(SPOT.ph) It’s the revenge of the dining industry. Like a hero rising from the ashes towards the end of a classic action flick, the food and beverage scene is getting back on its feet. Heck, it’s fighting with all its might. Ask any restaurateur and they’d likely agree that the past two years were a battle of blood, sweat, and tears in the name of survival. Yet 2022 is the year that we saw the industry emerge strong—maybe not exactly at the same level as pre-COVID days, but strong nevertheless.
This year had us witnessing countless restaurants opening and reopening. Folks young and old went back to heading out to restaurants for leisure, often with friends and family in tow. Heck, getting reservations at some establishments (even on weekdays!) became a challenge, given the sudden rise in demand. Food fans found themselves driving, even flying, to areas outside the city, all in the name of noshing on hearty eats. With all the ups and downs the industry’s had to go through, we couldn’t be more ecstatic about the shift—and excited for what’s to come.
With that, we present our 50 Great Restaurants list of the year: a collection of new restaurants in and around Manila that left imprints on our minds (and stomachs)—be it through stories that compel, interiors that catch the eye, flavors that arouse, service that is genuine, and/or philosophies (culinary and otherwise) that intrigue. Past the novelty of their opening, they continue to draw local diners in by delivering continually great meals and experiences that make them well worth the trip.
*Restaurants are listed alphabetically. This list has been limited to dine-in restaurants located in and around Manila that opened between November 2021 and November 2022.
Also read: Best of Manila: 50 Great Restaurants of 2021
These are the best restaurants in 2022 that moved our hearts and taste buds:
Admiral Hotel Manila - MGallery, 2138 Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila City
Practically every bit of Admiral Hotel screams “take my picture!” but their all-day buffet (and arguable star of their dining outlets), Admiral Club, takes it to another level by also screaming “eat me!”. Sure we can wax poetic about how the main table of the hall has a video display projected right on it, but what really caught our eye, or should we say our taste buds, is their spread of Euro-Asian eats conceived by executive chef Cyrille Seoenen (formerly of Brasserie Cicou). A lesson in quality over quantity, you can typically spot more than enough meats and cheeses for a veritable charcuterie, a carving station with meats like flank steak and salmon, a Spanish section (tapas, gazpachos, et cetera), a Malayan section, a Japanese section, and more. Don’t miss out on the Perfect Eggs, a sous-vide specialty made upon request by the chef.
Molito Lifestyle Center, Madrigal Avenue, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Our mental image of a typical meat resto is a toss-up between two extremes: a yeehaw-themed barbecue joint or a buttoned-up, white tablecloth affair. Alegria Cantina utterly shatters this picture with a colorful, graffiti-colored dining area and an approachable open kitchen housing its Argentine-style woodfire grill—and did we mention that it combines Asian and Latin American cuisine? Come for its swoon-worthy Kurobuta Pork rubbed down with a gorgeous medley of spices and the Squid and Shrimp cooked directly on fire until tender—but stay for standout small plates like the Coal Cooked Potatoes, the clever cocktails (try the Maiz con Yellow for a knockout whisky-based drink with a touch of corn syrup), and the catchy Latin pop on the speakers.
G/F Uptown Parade, Uptown Bonifacio, 9th Avenue Corner 38th Street, Taguig City
From the minds (and hands) that brought us Alegria Cantina and Café Alegria comes Alegria Manila. Chef Charles Angelo presents his more grownup side here—one where his Latin-American cooking roots (lent Filipino sensibilities) are still very much present, but taken to the fine-dining realm. Their debut tasting menu presents the marriage of the two cuisines, with every course—from the mushroom-stuffed Inflatida to the ceviche-esque Inihaw na Talaba to the sultry Squid-Silog and more—bearing smokiness in some way, shape, or form from their use of a parilla grill.
6081 R. Palma Street, Makati
This private-dining spot’s been the talk of the food-loving crowd this year. And no wonder—for starters, it’s helmed by Chef Aaron Isip, whose repertoire includes working at renowned establishments in Paris (among them Apicius and Ze Kitchen Gallery); being Chef de Cuisine of Restaurant Le Dix Huit; and being bestowed two Toques and the Chef Espoir 2015 award by acclaimed French guide Gault et Millau. The setting—the chef’s own abode in Poblacion, framed by neutrals and woven details as a way of paying ode to his time living in Tulum, Mexico—invites one to feel at home. The main draw, of course, is Balai Palma’s multicourse menu, which features local ingredients (seafood, especially) where applicable, with a distinguishable French influence as far as techniques go. Star courses include the likes of the Kilaw with smoked hamachi; the pithiviers of duck with an adobo jus and marang; and the famous Lechon de Lobster, or spiny lobster wrapped in suckling pork belly.
G/F Unit A-1/2/3 Allegro Center, 2264 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City
Perhaps with the increased travel, Filipinos are growing more sophisticated in their knowledge of (and type of hankering for) Japanese cuisine. Daimasu in Makati satisfies this demand, with izakaya fare and other Japanese classics using topnotch ingredients straight from the said country. Everything from simple salmon sushi and grilled fish and other seafood (keep an eye out for their specials, like abalone) are given excellent renditions; for the best of Daimasu, consider placing a reservation for their omakase.
