Myron’s: Steak perfected

 

I love steak. I like it medium and seasoned perfectly with salt and pepper. I like it with a side of roasted vegetables and rice or potatoes. Sauces are optional because you don’t need a sauce with a good steak.

I remember eating my first wagyu (or some kind of high grade Japanese beef) at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati years back and it was so good. Every bite was like heaven in my mouth.

Then one of the first steak houses I ever dined in was Myron’s Steak, Ribs and Seafood at Power Plant mall in Rockwell. This was 10 years ago (I think) and the steak house was pretty new then but they served good steak.

Since then, I have consumed many more steaks—bad, okay, good, great—but those two first experiences for me are the most memorable and delicious.

SB Cappuccino of mushroom soup
Cappucino of Mushroom

A little over a week ago, I was able to go back to Myron’s after many years. The restaurant has a new home, at the 6th floor of The Ascott Residences in Makati, moving from Greenbelt 5. The restaurant now serves as the property’s breakfast restaurant and they basically operate Ascott’s food and beverage (F&B) needs.

This is a big challenge for owners Ramon and Monica Eugenio considering that they started in food business at a small stall at Salcedo’s weekend market. Both experienced chefs, the couple started selling their Angus roast beef at Salcedo market in 2005. A year later, they had an opportunity to open their first restaurant at Power Plant mall. The couple partnered with friend and kitchen colleague Melanio Resuma to kick start the steak house.

SB Fusilli with grilled chicken and blue cheese
Fusilli with grilled chicken and blue cheese

After 11 years of operations, the restaurant has grown significantly and turned into a company running several restaurants including The Flying Pan, Franco’s, and Miguelito’s.

“As you can see it’s a bigger opportunity for us. I think it’s the biggest challenge for Monique and I. We started at the Saturday market and then after 10 years we were able to move from a stall in Salcedo to running the F&B department of one of the major players in Makati,” Ramon said.

One of the factors why Myron’s have lasted this long is because of a loyal following. Another is simply because they make good food.

For starters, the restaurant offers a variety of appetizers but the must tries are the caesar salad that’s freshly made beside your table and the delicious cappuccino of mushroom. It’s a mushroom soup that is creamy and foamy, giving that distinct cappuccino texture. The fresh mushroom flavors are there, not the kind you get in a can. It’s also adorably served in a coffee cup with a thin bread stick on the side.

SB Tiger prawn and US sea scallops with roasted pumpkin and scallion sauce
Tiger prawn and US sea scallops with roasted pumpkin and scallion sauce

If you’re a pasta lover, try the fusilli with grilled chicken and blue cheese. Yes, I know, blue cheese is notoriously pungent but this dish has no moldy aroma, whatsoever. It’s a surprisingly light pasta for a creamy dish and the grilled chicken complements it very well.

For people trying to stay away from carbs and want to eat “healthy,” try the tiger prawn and US sea scallops with roasted pumpkin and scallion sauce. I love seafood so this dish pleased me a lot, gastronomically speaking. The huge grilled tiger prawn has perfect charred sides and the scallops beautifully seared—both protein are very tender and well seasoned. The roasted pumpkin adds a smoky sweetness to the dish. All of the components are tied together by a creamy and delicate scallion sauce.

For the main event, Myron’s signature steak was served, called The President. It’s a US ribeye cooked medium and was served already sliced. It has a pink Himalayan salt topping and served with a side of steamed French beans. The sear was perfect and the seasoning was on point. I get why this steak is popular dish. This is best eaten with Myron’s rice, which is like fried rice but using steak drippings.

SB The President ribeye steak
‘The President’ ribeye steak

Although this was not the steak that I ate back then, it still brought back memories. Also, The President doesn’t need any sauce because it’s perfect as it is.

We ended the meal with an intricately plated chocolate cake. Ramon said that their pastry chef was formerly from Mandarin Oriental so the execution was very hotel-y. It was nice but I would have preferred the bread pudding.

