Manila was truly blessed with a slew of delicious new openings last year. Here in random order are some of Chow Buzz’s favorites amongst the ones she got to try.
1. Erik Kayser Artisan Boulanger
Eric Kayser is known internationally for its award-winning baguettes and croissants. Good thing it can now be enjoyed in the Philippines.
Its first branch in the country opened right before Christmas inside the Marketplace in Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Makati. Must-tries include buttery croissant, monge levain bread, and its addicting dark chocolate chip cookies.
Address: Marketplace, Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Makati
Anything cooked in its asador or enclosed grill will surely please at this Argentinian-inspired meat lovers’ paradise located on the third floor Alfresco Park area of Robinson’s Magnolia in New Manila. Start your meal with the pizza-like Fugazetta Chorizo before going for the main event, Falda or the Cordero Entero a la Cruz—US Beef Shortplate and Cagayan de Oro baby lamb, respectively, both slow-roasted on a fire pit and served with assorted pickles. End your meal on a high note with some Dulce De Leche Crepes.
• Address: 3/F, Alfresco, The Park at Robinson’s Magnolia, Quezon City, tel. no. (+632) 654-3148
3. Green Pastures
Chef Robby Goco’s take on farm-to-table cuisine is consistently packing it in at the fourth level of Shangri-la Mall’s new East Wing, where long queues during peak meal times have become de rigueur. The ideal place for those looking to patronize restaurants that promote the use of mostly organic and locally sourced ingredients. A restaurant where patrons can eat “healthy” without feeling that they’re still hungry, hearty dishes like Braised Oxtail with Polenta and Tequila Joe’s Sloppy Cow Salpicao with organic beef share the limelight with the restaurant’s popular salad bar.
• Address: 4/F Shangri-la Plaza East Wing, Mandaluyong (+632) 654-3219
4. Nam Nam
This new Filipino restaurant, which just recently introduced a new merienda menu, is known for its wide selection of traditional recipes and its more playful versions. Items on the menu are available in three serving sizes: small, medium, large, which makes it a perfect dining venue for either big or small groups. Chow Buzz favorites include Beef Sinigang with Watermelon, and Sizzling Sisig. The sisig-with-a-twist dish is made with corned beef and is pretty good, too.
Address: Ground Level, Greenbelt 2, Makati (+632) 662-50515
5. Ramen Yushoken
This welcome addition to the Alabang dining scene is where I go for the best shoyu or soy sauce-flavored ramen, perfectly cooked (and runny) aji tamago, an addicting and not so oily version of chahan or Japanese friend rice, and really good gyozas. Not into shoyu? No problem; all its other ramen variants are hearty and flavorful.
Address: Molito Lifestyle Center, Madrigal Avenue, Alabang, Muntinlupa, tel. no. (+632) 808-7424
6. Caviar Restaurant and Champagne Bar
Tucked in the middle of Alabang’s Westgate complex is this family-run, fine dining destination dishing out superb, classical European dishes complemented by an equally stunning wine selection and state-of-the-art restaurant interiors. Definitely, a first in the relatively laid-back Alabang dining scene.
Must-tries include a heavenly dish called Saddle of Venison served with polenta and prune au jus and an in-house slow-smoked salmon laid on a bed of lentils cassoulet. In lieu of the rather underwhelming dessert offerings, opt for a glass of dessert wine or a shot or two of espresso.
Address: Unit A-206 Westgate Centre, Alabang Tel: (+632) 552-7930.
7. Ramen Nagi
This new ramen import is my top pick when I crave for something different and when it comes to ramen. My hands down favorite is its popular Black King Ramen made with squid ink and roasted garlic-infused tonkotsu ramen broth. For first-timers, however, I highly recommend the Butao or Original King first before exploring the other flavors or ramen. A second branch is set to open soon in SM MOA.
Address: 5th Level, SM Aura (beside Yabu), Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
8. Stockton Place
Newly married Chef Celine de los Angeles–Escaler’s very popular, first restaurant is only open for dinner. Thus, one needs to reserve in advance to ensure a spot in this cozy space that can only fit around 30. Must-try dishes include its steak and steak salad, seared scallops with tomato tart, chocolate marquise, and lemon parfait.
Address: 227 Salcedo Street near corner Gamboa Street, Legaspi Village, Makati. Tel: (+63) 917-8561419
9. The Black Pig
The use of fresh and in-season ingredients for each dish and its sophisticated preparation elevates the creative cuisine of Chef Carlos Garcia, whose culinary history includes working in Michelin-starred restaurants like London’s Gauthier Soho. This posh yet relaxed newcomer also serves an interesting selection of craft beers on tap and wine from small wineries.
Early Chow Buzz favorites include the charcuterie platter, grilled steaks, mushroom risotto, the equally good selection of desserts (chocolate praline, rum cake, and coconut panna cotta), its freshly baked-on-the-premises bread, and Holgate beer that can be ordered in a flight comprised of four small tasting glasses.
Address: 2/F Commercenter Alabang, East Asia Drive corner Commerce Avenue, Filinvest Corporate City, Muntinlupa. Tel: (+632) 808-1406
This new Mediterranean open kitchen and cocktail bar concept is the brainchild of the Andilasia Restaurant group that brought us Las Flores at the Fort. This new Rockwell favorite hot spot features Mediterranean-inspired dishes created by the group’s corporate Chef Pepe Llopez. The food complements the really cool interiors executed by a top local designer. Must orders include a comforting dish of ricotta gnudi, spicy rice topped with tuna loin, and a decadent Chocolate Lovers’ Dessert.
Address: Ground Floor at Joya Building, Joya Drive, Rockwell, Makati City (right beside Woodfire). Tel. no.: (+632) 823-6468
11. L.E.S. Bagels (Lower East Side Bagels)
It’s all about the bagels in this New York-style deli and bakery. Where one can find a wide selection of NY style bagels, cream cheese spreads or schmears, and other baked goods. Chow Buzz highly recommends the plain salted bagels with lox, the Cinnamon and Raisin Bagel with the Blueberry Cream Cheese schmear, and its plain fudge brownie—by far the best brownie in Manila.
• Address: Tuscany Estates, Building 3, Upper McKinley Rd, Tuscany, McKinley Hill.