Best of Manila: 50 Great Restaurants of 2014

The year in food continues, and we’ve picked the standouts.

 

(SPOT.ph) There's no stopping the progress of the local restaurant industry. People do need to eat after all, and the dining landscape continues-naturally-to expand to cater to Manila's more discerning palate. This year, the eating momentum pushed forward with more delectable places that made the metro such a delicious place to be in. In turn, we've had to go up another pants size just trying to keep up. Here is SPOT.ph's list for the most noteworthy eateries that opened in 2014.

 

Restaurants considered for this list opened between the last quarter of 2013 and November 2014.

 

Also read:

Best of Manila: 50 Great Restaurants of 2013

 

 

22 Jupiter
22 Jupiter Street, Makati City
Contact: 485-1253
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. onwards

 

Chef Marco Legasto of Prime 101 and the now-defunct Purple Feet is serving his fine food in a new destination. 22 Jupiter is his steak place scaled down to a bistro, serving a great menu with global influences-Thai, Korean, Spanish. Innovation is expected from someone like Chef Marco, but he should also be noted for his skill in drawing out precision flavors. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Scallops with Foie Gras Mushroom (P55), Nachos with Chorizo Cheese (P290), Steak with Foie Gras Mushroom (P730), Bagnet with Thai Sauce (P400)

 

 

 

71 Gramercy
71/F Gramercy Residences, Century City, Kalayaan Avenue corner Salamanca Street, Makati City
Contact: 0917-847-7535
Open daily from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (dinner); 10 p.m. onwards

 

The go-to place of the stars, 71 Gramercy combines good gastronomy with great night life. At the kitchen's helm is ace chef Carlo Miguel whose experience with Draft and Black Olive guarantees he knows delicious bar chow. From its place atop the highest building in Manila, 71 Gramercy serves as its "crowning glory" with understated but effective details that summon a theme of Art Deco and jazz. It's a place for great celebration or just a great night out the town. Read more...

 

Must-tries: 62 Degree Egg (P290), Duck Sisig (P680), Tournedos Rossini (P1,480)

 

 

Bamba Bistro
55 Aguirre Avenue corner Arsenio Luz Street, BF Homes, Parañaque City
Contact: 519-7097
Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)

 

The chef behind Bamba Bistro is Tina Legarda, who has the Midas touch: the enviable power of turning gloomy days into golden ones with her magical dishes. She trained under Mario Batali for his Mozza branch in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, but now she's home-with elevated comfort fare that are meticulously created and generously flavored. Read more...

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Must-tries: Spaghetti Bolognese (P200), Lamb Adobo (P395), Pizzookie (P230), Le Cochon Sliders (P350)

 

 

Bag O' Shrimps
Tuscany, McKinley Hill, Taguig City
Contact: 585-2789
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

 

There's no better way to enjoy this seafood shack than with a bib and bare hands. If you don't trust us, trust the sign on the wall. Couple owners Jandrew and Princess Pastoril offer seafood like shrimps, clams, mussels, crab, and an assortment, and pairs them with special sauces. The formula is straightforward because nothing really beats the flavor of fresh bounty from the sea. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Sweet Potato Fries (P115), Crabs (P130/100 grams), Shrimps (P565/453 grams). Get the assorted with Princess' special Bag O' Momma sauce.

 

 

Black Sheep
The Penthouse, W Fifth Avenue, 32nd Street corner 5th, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 478-4498, 506-1380
Open from 7 p.m. onwards (Monday to Saturday)

 

A place that constantly pushes the envelope deserves accolade. Where else dares to turn longganisa into ice cream? Chef Jordy Navarra leads this penthouse restaurant and bar that make a show of gastronomy. The kitchen is in full view (as well as the country's biggest single-malt whiskey collection), and some aspects of their famous dishes are served tableside for fresher and fuller flavors. Then there's that gorgeous skyline from up high. Black Sheep is really just that total sensorial experience. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Set Menus!

