Chef’s Table by Chef Bruce Lim


Chef’s Table by Chef Bruce Lim is the latest freestyle dining by-reservation-only restaurant in Manila. It is set on the rooftop of Tablescape Studio, which is hidden along Kalayaan Avenue, near Fort Bonifacio.

Chef’s Table will probably get my vote for the best restaurant in 2009. It offers a unique dining experience in the heart of the metro. Imagine eating inside a private kitchen studio that Chef Bruce uses for the Tablescape show, where he demonstrates how the dishes are cooked, plated and served. We were the first commercial customers — so let me share our experience with you.

Chef’s Table by Chef Bruce Lim Index

1. Soups and Salad: Chefs Salad vs. Roasted Tomato Halaan Cream Soup
2. Appetizers: Tartar Duo vs.Shrimp Ceviche
3. Main Entree: Potato-Crusted Salmon vs. Steamed Fish
4. Desserts: Creme Brulee vs. Fresh Fruit Salad


9 Things You Should Know About the Chef’s Table Private Dining


  • Chef Bruce Lim is the celebrity chef in the Tablescape Life on a Plate show, together with Angel Aquino. It is shown on Studio 23 and is the first travel cooking show on Philippine Television.
  • Chef Bruce is a Fil-Am Chef who fell in love with the beauty of the Philippines and the beauty of the First Pinay Drifter and Cebuana, Michelle Lim.
  • Chef Bruce has a second show called Chef’s Table, also on Studio 23.
  • Chef’s Table Private Dining is a freestyle cooking by-reservation-only restaurant. They only allow one group every night, so it is exclusive to the group.
  • They accept a minimum of a date for 2 or a maximum of 15 inside the studio, plus 15 outside in the garden patio.
  • Private dining costs P1,000/head (4-course menu) to P1,500/head (5-course menu with high priced items like beef, scallops, etc.)
  • If you are scared of Freestyle Cooking, they have a standard menu you can choose from for P1,500 per head. Download Chefs Table Menu Revised.doc (28.5K)
  • Wednesday is usually the shooting day for the cooking show, so it is not available for Private Dining. They only accept dinner reservations and maybe Sunday Brunch.
  • Each dining experience is unique and it depends on the creativity of their guest.

We requested to have a freestyle dinner with the only parameter being “Surprise Us”. We wanted variety in the course. Most of the group didn’t have any food restrictions, so we let the Chef surprise us with his creations. We opted for the P1,000/head 4-course menu, which included dessert.

Chef Bruce created a menu revolving around the theme Classic vs. Twisted. He fell in love with Filipino cuisine because of his Kapampangan grandmother. It is the reason why most of his creations are based on ingredients that can be sourced locally but are cooked in very interesting ways.

In each course, there were two choices that were split among the group. For example, since we were 6 in the group, we were served 3 soups and 3 salads for the first course. This way, we got to taste a lot of dishes. Normally, everybody gets the same meals throughout the course. 

1. Soup and Salad: Chefs Salad vs. Roasted Tomato Halaan Cream Soup

The meals are prepared right in front of you by Chef Bruce. He entertains you with stories of how he prepares the food and his awesome travel around the Philippines through the Travelscape show. He also plays a game of guess-that-ingredient (which I failed miserably because I don’t cook).

Chefs Salad. Mixed greens tossed in a roasted shallot vinaigrette and topped with sun-dried cranberries, toasted almonds and ricotta cheese.

The classic salad, composed of arugula and lettuce, is dressed with a roasted shallot (sibuyas tagalog) vinaigrette with cherry, red wine vinegar, pepper, olive oil and mustard. Frankly, it was ordinary and it failed the “Surprise Us” criteria.

The halaan soup was unlike anything we had ever tasted. It was inspired by an IIoilo dish that uses a roasted tomato technique.

The clams were sauteed with ginger, garlic, onion and oil before they were steamed in white wine. Then, the clams were separated from the soup before the dish was served.

Roasted Tomato Halaan Cream Soup. Classic clam and ginger soup, spiced with roasted tomatoes and enriched with cream.

The combination of roasted tomato, the bitter taste of clam, and cream with drops of basil oil was almost magical. I’m not sure how those different tastes complemented each other, but this soup generated “ang sarap…” comments consistently.

Verdict: For course #1, the twisted dish won over the classic one. (Note: Don’t forget to order this Roasted Tomato Halaan Cream Soup!)

