Denny’s diner opens in Manila

Most agree that breakfast is the best meal of the day. I agree, too. I wonder if it’s because the body is just so hungry that it craves for any food after hours of sleep? It boils down to the classic Filipino expression: “Masarap ba talaga o gutom lang ako?” (“Is it really delicious or am I just hungry?”)


Actually, breakfast food is just really that good. Pancakes are amazing buttery, soft, and fluffy golden discs made specially delicious by maple syrup. Eggs are wonderful, creamy, and extremely nutritious. And, one word: bacon. I mean c’mon, bacon is enough reason to eat breakfast, all day, all night. Bacon is love, bacon is life.

Choco Overload Peanut Butter Pancake Plate (P395)

Nobody loves breakfast food than Americans and Filipinos. Diners, the classic US eateries located everywhere in the country, serve up breakfast any time of the day and night. Local tapsihan, on the other hand, gives Filipinos access to their favorite silog meals, day and night, too. Any restaurant that serve both these American and Filipino classics is good in my book.

So when Denny’s announced it will be opening its first Manila branch, Filipinos got really excited. Well, we get excited with any new restaurant putting up shop here. I mean after watching various movies and TV shows about food around the world—from Maine lobster rolls to Japanese ramen—we get more and more curious of what else is out there. Filipinos are lucky enough that some international restaurants open here on our humble island nation. My dream is actually to go around different countries like the US and eat everything I have seen on TV.

Denny’s, “America’s diner” is probably the most successful diner chain in the US. With over 1,700 restaurants across the globe, Denny’s is famous for its classic American diner fare. What makes this diner chain even more successful is that it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It’s the kind of diner that is always open to everybody including night owls, graveyard shift workers, and gluttonous people who can’t stop eating.

Chicken Cranberry Apple Salad (P395)

Denny’s Philippines brings in 90 percent of its original menu to the Philippines including its bestselling Grand Slam platter, which contains its famous buttermilk pancakes, bacon, sausages, and eggs. Speaking of pancakes, the diner also serves sweet flavored pancakes including cream cheese and cinnamon, choco overload peanut butter, banana pecan, and blueberry pancake. The choco overload peanut butter pancakes are really good. This sweet combination never fails.

Don’t expect just breakfast food here because its menu is mix of different classic American fare. For starters, I tried the Chicken Cranberry Salad—mixed greens, grilled seasoned chicken breast, apple slices, glazed pecans, and dried cranberries, tossed in honey balsamic vinaigrette. This salad is a winner, with the glazed pecans and dried cranberries adding crunchy, sweet, and chewy texture to the salad.

I was also able to try the Bourbon BBQ Bacon Burger, layers of beef patty, sauteed mushrooms and onions, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and sweet bourbon sauce sandwiched between a cheddar bun. The patty was a bit bland for me, so you need a complete bite every time.


What makes Denny’s Philippines truly local is the Filipino breakfast dishes included in its menu like the crispy bangus belly, bistek tagalog, chicken and pork adobo, Lucban longganisa, beef tapa, and pork tocino all served with garlic rice and egg.

Since this is a diner, a must try is the milk shake. I’m a sucker for milk shakes. The strawberry milk shake is the perfect combination of fruity and creamy, in a satisfying thick consistency. I can forgo a dessert if I have a glass of milk shake. But if you’re the kind who needs dessert after meals, then Denny’s serves amazing desserts, too. The banoffee pie and caramel apple crisp are good options.

Caramel Apple Pie Crisp (P295)

“We’re proud to have the opportunity to bring Denny’s to the Philippines and provide local families with diner favorites that resonate with guests around the world. Manila will finally have a taste of a real American diner that serves a menu of breakfast favorites and American comfort food, all day, every day,” says Jean Paul Manuud, The Bistro Group president and COO. The local company acquired the band and adds Denny’s to its list of American restaurants it operates like TGIFridays, Texas Roadhouse, among others.

Denny’s Philippines Uptown Parade, BGC, Taguig City / Facebook/Denny’sPhilippines /


Wow pizza

Everybody loves pizza. Some even take it too far by marrying it. Yep, that happened.

Why does everyone love this savory pie? Well, because it’s delicious. You can never go wrong with tomato sauce, cheese, and sausages on top of chewy and crunchy crust. I personally love bacon on my pizza because bacon makes everything better. While most hate pineapple on a pizza, I actually like it. #sorrynotsorry

Pizza has evolved through the years with chefs and restaurants experimenting on various toppings, from chicken barbecue to smoked salmon to luxurious caviar. While classic flavors remain as favorites, once in a while it’s fun to try different flavors, especially if it’s done very well.

‘C2’ signature premium pizza topped with slices and slices of Italian proscuitto ham (P1,299)

One such restaurant that does unique flavors very well is Steveston Pizza. It makes classic and premium pizzas. A restaurant that originated from British Columbia, Canada, its founder Chef Nader Hatimi makes his pizza like art. He uses only premium ingredients, from organic tomatoes to the best Italian prosciutto to elk meat (this one’s only available in Canada, though). People line up at his small corner restaurant, which has the distinction as “Best Pizza in Canada,” awarded to it for several years.

