While international brands like Shake Shack and Panda Express are breaking into the Filipino market, local restaurateurs aren’t letting up — in fact, they all seem to be working to bring even more spice to Metro Manila’s culinary landscape.
Chef Miko Calo describes it as “bistronomy”, a culinary movement that has the moves of fine French cooking, but in a much friendlier setting. At Metronome, chef Miko offers a decidedly French menu, starting with delectable small plates such as foie gras tartlets, picture-perfect salads and 64-degree eggs, and going on to mains like lamb saddle and duck. Close out the meal with rum-soaked brioche or pomelo tarts with Sichuan pepper. restaurantmetronome.com
Owner Amado Forés conveys his love for the boot-shaped peninsula in A Mano, which features a mix of modern and classic dishes from various Italian regions. A quick survey of the modestly sized restaurant reveals how serious the 28-year-old is about his Italophilia: there’s a Tamagnini meat slicer, a Faema espresso machine and a Valoriani pizza oven. With these, the team serves up exquisitely bubbly pizza crusts with soft centers, as well as freshly cut cured meats and fine Passalacqua coffee. fb.com/amanophil
Here is where childhood friends Thirdy Dolatre, Kevin Navoa and Kevin Villarica have reunited with a dream of serving idealized Filipino dishes. The bareness of Hapag’s concrete space reflects its cooking ethos: Local cuisine is treated as a blank canvas, from which the chefs recreate Filipino dishes however they like. This results in food that’s both novel and familiar. The humble taro leaf dish laing is made to look like edible stones, for example, while kare-kare is deconstructed and served with deep-fried kangkong. hapagprivatedining.com
Elbert’s Diner is an evolution of veteran restaurateur Elbert Cuenca’s well-loved but short-lived sandwich stop. In this spruced-up, mid-century-themed diner, Elbert uses fior di latte, English cheddar and truffle in the mac and cheese, and offers a skyscraper of a burger: a BLT that boasts a 200g patty made of three cuts of meat. There are also Filipino café classics like the salpicao, a beef stir-fry dish that’s actually a nifty import from Elbert’s Steak Room. fb.com/elbertsdiner
This story first appeared in the November 2019 issue of Smile magazine.