Greetings of a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Our Awesome Planet!
Here are the Best NEW Homegrown Restaurants by Young Chefs and Restaurateurs in Manila of 2019:
METRONOME is a modern French restaurant in Makati by Joël Robuchon-trained Chef Miko Calo, RJ Galang of Bakere/Man Eat Manila fame, Restaurateur Elbert Cuenca and Alain Borgers, formerly from the Shangri-La Group.
This is the much-anticipated restaurant opening of 2019 in Manila because of the rave reviews about Chef Miko’s food in the underground supper clubs, not to mention the place was featured in Chris Dwyer’s CNN article—Great plates: 15 new restaurants to try in 2019.
Overall, at the end of the meal, we asked Chef Miko, “Why is your food so good?” It looks simple, classic French (not fusion), but when you taste it, the flavors overwhelm you with their simplicity. Ang galing!
For the best experience, make sure to reserve the banquet tables which are very conducive for conversations with friends until closing time. Definitely, order the Egg and Spaghettini for the small plates, the Duck for the mains, Chocolate Textures and Baba Au Rhum for dessert. Budget ₱2,500/head for the dining experience or + ₱1,000 for the tasting menu + drinks. Indeed, it deserves all the hype and the food is worth every peso.
Metronome is the best French bistro in Manila.
METRONOME by Miko Calo
G/F The Grand Midori Makati, Bolanos St., Legaspi Village, Makati
Monday to Saturday 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Reservations taken between 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Mobile: +63 917 147 3776
Telephone: +632 618 4337
2. a mano
Located at Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall in Makati, a mano is a modern Italian restaurant by Amado Fores—son of Asia’s Best Female Chef, Margarita Fores—that promises faithful and fresh Italian food. a mano means “by hand,” pertaining to the handcrafted quality of the ingredients, the food and the service.
2019 witnessed the osteria battle of new Modern Italian concepts in Manila and, for us, a mano is the winner in that battle in terms of high quality of pizza, pasta, steaks and overall vibe. Ang galing!
Overall, we love a mano because of the hand-crafted quality of the food and the overall service. You can come back here every day and order different items, so you get to enjoy every dish on the menu.
Order our favorites: Taglierini O Tajarin, Bianco for the pasta, Stracciatella for the Pizza, the Bistecca or Pollo al Burro for the main, and don’t miss the Tiramisu for dessert. Budget about: ₱1,500/head for a full 4-course meal.
I think Amado is the next Larry Cruz, who was a great restaurateur (before my blogging days)—with well-executed restaurant concepts based on his well-traveled background and taste for good food even though he does not know how to cook.
Don’t miss Amado’s awesome concept, and make sure to reserve.
a mano by amado fores
R1 Level (Stall 144), Lopez Drive, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell
Operating Hours: Open Daily 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Mobile: +63 917 552 6266
Facebook: a mano
3. Test Kitchen 2
The Test Kitchen 2.0 moved from the actual test kitchen of the Bistro Academy in Kamagong to the posh neighborhood of Rockwell with bigger space, a la carte versions (vs tasting menu) and the cool kitchen lab playground of Chef Josh Boutwood.
Overall, this feels like eating in a Michelin-star restaurant in London with food grounded on aged meats, seasonal ingredients and in-house fermented food. It’s updated with the latest trends (but not faddish) with a nice curated selection of natural biodynamic wines. I love the tour of the test kitchen, aging rooms and different fermented ingredients used in the menu.
Start with the charcuterie and bread of the day and order the appetizer of cucumber, squid, dill and beef, horseradish, cauliflower. For your mains, the chicken, seabass and wagyu steak are quite good. Best to eat family style. The desserts were not remarkable so just order what you want to try to end on a sweet note with cold brew.
Budget about ₱2,000/head for a 4-course meal plus ₱1,500/head if you’ll get the steak and the wine pairings.
The Test Kitchen 2.0 by Chef Josh Boutwood
G/F One Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati City
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Drink Menu: Red Wine (France) | (Italy, Spanish) | (USA, South Africa, South America) | White Wine (France, Italy) | (Spain) | Rose Wine (France, Italy), Dessert Wine/ Port, Sparkling Wines/ Champagne
METIZ is a modern Filipino restaurant by French-Filipino Chef Stephan Duhesme who moved back to Manila from his restaurant stint in Bogotá (formerly Tria Neo Bistro) to embrace his Filipino roots, push our cuisine forward and be part of the young Filipino chefs who are driving the chef-driven restaurant dining scene in Manila.
