My Votes for the Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets Award

I would like to share with you my perspective on my votes for the MBKRS Awards. I based my votes on the personality of the restaurant, the overall awesome experience it provides and the positive buzz it gets from the community.

The voting period ended last November 14, and the winners will be announced on November 26 in the Enderun Colleges at the Fort. Thank you to Ines Cabarrus and Elian Habayeb for including me as one of the judges.

What is the MBKRS Awards?

  • The First Annual Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets Award promise to be “the Oscars” of Manila’s restaurant industry, and there are approximately 100 judges in total deciding the MBKRS Awards, made up mostly of restaurant owners, top-chefs, educators in the hospitality industry, hotel GMs, columnists and food critics, magazine editors, and other celebrities and reputable foodies.
  • The awards are named after and inspired by the bestselling coffee-table book MANILA’S BEST KEPT RESTAURANT SECRETS, available at all major bookstores nationwide and now available internationally through
  • As a general rule, we avoid franchises and prefer family-owned restaurants, with few locations (preferably only one), not located in malls (or originating outside of shopping malls, before having moved to a mall location). All restaurants must have authentic quality food, excellent service, and a great ambiance.
  • The MBKRS Awarding Ceremony is an invite only event that will happen on November 26 at Enderun Colleges, Fort Bonifacio Campus

1. Best Italian Restaurant
I voted for Bellini’s because of the Italian personalities behind the restaurant and its warm family ambiance. a) L’Opera

b) Café Caruso
c) Bellini’s
d) Amoroma (I’ve never been to Amoroma and I will review it soon 🙂
e) L’Incontro
f) Other: C Italian Dining (The number 1 Italian Restaurant for me is C Italian Dining in Angeles, Pampanga. But ever since Chef Chris Locher is not anymore connected with C Italian Dining, I cannot vote for it anymore. I’m surprised that the MBKRS Awards did not include him in the nominated list. )

2. Best French Restaurant
Je Suis Gourmand is probably one of the few restaurants that consistently WOW its customers and I’ve never heard any negative reviews about it.

a) Le Soufflé (Fort)
b) Je Suis Gourmand
c) La Cabane
d) La Regalade
e) Cuillère
f) Other: Cicou (Watch out for my review next week)

3. Best Spanish Restaurant
I don’t really have a solid opinion on Spanish restaurant because my standard for good Spanish food is Chef Ed’s Mestizo Spanish cuisine and Market Manila’s Paella. . I voted for my favorite — Terry’s Selection (and it should be in Pasong Tamo Ext.).

a) Alba Restaurante Español (Makati)
b) La Tienda
c) Terry’s Selection (Pasong Tamo Ext.)
d) Amalia’s ( must confess that I’ve never been to Amalia so I will review it soon too 🙂
e) Casa Armas (Malate)
f) Other: Chef Ed’s 21 Restaurant

4. Best Continental Cuisine
Antonio’s is the Best Restaurant in the Philippines and Still the Best after all these years!

a) Chateau 1771
b) Sala
c) Aubergine
d) Lolo Dad’s
e) Katre
f) Lemuria
g) Antonio’s
h) Other: __________

5. Best Steakhouse
My vote goes to Elbert and the buzz is he is the undisputed king of steaks in Manila!

a) Fire Lake Grill
b) Mamou
c) Elbert’s Steak Room
d) Myron’s Place
e) Duo
f) Other: House of Wagyu

6. Best Japanese Restaurant
Seryna is the only Japanese restaurant that is loved by both Filipino Foodies and Japanese in Manila.

a) Sushi Tsumura
b) Tsukiji
c) Kai
d) Sugi (Greenbelt)
e) Seryna
f) Other: __________

7. Best Filipino Restaurant
Cafe Juanita’s ambiance resembles a typical filipino home and serves authentic Filipino cuisine (not fusion).

a) Café Juanita
b) Harbor View
c) Abé
d) Laudico Bistro Filipino
e) La Cocina de Tita Moning
f) Other: Adarna

8. Best Thai Restaurant
I don’t think we have a really good Thai restaurant in Manila. The closest would be People’s Palace.

a) Silk
b) Azuthai
c) People’s Palace
d) Kingdom (I can’t wait to try this in Angeles, Pampanga)
e) Other: __________