 

 

Bistro Pamana
G/F Greenbelt Mansion, 109 Perea Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Contact: 815-1823
Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Saturday)

 

Tucked inside this purple hideaway are heirlooms-from Barrio Fiesta's legendary crispy pata to a rusty old charcoal iron from someone's uncle. Chef Happy Ongpauco Tiu takes her Tagaytay destination and scales it down into an intimate neighborhood place in Legazpi Village. The wide menu is a mix of classic and playful takes on Filipino favorites. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Salmon Belly sa Sampalok at Pinya (P260), Sizzling Pancit Ivatan (P320), Cebu Lechon Belly Roll (P230), Crispy Pata (P600)

 

 

Blackbird
Nielson Tower, Ayala Triangle, Makati City
Contact: 828-4888
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.

 

Chef Colin McKay is at it again. This time, he converted the Nielson Tower into an upscale Art Deco dining destination in the middle of corporate Makati to serve his classic European creations. He doesn't forget its roots as a former airport either: a pair of clocks reads the time for Manila and California, from the first flights that flew from there. There's also a private, cockpit-inspired space where the control tower used to be. Sit at the al fresco deck, take in the lush greenery, and you'll forget that you're ever in the city. Blackbird is already becoming a favorite proposal venue. Read more...

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Must-tries: Cheddar and Zucchini Brioche (P490), Wagyu Hanger Steak (P980)

 

 

Carmelo's Wagyu Steaks
Garden Level, Greenbelt 5, Makati City
Contact: 625-5954, 625-5986
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Monday to Thursday), 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to Saturday), 10 a.m. to 9 pm. (Sunday)

 

The steaks here are a legacy. This intimate, upscale nook is Chef Cristina Santiago Rivera's take on her father's famous Melo's brand. Instead of Angus beef, Carmelo's peddles the highest-grade Wagyu. Expect pristine plates because the dishes don't hide behind flashy presentations. The father-daughter team lets their ingredients do the impressing. The tender steaks will wow you, but stay for desserts. That's another specialty. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Wagyu Ribeye (P1,850 to P3,600), Duck Confit (P895), Ravioli (P295)

 

 

Chef du Partie
G/F Power Plant Mall, Makati City
Contact: 556-4454
Open from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Sunday to Wednesday); until 2 a.m. (Thursday to Saturday)

 

Inspired by the travels of three seasoned restaurateurs (Malou Fores of Mamou and Recovery Food, Katrina Kuhn Alcantara of Meclun and Chuck’s Deli, and Kristine Del Gallego Locsin of LU), CDP's menu is an assortment of delicious eats in an intimate, cozy space. Perfect for languid lunches and prolonged dinners, you'll find that CDP is more than just a restaurant, it's a place where good friends can come together for great food, drinks, and even better company.

 

Must-tries: Truffle Maccheroni (P495), Pig's Ears Fries (P195), Pork Trotter (P745), Fritto Misto (P325)

 

 

Chelsea Kitchen
G/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

The open restaurant just beside the main entrance of SM Mega Fashion Hall is the latest interpretation of Raintree Restaurants' Chelsea brand. The Chelsea in Serendra has been rechristened to a sassy Grand Café, while this mall nook takes on a more casual turn. According to Chef Kalel Chan, 80 percent of the menu is new. It features more familiar favorites, but the chef also takes on a more innovative approach-an extension of a kitchen, if you will-with whisks for you to mix your salad, and sauces served in measuring cups. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Yellow Carbonara (P320), Hot Tapa French Dip (P350), Truffled Spinach Cream Dip (P250), Mushroom "Chicharon" (P195)

 

Crisp on 28th
Alveo Tower, 28th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 0917-584-6883
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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Hidden in plain sight is this street café that's quickly becoming a neighborhood haunt in Bonifacio Global City. Sweet yellow and gray details-the now-typical mix of rustic and industrial renews interest here-simulate a warm and cozy setup that makes you feel right at home. There's consciousness to lean on the healthier side, but Crisp doesn't shy away from the joys of cooking: in this all-day breakfast, expect bold flavors, and even bacon and fried food. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Bacon and Eggs (P290), Adobo Flakes Plate (P300), Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Salad (P215)

 

 

Duck & Buvette
G/F Shangri-La Plaza, One Garden Way, EDSA, Mandaluyong City
Contact: 631-0675
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

