Top 10 Rice Bowls in Manila for Crave-Worthy Carbs
Rice toppings that elevate the country's most well-loved staple into something extraordinary
(SPOT.ph) No matter what time of day, most of our meals are packed with a whole lot of rice. So why settle for an ordinary pairing of rice and viand, when you can elevate things a bit? We’ve rounded up an array of rice bowls that span across different cuisines and take this beloved Filipino and Asian staple up a couple of notches.
All SPOT.ph Top 10 lists are researched, paid for, tested, and selected by the writers and editors. They are discreetly conducted without any notice made to the restaurants or their owners.
10. Green Pastures’ Whole Grain Harvest Bowl (P400/small, P550/large)
This salad-topped rice bowl is a game-changer to those who've sworn (or think they've sworn) off rice. Festive and colorful, this dish tastes like a party in your mouth. Organic brown rice is topped with fresh, shredded kale, roasted sweet potatoes, organic Fuji apples, cranberries, almonds, roasted chicken, and fresh goat cheese. The balsamic vinaigrette is light and you get all the fiber you need (and more!). Original and unlike your typical rice bowl, Green Pastures’ offering puts a healthy spin on a typically unhealthy dish.
Green Pastures has branches at 4/F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, Mandaluyong City (654-3219); and Eastwood Mall, Quezon City. Read more about Green Pastures.
9. Maisen’s Kastumabushi Set (P390)
At the tail end of Manila's katsu boom is Maisen, a chain of restaurants straight from Japan brought in by Ben Chan. Maisen prides itself on its kurobota fried pork cutlet, and this set meal gives it a slight twist. You can have this dish three ways. It's served with dashi stock, which you can pour over the rice to make a dish that is distinctly earthy pepped up by spring onion, sesame, and some wasabi. There's also onsen tamago,which you can mix in with your pork or have it alone as an appetizer. Or you can eat it as is, like katsu in a bowl. The meal also comes with standard pickles and fruit.
Maisen has branches at Greenbelt 5, Makati City; 3/F SM Megamall Building A, Mandaluyong City; and SM North EDSA, Quezon City. Read more about Maisen.
8. Tim Ho Wan’s Chicken Sausage Mushroom (P170)
Manila has a huge selection of Chinese restaurants that offer rice toppings. The thing is, not every restaurant is keen on making a chicken rice bowl easy to eat for its customer. For this, we have Tim Ho Wan to thank. If their popular pork buns are not enough for you, consider getting some rice in your belly with this flavorful dish. Tender cuts of chicken without the bone are mixed with sausage and mushroom topped over rice and lavished with a signature sauce. It’s a simple dish that is comforting, satisfying, and best of all, quickly served and easy to chow!
Tim Ho Wan has branches at SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City; Robinsons Ermita, Manila; Glorietta 3, Makati City; and SM North EDSA, Quezon City. Read more about Tim Ho Wan.
7. Seryna’s Kaisen Gozen (P380)
The secret to getting a superior Japanese meal at a ridiculously affordable price in Seryna is via their lunch menu. This well-known Little Tokyo restaurant offers a two-tier chirashi box along with soup, salad and fruit—a great option for those who are jonesing for some sashimi along with sushi rice. The Kaisen Gozen has everything from shrimp, tuna, salmon, squid, tamago, and more—all incredibly fresh. Another plus is the ambience that this joint has to offer. If you come in early enough (the waitlist gets long really quickly!), you can get yourself a sectioned off table for a fuller, Japanese dining experience.
Seryna is at 2277 Chino Roces Avenue, Little Tokyo, Makati City (894-3855).
6. Yabu’s Katsu Curry Don (P380)
Yabu has been making waves over the last couple of years, not just for its selection of katsu, but also for its many extras—refillable rice and cabbage? Yes, please! It is impossible to carve out a rice toppings list without including one of Yabu’s offerings. Their Katsu Curry Don is a combination of rice, the meat of your choice (we favor rosu), beef curry, and cheese (yes, cheese!) in a piping hot bowl. You’ll do well to share this extremely rich meal with someone—the bold flavor can be overwhelming to the taste and the servings are hefty. Make sure to spoon your serving onto a smaller serving plate—eating straight from the rice bowl can scald your tongue if you take a bite too soon!