The steak house is the living legacy of the man behind the name. Monica’s dad, Myron Papa is a big part of the concept when they envisioned the restaurant over a decade ago. The couple described the late stockbroker as someone who loved to entertain and feed people.

“He loved to entertain people with only the best food and wine,” recalled Monica. “When it came to get-togethers at home, he was very conscious about the quality of food being served, and very generous with the servings. You go home happy and well fed after a date with Myron.”

SB The Marianito
Marianito cocktail

This father’s day, Myron’s will celebrate with an addition to its bar menu. A new signature cocktail will be launched on June 18. Called the Marianito, it’s a classic Spanish cocktail made of vermouth, gin, campari, and angostura bitters.

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

Myron’s, 6th floor The Ascott Residences, Makati City / +632 755 8898 / reservations@myronsph.com / Facebook and Instagram @myrons_ph

Cebu’s UNO restaurant puts the spotlight on Filipino fare

When you ask me what my comfort food is, I would quickly respond Filipino food. As someone who grew up eating good Filipino fare at home, my love affair with local cuisine will last forever. Pizza got nothing on kare-kare.

The best thing about my mom and dad’s cooking (yes, they both cook) is they still do it the traditional way. Yes, no shortcuts. Why? Well, first, the flavors are different when using convenience products. Secondly, it’s healthier because you know exactly what you’re putting in your food.

Paella negra and arrox con pollo
UNO restaurant’s paella negra and arroz con pollo

My parents would use actual sampaloc in sinigang, boiling the sour fruit and pressing the juices through a sieve. I think my they have never used instant mix especially in kare-kare. They would use freshly ground peanuts from the market and use giniling na bigas (finely ground rice) as thickener.

Lucky for my siblings and I, we grew up tasting the real deal.

Cooking Filipino food the traditional way is also an advocacy of celebrity chef couple Roland and Jackie Laudico. Both chefs champion Pinoy food, promoting local cuisine through their restaurants and festivals here and overseas.

“The number one problem with Filipino cuisine is convenience products, all that instant cr**. We do not only advocate Filipino food, we promote the traditional way of preparing Filipino food,” explained chef Roland who is also known as chef Lau. He said this during a sit down interview with the media during the launch of their collaboration with UNO restaurant of Waterfront Cebu.

UNO restaurant interiors
Waterfront Hotel’s flagship restaurant, UNO

Last month, the chef tandem launched a Filipino food feast in partnership with the Waterfront group of hotels. Called “UNO’s Modern Filipino Taste: A Filipino Feast for All Senses,” the hotel’s buffet restaurant features a special menu by the Laudicos for a limited time, which started last week and will run until Aug. 31 of this year.

The two chefs added more than 40 dishes to the existing Filipino buffet menu. The dishes range from the traditional to modern to the Laudico’s personal spin to local dishes. The special menu is available at the hotel chain’s Cebu branches, Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino (Lahug) and Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino (Mactan).

Ngohiong cones
Ngohiong is a lumpia-like Cebuano dish and chef Lau turns it into bite-sized crunchy cones

“It is really with great passion and love that we always try to promote Filipino cuisine. It is such an honor for us to be able to do it at the country’s only Filipino-owned hotel chain. We are really happy to work with the Waterfornt group,” chef Jackie said.

Owned by the Gatchalian family, Waterfront hotels operate in Luzon (Manila), Visayas (Cebu), and Mindano (Davao). The local hotel chain is known for having PAGCOR casinos and even Duty Free shops at their hotels.

Lechon baka
Lechon baka

More than 60 dishes would greet diners at the hotel’s flagship restaurant. One of the main attraction of the buffet is a row of various lechon, after all, a Cebuano buffet is not complete without lechon.

Chef Lau’s take on the classic roast pig is adding a local flavor. He used basil-like local herb sangig along with the traditional aromatics used in lechon. The lechon line is also composed of baka (cow), goat, and his version of spicy “bellychon.”