When Café Provencal shut down, the owners didn't stray too far away from France. In fact, they tried to hit closer to home with refreshed French cuisine in a more modern setup. By converting its old space on the bridge between the mall's main and east wings, this updated venue bridges the nostalgia of the 15-year-old café with novelty. In true French tradition, Chef Jacq Tan doesn't believe in shortcuts and the dishes at Duck & Buvette are all made from scratch-from the curing of the duck to the ice cream squeezed between macaron biscuits. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Duck Rillette (P210), Bradade de Bacalao (P190), Truffle Roasted Cauliflower (P185), USDA Prime Paleron Steak and Duck Frites (P960), Confit of Pork Belly (P360), Duck Confit (P980)

 

 

 

Eri Curry
3/F SM Mega Atrium, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City
Contact: 0917-821-2305
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

The trick is the layer of cheese under each delicious curry plate. Orders may be customized, but that extra mozzarella gives every bite a delectable creaminess. Filipino chef Erica Bagang grew up in Japan and her experiences have allowed her to find the compromise between the two types of palates. The young chef is so secretive about her fruit-infused (that's as far as she'll tell) curry that she makes it at home and delivers it fresh to the restaurant everyday. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Thinly Sliced Beef (P290), Chicken Karaage (P110)

 

 

Eric Kayser
G/F New Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Complex, San Juan
Contact: 941-0738
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

It took Eric Kayser a while to open in the Philippines, but consider it a lesson. Some of the best things in life take time-like Eric Kayser and his almond croissants. This world-renowned boulangerie already has four branches in Manila: a full sitdown café in Greenhills and three express stores in Power Plant Mall, Rustan's Makati, and Bonifacio Global City. The pastries and viennoiserie are consistently good wherever you go (especially when they're baked fresh), but with the delicious brunch selection in the Greenhills flagship, you know it's where you'll want to spend time in the most. Read more...

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Must-tries: Tomato Soup (P250), Shrimp and Apples Croissant (P260), Curcuma (P245), Prosciutto and Tomato Fougasse (P260)

 

 

Hanamaruken
2/F Trinoma, North Avenue corner EDSA, Quezon City
Contact: 728-9283, 628-1603
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Monday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to Sunday)

New Wing, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Monday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to Sunday)

 

Amid all these ramen joints in the metro, what makes this humble mall find stand out? How about putting a half-foot-long slab of pork rib over the rich broth, springy noodles, and ajitama egg? Hanamaruken originated in Osaka in 1982, and it's the only place that outright promises Happiness in a bowl. Founder Takaku Arakawa comes from a family of butchers and he puts great emphasis on the meats he puts over his noodles. That particular rib is braised for 10 hours for a pull-apart, fork-tender texture that makes that overwhelming size easily manageable. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Happiness (P480), Drunk Man Rice Bowl (P240), Curry Chahan (P140)

 

 

Holy Crab!
252 Unit B Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City
Contact: 710-2917
Open daily from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

 

Don't be a Wimp in Holy Crab! No, seriously. Of the three spice levels, you better go for Wow or Wild because you'll find that these fiery sauces work best for their buckets of seafood. Aguirre's very own seafood haven is a build-your-own seafood picnic in a beach-luau-inspired setting. Pick your catch from crustaceans to shellfish, choose a sauce, and then select your spice level. There's a sink nearby so wash your hands because you're going to dig deep into that metal pail of yum. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Shrimps (P500/pound), Crab (P145/100 grams), Sizzling Salted Duck Egg and Grilled Pork Sisig (P220)

 

 

Ippudo
3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Contact: 0999-886-7907
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

 

After over a year of making fans wait, the world-famous ramen joint finally opened in September. Thank the extra months of research and development that the owners took to ensure the best experience for their Filipino customers. Ippudo has a habit of adjusting their flavors (only slightly) to appeal to the local palate, but rest assured, they still prove why they're up there with the best of them. Most of the ingredients are imported from Japan, including the stock base for their ramen trio. Read more...

