(This feature was published in Spot.ph last May 26, 2019)
If the Spanish have wine and tapas, the Chinese have tea and dim sum. Don’t limit yourself to siomai and hakaw because there’s more to dim sum than just those. It could be anything and everything—from meat-filled dumplings to deep-fried rolls, and even soft baked buns. You’ll find a plethora of places around the Metro where you can enjoy dim sum.
Here are the best spots in Manila for your dim sum fix:
Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung is practically synonymous with xiao long bao—after all, this Michelin-starred Taiwanese establishment began with those steamed soup-filled dumplings back in the 1950s. They now have over a hundred locations around the world—foodies don’t mind queuing up for a taste of their famous xiao long bao. You can’t go wrong with the classic Pork XiaoLongBao (P160/five pieces, P315/10 pieces), or their other variants like crab roe, truffle and pork, or foie gras and chicken. They also have a bunch of other offerings like pot stickers, wontons, and shao mai. Make sure to save room for their Chocolate Lava XiaoLongBao (P115/three pieces) so you can end your meal on a sweet note.
(This feature was published in Spot.ph last May 2019)
When you can’t live without coffee, the lack of company wouldn’t be able to stop you from getting caffeinated. Still, there are cafés around the Metro that make having some alone time much more comfortable.
Here are the top cafes around the Metro perfect for going solo:
A café, third-wave space, or a passion project—whatever you decide to call it, you’ll find that Common Folk is a warm and welcoming place. Unlike other crowded coffee chains, this cozy little nook provides a peaceful atmosphere for those who want to quietly read a book or type away on their laptop. Grab a seat at the communal table or sit by the counter, and chill with your choice of brew, or better yet, a comforting combo of Milk + Cookies (P120). You can also sate your hunger with more filling grub like pasta, omelets, or open-faced toasts. A sure hit is Say Cheese! (P280), their version of a grilled cheese sandwich that has three kinds of cheeses, plus tomato dip and a side of chips.
Much like Filipino food, Peruvian cuisine is greatly defined by influences from its past colonizers and immigrants from Spain, Italy, China, Japan, and Africa. The locals just put in their own signature on it through the use of indigenous ingredients like corn, tubers, and legumes, among others. And you can get a taste of its distinct flavors—without traveling thousands of miles—through Cocina Peruvia.
“We decided to bring Peruvian food here since there aren’t a lot in the country. It’s interesting because it tastes familiar,” disclosed Mia Teng, Marketing Assistant. Many don’t know that Peru has an enormous coastline so a big part of their culinary DNA is seafood, and the restaurant has delicious offerings that highlight the bounty of the sea. Instead of exotic Peruvian fare like guinea pig, you’ll find more recognizable flavors, which is enough to satisfy your curiosity for this cuisine. Here are our top must-tries.
Corn is a staple food in Peru and it’s the main ingredient for the tortilla that they normally use in their nachos. These crunchy chips are the perfect vessels for the toppings that include ground chicken and diced veggies like cucumber, tomato and onion; plus chili and purple olive mayo. It’s both savory and somewhat spicy, and the delicious combination will make you grab one chip after another. Eat fast or run the risk of munching on soggy chips!
Popeyes opens its first store in the Philippines today, May 16 — in Pasig! — and thanks to the Kuya J Group and its partnership with the Canadian company Restaurant Brands Inc. more locations are being set up as we speak.
First up: Don’t expect the store to look like those you’ve been to in the U.S. or any other international branch. The country’s first-ever branch features a new global restaurant image, which is also the first in the world.
It’s not your typical quick-service restaurant; this one is more hip and vibrant, as you’ll see in the color combination of bright orange and red and cool teal.
Choose a seat in any of the booths or by the upholstered benches amidst the white brick walls peppered with framed images. It’s like an updated version of an American diner and you’ll want to bring the whole family in the spacious location where you can indulge in more than just chicken and biscuits.
(This feature was published in Spot.ph last May 8, 2019)
It’s easy to associate French cuisine with fine dining since its food, after all, is known around the world for its finesse and flavor. But don’t be intimidated by what is commonly considered as haute cuisine—there are restaurants where you can sample French specialties sans the snootiness, like La Mère Poulard at SM Aura.
While the brasserie exudes casual elegance, it also has a relaxed, homey vibe to it. The predominantly red-and-white theme is accented by copper—from pans to bowls, and even lights—an ode to what founder Annette Poulard originally used in her kitchen centuries ago. The walls are also peppered with framed photographs of celebrities and other famous personalities who have dined in the restaurant, and this has become a tradition of sorts. “We want [La Mère Poulard to offer] a very casual dining experience for families, for date nights, for coffee meet-ups—an all-around thing,” shared Managing Director Deborah Dorene How-Tan.
It’s been a year since the Manila branch opened in early 2018, and you’ll still find the old favorites, as well as new dishes that bring together the best of French and local ingredients. A few of the items are even inspired by Filipino specialties like calderetaand adobo. “We want to balance out the menu for the Filipino palate,” says How-Tan, who also mentions that they try to use local produce as much as possible.