Spicy bellychon2
Spicy bellychon

Also included in the lineup are classic dishes like pork humba, paella negra, and local dish balbacua. Chef Lau also put a modern spin on local favorites like the pinaupong nilasing na manok (beer can chicken cooked in a clay pot), inasal siomai, sinigang bites (crispy kangkong with bangus mousse), ngohiong cones (fried spring roll-like Cebuano dish), and many more.

Oh, did I mention there’s bacon bagnet? Yup, that exists in this buffet.

Suman panna cotta
Suman panna cotta

Chef Jackie on the other hand took care of the dessert, as usual. She made classic cakes and pastries and also modern Filipino desserts like queso de bola cheesecake, suman pana cotta, and molten tableya cake.

“We started doing Filipino food 18 years ago. We really wanted Filipino food to be respected globally, not just here and that’s happening. Finally, it’s happening, it should have happened many, many years ago,” chef Lau said.

Molten tableya cake
Molten tableya cake that uses Davao chocolate

“We’ve been doing Filipino food ever since hoping that we could inspire other chefs to do it and we’re very very happy that a lot are doing it now,” he added.

The couple is also bringing the festival in Davao this August and continue to experiment with Filipino food.

Please check out my story on ABS-CBN Life here.

For more information visit: www.waterfronthotels.com.ph

Asian food with a twist

When opening a restaurant in Manila, one sure fire way to succeed is to offer something familiar with the Filipino palate. And when it comes to food, you can never go wrong with Asian. Well, unless you serve bad food.

The secret behind the menu of Toast Asian Kitchen, one of the newest restaurants in the metro, is a collaboration between experienced and young chefs with different cuisine expertise. According to the restaurant’s managing director Timo Roxas-Chua, the menu was created by several chefs who tried and tested several dishes that keep in line with the Toast brand which they call “playful cuisine.”

Quesong puti croquettas
Quesong puti croquetas

Right off the bat, Timo says that Toast is not trying to be an authentic Asian restaurant. This is immediately clear on the menu because each classic Asian dish is not served as it is, but with an interesting twist. Located at Ayala Mall The 30th in Pasig City, the restaurant is banking on Filipinos’ love for food and big appetite to try something new.

For instance the “gyozig” is a hybrid of the classic Japanese dumpling and a Filipino pulutan favorite, an instant hit to customers. The resto also fuses together Western techniques with Eastern flavors like the quesong puti croquetas and Thai basil chicken poppers.

Tom yum meatballs
Tom yam meatballs

“I really believe that all these Asian dishes are intertwined with each other. Most Asian dishes have the same raw ingredients,” he said.

Some of the must try dishes include the “Blaksa” or black laksa. The resto’s version of the Peranakan favorite is mild—in terms of heat but the flavors are there—and the soup is colored by squid ink, hence the name. Another is the yakitori skewers, specifically the melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef cubes yakitori flavored with teriyaki or soy glaze.

Wagyu cubes yakitori
Wagyu beef cubes yakitori

The twice cooked pork belly on a bed of salted fried rice is another must try. The protein in this hearty meal is first braised then seared in a pan then tossed in a honey-garlic glaze.

Twice cooked pork belly with salted egg fried rice
Twice cooked pork belly on salted egg fried rice

“The inspiration came from my different travels. Asian food has gone way, way up unlike before. Before we only want to travel to the States or Europe, when we go to Asia, it’s only for shopping. Now, I want to go to Hong Kong and eat goose or I want to go to Japan to eat ramen,” Timo explained.

But what makes the restaurant different from others is its Tasting Room, a space dedicated for drinking hard to find liquors, spirits, and craft beers. Timo and his partners’ previous businesses are bars, so having this room in a resto is just combining their love for drinks and food in one setting. This is their first venture into the restaurant business.

