Neighborhood Guide: Alabang, Muntinlupa City
A quick guide to the upscale dining destination of the South.
(SPOT.ph) Alabang is the the second Southern neighborhood we’re pawing through, and it doesn’t disappoint. If Aguirre Avenue is the street for homestyle comforts, Alabang leads the way to more upscale dining-the celebratory kind that you reserve for birthdays or anniversaries or scheduled luncheons or because you heard that the food there is worth the trip. The latter is especially true for these places. We’ve rounded up Alabang’s must-tries that are sure to erase every kilometer spent.
Molito Lifestyle Center, Madrigal Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Tel. No. 808-7424
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Some would argue that Ramen Yushoken is the best ramen in Metro Manila. While that fact is debatable, it certainly is the best in the South. Seasoned restaurateurs Ryan Cruz and Elbert Cuenca partnered with Ramen Chef Champions to create this no-frills noodle destination where you’ll only need a pair of chopsticks and an empty stomach (maybe not even the latter) to be happy. Yushoken has a signature tonkotsu (pork-based) broth and uses noodles made in-house with imported Japanese flour. The result is a flavor profile that stops conversation. The gyoza, which has people pledging in allegiance, has a special homemade wrapper designed to melt in your mouth. These two dishes will leave you converted, but they have other options in their arsenal, including Cold Ramen and Tsukemen.
Must-tries: Tonkotsu Shio (P320), Tonkotsu Miso (P380), Tsukemen Tokusei (P380), Gyoza (P150), Aji Tamago (P80)
Mona Lisa Ristorante
2/F The Commerce Center, Commerce Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Tel. No. 556-0708
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
More than the delicious Italian fare, Mona Lisa is a hit because of the husband-and-wife team behind it. The two are always in the restaurant, making sure everything is in order-from service to side dish. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide a nice view and a welcoming ambiance. Mona Lisa is great for dates or for Sunday lunches with the family. The menu is simple, classic Italian, with bold flavors and big servings (good for three), done exceptionally-the type that you’ll want to get used to.
Must-tries: Caprese Salad (P330), Miguelito Speciale (P710), Pappardelle Porcini e Tartufo (P485), Tiramisu (P320), Cannoli (P310)
2/F Tower Wing, The Bellevue Manila, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Tel.No. 771-8181 local 2211
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. 10 p.m.
Phoenix Court is the Chinese restaurant of Bellevue Hotel and considered by many to be a destination in itself. Chef Cheong Kwan Loon captains a smooth-running kitchen that churns out delectable Chinese eats for the 250-seater venue (plus a private room that comfortably seats 25). The menu is decidedly more high-end, but Phoenix Court is especially accommodating. Ask the server for items off the menu, and they’ll usually heed your request if they have the ingredients. Their dim sum and dumplings will have you ordering constantly.
Must-tries: Special Assorted Cold Cuts Combination (P380), Braised Winter Melon Soup with Crabmeat (P150 to P320), Roasted Crispy Chicken (P420), Deep-fried Homemade Bean Curd with Shredded Mushrooms (P380), and, well, all the dim sum.
31/F Vivere Hotel, 5102 Bridgeway Avenue corner Asean Drive, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Tel. No. 771-7777
Open from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (Sunday to Wednesday) and 5:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Thursday to Saturday)
The Nest is one of those restaurants in the city that offers a great view to go along with your meal. High up on the 31st floor, glass windows give diners a 360-degree view of Filinvest City, Laguna de Bay, and, on a clear day, the rest of Metro Manila. The tagline is "Dining in the Sky," and though it’s a few meters short from the clouds, it does give that impression. Pastel hues and avian accents evoke a sense of airiness, and the way the indoor and al fresco seats are laid out, it feels a bit like a bird being embraced in yes, you guessed it-a nest. Anna Park, a culinary consultant who graduated from Les Roches in Switzerland, keeps things running smoothly.