2. Appetizers: Tartar Duo vs.Shrimp Ceviche

For appetizers, the theme was raw: a twisted kilawin dish vs. a classic tartare.

Shrimp Ceviche. Fresh prawns mixed with lemon juice and sake, then tossed with mangoes and apples for crunch.

For the kilawin, the raw shrimp was mixed with apple and mangoes. Apple juice, lemon juice and sake were used instead of vinegar. Finally, it was topped with chicharo sprouts. This twisted kilawin dish was inspired by Enteng, the kilawin king of Bacolod. He runs a restaurant called Yellow Chicken along Banawe.

Tartare Duo. Fresh Salmon and Tuna mixed with aromatics and topped with crispy kamote chips.

Tartare is defined as finely chopped meat or fish that is seasoned and served raw. In this case, it was a combination of raw tuna and salmon sashimi-grade fresh from the seaside market. The salmon was placed on top of the tuna with small cucumbers surrounding it. This was topped later on with kamote chips to add texture and height to the entire dish.

The tuna was mixed with sesame oil, while the salmon was mixed with roasted shallot oil. Chef Bruce taught us how to identify the shallot oil. It was by exhaling through our noses after a bite of the salmon. You should be able to taste it at the back of your throat.

Verdict: We all loved the Tartare Duo of Salmon and Tuna! This is a classic that you should not miss in Chef’s Table.

3.Main Entree: Potato-Crusted Salmon vs. Steamed Fish

For the main entree, ube (mashed with potato) was used as a bed for the steamed Lapu-lapu.

The Lapu-lapu was cooked to perfection. Chef Bruce finished it off with a hot oil technique and sesame oil for aroma.

Steamed Fish. Steamed Lapu-lapu fillets sitting on a bed of ube mash.
The combination of sauteed kamote tops and togue was inspired by a Korean dish that Chef Bruce discovered would go very well with the Lapu-lapu. We would have to agree.

I asked Aidan if he would cook for me someday like Chef Bruce, and he said he would cook pizza for me. 🙂 Syoti Joshua was more eager to go around the kitchen and watch the cooking action on the kitchen table. 

The sauteed wilted kangkong was used as the base for the salmon.

The potato-crusted salmon was baked with kasubha oil and szechuan peppercorn. Kasubha oil was created by Chef Bruce from Safflower (like Saffron). The salmon was pan-seared medium rare to retain its juiciness.

Potato-Crusted Salmon. Fresh salmon layered with potatoes and pan-seared to medium rare, sitting
on a bed of wilted kangkong.

Verdict: We all loved the Steamed Lapu-lapu with its side dish of Ube Mash and Kamote Tops + Togue. The Salmon was promising, but the meat itself was bland.

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4. Desserts: Creme Brulee vs. Fresh Fruit Salad

Finally! The dessert was what Aidan was waiting for. Honestly, I was not impressed with the desserts.

Fresh Fruit Salad. Seasonal fresh fruit topped with a lemon honey yogurt sauce.

Fresh homemade yogurt was used to wrap up the fruit medley of chico, grapes and honeydew. The kids did not like the taste of yogurt.

Creme brulee. Decadent cream custard crusted with sugar topping.

Aidan and Joshua were fighting over the creme brulee, so we had to order another one.

Thank you to Michelle and Chef Bruce Lim for the wonderful dinner. Such a nice couple! We didn’t mind staying there for 2 hours for the entire dinner and spending another hour talking about Chef Bruce’s culinary escapades in the high-roller casino in Las Vegas, his Filipino culinary discoveries, their love story and Tokyo drift.

If I were to summarize the experience, it was like being a judge on an Iron Chef show, with Chef Bruce competing against himself.

How to get to Chef’s Table by Chef Bruce Lim

From Edsa, if you are coming from Megamall, take a U-turn in Buendia. Go straight until you see the Rockwell flyover, then you turn right at Kalayaan. Go straight to C-5. After passing under the bridge, you will see LBC on your right and Cebuana Lhuillier, Tambunting pawnshop and a Kalayaan wet market on your left. Turn on the first right at E. Jacinto St.

Stop at the building with Lims Folding Furniture on the ground floor. Chef’s Table is located on the third floor / rooftop with a lighted garden. Michelle’s driver will assist you with parking inside their compound and guide you to the Chef’s Table studio.

The stairs leading up to the kitchen studio are lined with bamboo, lights and other green elements, which aim to transport you to a different place.