Forbestown Road, Taguig
Eesome is a spot to hang out, have coffee, pastries, a meal, some alcohol, and—wait for it—shop. Part premium streetwear boutique, part café-slash-restaurant-slash-bar, this Taguig store’s limited space along Forbestown Road is segmented into two: the first floor carries the food business concept, while the second floor houses its shopping component. Have a cup of joe from their wide selection of coffees and lattes, but if you’re in for a more filling treat, you can't go wrong with ordering their Short-Rib Agnolotti with Charon. This creamy dish is like a warm hug. Think plump pasta pillows filled with tender and flavorful short-rib meat ragu, lovingly plated and smothered in a creamy truffle foam with bits of garlic and parmesan that perfectly complements the rustic flavors of the filling.
Greenbelt 3, Legazpi Street, Makati City
It’s pretty obvious to those familiar with Chef Boutwood’s work where his other two concepts meet at Ember, but in his usual fashion, he has made this one all its own. As he explains, Ember is more focused on serving uncomplicated food while not limiting itself to any one style or region of origin, utilizing quality ingredients—many of them local—to bring out each component’s potential in different degrees. In its own way, Ember takes us back to the basics and lives up to its name, hitting the ground running like fire and keeping its heat until closing time. Gems from their menu are aplenty—from their Romaine, Parsley, Pecorino salad, to the zingy Raw Tuna, Avocado, Tapioca small plate, to the bigger gun that is their Black Onyx Rib-Eye.
43 Mayon Street, Santa Mesa Heights, Barangay Santa Teresita, Quezon City
We’re beyond pleased to have been introduced to more restaurants that revolve around Filipino food and its true potential for collective reimagining, as opposed to mashing genres together for shock factor or the ‘gram. Esmeralda Kitchen is a delightful mishmash of traditional and modern, with that welcoming air of a neighborhood deli. And while many of the dishes will ring a nostalgic bell at first glance, you’ll soon realize—in the best way—that these are not your old family recipes. Consider their Lechon Sinigang for example (with juicy chunks of roasted porcine), or the Pata Y Negra with the pork hock and dinuguan sausage.
Fashion Interiors, 2307 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City
Contact: 0917-574-4692, 0917-621-2171
A drink and great grub at some semi-hidden spot by a furniture store in Makati City; yep, it’s the after work escape we all look for. Ginza has it down pat, the izakaya way. With around 200 items on their menu to choose from—think filling eats like charcoal noodles Giza Sumiyaki Udon to hefty rolls like the bright Futomaki, a roll of fresh seafood, and, of course, grilled goods like Tsukune, Salmon belly, Butabara, and more—you’ll be spoilt for choice. We say order a round or two and get some chow to go with each. Repeat with each visit until you’ve tried all they’ve got—trust us, it’s worth it.
Seaworthy Boracay Hotel, Station 1 Beachfront, Balabag, Boracay
Fact: Boracay sunsets are some of the most beautiful on our archipelago—and many will agree that the pinks and purples in the sky are best matched with a delicious cocktail. Located right in front of Willy’s Rock, you’ll find a stylish sundowner spot called Hello Sailor inside restaurant Percy Seafood. But don’t expect the usual Weng-Wengs and Screwdrivers: carefully crafted cocktails are their specialty. Hello Sailor’s drinks menu is inspired by the fruits and botanicals of the Philippines. Don’t miss the Sunseeker, which brings together a burst of bourbon and mango; or the Rubber Ducky, with Don Papa rum and corn.
25th Street, Bonifacio Global City
This BGC haunt presents Indian food in a snazzy space—one that invites you to dress up and snap pics with its high ceilings and famous mirrored wall. But more crucially, it delivers the tantalizing flavors of Indian cuisine taken to sophisticated heights with great-quality ingredients. Classics like the Butter Chicken and Keema Liver are rightfully powerful in impact, but their contemporary numbers—including the Tandoori Salmon (featuring buttery Norwegian salmon) and Morrels Malai (with Kasmiri morrels in a fenugreek-cashew gravy)—are also well worth an order.
5658 Jacobo Street corner Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Poblacion’s comeback isn’t anything to scoff at, even if it had kept all the old places, but the newcomers reflect the spirit the Makati hotspot is renowned for. Japonesa harps on the distinct tradition of Japanese-Peruvian cuisine—a genre all its own with painful but fruitful roots in history—in an artful blend of East and West. There’s a warmth to this place that effortlessly complements the food’s figurative cool, making it stand out on this corner of Don Pedro and Jacobo. Their tiraditos are excellent, with the Hamachi and Sake (salmon) options using especially fresh fish and zingy sauces.