Must-tries: Calamari Crunch (P350), Truffle Scented Tomato Basil Soup (P150), Crispy Catfish Salad (P390) Crispy Binagoongan (P450), Buffalo Chicken Wings (P350 to P 690), Chicken Mushroom and Boursin Pasta (P380)
Caviar Restaurant and Champagne Bar
Unit A-206 Westgate Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Tel. No. 552-7930
Open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Sunday) and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Sunday)
The philosophy behind Caviar Restaurant and Champagne Bar is "good mood brings good food." The team behind this uniquely upscale experience is Frank van der Walle, his brother Bastiaan, and executive chef Matthew Jackson. They offer lavish European dishes to match their wide array of signature wines through à la carte and tasting lunch and dinner menus that are regularly updated. The restaurant’s sophisticated and luxurious design-featuring a fireplace and a statue of a Komodo Dragon-ideal for an intimate rendezvous than a hangout.
Must-tries: Vol-Au-Vent aux Champignon (P 450), Bisque de Homard (P 440), Dindonneau Wellington au Sauce Robert (P 950)
Chairman Wang's Prime Beef Noodle House
Molito Lifestyle Complex, Madrigal Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Tel. No. 828-8477
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
This casual restaurant is fairly new to the neighborhood. Chairman Wang’s may have originated from Vancouver, but the red lanterns hooked to the ceiling and the intricately carved oriental furniture call China to mind. The space exudes a Shanghai "boudoir" feel and the kitchen churns out Taiwanese-style beef noodles. Only a few dishes are available as of now, but they’ve proven to be quiet hits. Chairman Wang's is definitely a diamond in the rough.
Must-tries: Sauteed Garlic Broccoli (P200), Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid (P280), Chairman's Prime Beef Noodle (P280), Braised Beancurd with Mushrooms (P240), Chilled Coconut Milk Soup (P95)
The Farm Organics
G/F One Legacy Place, Don Jesus Boulevard, Alabang Hills, Muntinlupa City
Tel. No. 403-9130
Open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
The Farm Organics is owned by a family who has been raising grass-fed cattle since 1976. (It’s also co-owned by celebrity couple Oyo and Kristine Sotto.) The steakhouse is an unassuming little joint that takes a minimalist approach to both their decor and steaks. Seasoning is restrained to emphasize the real flavors of antibiotic- and hormone-free beef. No condiments necessary either-not that you have a choice since The Farm Organics offers nothing of the sort. The cuts are marbled to perfection and the sear is enough to melt the fat for an even juicier experience. The same simplicity is used in their burgers. It’s just meat through and through.
Must-tries: Bacon Cheeseburger (P 340), Kesong Puti Burger (P 280), Filet Mignon (P 600), New York (P 495/regular, P 590/large), Rib-eye (P 790/ regular, P 895/large). Dessert: Oreo and Choco Chip Cheesecake Cookies (P 70)
The Black Pig
2/F Commerce Center Alabang, East Asia Drive corner Commerce Avenue, Filinvest Corporate City, Muntinlupa City
Tel. No. 808-1406
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
It’s a few kilometers away from Alabang, but this acclaimed restaurant will have you going the extra mile-because the owners do, too. The idea behind this charcuterie, bar, and restaurant was inspired by a shared appreciation for two kinds of pork: the Spanish jamon Iberico (pata negra), and the local lechon. Guests who "pig out" at The Black Pig, however, will find that there is so much more to this establishment. Chefs Carlos Rodriguez Garcia and Tricia MacDonald apply a consistent level of finesse from starters to desserts, and even to non-pork options like pan-fried cod with beetroot and spinach, and baby squid and parsley sauce. If you want a more adventurous item, get the charcuterie board of jamon Iberico, lomo, chorizo, salchichon, and morcilla, served with toasted bread and crushed ripe tomatoes.
Must-tries: Slow-cooked Mackerel (P220), Pumpkin Risotto (P280), Poached Egg and Mushroom Puree (P350), The Black Pig's Oven-Baked Pork Belt (P480), Pan-fried Cod (P520), The Board (P850), Chocolate Praline (P290), Coconut Panna Cotta (P180)