You’ll pass by Chef Bruce’s grandmother’s garden, which has different herbs that he uses as ingredients for his dishes.

A koi fishpond with a turtle and catfish will surely entertain your kids.

The garden is usually used by Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino as a set for their shows.

Chef Bruce and Michelle will greet you in the well-lighted kitchen studio where they shoot Tablescape and Chef’s Table. There is a TV monitor at the back, which they sometimes use to show cartoons to pacify the kids. The Chef’s table is a long table with benches, which could comfortably seat 10 people. The entire kitchen is also a showcase of the couple’s collections from their travel around the Philippines.

Btw, I suggest you bring your own wine while they don’t have corkage yet.

Contact Michelle Lim
+ 63 918 8871277
+ 63 922 8712777
Tel No. +632 4096425

Live an Awesome Life in God’s Love,  

Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2009. 

prof. blog:
mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627) 




P.S. Next time, we would go with the P1,500/head option, with the operating parameter: “Over the Top and Outside the Box”.

36 thoughts on “Chef’s Table by Chef Bruce Lim

  1. oh man i’m def there the next time i go home to manila. i can’t wait! i watch tablescapes every week. too bad they don’t show chef’s table on tfc.

  2. wow this is a good one. Its a different setting from the usual dinner at a restaurant. You get to see how the food is cooked before it is served.
    btw, thanks for sharing this. i really love reading your posts here. This is where I get some idea on what restaurants and places to visits. Congratulations.

  3. Thank You and I was excited really about this Chef Bruce Freestyle
    Dining…. You got to check it out and please share your experience…

  4. I wouldnt know that there is such a good resto which is walking distance from our place. My niece goes to the public school a little futher down that resto. I should visit the place one of this days. Thanks for this info

  5. The Lim’s are well known family in Guadalupe/Kalyaan area they own Jollibee Edsa Guadalupe, Jay Lim Bruce relative was my schoolmate during primary school days, they are so down to earth people inspite of their vast business and their wealth. Yo

  6. Hi Anton i love reading your posts thank you for sharing:)
    this is like a secret place like ChefLaudico’s garden in Urdaneta,makati Gosh i miss that place its soooo romantic! hopefully they will open it again for private dining
    btw Is it possible at Chef Lim’s to dine in the garden for 2 persons?

  7. 2hours for dinner, and an hour for chit chattin’, now that’s the way to have dinner just like the Europeans (West). Savoring the food and enjoying your company. We’re defintely gonna be there (in a couple of months?).
    Maybe you guys could join us again, bro?

  8. Yes, they accept I believe a minimum of 2 persons either inside or outside.
    Although, it would be nice to see what is happening inside the kitchen.

  9. me and my girlfriend ate there this week and i’ve got to say, it was probably one of the best meals i’ve had in a while, everything was great from the soup, salad all the way to dessert, we will definitely be back here soon, thank for sharing this wonderful resto with us anton

  10. hi anton! i immediately booked a reservation when you posted this entry. my bf and i had dinner there last night. such an amazing experience! my request was for chef to surprise us with the requirement that he had to prepare seafood. though most of what you had was what he also made for us, our dessert literally had seafood in it as well–lobster to be exact. chef’s really twisted haha but definitely it was an awesome experience and we are definitely going back for more

  11. Oh and one more thing—Chef also served us Calamares w/ green mangoes. There’s nothing quite like Chef’s Calamares—it is literally the tenderest Calamares you will ever have in your life!

  12. My career advice: Please sever your ties with kris aquino.
    Bruce can cook and can teach people how to cook. but it’s the mouth of Kris is what makes you cringe every second.
    nakaka distract tuloy sa mga nanonood kay Bruce.

  13. I like the pix that you display and I like Bruce Lim cooking. I saw him in Boy & Kris program. I would like to have Bruce Lim website so I can able to view what is the recipe for the day. I will appreciate your answer. More power.
    Elen Naldo Harnett

  14. CHEFS TABLE with CHEF BRUCE LIM will be opening its doors to guests on SEPT 15,for our soft opening there will be free appetizers during dry run period.Our new address is unit 106 the infinity 26th st fort bonifacio we can also send you the map,we are also on google maps.For reservations and inquiries plscontact gladys 09228449518.operation hours mon to sun lunch 11am-230pm dinner 530pm onwards thank you!

  15. please update this. i sent a text message to the posted numbers and was informed that chef bruce does not hold private dining here anymore since 2011. thanks 🙂

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