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Must-tries: Shiromaru Motoaji (P375), Akamaru Shinaji (P390), Karaka-Men (P390), Pork Buns (P100)

 

 

Japanese Wagyu Beef
G20 Sunvar Plaza, Amorsolo corner Pasay Road, Makati
Contact: 808-9508
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

This isn't technically a restaurant. The owner wanted customers to taste the difference in quality of his Wagyu beef (A5, the highest beef grade) and set up a little kitchen and even smaller seating space to achieve this. Marble grills give you that unforgettable steak experience, and a duo of Yuzu and Plum salts bring out even more flavor. The best part is that you can take these meats home with strict instructions on how to cook them best. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Wagyu Tataki (P650), Steamed Wagyu (P300 to P650)

 

 

La Cabrera Grillado and Bar
6750 Ayala Avenue Business Tower, Glorietta Complex, Ayala Avenue, Makati City
Contact: 0905-290-0703

 

Meat lovers, rejoice! This place is a carnivore's sanctuary: steaks, barbecue, and unlimited sides! La Cabrera is an Argentine icon, and while branches mushroom in its home country, there's only one lone restaurant here (the first in Asia!). It does its best to bring that authentic experience, including bringing in that custom grill that was patterned after an open pit owned by founder Gaston Riveira's grandfather. Export restrictions prevent the local La Cabrera from bringing in meat from Argentina, but their flavors prove that it's not so much the tools than it is the technique. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Ojo de Bife (P2,680/500 grams), Bife de Chorizo (P1,880/500 grams), Asado del Centro (P1,580/500 grams)

 

 

Linguini Fini
3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Contact: 531-3302, 0917-834-1493
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

It might seem a bit strange to bring an Italian restaurant from Hong Kong to the Philippines, but a taste of Chef Vinny Lauria's dishes would make you understand. It's not just about the flavors. Owner Todd Darling adheres to strict standards: everything homemade from scratch, nothing frozen, and, as much as possible, organic. The vibe is noticeably chill-very much in keeping with local partners, The Moment Group. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Pappardelle "Nose-to-Tail" Bolo (P430), Straccetti di Manzo (P495), Puttanesca (P335)

 

Locavore
10 Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Contact: 632-9600
Open daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

 

Chef Mikel Zaguirre is all about boosting homestyle Filipino cuisine, using French techniques to draw out flavor and oomph. The result is a modern play on tradition: case in point, sizzling sinigang. If you love Filipino food, you'll love the chef's no-holds-barred approach to hearty ingredients-pork fat, crab fat, butter, chicharon. Read more...

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Must-tries: Tortang Talaba (P300), Sugpo con Mayonesa (P650), Boneless Pork Belly (P550)

 

 

Madison’s Bistro Moderne
G/F EDSA Shangri-La Hotel, Garden Way, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City
Contact: 631-4675
Open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Monday to Saturday)

 

What is a fine-dining restaurant that's not fine-dining? This bistro is all cool marble and chic black, white, and grey, with the makings of a grand celebratory restaurant-but not stuffy. Go ahead, wear your shorts, but leave the flip-flops at home. Each dish, starting with the complimentary bread baked fresh in house, is carefully and artfully presented. To really appreciate those efforts, get the chef's table where you're rewarded with a view of the kitchen and a special, extra exceptional menu. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Speck and Goat Cheese Mousse (P650), Pistachio-crusted Cod Fish (P650), Herb Pappardelle (P450)

 

 

Magnum Manila
5/F Sky Park, SM Aura Premier, McKinley Parkway corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

The thrill of Magnum Manila isn't in the long lines or Chef Miko Aspiras and Chef Him Uy de Baron's a la carte masterpieces. It's in not knowing when all this is going to end. Take in Carlo Calma's popsicle-stick installations and Rafael Calma's chocolate-inspired interior because this pop-up's not going to last. That's the beauty of the Magnum concept. It keeps you on your toes and always wanting a personalized ice-cream bar. Read more... and more...

