MANILA’S BEST: My Votes for Manila’s Best Restaurants in 2014!

Read the 2014 winners here:  MANILA’S BEST 2014: And the Best Restaurants in Manila are…

The Organizers

MANILA’S BEST 2014 is dubbed as “the Oscars of Manila’s restaurant industry,” organized by Ines Cabarrus-Habayeb and Elian Habayeb, authors of the bestselling coffee-table book Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets.

The MBKRS Awards determine the city’s best restaurants in a grand, bi-annual celebration with 30 award categories in total divided into the following groups: cuisine, specialty, hotel restaurants, and individual achievement.

Here are my votes for this year’s Manila’s Best Restaurant Awards:


Related Blog Post: MBKRS Awards 2012: And the Best Restaurants in Manila are…

What you need to know about Manila’s Best Awards:


It all started one night in 2006 when Inés and Elian decide over dinner at a hidden restaurant in Alabang that the city needed a beautifully laid-out coffee table book featuring Manila’s most loved restaurants. Two years later, their dream became a reality, and their book Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets a success.

On their book tour at various restaurants and bookstores, they were struck by the number of times they were asked this singular question: “which is the best restaurant?” Confident there must be a way to arrive at a satisfactory answer, they surveyed restaurant industry leaders they met in the process of writing their book, and concluded that an Oscars-style awards event may very well be what the city needs.

The rest is history. This year, Manila celebrates its fourth MBKRS Awards (a.k.a Manila’s Best 2014), recognizing excellence in the city’s dining scene. “It’s an awards show of the industry, by the industry, for the industry,” says Elian, who along with his wife Inés manage the growing Chihuahua group of restaurants.

There are some ground rules, however.

  • First, reigning champs do not compete this year. They sit this one out. They will be eligible again in 2016.
  • Second, MANILA’S BEST is all about homegrown restaurants. International concepts and restaurant brands are not eligible for nomination.
  • Third, except for Manila’s Best Newcomer, restaurants may only be nominated for one award category.

What’s new this year? Some new award categories such as

  • Manila’s Best Mexican Restaurant (from which Chihuahua naturally recuses itself),
  • Manila’s Best Modern Casual Dining (replacing Best Bistro),
  • Manila’s Best Pizza,
  • Manila’s Best Bar (replacing Best Restaurant/Bar),
  • Manila’s Best Nightclub, and
  • Manila’s Best Coffee Shop.

What’s also new is Manila’s dynamic restaurant industry, which seems to be in the midst of a culinary revolution, with innumerable new restaurant concepts, foods, and talent. With foodies becoming the norm, rather than the exception, and technological advances making it possible for people to share information like never before, there’s one burning question on everyone’s mind: who is Manila’s Best?


AND THE NOMINEES ARE (and my votes ✮)

Manila’s Best Italian Restaurant:

  • Carpaccio Italian Dining
  • Caruso Ristorante Italiano ✮
  • Cibo
  • L’Opera
  • My Kitchen by Chef Chris

2012 winner: Va Bene Pasta Deli 


Manila’s Best French Restaurant

  • Brasserie Girolle
  • Champêtre
  • Chef Jessie ✮
  • Le Jardin
  • L’entrecôte

2012 winner: Brasserie Ciçou 


Manila’s Best Spanish Restaurant

  • Cirkulo
  • Donosti Pinxos y Tapas
  • Las Flores 
  • Rambla ✮
  • Vask 

2012 winner: Terry’s Selection 


Manila’s Best Japanese Restaurant 

  • Kikufujji ✮
  • Nihonbashitei
  • Sensei Sushi
  • Seryna
  • Tsukiji

2012 winner: Sugi


Manila’s Best Chinese Restaurant

  • Choi Garden
  • Gloria Maris ✮
  • Jade Garden
  • Peking Garden
  • President Grand Palace

2012 winner: Hai Shin Lou


Manila’s Best Continental Cuisine

  • Antonio’s
  • Blackbird
  • Lusso
  • Stockton Place
  • The Gallery Vask ✮

2012 winner: Sala 


Manila’s Best Thai Restaurant

  • Azuthai
  • Basil
  • Nav Modern Thai
  • Silk Road Thai bistro ✮
  • Som’s Thai Noodle House

2012 winner: People’s Palace 

Manila’s Best Filipino Restaurant

  • Café Juanita
  • La Cocina de Tita Moning
  • Milky Way
  • Nam Nam
  • Sarsa ✮

2012 winner: Abé 


Manila’s Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

  • Arya Persian Restaurant
  • Behrouz Persian Cuisine
  • Beni’s Falafel
  • Café Mediterranean
  • Ziggurat ✮

2012 winner: Hossein’s Persian Kebab 


Manila’s Best Korean Restaurant

  • Dong Won Garden
  • Jang Ga Nae
  • Korean Garden ✮
  • Korean Village
  • Ye Dang

2012 winner: Kaya 


Manila’s Best Indian Restaurant

  • Bollywood
  • Kashmir
  • Legend of India
  • Queens Crystal Garden
  • Swagat Indian Cuisine ✮

2012 winner: New Bombay Indian Cuisine 


Manila’s Best Mexican Restaurant

  • A’ Toda Madre 
  • El Chupacabra ✮
  • Hermanos Taco Shop
  • Mexicali Orale
  • Not competing: Chihuahua 