Toast's Tasting Room stocked with hard to find spirits, liquors, and craft beers
Toast’s Tasting Room

Toast also commissioned Singaporean mixologist Jason Gray to create Asian inspired cocktails for the restaurant. The bartender created four signature cocktails namely: Tokyo Fog Cutter (whiskey, sake, lemon juice, cloudy apple juice, and absinthe), Pomelo Sour (vodka, lime, red bell pepper and ginger), Seoul Searcher (gin lime, Thai basil, pomelo, egg white, and white pepper), and Jack Sparrow (spiced rum, jackfruit, apple, lime juice, pandan syrup, and egg white)

The interiors also doesn’t scream Asian or a new modern restaurant. It has a rustic and bar feel. The space definitely stays away from the trend of modern interiors that can be a bit stiff and overused.

Toast interior
Toast’s main dining space

“I wanted something homey or rustic, not your typical restaurant. I believe this rustic feeling is long term. It grows on you unlike modern restaurants and practicality wise it doesn’t grow old,” he ended.

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

Toast Asian Kitchen and Tasting Room, ground floor Ayala Malls The 30th, Meralco Ave., Pasig City / Facebook and Instagram @toastkitchenph

Filipino-inspired Japanese-Peruvian dishes

Okay, that title is a bit confusing. How can food be Filipino, Japanese, and Peruvian at the same time Well, ever since Nobu opened here in Manila, foodies (myself included) have wondered how would it incorporate its cuisine with Filipino flavors. After all, it’s a common practice for international restaurant chains to include Filipino food/flavors on their menus when opening shop here.

For those who are unfamiliar with Nobu, the US-based restaurant’s cuisine has Japanese and Peruvian influences, thanks to its genius founder, chef Nobu Matsuhisa. His fusion food is the reason why restaurant is so successful, which first opened in Los Angeles, California. The restaurant is so good, Hollywood actor Robert De Niro invested in it and he eventually became a business partner of Chef Nobu. Now, the restaurant has several branches worldwide.

A selection of sushi
A selection of Filipino-inspired sushi.

Two years ago, Nobu opened here in Manila, not just a restaurant but a whole luxury hotel. It’s Nobu first hotel in the world. Although the hotel opened with a rocky start, the restaurant proved why it has been successful around the world.

Last April, Nobu launched its special menu, a collection of Filipino-inspired dishes. For a chef, this is a tough menu to make especially when the restaurant’s cuisine is already fusion. Adding another cuisine to the mix can be daunting.

Kurobuta and foie gras sisig bao
Kurobuta and foie gras sisig bao

But Nobu Manila’s head chef Michael de Jesus is no stranger to Filipino food because Pinoy blood runs through his veins. Coming from Nobu Las Vegas, chef Michael joined Nobu Manila last year.

“The challenge is to marry almost three different kinds of cuisines but still holding our identity because Nobu is Japanese-Pervuian. And now we try to add a Filipino aspect,” the Filipino-American chef said.

The special menu took a cue from the very successful Filipino-Japaese omakase dinner by chef Michael and Nobu NYC executive chef Ricky Estrellado last year. Chef Michael, through the help of his Filipino team, chose popular Pinoy dishes and translated them to their food—Filipino with a Nobu flair.

Uni palabok 02
Uni palabok

The nigiri and sushi selection is a clear standout. One nigiri features a lightly seared tuna topped with a “ginataan” sauce. The flavors were on point. The familiar creamy flavor of coconut milk with ginger, garlic, and added heat from chili peppers. Another standout is the tuna sisig roll, a sushi roll made of cooked tuna—sisig style—with cucumber and peppers.

The most impressive dishes on the menu are two Filipino classics, palabok and kare-kare. The uni palabok is a rich comforting dish on its own. Instead of a shrimp-based sauce, chef Michael used uni or sea urchin roe, giving the sauce that rich yet familiar seafood flavor. Instead of rice noodles, udon was used and is topped with prawns, onsen eggs (Japanese soft boiled eggs), and Nobu’s version of crushed chicharon. The finely crushed “chicharon” is actually made of bacon, seaweed, and sesame seeds.

