This tiny secret spot in Makati serves outstanding home-cooked meals
Rural Kitchen is a taste of good old-fashioned cuisine.
HRC Center, 104 Rada Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Monday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) Thoughtful, slow-cooked meals just like lola used to make ‘em. That’s what Makati needs more of to ease the pains of the daily grind (not to mention inescapable traffic). That's where Rural Kitchen comes in, a small 30-seater enclave of home-cooked deliciousness a la Liliw, Laguna.
At the helm of this Legazpi Village “secret” is 28-year-old Chef Justin Sarabia, a French Culinary Institute alum who spent a few years honing his craft in New York City restaurants before plotting his homecoming. Rural Kitchen is a tribute to his Lola Fidelidad and her archive of specialties, which he grew up eating.
Find the 7-Eleven.
Space for families, space for dates
Slightly hidden from plain sight along Rada Street (we’ll save you the trouble—it’s beside 7-Eleven), the restaurant occupies a cozy, elongated nook that used to be an art gallery. It’s almost like dining in a converted hallway, but elegant touches here and there make it feel way more special than that. Solihiya chairs, glass lamps, and a cheerful painting of Liliw mimic the vibe of a modern home, where you are a guest.
For the record, this is the same clan behind Mio Kusina in Los Baños, a well-known restaurant near UPLB that’s a melting pot of different cuisines. But here, the focus is on Filipino flair, 90% of which are Lola Fidelidad’s heirloom recipes. The food is simple but dressed up, almost like each dish has gone through decades’ worth of practice and perfecting. It’s lutong bahay, but somehow more refined.
When in season, a tasty santol dip is served with warmed bonete bread.
Every meal here begins with a basket of warm and imperfectly shaped bonete bread. They’re sourced from Juntayas Bakery, a legit, old school panaderia in Liliw that’s been making bonetes for decades. In fact, Chef Justin says they’ve tried to replicate this famed bread but nobody makes them like Juntayas does!
Addicting is the word to describe their Crispy Squid.
Easily one of the highlights is their Crispy Squid (P285), a crunchy appetizer that’s fried and coated in sweet sauce made of sugar and garlic. It’s the kind your table will likely be fighting over if you don’t order enough of it.
Pako Salad with Garlic Calamansi Dressing
Lapu-Lapu with Mango (P580)
Because it's a restaurant that pays homage to Laguna’s natural produce, it wouldn’t be a proper menu without ingredients like gata, pako, and kesong puti. Their version of Pako Salad (P180) is a wonderfully refreshing one doused in a garlic-calamansi dressing. You’ll get a nice crunch from slivers of singakamas thrown in, plus creamy bits of kesong puti.
Unlike most local joints, Rural Kitchen gets plus points for posh presentation—even for the sauciest dishes. The Beef in Coconut Milk (P480) has comfort food written all over it and is probably one of the tastiest things to come out of their kitchen. If you’re anything like us, this is probably the dish that’ll make you say those three magic words ingrained in the best moments of our eating existence (“extra rice, please!”).
Oxtail Kare-Kare with real peanut chunks
Their Mechado uses super tender beef and a lighter, subtly sweet sauce.
Their Oxtail Kare-Kare (P580) has real peanut chunks and is worth ordering especially if you’re with balikbayans in tow. Painstakingly made without the shortcuts, the Mechado (P480) is seriously tender and it sits on a light sauce that’s sweeter than usual. They cook this for three to four hours just to get the beef at its yummiest, melt-in-the-mouth state.
Feeling adventurous? Try their Pork Adobo (P340), a deconstructed dish that’s served sans the brown sauce but with a trio of add-ons so you can flavor it to your liking.
Deconstructed Pork Adobo—what Chef Justin describes as his baon growing up
Fresh Calamansi and Grape Shake
Not the Swiss Miss kind! Try their deeper, darker version of Tsokolate.
Suman Sa Latik (P110) goes perfectly with their Tsokolate.
And if one rainy day you find yourself craving a steaming cup of local cocoa, their Tsokolate (P100) is a startling contender. Be warned it’s not for the faint of heart and nowhere near the milky, sugary, Swiss Miss version. Imagine a curiously deeper, darker blend of pristine chocolate wrapped in a smoky flavor...the kind that jolts you awake post-siesta. We haven’t had anything like it before.
Photos by Jericho San Miguel