104 HV Dela Costa corner Leviste Street, Makati City
In a world where many restaurants try to scream “AUTHENTIC” louder than all the rest, Kong Noodles detours from the traditional route to dive into “eat your feelings” territory instead by exploring Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and even Indonesian-style cuisines. Pull aside the glass sliding door into their Hong Kong noodle stall-inspired space, and find comfort in their fresh, hand-pulled noodles served up in refreshing and inventive takes on everything from pad see ew to laksa (the #5 Stir-Fried Rolled Rice Noodles, Sweet Soy Base and Kaffir Lime, and #10 Malaysian-style Rich and Spicy Coconut Broth with Prawn, Tofu, and Wheat Noodles, on their menu. You’re welcome). Some are served in unassuming takeout boxes made to trick you into thinking you’re not about to be blown away—but you are. Inauthentic, but never irreverent, this is a spot you shouldn’t miss for its god-tier comfort fare.
3/F One Bonifacio High Street, 28th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 8804-4739, 0977-804-9888
Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou puts his extensive knowledge (and love) for Filipino cuisine at the forefront at Lore. Folks flock to the recently opened establishment for their tasting menu, which takes popular Filipino dishes and obscure local dishes—as well as local eats close to Chef Tatung’s heart—and presents it in a more modern light. We’re talking Kinilaw (inspired by personal trips to the beach) as a timbale of raw tuna, sea urchin, and pickled pineapple; Pato con Salsa Tsokolate (based off of a Pura Kalaw recipe) with a tablea-infused sauce a la Mexican mole; and a standout Moros y Kristianos with black and white coconut sauces breathing life to tender braised shortribs. In essence a fine-dining restaurant, it never alienates the diner, instead inviting them to open their minds (and palates) to the diversity of flavors and stories in Filipino cuisine.
Lunes Everyday Dining
G/F 6060 R Palma, Poblacion, Makati City
Think of your favorite wine aunt’s living room and the best home-cooked meal you remember from childhood—that’s Lunes. From the interiors to the menu, every detail practically shouts that it was selected with love, or no small amount of expert consideration, or both. This ain’t your lola’s Filipino cooking exactly, with must-tries that include Kare-Kare with tempura, the lumpia-like Pares Beef Cheek Spring Rolls, and the mais con yelo-inspired libation that is the Mais Corn Fizz. And yet Lunes is far from the swank you’d expect from that level of R&D; it’s approachable, comfortable, in a way that only the familiar can be.
5396 General Luna, Poblacion, Makati
It’s all about Latin American cuisine at Mamser, with a menu that features favorites from Mexico, Cuba, Peru, and Brazil. This restaurant serves a variety of dishes from small plates, main courses, desserts, and drinks—both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Located right in Poblacion, Makati, Mamser is a great place to start your night of debauchery and partying. Make sure to try their signature cocktails such as the Mamser—a dulce de leche-infused vodka, ube cream, salted caramel, and condensed milk topped with skewered banana slices. This drink’s earthy ube flavor and condensed milk do a great job of making this cocktail taste like a spiked ube milkshake. But if you’re looking for some bites to go along with your drinks, Mamser makes a great Ceviche (with cured white snapper fish!) that we'd easily put as one of the best takes on the dish we've had in a while. Prefer a creamier and deep-fried bite? A plate of their Coxinha, with its crisp outsides and creamy chicken filling, will do the trick.
G/F 8 Rockwell, Hidalgo Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati City and G/F V Corporate Center, Soliman Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
When the brains behind tonkotsu ramen mammoth Mendokoro announce they’d be opening a new concept—one that centers on chicken paitan ramen over the more popular pork—it’s only natural that local food lovers celebrated. And celebrate they did, as the opening of Marudori came with long lines and plenty of buzz. We say the hype is well-deserved. They prove poultry can make for mighty rich versions of the noodle soup, with their thick and potent broth and mastery of cooking chicken to the perfect succulence. Even the most basic Shio Ramen, with its soulful, yuzu-scented base and consistently al-dente noodles, is bound to please, especially with their juicy Gyoza. But don’t miss their Tsukune, either; its perfectly charred outsides and juicy interior make it worth the trip all on its own. Apart from their original Rockwell branch, their second outpost in Salcedo Village is also well worth a visit.
Unit 3 Level 1 Escalades East Tower, 20th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City
Chef Jorge Mendez is best known for his casual Japanese fare at Ohayo Maki x Ramen. Yet the young chef makes a breakthrough at Mōdan, exploring the degustation realm with neo-Japanese lens. Their tasting menu is highly personal in that it takes from Mendez’ own memories. But it also extends beyond himself, with every course in the lineup being a dedication to friends, family, and colleagues that have played significant roles in his life. Standouts include the zingy Gyu Kakuni Korokke (with shredded Wagyu, and dedicated to the chefs of Hapag); the bright Amaebi (given the tiradito treatment, and dedicated to Chef Margarita Fores); and the succulent Scallop (atop house-made matcha soba, and dedicated to Japanese ramen master Kito Nakawara).
