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Having a list of places to go to for good food other than the "more accessible" restaurants is a handy thing to have for all kinds of foodies. Som's and Fat Michael's in Makati and Charlie's Grill in Barrio Kapitolyo have become popular for those looking for dining alternatives that fall under the radar. From small family-run restaurants to unexpected discoveries, we list down 10 hole-in-the wall spots–unpretentious, out-of-the-way places–in Manila that are worth going to:
SPOT.ph's Holes in the Wall Gallery: Click for more photos
1. Cookbook Kitchen
Address: 8 Socorro Fernandez Street, Mandaluyong City. Tel. No. 724-3595
Price range: P250 to P300 per person
Go for: Parmesan crusted white fish (P240), a serving of tender, baked fish with a rich parmesan sauce, served with rice; and the CBK Chicken (P290), chicken stuffed with ham and cheese that can be shared by two.
Why it's worth going to: Cookbook Kitchen's simple and straight-forward dishes make it almost like visiting a relative's house where you are always served good food. Chef Gen Capati and wife Liza's home-style cooking makes the search for this resto, which is tucked in between houses in the residential area of Mandaluyong, worth the drive.
How to get there: From Shaw Boulevard, go straight towards the Starmall side. Turn right on Torres Street, right before Nissan Shaw. At the end of Torres Street, turn left on Araullo. Turn left on Socorro Fernandez Street and Cookbook Kitchen will be on the left side.
2. The Frazzled Cook
Address: 916 Luna Mencias Street, Mandaluyong
Go for: Herbed Chicken Salad with Basil Vinaigrette (P275), tasty roasted marinated with fresh lettuce and tangy vinaigrette ; Lengua with Mushrooms and corn (P350), tender lengua strips served with side vegetables and your choice of siding: French fries, mashed potatoes, garlic rice, plain rice, or saffron rice; Shrimp and Squid Croquettes (P275), Pizza Caprese (P270), with tomatoes, grated cheese and kesong puti slices on top of a crunchy crust; and Pancake ala Mode (P180), buttery pancakes with a dash of cinnamon powder and served with vanilla ice-cream on top
Price range: P300 to P350 per person
Why it's worth going to: Chef Jude Mancuyas' menu has its gems. Some dishes are so-so but some are worth going back for. The cozy and homey ambience draws in repeat customers while the interiors, which mingles kitschy touches and mismatched furniture, reflect the shabby chic décor of Fat Michael's, an older hole-in-the-wall spot with the same chef and owners.
How to get there: From EDSA Southbound, turn right on Shaw Boulevard. Turn right on Torres Street and go straight until you see Araullo Street on your left. Turn left on Araullo Street and turn left on Luna Mencias. The Frazzled Cook is on the left side.
3. Hunan Lutong Bahay
Address: 6404 Camia St. near Rockwell, Makati City. Tel. No. (0915) 425-2972
Go for: Hot Pot Chicken (P400), with tender braised chicken in a mixture of spicy and aromatic stew; Gongbao (P180) diced chicken with stir-fried chili peppers and peanuts
Price Range: P200 to P300 per person; dishes can be shared by two
Why it's worth going to: The food is cheap and cooked Hunan-style. The owners, a couple from Hunan, China speak little English and lord over the kitchen of this apartment-turned-restaurant with no signboard outside and only parallel parking available outside. The menu, which is a compilation of photos of the dishes, lists mostly stewed or braised and spicy, just the way it is cooked in Hunan. Spice levels can be adjusted (just inform the servers) and rice is eat-all-you-can (you can ask for rice refills in the kitchen).
How to get there: From EDSA Southbound, take a right on Estrella Street. Turn right when you see Gumamela Street on your right. Turn left on the first corner (Camia Street), Hunan Lutong Bahay will be on your right: a white apartment unit, just beside the unit with the red lanterns outside.
4. Min Sok Restaurant
Address: 5655 Don Pedro St. Poblacion, Makati City
Go for: Sam gyupsal (P260), tasty grilled pork strips and Bibimpap (P250), Min Sok's version is spicier than most
Price Range: P300 to P350 per person
Why it's worth going to: Nothing spells authenticity more than the foreign nationals who eat at the place. Min Sok, owned by a Korean couple, is a no-nonsense place sans décor where most of the patrons are Korean nationals. Aside from your order, you are served nine appetizers all for free, which include kimchi, tofu, spicy radish and fish cakes. Most dishes are good to share so a filling meal is only around P300 per person.
How to get there: From Rockwell Drive, turn right on Kalayaan Avenue. Turn right on Don Pedro Street (there's a Mini Stop at the corner) and Min Sok Restaurant will be on your right.