“I think he’s not doing the traditional pizza. He is an artist more than anything else,” says Richard Go, the Filipino businessman responsible for bringing the Canadian pizzeria to the Philippines two years ago. Now with three branches in different parts of Metro Manila, Steveston continues to serve traditional and unique pizzas to hungry Filipinos.

First and foremost, Steveston’s pizzas are beautiful, especially its premium line. They are very Instagram worthy. I immediately noticed that the pizzeria is very generous with the toppings. It doesn’t scrimp on ingredients at all. You know that you’ll get your money’s worth.

Steveston only serves one size of pizza—14 inches—and are sliced into 12.

Japanese pizza topped with wasabi teriyaki chicken, enoki mushrooms and sesame seaweed (P899)

One of its premium pizzas is the “C2,” a pizza that is topped with slices and slices of Italian prosciutto ham, brie, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh arugula, and a drizzling of roasted garlic mousse. This pizza is sliced into eight to make sure that each slice has a single serving of prosciutto ham.

Another pizza that I liked is the Japanese pizza. This one’s topped with teriyaki chicken with a hint of wasabi, enoki mushrooms, and sesame seaweed. Since the restaurant tops its pizza generously, you’re sure to get a full slice every time.

Steveston also have its “color” pizzas. A must try from this collection is the “Green” pizza. Instead of tomato sauce, it uses pesto as the base the topped with cheese, single cream brie, shrimps, and scallions.

According to Richard, what makes their pizza one of the best is because of the ingredients they use and its crust.

“What makes us different is our crust, it is light, chewy, and fluffy, not thin and crunchy nor thick and gummy. We always put premium ingredients, we don’t scrimp on the ingredients. Like we use whole shrimp and you’ll notice they are plump. Tomatoes are fresh and cheese are good quality. We use organic ingredients as much as we can” he says.

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

Steveston Pizza Branches

UP Town Center
Katipunan Ave., Quezon City
+632 9552273

Circuit Makati, Olympia, Makati City

Corinthian Gardens Clubhouse, Quezon City
+632 423 9844


Experience teishoku-style dining

It’s no secret, I love Japanese food. So, every time there’s a new Japanese restaurant opening, I get really excited. The current situation in the local food scene means I get excited a lot. There are so many restaurants putting up shop, including Japanese restaurant chains, that sometimes it’s hard to pick where to dine first.

The newest addition to the market is Yayoi Japanese Teishoku Restaurant. Brought in by business partners Yvonne Yao and Jacqueline Gobing, Yayoi is a Japanese resto chain that already has several branches in different parts of the world. It mainly serves teishoku-style (set meal) dining.

Namban teishoku (fried chicken steak with tartar sauce), P450

Set meal dining is very popular in Japan because it’s convenient and filling—one meal consists of one main dish, an appetizer, a cup of rice, and a soup. It’s essentially an upgraded value meal, which Filipinos are already used to.

Let me give an example. During the launch of the restaurant, I ordered the hitsumabushi or grilled eel, which I really enjoyed. The meal comes with grilled eel on top of rice and egg, a dashi broth, a kind of tofu appetizer, and Japanese pickles. This dish is special because it comes with an instruction card that advises diners that they can enjoy the meal in three ways. You can divide the grilled eel into several portions and enjoy them differently. One, you can eat it as it is; two, with wasabi and spring onions; and lastly, with the flavorful dashi broth.

Hitsumabushi (grilled eel), P450

There are several set meals available that Filipinos are already familiar with like the sukiyaki teishoku, ton katsu teishoku, kara age teishoku, teriyaki chicken teishoku, teriyaki salmon teishoku, and many more. Then there’s also the new ones like the namban teishoku—fried chicken steak in sweet and sour sauce and topped with a special tartar sauce. Then there’s the wafu hamburg teishoku, a burger steak with Japanese-style sauce served with freshly grated daikon.

What the restaurant hopes is that they would be known as an authentic teishoku restaurant. According to Yvonne, the food is as authentic as it gets because they did minimal adjustments when it comes to flavors and they use ingredients sourced from Japan.

Matcha ice cream with mochi cubes and sweet azuki beans

“I have observed that the local concepts and franchises here, the food is already fusion and you don’t get authentic Japanese taste. I understand they have to adjust to the Filipino palate, but that’s not fully introducing authentic Japanese,” Yvone says, Yayoi Philippines managing director. “At Yayoi we adjust according to sweetness or adding more salt. Just little adjustments. We want to make it clear what Japanese food is really about.”

Yayoi, however, do not only serve teishoku but also a la carte meals as well. You can order appetizer separately like a bowl of edamame (steamed young soy beans) and different salads. The Japanese eatery also has a selection of delicious Japanese dessert like mochi, matcha ice cream, ohagi or steamed sticky rice ball covered in sweet azuki beans, among others.

Yayoi’s iPad ordering system

But probably one of the best features of the restaurant is you get to order your food using an iPad. You can scroll through the menu, pick what you want, and tap to order. Now, that’s very Japanese.

Yayoi, 3rd Floor, Bridgeway, Bldg. B, SM Megamall, Ortigas Center / / Facebook/YAYOIPhilippines / Instagram @yayoiph