Mosphil by RRR
Palacio de Memoria, 95 Roxas Boulevard, Tambo, Parañaque City
“Okay, Spot team, we get it. You’re picky about your bells and whistles,” you might say, and you can bet your ass we are. But when you tell us that you’ve given the makers of Run Rabbit Run a literal airplane to play with, you can also bet that we’re listening. Nestled comfortably inside a decommissioned Antonov 24-B, Mosphil by RRR exudes fun and fancy for the old souls in all of us. And then there are the tipples: classics like your essential Old-Fashioned, alongside more one-of-a-kind signatures like the fruity-floral Destination Paradise and tropical Manila International. There’s still a hint of that Poblacion-bar vibe, so you won’t be a complete (flying) fish out of water.
The Strip, NUSTAR Resort and Casino, Kawit Island, South Road Properties, Cebu City
Modern Chinese cuisine has been done many times over, but few do it so well that a restaurant develops a cult following spanning continents. Such is the case for Hong Kong’s famed Mott 32, which has finally landed in the Philippines—specifically, in Cebu’s NUSTAR Resort and Casino. Style and flavor are the mainstays here, with an opulent Tang Dynasty-meets-Art Deco dining room to greet you as you order from the inventive Cantonese-style menu. And though Mott 32 modernizes classics, it never strays from traditional technique that shines through with stellar dishes like the Black Truffle Siu Mai with a molten, golden quail egg yolk hiding in the center, or the famous Apple Wood Roasted 42 Days Peking Duck. Our tip: come hungry.
Barangay Malabag, Silang, Cavite
Filipinos will travel for food. This is a fact. But if you’ve seen the traffic in Tagaytay, you may rethink your brunch plans—if you’re still keen on getting out of the city, then set your sights on Silang, and make reservations at free-spirited garden dining spot Mrs. Saldo’s. Helmed by Chef Rhea Rizzo, Mrs Saldo’s ties together Peranakan, Japanese, San Sebastian, Malaysian, and Thai cuisine—and you can choose to enjoy its eclectic (and damn delicious) dishes in themed set menus (the recently launched Asian set shouldn't be missed) and as ala-carte all-day breakfast options. If you’re coming for brunch, don’t miss the flavor bomb they call the Crab Dip, served with freshly baked sourdough.
UG/F Power Plant Mall, Lopez Drive, Rockwell, Makati
Real talk: Our coffee runs haven’t been the same since Omotesando Koffee opened its first Philippine outlet. For years, coffee lovers have gone on a pilgrimage to this specialty shop in Tokyo for a taste of its brews, served both hot and cold for every occasion—and it now being here in the Metro means you can get their signature take on the Americano, Omotesando Koffee, every day of the week. If you have time before your hustle, be sure to grab a seat in their minimalist interiors to enjoy a moment of Zen—or their egg-cellent, umami Egg Sando with your cup of joe.
One World Butchers
8491 Kalayaan Avenue corner Matilde Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Few restaurants tell you exactly what they’re all about with their name alone, but Poblacion spot One World Butchers says it plain and clear: it is paradise for meat lovers. A deli, butchery, and restaurant all at once, One World Butchers is where you go for artisanal charcuterie and meat—and you sure as heck shouldn’t miss their sausages. They’re made fresh and in-house, with the traditional German, Polish, and American styles as well as a few experiments by Chef Miguel Gianan. Grab a seat at one of the few tables and you’ll get a good view of the open kitchen and its asador grill and glass-walled butchery—which definitely lends greater appreciation for the Sisig Sausage (as good as it sounds) served with pickled onions, calamansi, aioli, and crispy onions.
One World Kitchen
8491 Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City
The way One World Kitchen’s Chef Kaye Torres takes on food is at once elegant yet ultimately approachable. Having worked with culinary bigwigs like Alain Ducasse and Jean Georges Vongerichten, she primarily goes by the French-Mediterranean, seasonality-driven way of things in the kitchen—and yet her Filipino roots are evident in the way she juggles sweet, savory, umami, and sour elements in every dish. Their tasting menu evolves through the seasons but features a seafood-centric lineup as of writing, with courses like the Salmon (with the fish cured and smoked a la gravlax), Crab (shredded and served atop a perfectly crisp squid-ink shell), and Gindara (pan-fried just until succulent, and paired with tapenade and a curry-like cream sauce). The restaurant also holds pop-ups by guest chefs, featuring different cuisines and genres; give their social media pages a follow for updates.
5663 Don Pedro, Poblacion, Makati and The Pop Up, 273 Katipunan Avenue corner Xavierville Avenue, Quezon City
Contact: 0995-217-4326 (Makati), 0960-369-2473 (Katipunan)
Onlypans went from an delivery-only purveyor to a full-fledged food spot—with three little nooks in Poblacion (the main), along Katipunan Avenue, and another coming right up in La Union—in the span of barely three years. The magic comes from all the soul they put in their Quesa Birria Taco, of which the star is the stellar USDA beef slow-roasted in a special mix of 16 spices and Mexican chilies. Don’t forget the soft-shell tacos fried with a smothering of mozzarella, and certainly not the rich broth from the stew served on the side for dipping, of course. Whichever Onlypans spot you end up in early morning after a hard’s night partyin’, the bright modern look with hints of bright red will welcome you and your hungry stomachs right in.