Wagyu beef short ribs kare-kare anticucho
Wagyu beef short ribs kare-kare anticucho

The wagyu beef short ribs kare-kare anticucho on the other hand, is an elevated version of our beautiful peanut stew. Using high grade beef, the peanut sauce is mixed with the Peruvian anticucho sauce which is made of lemon, vinegar, and various herbs and spices. It’s also presented beautifully with steamed vegetables on the side like Japanese eggplant. You would need a cup (or two) of rice for this.

Chef Michael was able to fuse together the flavors from the three cuisines. The special menu is a definite must try for foodies and especially for the fans of Nobu.

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

The Filipino-Inspired Nobu Specials is available until June 30, 2017 / Nobu Manila, Level 1, Nobu Hotel Manila / +632 800 8080, +632 6912882 / guestservices@cod-manila.com / cityofdreamsmanila.com

Baguio’s secret garden restaurant

It’s not located near the toruist-y areas nor well advertised. It’s so exclusive, the chef only accepts 30 customers at a time to dine in its beautiful garden restaurant setting. But the thing is, dining at this restaurant won’t cost you an arm and a leg, unless you choose the fine dining option (by reservation only). It’s the best kind of eatery—no waiting in line, no boisterous crowd, no bad food.

Mother’s Garden restaurant is tucked in a residential area on Quezon Hill. The narrow streets and steep roads have kept this place practically unknown. According to its owner, chef Therese Jison, most of her customers are repeaters, people who have grown to love her food and the restaurant.

View from the restaurant
View of the city from the restaurant

“I wouldn’t accept more than 30 people, we close the gate. I want to maintain the exclusivity of the place. Being crowded destroys the reason why people come to us because they know it’s a relaxed atmosphere, and you can even spend the whole day here. Sometimes I feel bad that I have to turn down people but I have to maintain the reason people come here,” she explains.

The atmosphere is indeed relaxing. The main dining area is fitted with typical iron and glass garden furniture, placed on a gravel floor. The space is surrounded by plants and animals, too, like the birds in the aviary and friendly dogs scurrying about. The rose garden is its al fresco dining area with two tables surrounded by rose plants and overlooking a view of the city. The fine dining section is located on the second floor, furnished with antique furniture originally from the owner’s family hacienda.

Mother's Garden's fine dining section
The fine dining section is fitted with antique furniture from chef Jison’s family hacienda

Since it’s situated on the side of the hill, the property goes down deep, about four floors down, divided into sections and levels like the herb garden, salad garden, citrus garden, an Igorot garden, the pottery/playground area, the animal cages, and a cottage exclusive to family and friends.

Apart from its charming setting, the food is the reason why people come back. The food here is not just delicious but actually good for you because the restaurant uses mostly organic ingredients that the chef grows herself in the garden. So expect pesticide free vegetables, hormone free meat, and GMO free fruits.

Chef Jison took up courses at the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. She previously owned two boats, rented out by different organizations, where she also worked as executive chef. She is now settled in at Mother’s Garden with her partner Heinrich Maulbecker, the former general manager of The Manor and the Hyatt.

Welcome cold cuts, champagne, and fresh strawberries
Welcome cocktail: assorted cold cuts, champagne, and strawberries and cream

According to chef Jison, she put up this place to create a small oasis in a city that condones bad urban development. While some greenery on the mountains still remain untouched, most areas in the city have been lost to over development. The restaurant reminds chef Jison of their family hacienda in Negros and her father’s family’s rice farm in Nueva Ecija. Coming from a family of planters, growing an organic garden came naturally to her.

Through the help of organic agriculturist Dr. Jose Balaoing, chef Jison was able to put up a flourishing garden. She has even extended her organic practices to her gardener Roy, who converted their own farm into an organic one, assisted by chef Jison. His farm, located at the lower areas of Benguet where more produce and livestock flourish, is the main source of ingredients for the restaurant.

