And the Ultimate Taste Test Winners 2020 are…

Presenting… the Winners of the Ultimate Taste Test 2020 Masters Edition!

Most people say this was the “Best UTT (Ultimate Taste Test) Ever” because of the awesome home-based entrepreneurs who mastered their craft while on lockdown and throughout the quarantine.

This was also was the most challenging because of the safety protocols we needed to implement to ensure a Covid-free experience.

First Things First

About the Ultimate Taste Test Legacy

For the past 12 years, Our Awesome Planet’s “Ultimate Taste Test” has been the incubator and launching platform for many of today’s most popular and influential food entrepreneurs. All of them started out as home businesses, and thanks to the publicity and exposure from their participation in the UTT, they have become very successful brands.

Among the Ultimate Taste Test babies are Pepita’s Kitchen from the Lechon Diva, Dedet de la Fuente; Carmen’s Best, the Best Ice Cream in Manila; the internationally renowned Risa Chocolates by Pamela Cinco; and Bhest Lasagna, rated #1 Best Beef Lasagna in Manila.

This is the 2nd UTT Masters Event (with the first one last 2018) and the 18th event in the 12 consecutive year-run of Ultimate Taste Test. This is officially the longest running food event in Manila (even during Covid times).

About the Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020

#UTT2020 was a private taste test event held last December 15, 2020 with 100 invited chefs, food bloggers, media and food entrepreneurs to rate, provide feedback and support the budding food entrepreneurs forged by this pandemic.

It was held in the beautiful Gallery MiraNila by The Blue Leaf in MiraNila Heritage Estate that boasts of a high-ceiling Spanish hall, an al fresco garden area and a capacity of 50 pax per time slot divided into 11:00am to 2:00pm and 3:00pm to 6:00pm. This venue was designed with all the safety protocol considerations for an intimate, Covid-free awesome event.

Related Post: Announcing… Ultimate Taste Test 2020 (Masters Edition)

The top food entrepreneurs who meet the average rating of 3.8 and above (out of 5) from the distinguished food industry judges win the Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 – UTT Pandemic Edition!

And the Best Home-Based Food Businesses in Manila 2020 are …

1. Gelato Manila (4.49) @gelatomanila

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

We have been fans of Zarah since Bono and now Gelato Manila. She was the one who taught us how to appreciate gelato and we are happy for her, pursuing her passion for making the most awesome gelato in Manila.

Congratulations for winning the Ultimate Taste Test 2020 Masters Edition!

The Story of Gelato Manila
by Zarah Manikan, Chef & CEO / Gelato Manila

Gelato Manila is a premium HOMEMADE gelato. Everything I conceptualize and put in the recipes is actually inspired, produced and perfected at home for my loved ones (including close, close friends)! I am an R&D person at heart, a home baker through and through, and Gelato Manila is where my home recipes get made into products that I can share with everyone. Small batches, small quantities with very high labor and attention to detail.

When I started Gelato Manila, my two boys (15 and12) made the gelato with me, preparing ingredients, chopping fruits, churning and scooping, packing the gelato and cleaning up. We were in lockdown and we made the most out of it, loving the production process and bonding together, just keeping positive and making the best of what we had. This is when we thought: our Gelato was truly homemade.

📍Made fresh in Laguna
Instagram: @gelatomanila
Facebook: Gelato Manila

Pili Nut Gelato
Its homemade 100%, the harvested Pili fruits from the province are manually opened to get the nut inside, cleaned, blended and hand-squeezed to extract Pili Milk. Its churned into a special nut milk chocolate base gelato and manually layered with pili nuts and chocolate sauce for a nutty, crunchy decadent dessert.

Polvorones Gelato
Inspired by the well loved and timeless pasalubong treat, this Gelato is made with a special milk base, layered and dusted with our own Polvoron powder, mixed and toasted in-house.

What the Judges say about Gelato Manila?

Perfect. Love it both. The vegan gelato is a bomb. For me, that’s the way how a good chocolate gelato should be, you’ll know that they didn’t use compounded chocolate. 

A new way to have your gelato, Pinoy style.

The polvorones was unbelievable! It was a different way of experiencing polvoron. Loved it so much! 

The polvoron gelato was something different! Taste wise, it was ok and not too sweet but somehow, I didnt notice the gelato texture that Ive had with previous gelatos before(?). Didnt get to try the pili! 

Really good, not too sweet. Interesting flavors. You will not know that it is vegan if they have not told you so, which is a good thing. 

Great ideas on flavor, nice touch with the crispy chocolate on top, chocolate taste reminds me of batirol. 

I loved the chocolate shavings in the pili nut IceCream! Could not stop eating it!! 

I loved the polvorones because I’m a sucker for polvoron. The pili nut flavor, although vegan, was surprisingly good. Guilt-free without compromising the flavor. Tastes sinful still. 

Both flavors excellent and creative! Love the ‘toppings’ even on sample size. 

I didn’t get to try the Polvorones, but the Pili Nut Gelato was heavenly! Shet! :))           

The chunks in chocolate is great to give texture and the vegan ice cream is creamy 🙂 

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

2. Smoke Station PH (4.45) @smokestationph

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Indeed, this is certified the Best Smoked Meats of the Pandemic in Manila from the Queens of the Pit—Malor and Jen of Smoke Station PH!

Galing n’yo! Congratulations for winning the top savory spot for #UTT2020!