5. Wildflour’s Kimchi Fried Rice (P495)
If you can manage to look past Wildflour’s display of pastries and bread, take this steak and eggs-inspired meal for a run. Popular both in Manila and abroad, this rice bowl mixes a breakfast favorite with rice and a Korean twist. Its very subtle kimchi flavor is friendly even to those who shy away from spices. The braised beef brisket is soft and matches well with the perfectly fried egg (crisp edges with very soft yolk—break it right off the bat to get your rice meal to an even richer texture). You’ll see hints of black sesame and green onion, adding a signature Asian flavor to this dish.
4. Ippudo’s Unagi Rice in Stone Pot (P490)
Ippudo is popular for its ramen offerings, but if you’re willing to take a break from noodles for a rice bowl, this eel dish will not disappoint. What looks like a petite-sized serving has a ton of flavor to offer. Succulent, grilled unagi along with shredded egg and unagi flavored rice make for a superior rice bowl. What makes this unique is the wasabi topping which adds a surprising bit of spice (subtle, even for those who stay away from the hot stuff). The Unagi Rice bowl doesn’t have a lot of complicated ingredients, but its simplicity is what makes it absolutely delectable. Plus, if you love the texture of crispy tutong, you’re going to love this dish.
Ippudo has branches at SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City; and Robinsons Ermita, Manila. Read more about Ippudo.
3. I Am Kim’s Umami Bomb (P340/medium, P400/large)
Famous for their bibimbap dishes cooked in stone bowls, Koreans know how to do rice right. I Am Kim’s selection of rice bowls span a wide range, but they're best known for the explosive burst of flavor that the Umami Bomb delivers. This rich, nutty dish has everything that the typical bibimbap offers and more—Korean sausage, barbecued chicken, fried tofu, spinach, carrots, bean sprouts, mushroom teppanyaki, and a sous-vide egg (you can have it raw too). On its own, this rice bowl already packs an incredible punch—add the side of umami butter, pour in some bulgogi sauce and several spoonfuls of the gochujang sauce, and your taste buds will be absolutely thrilled. The perks of a stone pot? Every bite you take will have some crispy, full on tutong.
I Am Kim is at Estancia Mall, Capitol Commons, Pasig City (542 2558). Read more about I Am Kim.
I Am Kim closed in May 2016.
2. Ooma’s Buta Kakuni Katsudon (P289)
There are a lot of choices to go through when scrolling through Ooma’s expansive menu, but when you’re feeling like pulling away from the usual sushi or udon, this rice bowl is certainly something you wouldn't want to miss. Donburi dishes are usually overpowered by their sauce, but this Katsudon’s flavorful blend is light and has just the right amount of sweetness. Its sticky rice is perfectly fluffy and is the ideal match for the breaded, slow roasted pork belly. Imagine the most tender lechon you’ve ever had and wrap it in Japanese breading, paired with onion, carrot, pickled onion, nori, and egg. Order this with a friend, it’s perfect for sharing.
Ooma is at SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City (656-4591). Read more about Ooma.
1. Your Local’s Torched Salmon Donburi (P540)
This quiet Makati haunt’s most popular dish has gained its reputation for good reason. It isn’t often you get salmon cooked just enough for it to retain its tenderness and texture. Your Local gets it right with its impeccable mix of soft, medium-cooked salmon with Japanese ingredients such as mentaiko, oboro, and ebiko. The combination is unique and bold. The generous topping of green spring onions adds an overall zing to the dish, which uses shitake rice as its base. Sneak in some of the dish’s salmon skin, corn, and mayonnaise onto your spoon, and you’ll get a lovely texture and burst of flavor that rounds out the whole experience.
Your Local is at 106 Esteban Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City (823-6206). Read more about Your Local.
Photos by Toto Labrador