Chef Therese Jison shows her salad garden
Chef Therese Jison shows her salad garden

“The chicken don’t grow very well in Baguio that’s why we grow our chicken and ducks at lower levels. The pigs are not fat because we make them run around. We feed them with grass and vegetable leftovers,” she says. “It takes a long time to plant that is why most commercial farmers use hormones to make them grow fast. Our food takes time to grow.”

During our three-day visit, chef Jison served us unforgettable meals that are both healthy and delicious. She first welcomed us with cocktails, a glass of champagne, fresh organic strawberries with cream, sardines on arugula, pear wrapped in ham, and homemade sun dried tomatoes. At dinner, she served fresh Greek salad, incredibly rich lentil soup with homemade chorizo, organic steak with burgundy sauce served with mashed potatoes and carrots, and this were all paired with a glass of Musso, a Spanish organic red wine.

Lentil soup with homemade chorizo
Lentil soup with homemade chorizo

The next day the breakfast is composed of fresh fruits, strawberries and cream, a tub of kesong puti (fresh cheese) with fresh herbs, fluffy pancake, bacon, and homemade sausage. I accompanied my breakfast with turmeric tea since I refrain from drinking coffee as much as possible.

After breakfast she toured us in her garden. She has an herb garden that grows lavender that blooms (very rare in the country), fennel, dill, rosemary, basil, etc. The salad garden is where hard to grow produce thrive like celery, rhubarb, kale, radish, and different kinds of lettuce.

Herb garden
Herb garden

Raspberry also thrive in her garden as well as lemons that bear huge lemons. Chef Jison’s garden is also home to several animals including a ram (named Hansel), pot bellied pigs, miniature chicken, rabbits, an injured eagle, wild hogs, and pigs.

For lunch, we picked from the regular menu. The pasta dishes are highly recommended like the Mediterranean chicken on a bed of spaghetti in red sauce with zucchini; and also the piccata milanese, fried pork cutlets served on a bed of spaghetti neapolitana. We paired the pasta with freshly squeezed lemonade made from lemons picked from the garden.

Piccata milanese
Piccata milanese, fried pork cutlets on a bed of spaghetti neapolitana

Chef Jison says that the restaurant changes its menu based on the available ingredients of the season—cold and wet season (July to October), cold and dry season (November to February), and summer (March to June). So expect different dishes every season.

Dinner that night was extra special, the chef cooked lechon de leche in her Greek oven. The roasted organic pig was less fatty and fall-off-the-bone meat tender. She cooked it Bacolod style, using lemon grass and pandan to flavor the pig. The lechon was accompanied by red rice, pinaputok na hito, flavorful pho, and crispy Thai spring rolls. We finished the meal with leche flan served on top of a sesame seed brittle disc.

Organic lechon de leche
Organic lechon de leche

The next morning, before leaving, we had our final breakfast and one of the best meals of the trip. Organically grown daing na bangus from San Juan in La Union, homemade longganisa, scrambled egg, and garlic red rice. We ended the meal on a sweet note with cubes of fresh mango.

Chef Jison ultimately hopes that someday, more farmers would choose the organic ways and more people consume organic food. “I’m doing something I like. Even my son would come in and eat. I’m happy because he’s not going to get sick. I am teaching the next generation how important this is. The delight of the person eating it, it’s worth giving them something organic.”

Breakfast combo--homemade longganisa, garlic red rice, and scrambled eggs
Breakfast combo–homemade longganisa, garlic red rice, and scrambled eggs

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

Mother’s Garden, Upper Fairview Road, Quezon Hill Proper, Baguio City / +6374 424 3702, +63917 8693623, +63921 9776027 / Facebook/mothersgardenbaguiocity

8 Romantic restaurants for that perfect date

New restaurants opening in the metro tend to keep their interiors simple and practically the same—concrete floors, mural walls, wood tables, steel chairs, and bulb light fixtures. The industrial and minimalist look is pleasing enough but quite frankly unromantic. Only a handful of restaurants go the extra mile to make its space unique and beautiful. But it’s not only the interiors that matter, it’s the location, too.