 

Must-tries: Custom Magnum bars are P100. Cajun Spiced Chicken Fingers (P210), Seared Salmon with Baris Crème and Chorizo Confit (P500), Sous Vide Chocolate Carbonara (P365), Rainbow Dream (P250), Pink Friday (P290)

 

 

Marmalade Kitchen
2/F Forum South Global, 7th Avenue corner Federacion Drive, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 622-9196
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

The best thing about Marmalade Kitchen is that the experience doesn't end in the restaurant. It's a café/boutique/culinary studio, and if you enjoy Chef Aileen Anastacio's dishes so much, take a class, buy the ingredients, and make it at home. The food are reliable comforts that don't shock you with schtick, but rather reassures that some things are best kept simple. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Cauliflower Fritters (P210), Garlic Longganisang Hubad (P295), Pulled Pork Sandwich (P360), Black Ink Pasta (P380), Fallen Chocolate Cake (P130)

 

 

Maximo Comfort Cuisine and Casual Dining
173 Katipunan Extension, Quezon City
Contact: 437-7661
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)

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It's usually the simplest things that develop into habits. Maximo is like that. There's nothing particularly avante garde with the way Chef Geth Savellano prepares his dishes, and that's why he wins: simply good. The menu is mostly Filipino. Try the Lamb Salpicao. It's what won his in-laws over. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Mushroom Chicharon (P160), Lamb Salpicao (P295), Slow-roasted Beef Belly (P260), Chocnut Chocolate Cake (P145)

 

 

Mecha Uma
RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Tower, 25th corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 801-2270
Open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Wednesday to Monday)

 

You’ll want to thank some divine power for Chef Bruce Ricketts. The way others are gifted with a singing voice or an inclination for the arts, the young chef has the uncanny ability to merge and maximize flavor. Mecha Uma is his latest playground: a 25-seater space that surrounds the restaurant’s centerpiece like a worship: the chef’s table, which gives an up-close and in-depth view of the master working a 10-course degustation that has people weak in the knees and their palates changed forever. Read more...

 

Must-tries: The 10-course Omakase (P3,600+)

 

 

Niu by Vikings
6/F SM Aura Premier, 26th Street corner McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 478-3999, 0917-586-6888, 0919-999-6888

 

Think of it as Vikings' older sister, sophisticated, upscale, and with its own foie gras station. Niu, which is Nordic for "nine" and, in turn, a play on the "on Cloud Nine" expression, uses topnotch ingredients, with a selection that's cooked only upon order. More servers mean more personalized attention, and if you're too preoccupied with eating to stand up, you can ask them to survey the buffet for you. They'll return with plated courses that look like they came from a fine-dining restaurant. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Lechon Macau, Lobster in Miso Soup, Salmon Coulibiac

 

 

Osaka Ohsho
3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City
Contact: 0917-828-5011
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

Shinzo Fumino founded Osaka Ohsho in Japan in 1969. From a small stall that sold handmade dumplings, this international chain boldly lives up their claim as the "World's No. 1 Gyoza." And why shouldn't they? The gyoza is still meticulously made by hand, but the flavors have expanded to include Nori, Cheese, Bacon and Cheese, and Peanut Butter and Banana. Careful craftsmanship ensures that these potstickers are equal in size and packed with tender ground meat that have been seasoned to a tee. Read more...

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Must-tries: Original (P175), Cheese, Nori, and Bacon and Cheese (P190)

 

 

Patricio's Cevicheria
28 Bayani Road, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 998-7274, 0917-850-8817
Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Saturday)

 

A love for lechon kawali and kinilaw led to one of the most underrated restaurants in Bonifacio Global City. Husband-and-wife team Patrick and Pia Roa travel all around the country looking for regional ceviche recipes, with each resulting dish punchy, flavorful, and distinct. Don't get attached to the seafood though. They change the protein depending on what's fresh in the market. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Rocoto (P201), Binakhaw (P250)

 

 

P.H.A.T. Pho
G/F Serendra, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 843-0820
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

 

The Moment Group tied up with Cebu-based Abaca Group to bring this hip Vietnamese joint to Manila. The tight corner in Serendra makes it easy for the open kitchen to fill the space with the most mouthwatering smells. P.H.A.T. Pho pays careful attention to flavors, and part-owner Abba Napa describes their interpretation as "an amplified version of the delicate Vietnamese flavor profile." They need to add an R somewhere in the name because this place is Pretty, Hot, Tempting, and Rich-the affordable kind. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Grilled Meatball Noodle Bun (P210 to P350), Bun Bo Hue (P225 to P395), Pho Special (P225 to P395)

 

Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken
2/F New Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Complex, San Juan
Contact: 655-8355
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

 

