Because of Manila’s ever growing food culture, food trips around the Metro means you can easily order anything to satisfy a craving. Are you craving a vegan Paneer from India? Gourmet silog rice topped with chicharon from the Philippines? A good ole American burger and fries? Steaks charred to black, cooked the Argentinean way? French confections like the favorite tarte tatin? After work tapas as they would eat it in Spain? Mexican tacos stuffed with tempura or lechon? A top chefs twist on Italian comfort food? Fluffy Peruvian rice cooked in white wine with seafood? Or a juicy Peking duck served three ways? Take your pick from our list below:
Chef Nicco Santos named his restaurant after a visit to a Singapore, when local hawker vendors would repeatedly yell, “Hey handsome! Hey beautiful!” to passersby, attempting to get their attention to try their food kiosks. To create his dishes, Nicco opted to go as authentic as possible, learning the culinary style of home cooks rather then formal training. The result: his new eatery Hey Handsome, which is the product of visiting and learning in kitchens all over Southeast Asia. Elevating Asian comfort food to gourmet levels, Nicco’s kitchen employs a young staff that converse and interact with diners. “Big Plate” options include the Indian-inspired paneer dish. The vegetarian meal includes a generous serving of beetroot paneer, quinoa and house yogurt. Inspired by his travels to Hong Kong, he has also created a deep-fried Peking duck served with a 10-herb rice, peanut crumbs, and topped with a duck sunny side up egg. There are also options inspired by travels to Singapore and Thailand. Before dining at the Fort restaurant, it is recommended to call and make reservations. Since it’s opening late last year, the restaurant has never been empty, making it difficult for walk-ins.
Hey Handsome is located at the Ground Floor, Net Park Building, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. For reservations phone (63) 926 051 1471.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Pound by Todd English
Every bun served at the dining outlet by Todd English is branded with a charred pound sign. A spin-off of the burger station at the original Todd English restaurant in SM Aura, Pound offers an enhanced take on the classic burger and fries meal traditionally served in American diners. Designed like an upbeat New York City restaurant, it has white marble tables and rustic ornaments to give an underground vibe. Light fare is available through the T.E. Chicken Sliders, serving three tiny burgers with a signature sweet sauce and crispy pickled coleslaw. The larger burgers at Pound use rich ingredients, and are equal parts tasty and picture-ready for Instagram. For instance, the Pound Foie Gras burger is smeared with foie gras mousse and caramelized onions. In addition, a generous 50-gram serving of seared foie gras sits on top of the patty.
Pound by Todd English is located at B3, Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. For reservations phone (2) 617 8633.
210 Degrees Kitchen + Drinkery
A large bookshelf on the second floor of Michelin-starred Chef William Mahi’s 210 Degrees acts as a secret passageway to a private dining room. The large space features a birds-eye view of the kitchen, where a select group of diners can experience first hand the true dynamic of a busy restaurant. Mahi, who used to head the kitchen at the Tasting Room, opened the doors of his first solo endeavor in the Philippines early this year. Featuring dishes from his home nation, 210 Degrees’ menu serves classic comfort food enhanced by expert French cooking techniques. The Entrecote, for instance, is simply seared and served with roasted garlic and wine port. However, the graze of the knife cuts through the tender beef easily, leaving meat lovers truly satisfied with texture and taste. The Pan-fried Duck Liver dish is a generous serving of Soulard foie gras. He inserts exciting elements to what may be considered a typical dish, adding popcorn and corn froth to compliment flavor. The best seller on the dessert menu is the traditional Tarte Tatin. The sweet caramelized apple dessert is served under a scoop of light vanilla ice cream, which is ideal after a rich meal.
210° Kitchen + Drinkery is located at 1D G/F Icon Plaza, 25th Street cor 6th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. For reservations phone (63) 995 015 2192 or (2) 958 5305.
Foo’d by Davide Oldani
The FoodDee Concepts restaurant group brings Chef Davide Oldani from Italy to Manila to open his first Cucina Pop concept store in the country. Foo’d serves modern takes on Italian dishes, which was originally at the chef’s flagship restaurant in Milan. Awarded for his original concept, Oldani has now brought his cuisine to Manila for the Filipino market to enjoy. With everything made completely in-house, there are menu options for an antipasti, a second course and dessert. It is suggested to begin with the Battuta of Shrimp, a sweet shrimp tartare with lime, carrot ginger jus and parsley jus. Top picks from the second course menu include the compressed Iberico Pork Ribs in porcini sauce and loquirce, and the Beef “Allv Olio” dish, which is comprised of Snake River Farm’s wagyu beef check, bordelaise, asparagus and trout caviar. The Lemon Curd is an noteworthy choice for dessert. It puts together a meringue, cocoa crumble, curry almonds, and a sweet lemon gelato made from scratch. When the 60-seater restaurant begins to fill with diners, bigger parties have an option to be seated at the tinello, a private dining room located by the open kitchen for a preview of how chefs at Foo’d do their magic.
Foo’d by Davide Oldani is located at the Ground Level, Shangri-La at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.
Shangri-La at the Fort’s Samba restaurant is a reflection of Chef Carlo Huertas’ national pride and childhood in Peru. The dining outlet located poolside of the hotel’s 8th floor serves dishes that best represent the spicy South American culture. Peppers are outsourced from Peru, but the young chef has taken the effort to explore Filipino markets for local produce to re-create his favorite dishes. Served family style, the Arroz Con Narisco is a fluffy rice dish reminiscent of paella. It is infused with white wine and uses a seafood sauce base before topped with scallops, octopus, calamari and shrimp. Picarones, the Peruvian take on donuts, are made of pumpkin and orange sweet potato. It is sweet and done with traditional ways of creating the classic confection. Drizzled on top is a sweet syrup and a side of homemade lemon ice cream.
