MANILA’S BEST RESTAURANTS 2014: And the Best Restaurants in Manila are…

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Chef Bruce Ricketts of Sensei Sushi & Mecha Uma won Manila’s Best Emerging Talent!

I’m happy that my favorites–Chef Robby Goco, Chef Bruce RickettsChef Antonio EscalanteCafé JuanitaGino’s Pizza, and Blackbird–all won in the 2014 Manila’s Best Restaurant Awards!

On the down side, some were disappointed at the block voting for an entire restaurant group. Also, since the judges could just vote for the restaurants they have tried, only the old restaurant favorites won the awards. 

Nevertheless, the awards are very meaningful since they are voted by peers in the industry.

Congratulations to all the winners in the Manila’s Best 2014 Awards!

And the BEST Restaurants (✓) in Manila in 2014 are… (My votes marked with ✮)

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Best authentic Spanish Paella in town–ArroZeria!

Manila’s Best Italian Restaurant:

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

2014 winner: L’Opera

2012 winner: Va Bene Pasta Deli 


Manila’s Best French Restaurant:

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

2014 winnerChampêtre

2012 winner: Brasserie Ciçou 


Manila’s Best Spanish Restaurant:

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

2014 winner: Cirkulo

2012 winner: Terry’s Selection 


Manila’s Best Japanese Restaurant:

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

2014 winner: Tsukiji

2012 winner: Sugi

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Tacos Callejeros Mexicanos Taco Truck by A’Toda Madre!

Manila’s Best Chinese Restaurant:

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

2014 winner: Peking Garden

2012 winner: Hai Shin Lou


Manila’s Best Continental Cuisine:

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

2014 winnerAntonio’s

2012 winner: Sala 


Manila’s Best Thai Restaurant:

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

2014 winnerAzuthai

2012 winner: People’s Palace 


Manila’s Best Filipino Restaurant:

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

2014 winnerCafé Juanita 

2012 winner: Abé 

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Congratulations to Chef Robby Goco of Cyma for winning Manila’s Best Specialty Cuisine!

Manila’s Best Middle Eastern Restaurant:

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

2014 winner: Ziggurat

2012 winner: Hossein’s Persian Kebab 


Manila’s Best Korean Restaurant:

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

2014 winner: Korean Garden

2012 winner: Kaya 


Manila’s Best Indian Restaurant:

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

2014 winner: Kashmir

2012 winner: New Bombay Indian Cuisine 


Manila’s Best Mexican Restaurant:

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

2014 winner: El Chupacabra (new category)


Manila’s Best Specialty Cuisine:

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

2014 winnerCyma Greek Restaurant

2012 winner: Corner Tree Café 

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Chef Ed Bugia and Jutes Templo of Gino’s Pizza winning for Best Pizza in Manila! 


Manila’s Best Steakhouse:

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

2014 winner: Mamou

2012 winner: Elbert’s Steak Room 


Manila’s Best Modern Casual Dining:

2014 winner: Wildflour Café +Bakery

2012 winner: Sala Bistro 


Manila’s Best Burger Joint:

2014 winner: 8 Cuts Burger Blends

2012 winner: Charlie’s Grind & Grill 


Manila’s Best Pizza:

2014 winnerGino’s Brickoven (New category)

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Enzo Lim, one of the best Filipino mixologists. 🙂

Manila’s Best Bar:

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

2014 winner: Draft

2012 winner: M Café 


Manila’s Best Nightclub:

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

2014 winner: 71 Gramercy (New category)


Manila’s Best Coffee Shop:

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

2014 winner: 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

2014 winnerBono Artisinal Gelato

2012 winner: The Cake Club 


Manila’s Best Newcomer:

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

2014 winner: Blackbird

2012 winner: Wildflour Café+Bakery 

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Chef Massimo and Carolyn Veronesi of Va Bene Pasta Deli!


Manila’s Best Hotel Restaurant:

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

2014 winnerSpectrum (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)

2014 winner: Cru Steakhouse (Marriott)

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)

2014 winner: Inagiku (Makati 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)

2014 winner: Long Bar (The Raffles)

2012 winner: Salon de Ning (Peninsula) 


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Best Lechon in Manila–Pepita’s Kitchen


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)

2014 winner: Chef Bruce Ricketts (Sensei Sushi)

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)

2014 winner: Antonio Escalante (Antonio’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)

2014 winner: Abba Napa (‘Cue, Burger Bar, Phat Pho, 8 Cuts, Namnam)

2012 winner: Annabel Wisniewski (Raintree) 


About the Manila’s Best Awards

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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.

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.

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.


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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