This newly revamped and rehashed classic operates on this formula: one chicken, an infinite number of possibilities. Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken cooks their poultry in more than one way, of course, but the 12 sauces that you can use to flourish your fowl end the seemingly endless debate of what to order. Get the roast, get the fried, wait for the sauce steward and her cart of bottles, and make the flavors your own. This Greenhills branch is bright and festive, matching the high notes of their namesake spice, peri-peri. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Todo (P525), Numero Uno Chicken (P395), Chicken Tajine (P570/half)

 

 

Rambla
G/F Joya Building, Joya Drive, Rockwell, Makati City
Contact: 823-6469, 0926-690-9774
Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 6 p.m. onwards

 

This gastropub is all about innovation and ever-changing flavors. Amid the cool and collected interiors-expected from the same owners of Las Flores-is a menu that shows off contemporary Spanish flavors. Chef Pepe Llopez sees freedom in the kitchen, and his food stands out for veering away from the tapas culture. Just don't get too attached, because his creativity knows no bounds. Read more...

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Must-tries: Ricotta Gnudis (P325), Crispy Chicken Skin and Prawn (P465), Liquid Spanish Omelette (P125)

 

 

Ramen Nagi
5/F Sky Park, SM Aura Premier, McKinley Parkway corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

Who knew four bowls of ramen could be so habit-forming? Scratch that, because even a bowl of the simple, original Tonkotsu has us falling stomach-over-head for this award-winning Japanese franchise. Fourteen years of ramen-making has taught Chef Satoshi Ikuta a thing or two about the perfect ramen experience. For one, the chopsticks have carved edges that give traction to the slippery, springy noodles, making eating much easier and more enjoyable. There's always a fifth slot on the menu for a special that's served in limited quantities within a short amount of time. It's always an exciting proposition-truffles, foie gras, the works-but the four original flavors have never left anyone wanting. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Butao/Tonkotsu, Green King, Red King, Black King (price depends on add-ons)

 

 

Refinery
Joya Lofts and Towers, Rockwell, Makati City
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

 

Co-owner Jackie Lorenzana aims for utmost relaxation and the restaurant is styled like a very chic living room: high ceilings, walls of wine bottles, exposed piping, and hardwood details. It's not hard to stay here all day: they offer breakfast, Lamill Coffee, and cocktails. The way they cook eggs is something to watch for. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Shirred Truffled Eggs with Toast (P288), Hangover Pasta (P260), Dutch Baby Pancakes (P180)

 

 

Scarsdale
514 S&R Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City
Contact: 631-7647
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

 

No treat is exempted from the artisan treatment, even donuts. Even Homer Simpson would be impressed with how Chef Carlos Miguel (partnered with Gonuts Donuts) converts this everyday snack into something even more wonderful. Thousands of donuts are made fresh and fried on the spot. A more versatile type of dough allows the kitchen to create more possibilities that range from sweet to savory, but Scarsdale also has a nice selection of comfort food. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Croughnut (P100), Chili Dog (P220)

 

 

Señor Pollo

F7 Building, Scout Rallos Street, Quezon City
Contact: 0917-833-1033
Open from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Sunday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Friday to Saturday)

 

5767 Ebro Street, Makati City
Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

 

There's fried chicken before and after Señor Pollo. Our comprehension of this classic dish has been divided between those two timelines. This colorful, muraled, golden-gecko adorned dive defines casual hangout-trust us, you'll even want to stay in the restroom-and though some menu items are rehashed from other Mabanta restaurants, the delicious brine and batter are entirely and distinctly Señor Pollo. Read more... and more...

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Must-tries: Fried Chicken (P99 to P255), Roast Chicken (P99 to P255), Coleslaw (P85)

 

 

Simple Lang
Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati City
Contact: 621-6162
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

There's nothing simple about Simple Lang. This is a place where Filipino favorites morph into something quite unconventional, and, for a restaurant that proclaims modesty, the dishes are anything but. Chef Kalel Chan and the Raintree Group opened this modern Filipino restaurant because they decided that the time was ’right for Filipino cuisine." The world is finally looking at Filipino food, and with their quirky innovation, anyone is bound to look at Simple Lang. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Isol (P150), Pinsec Sipa (P195), Crispy Palabok (P265), Sinigang na Crispy Bagnet sa Watermelon (P395)