The name is mestizo-inspired as a tribute to the mixed heritage of Filipino food and the chef’s roots. The menu is a fixed 5-main course experience using 100% local ingredients at ₱1,500/head.
Overall, I love how Stephan’s Filipino food is uncompromisingly 100% local ingredient-made which challenges him to be more creative. What’s more, he was even able to bring down the 5-course mains menu to ₱1,500/head only. The food is more savory and not too sweet, with emphasis on fermented vinegar-based flavors. This feels like a Filipino-focused version of Test Kitchen 2.0.
We love the Sisig Lumpia, Hito with Buro and the Carabao Cream with Tamarillo. The cold salad and chicken dish was pathetic but Stephan recommends to judge the experience based on the progression across the 5 courses versus evaluating the dish in isolation. Order the Gin Ampalaya and their selection of natural organic wines. Budget about ₱2,000/head.
This is a great place for a girls’ night out where you’ll feel satisfied and won’t feel bloated after the meal. It’s a great place for reunions, foodie gatherings or just catch-ups with good friends.
Karrivin Plaza, Ground floor, Building A, 2316 Chino Roces Ave, Extension, Makati, Philippines.
Open for dinner 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Mobile: +63917 898-5751
TALISAY, the signature restaurant of Chef Tatung Sarthou of Netflix Streetfood fame, features modern Filipino cuisine that includes recipes from his hometown in Talisay, Cebu. This comeback restaurant is the summary of all lessons learned from past private dining experiences, restaurant failures and exposure to both the sosyal and masa crowd.
It’s a going back home to the roots of elevated classic Filipino food with Cebuano highlights and a homecoming to QC where Chef Tatung’s private dining began. Some nights the place becomes a culinary playground for the chef’s creative Filipino experiences.
Congratulations on Chef Tatung’s ode to his roots in Talisay, Cebu and to his home in QC where it all started!
I like that the menu is on-point with the trend of elevating the taste of classic flavors (fusion is definitely out). This is a celebration of signature Filipino food—all made in the restaurant with the finest ingredients and the techniques Chef Tatung learned over the years. You’ll love the modern interiors with glass windows, spacious gardens and backdrop of trees that have been long-time residents of Maginhawa.
All of the dishes were good but our favorites were Porkchop Ilocandia, Lengua in Mushroom Cream Sauce and Jamon de Talisay. Talisay is a place to celebrate special occasions or to get together where you can come as you are. Budget about ₱800/head. Best to go with a group to enjoy the food, family sharing style.
Talisay Garden Café
Operating Hours: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
44 Maginhawa St., UP Village, Quezon City
Telephone: +632 8293-9077
Mobile: +63 919 877-6321
Facebook: Talisay The Garden Cafe
6. Alamat BF
ALAMAT BF, a Filipino Bistro by Chef Niño Laus and his southern partners, is the restaurant version of the famed Alamat Pub in Poblacion. Paulo Sayo transformed this old Aguirre St. house into a beautiful glass bahay kubo restaurant.
Alamat is a story of Filipino Pride championing Filipino Food (with focus on tribal and ancestral) and Craft Drinks now in the South.
I love that they expanded the Alamat menu to cater to family dining and pushed the boundaries of Filipino food by Chef Niño and Filipino drinks by Liquido Maestro Kalel. While Alamat is focused on innovating Filipino food, their sister restaurant Agimat focuses more on Filipino ingredients and re-inventing Filipino food. The food is good and on point, but some ingredients and combinations can be simplified.
Our favorites from Alamat BF: for pulutan, go for the Salted Egg Chicken Skin and the Bacon Bagnet Hotdog; Tiyula sa Itum and Adobo sa Pula for the Skewers; Kila Winner in the Tagay menu paired with craft cocktails and craft beers if you are hanging out with friends.
If you are going for dinner, I would recommend the Balbacua and Kansi. End the meal with Taho Cheesecake or Ginataang Monggo for dessert. Budget about ₱800/head for food and drinks.
Ang ganda at ang sarap!
Alamat Filipino Pub & Deli
240 Aguirre Ave., BF Homes, Parañaque City
Open Daily for Dinner 6.00pm to 2.00am (except Mondays)
Mobile: +63 917 625 8451
Facebook: Alamat Filipino Pub & Deli
7. Linamnam MNL
We celebrated Joshua’s 12th 🎁 at Linamnam private dining by Don Baldosano at their kubo-inspired home in Greenvale 2.
Linamnam serves modern Filipino food 🇵🇭 with a 16-course tasting menu at ₱1,700/head.
Overall, it’s an honor to get to taste the flavors of chef-in-training Don Baldosano. I love his passion for creating delicate sauces and delicious pairings, elevating Filipino food interpretation to a whole new level.