Samba is located on the Eighth Level, Shangri-La at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.
Tapas night is best enjoyed with a tight-knit group of friends, drinking sangria, and enjoying Spanish delicacies from Chef Carlo Franco’s kitchen at Tomatito. The neon red signage puts a rose colored hue over the entire restaurant. Sangria flavors vary from traditional to more playful choices that use different fruit blends. For those who opt not to drink wine, there is a Gin and Tonic station, where cocktails are customized with an abundance of ingredients to choose from. The Salmon TNT is an appetizer exploding with flavor, using balik salmon, topped with honey and truffle. A foie gras tapas option is an even richer alternative. Duck liver is delicately seared and placed atop brioche bread and caramelized onions. Different paellas are available upon request for those looking for a heavier meal while drinking.
Tomatito is located at 30th Street corner 11th Ave, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. For reservations phone (63) 805 7840.
Restaurateurs Carlo Calma Lorenzana and Bobby Tenchavez brought the famous Buenos Aires hotspot to Manila after falling in love with the Argentinean way of cooking steak. The meat is charred to black, but remains tender and pink on the inside. Food lovers consider this the ideal way of grilling. Carlo and Bobby built an open grill in the restaurant, where they slow cook every steak over charcoal for extra flavor. Flank steaks, rib-eyes, tenderloins and several other cuts can be ordered and served with unlimited sides. A good bottle of La Garade wine (another enterprise of the tandem) is paired with meals at the South American steak house. Non-beef dishes at La Cabrera worth trying are crispy sweetbreads, an exotic appetizer of organ meat from the thymus gland and pancreas of either lamb or pork, and traditional Argentinean dessert Choco Torta. This is their version of a birthday cake, a combination of dulce de leche, queso crema (cream cheese), and chocolinas (chocolate cookies).
La Cabrera is located on the Ground Floor, 6750 Ayala Avenue, Glorietta Complex, Makati City.
New World Hotel’s signature restaurant Jasmine offers an array of Chinese dishes cooked in a gourmet fashion. Located on the second floor of the luxury hotel in Makati, the restaurant is designed with a hybrid theme of Oriental-meets-Art Deco. Starters include a wide selection of dim sum. A large plate of barbeque delicacies is suggested for sharing. It includes generous servings of asado, roast duck, lechon macau, and jellyfish with century egg. The best-selling Peking duck can be served three ways. First, the traditional style of wrapping the crispy duck skin in a Chinese crepe with leeks, cucumber and Hoisin sauce. The second is to mince the duck meat to put inside lettuce leaves, while the third is a light soup made with a duck bone broth. The restaurant also specializes in live seafood options that include shrimp, red spiny lobster, sea mantis, mud crab, black garoupa, tiger garoupa, and stonefish cooked in multiple ways.
Jasmine is locatedat New World Hotel, Esperanza Street corner Makati Avenue, Makati City. For reservations phone (2) 811 6888.
Northerners have found a food haven in hole-in-the-wall concept stores in Kapitolyo, Pasig. Tango Vengco!, which was originally built inside a container box for shipping, has grown with much success now that it occupies its own building. Serving simple, quality Mexican food, the eatery lets the unique mixes of their ingredients speak for themselves. Suggestions include the Steak Taco, Pork Taco, and the Shrimp Taco. The steak taco is served with caramelized onions, while the shrimp taco is served in the vein of Japanese tempura but balanced with a fresh garden salad topping. A crowd favorite is the Pork Taco, which uses Filipino lechon smothered in traditional Mexican vegetables and spices. To end a sinful meal, the Chwaffle ala mode with salted caramel is a must. It consists of a churro-waffle hybrid kept warm by a heated skillet. It is served with vanilla ice cream and a side of dulce de leche.
Taco Vengo! is located at 16 Williams St, Mandaluyong City. For reservations phone (63) 878 1328.
Located at the new, artisan center in Karrivin Alley, Pasong Tamo Extension, Toyo Eatery has become a destination restaurant for Filipino cuisine. It is the brainchild of Chef Jordy Navarra, who has elevated traditional dishes from his childhood by using premium, local ingredients. The restaurant interiors are decorated with capiz lamps and large acacia table tops to contrast the gray, industrial architecture. Jordy’s famous Bahay Kubo salad is retained on the menu (it was served in his previous restaurant Black Sheep at the Fort), but this time, takes on a new name as Garden Vegetables. It includes all 18 vegetable ingredients from the folk song, put together to create an interesting appetizer. Menu highlights include the silog, Jordy’s take on the Filipino fried rice, infusing flavors of soy, dried tuna roe, garlic, and topping it off with crunchy chicharon bits and a free-range egg yolk. The Cassava cake is grilled for a toasty outside, after being baked inside a charcoal oven. For the main course, it is suggested to order the Pork BBQ. His version of the beloved street food is enhanced by using three different types of pork cuts per stick (pigi, casim and liempo) and is served with a side sauce of coconut cider vinegar for maximum flavor.
Toyo Eatery is located at The Alley at Karrivin, 2316 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City. It is open Tuesday to Saturdays from 6PM to 11:30PM. For reservations phone (63) 917 720 8630.
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Photo credits: Hey Handsome (photography by Yukie Sarto of Studio 100); Pound by Todd English (photography by Reau Guttierez); 210 Degrees (photography courtesy of 210 degrees); F’ood by David Oldani (photography courtesy of Foo’d by David Oldani); Samba (photography by Miguel Abesamis of Studio 100); Tomatito (photography courtesy of Tomatito); La Cabrera (photography by Hub Pacheco); Jasmine (photography courtesy of Jasmine); Taco Vengco! (photography by Chino R. Hernandez); Toyo Eatery (photography courtesy of Toyo Eatery)