I list down eight of the most beautiful and romantic restaurants in Metro Manila for your date this Valentine’s Day. And these restaurants have good food to boot.

rustic-mornings
Photo credit: Facebook/RusticMornings

1. Rustic Mornings by Isabelo, Marikina

Weathered furniture and country-style knick-knack make this one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in the metro. The shabby chic interiors and al fresco dining area are so charming they are perfect for a romantic brunch or lunch. The restaurant serves delicious breakfast food

No. 11 I. Mendoza St. San Roque, Marikina City / +632 425 8610 / Facebook/RusticMornings

2. Harbor View, Manila

This restaurant may not have the most beautiful interior on the list but it has the most beautiful view. Located at the breakwater of Manila Bay, giving its diners front seats to the world-famous sunset. It serves fresh seafood and Filipino cuisine.

South Dr. Ermita, Manila (beside Manila Ocean Park) / +632 710 0060

cafe-juanita
Photo credit: Facebook/cafe.juanita.ph

3. Cafe Juanita, Pasig

I’m not a real Pasigueño if this iconic restaurant did not make the list. Its eclectic decors and interiors are what make this restaurant stand out from the rest. The atmosphere it creates is undeniably romantic. Its delicious Filipino and Asian food is the main reason why it lasted for so many years.

No. 19 West Capito Dr., Kapitolyo, Pasig City / +632 632 0357 / Facebook/cafe.juanita.ph

casa-roces
Photo credit: Facebook/casarocesphils

4. Casa Roces, Manila

This old house-turned restaurant has a lot of history. Located in San Miguel or Malacañan compound, the restaurant’s old interior and history are what make dining here much more interesting. Enjoy the Spanish-Filipino fare that do not disappoint.

1153 JP Laurel cor Aguado St. San Miguel, Manila / +632 708 4020 / Facebook/casarocesphils

ninyo-fusion-cuisine-and-wine-lounge
Photo credit: Facebook/NinyoFusionCuisine&WineLounge

5. Ninyo Fusion Cuisine & Wine Lounge, Quezon City

Dine in your own cabana with flowy white fabric curtains and by candle light. Enjoy its modern international cuisine and selection of wine. What can be more romantic than that?

66 Esteban Abada St. Loyola Heights, Quezon City / +632 426 0301 ? / Facebook

flame

6. Flame, Makati

Dine 16 floors up with the Makati skyline as your backdrop. The beautiful interiors, delicious fusion European-Asian cuisine, and the breathtaking views are the perfect ingredients for a romantic date.

16th floor, Discovery Primea, 6749 Ayala Ave., Makati City / +632 955 8888 / Website

blackbird
Photo credit: Facebook/BlackbirdAtTheNielsonTower

7. Blackbird, Makati

This fine-dining restaurant has been making waves since it opened. It is housed at the beautiful art deco Nielson Tower building that used to be an airport terminal and control tower. Its history is already romantic, augmented by the beautiful greenery around the building creating an illusion of a rural setting. Its European and Asian menu is also top notch.

Ayala Triangle Walkways, Makati / +632 828 4888 / Facebook

champagne-room-0010-v2-1280x500
Photo credit: manila-hotel.com.ph

8. Champagne Room, Manila

Speaking about iconic, this restaurant is probably the most iconic romantic spot in the metro. Its French-inspired interior—those beautiful crystal palm trees—is what made this restaurant a symbol of romantic Manila.

The Manila Hotel, One Rizal Park, Manila / +632 527 0011 / Website

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

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?”)

Maybe.

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.

sb-choco-overload-peanut-butter-pancake-plate
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.

sb-chicken-cranberry-apple-salad
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.

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Bourbo

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.

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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 / http://www.dennys.com.ph

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.

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‘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.

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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

Instagram: @stevestonpizza.ph