9. Best Chinese Restaurant
Choi Garden in Greenhills and Golden Fortune in Binondo are the best Chinese restaurant for me!

a) Zong (Fort)
b) Hai Shin Lou
c) Gloria Maris (Greenhills)
d) The Good Earth (Fort)
e) Cantonese Kitchen
f) Other: Choi Garden

10. Best Central European Restaurant
I love Vieux Chalet because of the fresh ingredients used in the dishes, and spectacular view of Manila (from Antipolo)

a) Schwartzwalder
b) Old Swiss Inn (Makati)
c) Bianca’s
d) Mickey’s Deli (Makati)
e) Vieux Chalet
f) Other: Chateau Hestia

11. Best Specialty Restaurant
Nobody will beat the most authentic Vietnamese restaurant in Manila!

a) Hossein’s Persian Kebab (Makati)
b) Ziggurat
c) Manos Greek Taverna
d) Korean Garden
e) Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant
f) Other: Bawai Vietnamese Kitchen

12. Best Bistro
I voted Sala Bistro because of the quality of its simple dishes and its weekend Champagne Brunch.

a) Apartment 1B
b) Sala Bistro
c) Palato Fino
d) Chelsea
e) Di’ Mark’s (QC)
f) Other: Culliere

13. Best Enoteca
Galileo practically introduced me to the concept of Enoteca. My vote goes to them!

a) Galileo Enoteca (Mandaluyong)
b) La Vigne
c) Barcino Gourmet
d) Terry’s Selection (Pasong Tamo Ext.)
e) Cav
f) Purple Feet (Wine Depot Makati)
g) Other: __________

14. Best Fusion Cuisine
The French Japanese Fusion of In Yo is the best in the Philippines.

a) M Café
b) InYo
c) Portico 1771
d) Other: __________

15. Best Newcomer
Ever since Aubergine opened, I only hear positive reviews about it and you can expect to have a good meal every time.

a) Aubergine
b) Purple Feet
c) Cav
d) La Regalade
e) Other: Lolo Dad’s Brassiree

16. Best Restaurant/Bar
You should go to Handle Bar on weekends and see why this is the best restaurant/bar in Makati.

a) NU-VO
b) Piedra
c) Handle Bar
d) Cuisine
e) Brava
f) Other: __________

17. Best Wine ListI want to be a wine connoisseur someday…
a) Sala
b) Restaurant 101
c) Cav
d) Balducci
e) Lemuria
f) Other: Ralph’s Wine Museum

18. Best Hotel Restaurant: International Buffet
I must admit that I’m biased towards Circles buffet. I’m doing an article on the best buffets in Manila in December (watch out for that!)

a) Spirals (Sofitel)
b) Paseo Uno (Mandarin Oriental)
c) M2M (Renaissance New World)
d) Circles (Makati Shangri-La)
e) Nielsen’s (Manila Peninsula)
f) Café-on-the-ridge (Taal Vista)
g) Other: __________

19. Best Hotel Restaurant: Fine Dining
I’m not really a fan of Hotel Restaurants but if I were to go to one on a date, I would go to Red for its prestige and quality of food.

a) The Fireplace (Hyatt Hotel & Casino)
b) Prince Albert (Intercontinental)
c) Verbena (Discovery Country Suites)
d) Le Bellevue (Manila Diamond)
e) Red (Makati Shangri-La)
f) Tivoli (Mandarin Oriental)
g) Other: __________

20. Best Hotel Restaurant: Specialty
I can still taste the Chinese Dimsum Buffet in Li Li … yummy!

a) Paparazzi (Edsa Shangri-La)
b) Li Li (Hyatt Hotel & Casino)
c) Spices (Manila Peninsula)
d) Benjarong (Dusit)
e) Inagiku (Makati Shangri-La)

21. Best Chef
The Best Restaurant in the Philippines also has the Best Chef.
a) Colin McKay (Sala)
b) Marivic Diaz-Lim (Apartment 1B)
c) Sau Del Rosario (Kingdom)
d) Ariel Manuel (Lolo Dad’s)
e) David Pardo de Ayala (Discovery)
f) Marc Aubrey (Je Suis Gourmand)
g) Other: Chef Tony Boy Escalante

22. Lifetime Achievement Award
My only regret in my blogging life is that I’ve never met Larry Cruz when he was alive.
a) Larry Cruz (posthumous)
b) Margarita Fores
c) Gene Gonzalez
d) Anastacio de Alba
e) Other: _________


Text and Photos by by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.

Mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627)

26 thoughts on “My Votes for the Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets Award

  1. It would have been deserving if kikufuji izakaya was included for the best jap rest list.
    Anyway muang thai is a good candidate for nthe best thai.

  2. i was also asked to be one of the judges in the MBKRS awards.. and i agree with most of your choices, particularly ANTONIO’s as the country’s best restaurant (well, that and the category they placed him under) and chef tonyboy escalante as the country’s best chef (a very hard choice to make since this country has quite a number of excellent chefs but in the end i chose him because he is truly hands on, and as anyone who has been to ANTONIO’s a number of times will tell you, not only is the guy truly talented, truly gregarious and humble with not an inch of self-conscious conceit or artifice about him, but he continues to have a passion for what he loves to do – cooking for and entertaining guests who come to dine in his now even more stunning (after a fabulous 6-week renovation)gem of a restaurant in the middle of nowhere in interior Tagaytay. i was there last night w/some friends and boy, after eating there for five years, i can say w/conviction that this guy is even more on top of his game… whatta place,and whatta feast!!

  3. i’m not really totally sure but i think the owner of Amalia’s (i know of a branch in BF Homes, Paranaque) is related to the owner of Las Paellas (they have branches in BF Homes Paranaque, Alabang Zapote Rd. and Festival Mall Alabang) and Mingoy’s (they used to have a branch in Madrigal Ave. outside Alabang Town Center years ago).

  4. I’m excited to see the results of this one… as well as the downpour of reactions to your votes.:-) Hehe…
    I’m with you on Antonio’s and Je Suis Gourmand, that’s for sure. I hope Marc Aubry wins Best Chef though… he’s such a talent and an all-around great guy.

  5. Let me share with you a good Thai hole-in-the-wall that is not as known to many as it is known to the students of UST. The name is SR Thai and its location is at V.Concepcion St. in Dapitan in front of Perpetual Help.
    It is the Bellini’s of Thai food in Manila as it is owned by a husband and wife tandem that are both from Thailand. I really am not the judge if it is the authentic version of Thai cusine, but having the wife as the cook most of the time is something I think is worth the travel. They even grow basil leaves and some other herbs in front of the restuarant.=)
    The plus part is the husband will be the first and last person to greet you inside his restuarant in a very cute English.=)

  6. oh yeah! SR Thai is REALLY GOOD! you should try it. And also i think Aubergine is overrated or maybe because what i ordered wasn’t one of the best sellers..

  7. have u tried 145F steak and seafood along t morato ?
    I believe it’s new and they serve great steaks. Most of the items ok the menu are huge so it’s best to bring someone with you.

  8. Hi, Anton! Our department here in the office is waiting for your article on the best buffets in Manila and I hope it will be posted/published before the Christmas. We’re looking forward to a nice group dinner but of course it should be a value for money experience. Thank God for Our Awesome Planet. You’ve been our best source for events like these. (= More power!

  9. It would be really great if you come up with a list of restaurants too that serve yummy dishes without breaking the bank. Like for the common man with a budget of 1,000 pesos for three to four people, perhaps?

  10. hi anton. can u help me look for a fine dining where there’s a band or like some piano where i can dance my girlfriend. tnx

  11. Hi Anton:
    I think Ines missed out on Mingoy’s since it has been here from the 70’s. There is no relation between the owners of Mingoy’s and Amalia’s. Mingoy’s still has its original cooks till today and the food remains to be good as well. We eat there all the time and we consider it to be the best spanish restaurant here. They have 2 branches, Alabang and in the Fort. Please tell Ines she missed out on this one. Funny, she also got the story all wrong for Amalia’s. She was never a chef…….

  12. Hi Anton:
    I think Ines missed out on Mingoy’s since it has been here from the 70’s. There is no relation between the owners of Mingoy’s and Amalia’s. Mingoy’s still has its original cooks till today and the food remains to be good as well. We eat there all the time and we consider it to be the best spanish restaurant here. They have 2 branches, Alabang and in the Fort. Please tell Ines she missed out on this one. Funny, she also got the story all wrong for Amalia’s. She was never a chef…….

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