in the day, folks). Now this technique is used as an umami component by the Chef in a vast number of his dishes – BRAVO CHEF!!!

Check this out: 1/ Beef Brisket (melt-in-mouth and super smoky – WOW). 2/ BellyChon to die for – the stuffing flavors are likely the best I have had, and they permeate to the crispy skin. Amazing!!! 3/ BBQ chicken

Man alive, get some of that juicy meat and crispy skin inside you – and I tell you what jazzle it up with that homemade scallion hot sauce to the right of the chicken. Looks all sort of harmless, right… Do not be fooled!!!

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines bashed rice with pandan leaves cream

TUPIG

Filipino Rice Cake originates from Northwestern Luzon, particularly the regions of Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Ilocos. Made from pounded rice, and rice flour with coconut milk. Chef Jenz elevates this to foodie heavenly heights with the addition of charring the Tupig over the BBQ giving it smoke, adding puffed rice for crunch and additional texture, and adding an incredible sour but sweet pandan cream. WOWSER, what an amazing end to the dinner. 

Firing up the pit at The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla

By rights, this only happens on a Saturday night, but I begged the BE Resort on Facebook Messenger to fire the pit up for me on Sunday because it was Wifey’s Birthday and we were staying in the hotel and family was coming all the way from Mabini. My pleas were heard and I got me wish, and man oh man did that make me happy. And on the day, Wifey had a blast, including the food coma. Wow, what a birthday dinner.

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines chef and crew in the bbq pit

FOUR private Chefs for the event, including the master himself: Chef Fontilla. An incredible story about the Chefs here is that NONE were chefs or cooks before. If I remember rightly, Jenz said they were fishermen and construction workers. Gents, I am so glad you followed the advice of Chef Fontilla and turned to cooking because you NAILED IT!!!

Note to Wifey: I MUST HAVE A BBQ PIT LIKE THIS!!!

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ pit on the beach hanging meats The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla Panglao Bohol
Photo courtesy of The Monkey Bar

I love speaking about food and had a great smoky and sweaty chat or ten with Chef Jenz this evening. This little wooden hanging frame for example is old skool Filipino cooking style. Used to preserve these meats by drying them out slowly over hot wood charcoal. These are not for eating directly. For example, the sausages are used for seasoning their sauces, and the pork belly and tallow are used in the pasta dish and burnt toast soup that you would have seen above. WOOF!!!

VIGAN LONGGANSA

Those sausages you see hanging down: yep that’s this. Monley Bar’s take on a local sausage filled with pork, garlic, and pepper called the infamous Vigan Longgansa. The Chefs mainly use it for flavoring their sauces as a ‘natural’ MSG. Double WOOF!!!

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ gaucho grill
Photo courtesy of The Monkey Bar

Be still my aching heart. I must have one of these too. Chef Jenz’s Gaucho Grill, oh my. Load the base with hot coals and chosen woods that give a smokey flavor – like Lychee and Mahogany. Season your meats and then place them on the Gaucho Grill. This is for controlling the reverse searing technique: crank the grill up to the top for low and slow to get to that medium-rare Pink2Pnik Perfection, then drop it down to be direct heat to get you charring on.

Note to Wifey: I MUST HAVE A GAUCO GRILL LIKE THIS!!!

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines BBQ pit on the beach #2
Photo courtesy of The Monkey Bar

KUSAHOS

Traditionally, Kusahos is a preservation technique used by locals by rubbing salt into meat and sausages sun drying them, and then grilling upon serving. Now Chef Jez and crew have taken this to the next level, replicating this technique but smoking beef for ~14 hours using local Tamarind wood, and then charring over the coals WOOF!!!

What does The Monkey Bar by Chef Jenzel Fontilla: best restaurants Panglao Bohol have to say about itself?

“Stop the clock and indulge grilled Filipino favorites in al fresco dining by the beach. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture than by eating with your bare hands!”

the monkey bar restaurant BE grand resort .panglao the philippines chef and sous chef

The Monkey Bar is a dining establishment located at BE Grand Resort in Bohol, Philippines. It is known for its al fresco ambiance and offers a unique dining experience with grilled Filipino favorites on the beach: yes this toes-in-the-sand dining. As Anthony Bourdain used to say: “Food tastes better with your toes in the sand‘” Couldn’t agree more, and Chef Jenz is ricking that mantra, and some. 

The Monkey Bar is operated and owned by Chef Jenzel Fontilla and the restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients and showcases the best of the Ilocos Region and traditional Filipino culinary offerings, and cooking techniques with his modern-day spin.

Wherever I went, and wherever I looked I was in a foodie heaven trance. Glowing embers everywhere. Fish in banana leaves. Hanging meats. Boiling cauldrons. Sizzling woks. I tell you, this was up there with the best food theater ever experienced. Talk about an open kitchen.

In the end, The Monkey Bar in Panglao is more than just a dining experience; it’s a culinary adventure that lingers on your taste buds like a delicious memory: a memory that came back to me some 24 hours after my food coma had passed haha. From the beachside setting to Chef Jenzel Fontilla’s creative mastery, every visit will leave you hungry for more. That is exactly what happened to us: we had Sunday lunch, and off the back of that booked Sunday Beach BBQ and two nights in BE Grand Resort. Yeah, it’s that good… Truly this place is one of the Best Restaurants in Panglao Bohol.