His food is not too sweet (as opposed to the food in Hapag) and more on the sour fermented side like Metiz or Test Kitchen 2. I like how he ages his own meats and how he uses herbs and flowers from their edible garden. Love the unique Filipino drinks, too. He needs to work on his desserts and overall service though.
Don’t expect high-end private dining because it’s in a middle-class home in the middle of a congested subdivision (which actually adds to its charm).
Linamnam MNL by Don Baldosano
31 Greenvale 2, Marcelo Green Village, Parañaque City
Operating Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 6:30 pm onwards
Mobile: +63 917 573-0246 (By reservation only)
P.S. Catch Don and eat at Linamnam this December before he goes to Europe for his internship.
8. Hapag MNL
HAPAG MNL is a private dining venture turned into a modern Filipino restaurant by Chef-owners Thirdy Dolatre (CCA), Kevin Villarica (ISCAHM) and Kevin Navoa (Malaysia-trained) in a Quezon City neighborhood. The name of the restaurant is inspired by the dining table where the family gathers to bond and eat.
Often compared to Toyo and said to be the younger and bolder version, Hapag elevates Filipino cuisine with cleaner execution and exciting presentation without losing its bold flavor taste profile. The comparison can’t be avoided because of their similarities: both are Chef-driven modern Filipino concepts characterized by an open kitchen, tasteful Filipino furniture and location that’s hidden in an alley.
Overall, is Hapag MNL better than Toyo?
Yes, Hapag is better than Toyo in terms of delivering authentic bolder Filipino flavors that a Filipino can identify with.
No, because its profile was a bit on the sweet side and too rich that if you eat the food in succession, masusuka ka and you won’t enjoy the mains and the desserts. The service needs improvement in terms of more engagement and knowledge about the courses.
For first-timers, try the 8-course degustation and budget about ₱3,500/head for the tasting course + drinks. I would go back and enjoy the a la carte main dishes, and I do hope they offer new dishes that are not too sweet nor too rich to balance the meal.
HAPAG Private Dining
201 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines
Tuesdays to Sundays: 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm seatings
Mobile: +63 947 560 1853
Facebook: Hapag MNL
9. Made Nice 2
Made Nice quietly transferred and did a brand reboot at the prestigious Rockwell neighborhood with spacious high-ceiling ambiance, Asian-inspired food and better service.
Read more: MADE NICE Rockwell Reboot (A Review)
Overall, Made Nice 2.0 is much better than the original Salcedo version, with better ambiance and nicer food.
I love how the main dishes are made nice and made the highlight of the experience. Order the steak, halibut, duck and vongole pasta, and you’ll be a happy diner. Budget about ₱1,900/head (without wine) or ₱2,800/head (with wine).
Make sure to reserve the booth tables for privacy and a nicer view of what’s happening around.
122 Joya Lofts & Towers, Amorsolo Drive, Rockwell, Makati City
Open daily 12.00 pm to 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm
Telephone: +63 917 183-6423
Facebook: Made Nice Supper Club
10. South Bank
It’s starting to feel like Melbourne in the south because of the demand for better cafes and better lounge and food experience in the Alabang Area.
This motivated Patrick Leyble, Wendy Esteban and Stevie Ang, who moved back from Melbourne to start a new wave of cool cafes and lounges inspired by the Melbourne scene, to create Southbank. We loved the food, the gin+cocktail program and the warm hospitality of the owners.
Overall, we had an awesome taste of Melbourne in Alabang, and the boys got to enjoy every dish. Loved the family-friendly ambiance in the morning, where the parents could still enjoy a good gin or cocktails.
Try the Salmon Aburi Bowl or Buttermilk Chicken Burger for your lunch and the Southbank Pancakes for dessert. Once you try their gin & tonic (like the Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin + Fentimans Rose Lemonade + Orange) or signature cocktails (like Dear John), you’ll get hooked on going back and hanging out here in Alabang. Budget about ₱500/head for food + drinks.
Finally, this is a cafe + lounge the southern peeps are waiting for! This is a place where you can enjoy breakfast with the kids, brunch with friends or hanging out at night with the barkada.
It is a place to make your Manila friends drive all the way to Alabang.
SOUTHBANK Cafe +Lounge
Central Plaza, Westgate Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Philippines
Weekdays 7.00am – 1.00am Friday – Saturday 7.00am – 3.00 am
Mobile: +63 916 247 8516
Congratulations to all of Manila’s young entrepreneurs and their chef-driven concepts!
Again, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Our Awesome Planet!
Live an Awesome Life,
Founder, Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.