Corner Crisanto De Los Reyes Avenue and Tagaytay-Nasugbu Road, Barangay Kaybagal South, Tagaytay
Although “ragtag” might not be the most chic way to describe the crew behind this Tagaytay brewery, it’s not all that far off; those are the best sort of groups, really. The mission here is purposeful variety—just because you can make bubblegum beer doesn’t mean you should. That said, what’s on tap and what’s on the menu come close to a reckless display of skill and passion that would normally be difficult to convey cohesively, but Papa Bolo manages just fine. Their craft beer, of course, is excellent, with the fruity Piña Niña being a SPOT.ph team favorite. But whatever you do, don’t miss their curry-smothered Soft-Shell Crab.
Pardon My French
110 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati City
Jupiter Street welcomed a new member to their party-loving establishments this year, one with a live-gig type of twist. Pardon My French is essentially the home of your rich uncle or aunt that throws the best parties with the best food, and yes, live music and dancing that can’t be beat. The upper floor is made for more intimate yet still sizeable gatherings, with a balcony that opens up to the atrium—where the magic happens. And by magic, we mean the stage. Don’t forget to eat; their equation is, after all, good music and good food. Fresh takes on classics like the Escargot, Caesar salad, and a Chateaubriand that makes for great sharing, are not to be missed. Tell stories of what went down that one night at Pardon My French for years to come.
Seaworthy Boracay Hotel, Station 1 Beachfront, Balabag, Boracay
White sands, gorgeous waters—this is why most people come back to Boracay. But let’s be real: the island is also a lowkey culinary hotspot out to ruin the swimsuit pics you’re there to take. And one spot that should be on your list the next time you’re in Boracay is Percy Seafood, which puts local fishermen’s catches in the spotlight—meaning you’ll find no salmon or imported squid rings here. And it’s not your ordinary paluto, either; instead, you can feast on sweet and buttery Aklan Oysters and pineapple-glazed Island Mahi-Mahi as you take in the restaurant’s seafront view of the sunlight glinting off the bright blue of the ocean. Now that’s an experience you definitely come back for.
G/F Uptown Parade, Uptown Bonifacio
Funk and paella. Find both at this glammed-up corner restaurant at Uptown Parade, with its velvet seats, playful lights, and covetable booth tables framed by floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to this Taguig CBD’s fun sidewalks. Go people watching while noshing on modern Spanish fare: chow down on croquetas, sip on fun cocktails in bird-shaped glasses, and paella after paella after paella. When you’re done with their takes on classic Valenciana in the De Pollo and a squid-ink version in the Negro, take treating yourself to a new level with the Del Señorito, a seafood feast with all the shells already taken out. Yup, no need to labor for your food. Just shovel it in like the hungry adorable little puppy you are.
Prism Restaurant Café
El Madero Farm and Resort, Bagong Pook, Lipa City, Batangas
Contact: (043) 727-1004, 0917-592-9200
This former residence in the middle of dense foliage drips history, but weirdly, that’s not the centerpiece of the concept. Picture this: A lakeside restaurant—with a balcony view that looks like an actual postcard all day and even more so at sunset— that serves food you would never dream of 1) making at home or 2) having the skills to do so, boasting possibly the warmest, most genuine service you’ll experience in or out of the Metro. That’s Prism. Their Olive and Pepper Crusted Tuna, made briny with an olive crust but with depth from Barako and dark chocolate, showcases their playful approach to fine dining, as does the deceptive (but surprising, in a good way) Watermelon Sashimi. Don’t discount their White Sangria, either.
Rafael’s Tapas Bar and Restaurant
Unit B2 A Garden Wing, 2/F Newport World Resorts, Newport Mall, Pasay City
Contact: 8373-5105, 0966-470-5355, or 0918-920-6128
Art and food collide at Rafael’s in Pasay. This is apparent in both the restaurant’s lavish interior and the artful elegance of their food, which takes inspiration from Spanish cuisine and gives it an extra Filipino flair. Its well-curated menu has a variety of tapas, mains, cocktails, and more. If you want to start with the small plates, the usual suspects are there but expect certain twists to them. The crowd-favorite Callos, for one, has the rich stewed ox tripe base you’re probably familiar with, but with added chunks of tasty house-made longganisa. Another starter option would be the Rib Eye Salpicao with Angus prime cut that is cooked in buttery black garlic and truffle au jus and served with fried oyster mushrooms. But in case you’d rather head straight to the mains, you can’t go wrong with their Twice-Cooked Pork Belly Adobo, a hearty dish with meat cooked in its own juices. It maintains its tender and succulent texture, wherein each slice has a balanced ratio of lean meat and fat, not to mention the crisp skin, which is arguably the best part. You don’t want to go home without sipping on your alcohol of choice; must-tries include the Rafael’s Smash cocktail, and their Sangria.