 

 

St. Marc Café
G/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

The pastries, the desserts, the in-between-the visual assortment near the counter could cause any dessert lover to go crazy with the options, but think of them as reasons to keep coming back. This Japanese franchise was brought over by the Suyen Corporation, and it's the legendary Chococro, a chocolatey croissant, that has customers already smitten. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Chococro (P55), Choco Banana Fuji (P230)

 

 

Teddy's Bigger Burger
Greenbelt 3, Makati City
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday), 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to Saturday)

 

Super. Enormous. Burgers. Peanut-butter. Those are the only things that would draw you to this Hawaiian import. Oh, and lots and lots of teriyaki sauce. The biggest burger is an 18-ounce patty that you can double up if your appetite would allow it. Teddy's lets customers dress their stuff any way you want, so it's really hard not to have a good time in this casual joint. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Waikiki Burger, Kailua Burger, Teri Burger (price depends on customization)

 

 

The Black Pig
Commercenter, Commerce Avenue corner East Asia Drive, Filinvest Corporate City, Muntinlupa City
Contact: 808-1406, 0917-845-0744
Open from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. (Monday), 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)

 

This Southern gem is one of those places that only serve good food. Chefs Carlos Rodriguez Garcia and Tricia MacDonald's love for jamon Iberico and the local lechon serves as the basis for this pork-centric restaurant, but that's by no means the only item available. As with other free-thinking chefs, the pair constantly updates the menu, so there's always something to look forward to. Read more....

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Must-tries: Slow-cooked Eggs with Sobrassada (P380), Veal Sweetbreads (P520), Butifarra and Egg (P420)

 

The Bowery
F151 Forbeswood Heights, Rizal Drive corner Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 0936-929-6073, 0917-532-2612
Open 24 hours

 

From L.E.S. Bagels to Borough, Chef Cuit Kaufman is showing us yet another side of New York-a more luxurious kind where lobster makes mac and cheese perfect, and honey blueberry compote finds a new home in seared foie gras. The Bowery is an insight to the Big Apple's culinary melting pot. Chef Cuit takes inspiration from all around the world: He transforms a clam chowder, a New England staple, and gives it a Manhattan spin (it's orange); Greek and Italian classics are also on the menu. But if there's one thing you should know to expect: This pastry chef does desserts well. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Moc's Sweet Chili Beaner (P280), Spicy Black Bean Cake Napoleon (P520), Po' Boy (P480)

 

 

 

The Girl + The Bull
345 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City
Contact: 0905-572-2556
Open from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Thursday to Sunday)

 

The Girl is sweet, calm, and colorful Thea Rivera; The Bull, Gab Bustos, a culinary artist whose preferred medium is food. Their partnership is the perfect balance of a cool experience and amazing food. The menu is small, constantly changing-there's no cap on creativity-and complex. Each plate comes out of the kitchen like picture-perfect passionate artwork. Go ahead, take that Instagram shot. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Roasted Pork Belly (P440), Scallops and Foie Gras (P510), Faux Twix (P160), Buttermilk Chicken (P410)

 

 

The Wholesome Table
2/F 30th Street corner 7th Avenue, Bonifacio High Street Central, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 867-0000
Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday to Sunday)

 

Health food isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but The Wholesome Table is showing a different kind of healthy eating. That fatty porchetta on the menu should be enough of a hint. This indoor garden is an invitation to try owner Bianca Araneta Elizalde’s lifestyle. She pushes for clean and natural ingredients that lessen the toxins that our bodies ingest. It’s easy to fall back on the pizzas and pastas, but go crazy and choose healthy. Opt for the really nutritious-sounding dishes on the menu. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Roast Pork Sandwich (P490), Turkey Scotch Egg (P160), Buddha Bowl (P280), Bounty of the Sea (P650), Meatloaf (P580)

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Tim Ho Wan
G/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.