(This feature was published in Spot.ph last May 1, 2019)
Pasta may not be Filipino, but we’ve certainly embraced it as our own—arguably, no celebration is complete without a plate of spaghetti or carbonara. We just can’t get enough of this Italian specialty so we’ve rounded up a list of the best spots around the Metro where you can satisfy your pasta cravings—whatever shape, size, or sauce.
For the best pasta in the Metro, check out these places:
Va Bene Pasta Deli
Va Bene was one of Makati’s best-kept secrets when it first opened in 2010—and then word quickly spread that this is indeed the go-to place for authentic Italian cuisine. How could you go wrong with fresh pasta that’s made upon order? Taste the difference when you get the bestselling Organic Eggs Tagliatelle (P440) where the handmade noodles are prepared à la minute with a white-wine cream sauce, Portobello mushrooms, and truffle oil—in fact, we named it Manila’s best truffle pasta. Even their stuffed pasta is freshly prepared like the scrumptious Veal Cheeks Spinach Ravioli (P580), which is something you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
(This feature was published in Spot.ph last April 24, 2019)
Nigiri, uramaki, temaki, maki, and sashimi: if all of these sound familiar to you, then you must be a true blue sushi fan. Almost always, raw seafood is the star in this Japanese specialty that’s famous the world over. Although it may not appeal to everyone at first, there’s a big chance that you’ll be craving those rolls again and again. Plus, lots of Japanese restaurants around the Metro go beyond the traditional to offer sushi that’s extraordinary.
We’ve gathered a list of places in Metro Manila where you can get modern, over-the-top sushi.
From the moment you step inside Mr. Roboto, you know that this restaurant in Alabang is bold and playful, with robot-inspired interiors that are peppered with prints from Japanese anime. The menu reflects this vibe, with their colorful Japanese food letting you feast with your eyes first. Grab your chopsticks and zoom in on their modern sushi, some of which are named after Japanese cartoons and manga characters. The Mazinger Z (P235) is a dependable choice with its combination of spicy salmon with cream cheese and crispy salmon skin. If you don’t mind some heat, go for Daimos (P250) that has spicy shrimp bisque, or Voltes V (P280) that features fried ebi wrapped in kani and wasabi mayo.
(This feature was published in Spot.ph last April 2019)
It’s no secret that wine is a little intimidating, especially with all its complicated “rules” (red wine for red meat, white wine for fish or chicken, and so on), as well as terms and names we can’t even pronounce properly. In spite of those things, it’s easy to fall in love with this hearty elixir for its complex taste—and it’s even easier to indulge a bottle (or two) since the Metro has a lot of cool places for wine, fit for whatever occasion. Don’t know where to bring your friends or a hot date for a drink? Here’s something that could help.
Here are our picks among the best places for wine in the Metro:
Bondi & Bourke
With their chic and modern interiors, high ceilings (at least at their Burgos Circle branch), and vertical wall gardens, not to mention awesome Australian cuisine, Bondi & Bourke could be one of the best places for brunch in the Metro. Have your fill of their succulent steaks or classic meat pies—but don’t forget to pair them with the restaurant’s wide array of Australian wines, like their best-selling Crackerjack Shiraz or Pinot Grigio.
As early as now, we’re already expecting long lines on May 10, when the first-ever Shake Shack in the Philippines opens.
If you’re asking if is it worth it, allow us to answer yes five ways.
1. 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers
Shake Shack’s origins may have started with hot dogs, but it’s their burgers that put the brand on the global map. From the outside, it may seem like a typical beef burger, but once you get a taste of it, you’ll know that it’s beyond ordinary.
For one thing, it’s made with 100% all-natural Angus beef that’s not only vegetarian fed, but also humanely raised and source verified. There are no antibiotics or hormones in it, and you can definitely taste its all-natural goodness in a single bite.
The patty is sandwiched between soft, non-GMO potato buns, a slice of Roma tomato, frilly green leaf lettuce, American cheese, and a dab of that secret ShackSauce. It’s a visually appealing sandwich that delivers big on taste.
For those wondering why all the hype: This international burger chain had a humble start as just a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan back in 2001. It has since gained a cult following, evolving into a permanent kiosk in 2004, expanding its initial burgers, hotdogs and fries offerings and opening stores across the world.
And now it’s here. Shake Shack is opening in Manila on May 10, in BGC’s Central Square, with the first 100 guests getting a cool Shack swag.
“As we spent time exploring the unique and eclectic landscape that is Filipino cuisine, we were inspired by the flavors and artisans we met along the way and by the food that they’re passionate about,” shared Shake Shack’s Culinary Director, Mark Rosati. As with the branches all over the globe, the brand continues to feature exclusive menu items that bring local flavors to the spotlight.
Below, we name the seven must-tries.
For first-time visitors, it’s imperative that you should begin with the classic ShackBurger. All the necessities are there—soft buns, beef patty, tomato, lettuce, and the secret ShackSauce. It sounds like a simple sandwich, but it uses top-of-the-line ingredients (hello 100% natural Angus beef patty!) that make all the difference. (P250/single; P410/double)