Whether you’re enjoying their grilled favorites or savoring their innovative dishes, The Monkey Bar offers a symphony of powerful, ingenious, and smoky flavors that will leave you literally craving for more. I seriously don’t know how we powered through the EIGHT omakase courses this night we dined here. So, if you’re ever on this beautiful island of Panglao Bohol, please don’t miss the chance to swing by (see what I did there?) The Monkey Bar and say hi to Chef Jenz and his crew—it’s where incredible food meets the most amazing and fun times!

Finally, when I look at the below and see what Chef is doing. I can’t help but think there could be a partnership in the making here for Chillax Bar BQ Panglao and The Monkey Bar Panglao: two of the Best Restaurants in Panglao Bohol.

the monkey bar panglao smoking
No.QuestionAnswer
1.What type of cuisine does The Monkey Bar offer?The Monkey Bar offers a diverse range of Filipino cuisine with a focus on grilled favorites and locally sourced ingredients. Chef is taking very traditional cooking methods, recipes, and ingredients and then giving them his special BEJAZZLE!!! It’s unique and it is just superb!!!
2.Is The Monkey Bar located within a resort in Panglao?Yes, The Monkey Bar is situated within the BE Grand Resort in Panglao, providing a scenic beachfront dining experience.
3.What are the operating hours of The Monkey Bar in Panglao?The Monkey Bar is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., allowing guests to enjoy meals throughout the day and into the evening.
4.Are reservations recommended at The Monkey Bar?Reservations are recommended, especially during peak dining hours, to secure a table and ensure a pleasant dining experience. Plus well worth a call to ‘design’ potentially your own unique experience – if Chef and crew are up for it of course…
5.Does The Monkey Bar offer vegetarian or vegan menu options?While the focus is on grilled dishes, The Monkey Bar may offer vegetarian or vegan options upon request or based on availability. Seriously just get the charcoal empenadas you veggies you. That will knock your vegetarian socks off. Oh yeah and try the vegetables with soil – one of my ‘up there’ dishes of our night.
6.What is the ambiance like at The Monkey Bar in Panglao?The Monkey Bar boasts a relaxed and cozy al fresco ambiance, providing a perfect spot to unwind by the beach with friends and family. We just sat soaking the warm sea breezes, Kool toonz, and friendly banter – it could not have been much better.
7.Are there any signature dishes or specialties at The Monkey Bar?The menu at The Monkey Bar features a variety of signature dishes crafted by Chef Jenzel Fontilla, showcasing the best of Bohol’s culinary delights. If you’re hungry and feeling BOLD, try the Beef Shin – wowser!!!
8.Is The Monkey Bar suitable for special occasions or events?Yes, The Monkey Bar can be an excellent choice for special occasions, offering a unique and scenic setting for celebrations. Exactly what I planned for my Wife’s Birthday: Private Chefs, BBQ pit, dining tables, servers, beach, music – all I can say is my Wife LOVED it, and I cannot thank the crew at The Monkey Bar enough. Top drawer fellas!!!
9.Are there vegetarian or gluten-free options available for diners with dietary restrictions?The Monkey Bar strives to accommodate dietary restrictions, so it’s a good idea to inquire about specific options when making a reservation.
10.Can guests enjoy the beach while dining at The Monkey Bar?Yes, The Monkey Bar provides a beachfront dining experience, allowing guests to enjoy the beautiful views and soothing sounds of the sea while dining. You’ll see this from the photos of my Wife’s birthday BBQ. It was incredible. BBQ pit, beach, amazing table setting, the best food and ambiance. Just a WOW!!!

The Monkey Bar Bohol Address

Address: BE Grand Resort, Brgy. Danao, Panglao, Bohol
Telephone: +63 (038) 412 9000

The Monkey Bar Bohol Operating Hours

Saturday10 AM–9:30 PM (also the BBQ on the Beach bight – A MUST-TRY!!!)
Sunday10 AM–9:30 PM
Monday10 AM–9:30 PM
Tuesday10 AM–9:30 PM
Wednesday10 AM–9:30 PM
Thursday10 AM–9:30 PM
Friday10 AM–9:30 PM

BE Grand Resort Panglao Bohol

BE Grand Resort Shot from Lune Restaurant and Bar

BE Grand Resort Panglao will eventually have its own blog when I get a chance to write it up. But, I thought it important to mention because Chef Fontilla has THREE restaurants here: The Monkey Bar, The Boathouse, and Lune Bar. WOW!!!

So, folks, welcome to a tropical haven where luxury meets paradise – BE Grand Resort Panglao Bohol! If you’re dreaming of a getaway that combines stunning ocean views, impeccable hospitality, and a touch of Filipino charm, you’ve come to the right place, and we sure did for our two-night stay. This resort is a top choice for travelers, and when we stayed something like 90% of those travelers were from Korea, which is just so awesome to see.

Nestled on the enchanting Panglao Island in the Philippines, BE Grand Resort Panglao Bohol offers a retreat like no other. With its lush gardens, pristine beaches, and a range of accommodation options, this resort caters to every traveler’s whims. Whether you’re seeking relaxation by the pool, water adventures, indulgent spa treatments, and of course the most exquisite food options, BE Grand Resort delivers it all.

Prepare to be captivated by the warm Filipino hospitality, and class amenities that set BE Grand Resort apart. There is one negative to call out that we feel would be remiss if we didn’t mention it: no beach. It is perched up on the cliff, but what they have done is create a man-made beach environment. Nicely done Macgyver!!!

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