There's no reason why Filipinos can't partake in the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, but that doesn't mean the lines are shorter here than in Hong Kong. It's all because of those fluffy, golden buns with sweet, soft, barbecued pork. Tim Ho Wan proves that you don't have to be gourmet to be remarkable. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (P145), Fried Carrot Cake (P145), Egg Cake (P85), Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling (P140)

 

 

Tipple and Slaw
2/F Forum South Global, 7th Avenue corner Federacion Drive, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 500-0882, 0917-654-3318
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

 

These are sandwiches with major, major attitude. We're talking freshly made buns and uncontainable filling. Owner Juano Gutierrez was inspired by Adam Richman's Eat Street and while Tipple and Slaw has your everyday pastrami and roast beef, they also embellish their menu with osso bucco and oysters. Yes, this place is on a mission to challenge the standards of what you put in between bread. With an aim to be the last name in comfort food, this place pairs cocktails with unfussy dishes like chicken nugget, wings, and fries. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Pig Fries (P250), B.S. (P350), Oxtail Osso Bucco (P350)

 

 

Toby's Estate
125 L.P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Thursday), 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Saturday and Sunday), 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Sunday)

 

Owned by four friends, the local version of this Australian franchise gives new definition to neighborhood hangouts. It's brighter and cheerier compared to your usual coffee shop, with hydraulic tables that make wobbling non-existent. Bespoke furniture mingle with modern shapes, as well as mixed green and reclaimed wood. Beans are sourced from all over the world, and crafted to meticulous standards. The best part is that non-coffee drinkers will still find something to love-from their Mocha to their outstanding dishes. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Mocha (P160 to P170), Brouille on Toast (P305), Traviata (P315)

 

 

Todd English Food Hall
5/F Sky Park, SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

The 900-square-meter, Ivy Almario-designed space marks many firsts: the first restaurant by an internationally renowned chef in Manila and the first Todd English venture outside the United States. This upscale "food court" imitates the sprawling and sophisticated vibe of the New York and Las Vegas branches. Nine live cooking stations-freshly made pasta, pizza, charcuterie, grill, raw bar, carving, Asian, salad, and dessert-are available for your indulgence. It's not a buffet, but the dishes are cooked fresh upon order and delivered to your table. Todd English Food Hall also has a boutique where you can take home cookbooks, portable beer-brewing sets, and Todd English merchandise. Read more...

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Must-tries: Crispy Eggplant Flatbread (P460), Tuna Tartar (P280), Veal Agnolotto (P590), Miso Glazed Salmon (P510)

 

 

Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie
3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Contact: 570-9011
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

 

It may come as a surprise that this French-style (chandeliers, servers in red scarves and berets, French references on the wall) space serves Cantonese and Malay food, and they do it pretty well. The folks behind Chinese staple Lugang Café use the same menu as Canada's popular Mui Garden, and the food is dependable, people-pleasing, and familiar. They serve amazing pork buns that you can get from a separate takeaway counter without trouble. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Snow Buns (P128), Laksa (P518), Curry with US Premium Beef Ribs (P498)

 

 

Victoria Harbour
Resorts World Manila, Newport Boulevard, Pasay City
Contact: 908-8000 (local) 7201
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m.

 

Chef David Choo is one of those people that just spread happiness with their smiling presence-then there's his food. For Victoria Harbour, he's designed a selection of no-fuss Hong Kong street staples that, if you close your eyes, could fool you into thinking you're actually there. His menu is made up of everything from mouthwatering breakfast fare (that kaya toast!) to Lechon Macau lunches to addictive dim sum to noodles you can enjoy any time of the day. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Pak Choy Rice with Beef Brisket (P230), Steamed Rice with Roast Pork (P200), Kaya Toast (P80)

 

 

Your Local
G/F Universal LMS Building, 106 Esteban Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Contact: 823-6206, 0917-810-9002
Open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Saturday)

 

You'll find it only when you're looking for it. It sounds like a confusing Chinese proverb, but it's really not: blink and you'll miss the less-than-noticeable sign that announces Your Local's existence. If you want something to boggle your mind, try the dishes: The menu is 32-item strong with ingredients that deviate from the usual. That their flavors are so straightforwardly delicious despite the creative mixing and matching amazes the palate. Their Torched Salmon Donburi has had many people pledging allegiance to this Legazpi haunt. Read more...

 

Must-tries: Chorizo Sandwich (P490), Torched Salmon Donburi (P390), Beef Rendang Buns (P280)

 

Originally published on November 28, 2014.

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