Manila’s Best Specialty Cuisine

  • Brasas
  • Cyma Greek Restaurant
  • Juju Eats
  • Tao Yuan -Singaporean
  • Van Gogh is Bipolar ✮

2012 winner: Corner Tree Café 



Manila’s Best Steakhouse

  • House of Wagyu
  • I’m Angus
  • Highland Steakhouse
  • Mamou ✮
  • Melo’s

2012 winner: Elbert’s Steak Room 


Manila’s Best Modern Casual Dining

  • Apartment 1B
  • Chelsea Market and Café
  • Green Pastures ✮
  • Kettle
  • Wildflour Café +Bakery

2012 winner: Sala Bistro 


Manila’s Best Burger Joint

  • 8 Cuts Burger Blends ✮
  • Brother’s Burger
  • Mr. Jones
  • Burger Project
  • Burgers and Brewskies

2012 winner: Charlie’s Grind & Grill 


Manila’s Best Pizza

  • Gino’s Brickoven ✮
  • Nolita
  • One Way
  • Woodfire
  • Yellow Cab

New category

Manila’s Best Bar

  • Draft
  • Hooch
  • Rocket Room
  • The Black Pig
  • The Blind Pig ✮

2012 winner: M Café 


Manila’s Best Nightclub

  • 71 Gramercy ✮
  • Black Market
  • Hyve
  • Privé
  • Republiq

New category 


Manila’s Best Coffee Shop

  • Craft’s Coffee
  • Edsa Beverage Design Group ✮
  • Kuppa
  • Refinery
  • Yardstick

New category 


Manila’s Best Dessert, Ice Cream and Cake Shop

  • Bizu
  • Bono Artisinal Gelato
  • Cupcakes by Sonja
  • Purple Oven ✮
  • Sebastian’s Ice Cream

2012 winner: The Cake Club 


Manila’s Best Newcomer

  • Blackbird ✮
  • Grace Park
  • Green Pastures
  • Rambla
  • Your Local

2012 winner: Wildflour Café+Bakery 



Manila’s Best Hotel Restaurant:

  • Hotel Buffet Circles (Makati Shangri-La)
  • Crossover Buffet (Dusit Thani)
  • Escolta (Peninsula)
  • Heat (Edsa Shangri-La)
  • Spectrum (Raffles) ✮

2012 winner: Spiral (Sofitel) 


Manila’s Best Hotel Restaurant: Fine Dining

  • Cru Steakhouse (Marriott) ✮
  • Old Manila (Peninsula)
  • Prince Albert (InterContinental)
  • Sage (Makati Shangri-La) 
  • Strip (Solaire)

2012 winner: Impressions (Maxims) 


Manila’s Best Hotel Restaurant: Specialty Cuisine

  • Benjarong (Dusit Thani)
  • Inagiku (Makati Shangri-La) ✮
  • Lili (Grand Hyatt)
  • Spices (Peninsula)
  • Summer Palace (Edsa Shangri-La)

2012 winner: Shang Palace (Makati Shangri-La) 


Manila’s Best Hotel Bar

  • Le Bar (Sofitel) ✮
  • Long Bar (The Raffles) 
  • Sage Tapas Bar (Makati Shangri-La)
  • Sky Deck (The Bay Leaf)
  • The Bar (Peninsula)

2012 winner: Salon de Ning (Peninsula) 



Manila’s Best Emerging Talent

  • Chef Bruce Ricketts (Sensei Sushi) ✮
  • Chef Celine de los Angeles (Stockton Place)
  • Dani Aliaga (Rambla, Las Flores)
  • Dedet de la Fuente (Pepitas Kitchen) 
  • Erwan Heussaff (The Fat Kid Inside)
  • JJ Yulo (Pinoy Eats World)

2012 winner: Martin Wisniewski (Raintree) 


Manila’s Best Chef

  • Antonio Escalante (Antonio’s)
  • Colin Mackay (Sala, People’s Palace, Blackbird) ✮
  • Cyrille Soenen (Impressions, Brasserie Cicou)
  • Jose Luis Gonzalez (VASK)
  • Robby Goco (Cyma, Green Pastures, Charlie’s)

2012 winner: J Gamboa (Tsukiji, Cirkulo, Milky Way, Azuthai) 


Manila’s Best Restaurant Group Entrepreneur

  • Abba Napa (‘Cue, Burger Bar, Phat Pho, 8 Cuts, Namnam) ✮
  • Dixie Mabanta (Mexicali, Café Meditarranean, El Chupacabra)
  • Erik Cua (Republiq, 71 Gramercy, Opus, Draft, Beso)
  • Malu Gamboa (Tsukiji, Cirkulo, Milky Way, Azuthai)
  • Sergi Rostoll (Barcino, Las Flores, Rambla)
  • Werner Berger (Santi’s, Carpaccio, I’m Angus, Chesa Bianca)

2012 winner: Annabel Wisniewski (Raintree) 


The Manila’s Best 2014 Award Winners will be announced at an Oscars-like by-invitation-only gala, held this November 25 at the country’s premier hospitality school Enderun

So who is your vote for this year’s Manila’s Best?


Live an Awesome Life,


Disclosure: I wrote this article with my own biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.  

P.S. Here’s the list of judges for Manila’s Best 2014:

MANILA'S BEST 2014 Judges - 1MANILA'S BEST 2014 Judges - 2

MANILA'S BEST 2014 Judges - 3

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