G/F RS-103, Edades Tower, Amorsolo Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati City
Ukokkei Ramen Ron was a legend in the local ramen scene. Helmed by Japanese chef Tamura (who was then notoriously stern with dine-in guests), the restaurant closed for some time before reopening as a delivery-only ramen kit purveyor in 2020 with Tamura teaming up with Chef Margarita Fores and son Amado. After months of anticipation, they finally opened a full-fledged restaurant in Rockwell where old and new fans could slurp up their signatures—including the Miso Chashu (best had with sweet corn and Hokkaido butter!) and the soulful Tantanmen—and new dishes like the rich Tantan Chahan with Cheese and their especially crackly Karaage. They’ve also got a second branch in BGC that’s in the works as of writing.
G/F The Shops at Ayala Triangle Gardens, Paseo de Roxas corner Makati Avenue, Makati City
When you hear the word rumba, what comes to mind is probably the dance. This chic new establishment doesn't stray from that—though this time, it’s your taste buds that'll be doing the dancing. With eats and sips that deliver vibrant, dynamic flavors, Rumba’s out to stimulate and invigorate the senses. If you're looking for Mediterranean dishes, take a shot at Rumba's wide array of signatures that draw from Spanish (the biggest influence), Italian, and Greek cuisines (along with some French influences). Their diverse line of dishes comes courtesy of Chef Alfredo Rodriguez Sangrador, who hails from Spain. European cuisine takes center stage as you are treated to dishes like Pulpo a la Brasa or grilled octopus with bagna gauda sauce and smoked potatoes. There’s also the Negra Con Gambas with shrimp and squid ink giving the charcoal rice an overwhelmingly deep yet pleasant wave of brininess. But if you’re looking for meat entrees, try the Presa Iberica—Iberian pork loin strips with French beans that come swimming in a deep umami sauce. Rich, savory, and vibrant, these are the words that best describe the food in this Makati haunt, and while you may enter not knowing how to Rumba, who knows, after your meal, you might just end up sashaying happily on your way out.
Salt & Ice
Uptown Parade, Uptown BGC, Taguig
There aren’t a lot of decent oyster bars in the metro, which is quite surprising considering we’re an archipelago rich in quality seafood. But for fans of these tasty yet polarizing mollusks, Salt & Ice might just be the spot for you. The name represents the two major elements of the establishment—“salt” for the oysters that are all locally sourced and “ice” for the cocktail concoctions. All the oysters served in Salt & Ice are fresh-flown from Aklan every day and never frozen—and you can try them in seven different ways: fresh, tempura-fried, mornay, with spinach and malunggay, you name it. Of course, a meal in Salt & Ice wouldn’t be complete without the ice component. Try their many signature libations, such as the eye-catching Aurora, which is a tequila drink with a cotton-candy topper. Or treat yourself to their showstopping, gin-based Eternal Rose and watch the smoke escape as its glass hood is uncovered.
Samira by Chele
G/F Anya Resort, Buenavista Hills Road, Barangay Mag-Asawang Ilat, Tagaytay City, Cavite
Ah, Tagaytay. This cool spot has turned into a formidable foodie haunt thanks to all the great culinaries setting up camp here, not least of all is chef Jose Luis “Chele” Gonzalez. The Spanish chef leads Anya Resort’s in-house restaurant Samira by Chele, a fine-dining spot that is so worth the drive from Metro Manila. Try their tasting menus in either four- or six-course iterations to be able to taste different flavors in dishes like the Bulalo Taco, a Fresh Coconut Ceviche made tableside, Duck with Porcini and Truffle Risotto, and more wonderfully made explorations. Its setting in the lush Anya Resort, combined with stellar fare and its own ambiance, gives Samira the right to demand at least half of your day; time spent slowly enjoying the food and scenery.
8491 1209 Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City
Sawsaw is Chef Sau del Rosario’s love letter to all things Filipino. Apart from being a fun play on Del Rosario's own name, the resto's moniker pays an ode to the quintessential Filipino dining element that is sawsawan. Sawsaw’s goal is to come up with brand-new interpretations of classic Filipino fare without doing away with traditional ingredients and recipes. Take their Crispy Pata. It still makes use of pork knuckles, but it’s prepared in an entirely new way. Sawsaw’s version is first cooked sous vide for 24 hours before being deep fried to golden perfection. This results in skin that’s extra crispy and succulent and juicy meat that falls right off the bone. But, the pièce de résistance is the Lobster sa Alavar Sauce. Easily a seafood lover’s dream, this dish is a take on a classic dish from Zamboanga featuring the right amount of brininess from the poached lobster, the coconut and crab fat-infused sauce, and ikura or salmon eggs. With flavor combinations like these, Sawsaw hopes to introduce diners to flavors from all over the country beyond the typical adobo and let them appreciate Philippine cuisine like the kaleidoscope of flavors it is.
Sea.food by Chele Gonzalez
Aqua Boracay, Bulabog Beach, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan
Imagine a spot where you can go straight from the sea to a snazzy dining spot. That’s exactly what chef Chele Gonzalez did with the very aptly named Sea.food at Aqua Boracay resorts, a semi-hidden spot that marries fine dining fare with the easy-breezy vibes of the island. Yes, this project was a joint effort between the best of the best—chef Chele himself alongside chef de cuisine Jaime Ramos, plus The Curators’ Jericson Co and David Ong, among others—but expect zero pretentiousness. Instead, expect to feast on classic dishes from across the globe made new, like Tuna Tataki, Chili Crab Salad, and Octopus Satay, in a premium setting right by Boracay’s waters.
Level 1, South Entertainment Mall, Mall of Asia, Pasay
A form of street food from the Sichuan Province, malatang is the Chinese region's own take on the hot pot. Typically, hot pot is cooked tableside by the diners themselves but what sets Sichu Malatang apart is that the steaming hot bowls are quickly prepared in the kitchen by Chinese chefs. This grab-and-go spot has countless options for your bowl. Think fresh greens, various noodles, meats, and of course, seafood which you can add as little or as much of into your bowl of choice. You can go for a steaming hot bowl of malatang for the traditional hot pot or perhaps try the Malaxiangguo style for a dry pot approach. The noodle joint has a five-level spiciness hierarchy for its dishes, with level one being the most tolerable for the average Filipino. To take the heat off, or if you just want an extra side, you can order a stick or two from their street food selection which includes the likes of Chinese sausage and rice cake slices.
Bolanos street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
At Somm’s Table, French classics get a welcome uplift. Chefs Raphael Gries and Julian Sobolewski’s many years of experience are clear in how they strike the right balance between sticking with the classic techniques and flavors and when to add a little flair. A meal at Somm’s Table is full of beautiful twists on old favorites, showcasing intense flavors and varying textures in turn. Take a masterclass in French flavors with dishes like Bresse Yellow Chicken on a bed of creamy wild mushrooms and potato gratin and classic French Onion Soup served in a giant, softened, hollowed-out white onion, topped with 36-month-old parmesan. Looking for something a tad more familiar? Have the Lumpia Duck Confit and Foie Gras, which is made of soft shreds of duck in a lovely, familiar, crunchy, fried wrap with a truffle dip. Fancy doesn’t even begin to cover the experience of dining at Somm’s Table. But hey, don’t be intimidated, we all deserve to be a little extra every once in a while.
Takao Studios Coffee
Cabins by Eco Hotel, Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Silang Junction South, Tagaytay City, Cavite
Takao is one of those rare establishments you wish you lived next to. Thankfully, this one’s on top of several rooms you could actually check in to if you’re really committed to the fantasy (as we are). Takao’s repertoire may not be extensive, but it is excellent—clearly the work of a group of friends who treat new flavor combinations, cooking techniques, and ashtray designs like sports trophies to yell about—to the point that, while we do have to narrow down the must-tries (you can’t miss the Burnt Butter Latte, Spicy Horumon Don, and Buta Niku Don), we kind of want to say, “Eat everything.” And the view from up here doesn’t hurt, either.
OPL Building, Carlos Palanca Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Tired of the same flavors of your home-cooked meals? While this spot doesn’t aim to best your mom/dad’s cooking, Tatatito is a must-try for a new take on classic Filipino cuisine. This Makati spot serves up Filipino dishes their own way—with subtle upgrades here and there but never veering too far from tradition. When at this spot, make sure to try their version of favorites such as the Tatatito Crispy Grilled Sisig, their rendition of the Classic Beef Kare Kare where the meat falls off the bone, and the medley of local vegetables come swimming in a rich peanut sauce served with a side of bagoong. But the real star of any Tatatito dining experience is the Classic Crispy Pata that really lives up to the “crispy” part of its name.
Everyone wants an escape from the big city, and that’s especially true when you’re as busy as Chef Tatung Sarthou, who juggles two restaurants and a series of online cooking videos and cookbooks. And while many of us would book a vacation, Sarthou found a place he could truly call home in a secluded area in Rizal. And luckily for us, he’s opened it up for private dinners that champion local ingredients and Filipino food the way he grew up having it. At Tatung’s, you’ll find clever yet familiar takes on everything from Binakol to Adobo—all recipes elevated and executed so well it just might make you proud to call yourself Filipino. (The bread, too, is excellent.) Be sure to reserve a table at the luxe resort-like property the next time you’re in Antipolo.
Shangrila at the Fort, 30th corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
It’s not easy, standing out in a sea of Spanish spots dotted all over our islands—but chef Luis Martinez of Siargao’s cult favorite tapas spot Alma is no stranger to channeling a relaxed, carefree to what can be seen as a very traditional cuisine. Martinez now helms Terraza Martinez, where warm and cozy interiors invite you to kick back and chill over their delicious cocktails and hearty Valencia-style dishes focusing on fresh local seafood. Try the perfectly-cooked Pulpo or the Atun Marinado, their sunny take on the classic tuna tartare, with their fruity Terraza Spritz—you’ll be in for an easy breezy evening that’ll take you right back into a beachside summer.
The Library Café by Gourmet Farms
G/F Ramon Magsaysay Center, Roxas Boulevard corner Quintos Street, Manila
A steaming cup of excellent joe in a quiet place—instant core memory, especially when it's a break from the endless cycle of hustlin’ in the Metro. And when it’s in a place as storied as the library on the ground floor of the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Malate? It’s even better than it sounds. This high-ceilinged nook in the building’s archives (unfortunately not yet accessible from the cafe's little area, because drinks and irreplaceable books don’t typically make for a good equation) gives new meaning to a hole-in-the-wall find. With coffee, pastries, snacks from the Gourmet Farm, cocktails even, and located just a few steps away from the bay, The Library Cafe is a lowkey gem among all that glitters in Manila.
Somerset Hotel Alabang, Filinvest City, 3409 Spectrum Midway Extension, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
If you ever thought you were too brutish for fine dining, think again—also, don’t talk about yourself like that. You don’t have to hit a place like Tiago’s every day, certainly, but once in a while, what you eat should be an experience as much as it should be nourishment. With significantly larger serving sizes and a lower price point than most tasting menus boast, this place still refuses to scrimp on ambience, or that tingling feeling of adventure. From the sexy starter that is the Egg Toast (with French caviar, no less) to the rich yet sprightly Line-Caught Sea Bass to the perfectly seared SRF Wagyu Gold Striploin and everything in between, Tiago’s degustation satisfies.
Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City
Don’t judge this wine shop along Katipunan by its size. Though small, they take their wine game seriously, carrying organic and biodynamic bottles from family-run wineries that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Owner Butz Tenchavez (also of Gran Hacienda Wines) keeps the selection here relatively slim yet diverse, with everything from your reliable whites and reds—but also orange (a.k.a. skin-contact) wines and more, all keeping Tenchavez’ preference of having proper freshness and balance of flavors in mind. Toka also serves a small selection of savory and sweet nibbles to go with your bottles, should you opt to dine in; must-tries include the aromatic Truffle Gnocchi and the simple yet always-satisfying Portugese Sardines on Toast. The restaurant also plays host to pop-ups by guest chefs and purveyors, which you can keep an eye on via their social media page.
Water and Wine
7/F Zula Hostel, 7840 Makati Avenue corner P. Guanzon, Makati City
Contact: 0917-876-2692, 0956-582-9496
Mediterranean and Middle Eastern is always fitting in busy, multicultural Poblacion. No wonder Water & Wine and their alfresco balcony won over the former red-light district’s dining-savvy crowd. We emphasize the outdoor aspect if only because it adds even more charm to their space, what with wooden furniture that makes you feel as if you were on a beach somewhere and not in the middle of the concrete jungle. Nosh their Mediterranean and Middle Eastern signatures at this spot—think Moutabal, an eggplant dip that you can get topped with foie gras; shawarma with roasted chicken served with pita and sauces for a build-your-own experience; and a Baklava Cigar. God forbid you forget the wine.
8464 Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati City
Let’s be real: the K-wave will stop for no one, so you might as well get on board. West 32’s train is the one to ride if you’re open to go beyond the familiar. The minimalist sign you see upon entry and the homey, casual feel of the interiors can be a little jarring on your first visit, but that feeling is quickly shaken off with a soju-based cocktail (like the citrusy Melon Gong) or two. Fun twists on Korean favorites (think Rosé Tteokbok gochujang cream sauce, and Samgyeopsal that’s cooked sous vide) and fresh ingredients from that day’s morning market visit make for a different experience every time—not unlike the ever-evolving worlds of Poblacion and the Philippine food scene as a whole.
Xi by Cafe Guilt
Scout Rallos corner Scout Torillo streets, Quezon City
Cafe Guilt’s sophisticated sibling was born of the owners’ desire to bring a different kind of dining experience to Quezon City. We all know the south is where restaurants with a high-dining type of fare can mainly be found—until Xi opened its doors, that is. Clad in modern tropical glam, Xi is the place to go in the north if you’re looking for food that more than just looks and tastes superb, but also has a well thought out process behind each dish to bring the ingredients and flavors to light. Think Crema De Champinones with milk foam, Poached Pears with Foie Gras (soft pears and grilled Foie Gras, what more could you want?), and a truly hearty Grilled Tomahawk Berkshire. Don’t step out until you’ve had at least one of their cocktails, made Filipino: the glass of the Smoky Tamarind Sour is dusted with black Himalayan salt you’ll have to stop yourself from licking.
G/F The Crescent Condominium, 29 San Miguel Ave, Ortigas Center, Pasig
Contact Number: 0917-115-0353
To say that the Japanese fare at Yugen is extensive is an understatement. It is huge. It has everything from appetizers to rolls, rice meals to noodles, yakitori to soups, and desserts. Standout dishes in this humble Japanese resto include the creamy tonkotsu-based Yokozuna Ramen with an unexpected but definitely welcome massive pair of braised pork ribs, and that’s teeming with umami. This food haunt is also a great place for some drinking and grilled Japanese treats. Order the Kushiyaki Moriawase for an assortment of Japanese skewers such as boneless chicken thigh, arabiki or Japanese sausage, chicken meatballs, tebasaki, chicken gizzard, salmon fillet, butabara, uzura bacon, and leeks. But, if there’s anything you must try before leaving Yugen it’s their very lightly battered but still crisp on the outside while staying moist and succulent inside classic Ebi Tempura. Nothing sates our Jap cravings like a quick meal from this spot.
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this strange new world.