The Story of Smoke Station PH
by Malor Campita, Co-Founder, Smoke Station

It started when we accidentally bought a smoker. We thought we bought a pretty looking griller. The smoker builder taught us how to smoke meats. We also attended a class on smoked bbq. We cooked and had our friends and family try it out. They loved it and told us that they would want to order. That’s how it became a small business.

Filipino’s usually know BBQ as ihaw (cooking with fire using direct heat, high temperature, fast). Our products are quite different—smoked (cooking with fire using indirect heat, low temperature, longer). The process makes the meats really tender since it gives time for the fats to breakdown.

Our pit sessions occur on weekends only but we can also deliver on weekdays. We cater to MNL customers. 🇵🇭
We are open until sold out.
Instagram: @smokestationph
Facebook: Smoke Station PH

St. Louis Pork Ribs
This is not a traditional broiled ribs wherein when broiled, all the flavor of the meat goes to the broth. By smoking, we preserve the flavor in the meat thru rub and smoke. Foodies will love our product because it is flavorful and tender. No need for knife or fork to eat them. The meat falls off when you use your finger or your mouth when eating it.

Smoked Black Angus Beef Belly
The smoked beef belly is the best seller in our beef selection. Foodies will love them because Pinoys love super tender meats and this beef is really tender.

What the Judges say about Smoke Station PH?

Tender and love the taste.

Nicely smoked meat. Falls off the bone.

Presentation is awesome, tastes so BBQ good.

Unbelievably delicious!

I love that it “falls off the bone”.

The smoked black angus was a bomb! very soft and tender (even if already cold) and with the right amount of roasted rotisserie taste. The Saint Louis Pork ribs was flavorful and fall off the bone good too!

Meat was on the dry side but sauce was really good.

Best thing I ate in this Event, aside from Mama V Delicious. Loved the flavors of the hickory barbecue sauce and the beef ribs, smoked to perfection!

One of the most consistent melt-in-your-mouth premium meat dishes of the year.

Delicious. I’d order this again.

Super tasty meaty juicy! Love their sauce too.

Could be smoked more and could be fall off the bone more.

You can never go wrong with low and slow-cooked meats. Tender and juicy and smoky. The ribs were a little too peperry for me but once I ate it with the sauce, that balanced it out.

Ribs were super tender and the sauce was v good.

I love their ribs just the right mix of sweet and smoky!

Growing up with bbqs in the backyard every summer weekends… This is Excellent! Probably the first on my list. Backstory, this was a happy accident. They thought they bought a grill to barbecue meats. They didn’t know it was a smoker! The rest is history! So good with their sauces too! I secretly wished they were my neighbors. Not a secret anymore. Haha!

Sauce would be nice if u could elevate those

Go girl power! I told everyone, you’re #1.

Moist warm and juicy!

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

3. Salmon HQ (4.42) @salmon.hq

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Our favorite Naked Salmon Cake of the Pandemic and one of the best Sushi Bakes in Manila because of their fresh salmon and tuna!

Congratulations Queenie for winning the Top 3 spot for UTT 2020 Masters!

The Story of Salmon HQ
by Queenie Uy, Owner

We were inspired by our love for sushi. What makes it awesome is the freshness and quality of our ingredients.

🍣 Fresh Premium Cut Salmon Sashimi delivered to your doorstep.
Instagram: @salmon.hq
Facebook: Salmon HQ

Naked Salmon Cake
We want to highlight our salmon sashimi and make it a celebratory dish, so we made a salmon cake. The inside is filled with sushi rice, chuka wakame, spicy salmon, premium kani kama, ebiko bringing this dish to a whole new level. It’s a healthy alternative to the sweet cakes. 

Aburi Scallops, Salmon, Ebi Sushi Bake
The aburi scallops, salmon, ebi is loaded with seafood. This is filled with scallops, salmon, ebi, kani, secret sauce, seasoned rice, and topped with more scallops, salmon, ebi, crunch, ebiko, then torched to bring out the sweet smoky aroma and umami flavors. Eat it with seaweeds or on its own.

What the Judges say about Salmon.HQ?

I love the naked salmon cake Dry and quite overcooked on ebi sushi bake.

Very good recipe.

Best Sushi Bake in the metro! Salmon is fresh as ever.

Sobrang the best! In one word; ORGASMIC! The layers of flavor, the salmon, the sauce – just sublime. 10 OUT OF 10.

My first time to try sushi bake. WOW!!!!!

I was taking this for granted but the technique / taste are among the best I’ve had for this category of sushi 🙂

Very tasty and well presented.

Flavorful in every bite

This was my number ONE pick out of everything I tried. The naked salmon cake was so refreshingly good and the aburi was well seasoned.

Nice presentation, love the taste.

Naked Salmon Cake was so delicious!!❤️

I’m a fan of sushibake so this was a no-brainer for me. The naked salmon cake was a revelation for me because I don’t eat sashimi but this was really good. Love the combination of flavors and textures. The salmon was fresh too.

I super loved their SUSHI Bake.

Both v good!

Simply the best sushi you could ever have.

The Naked Salmon Cake was delicious! I could have eaten the whole thing but there were more dishes ahead. The other dish (aburi scallops, salmon, ebi sushi bake) was a nice compliment.

The aburi was loaded and delicious

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

4. Marikina Garlic Buns (4.21) @marikinagarlicbuns

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is the Best Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Buns in Manila! All the people who tried it during the event kept raving about this.

Ang sarap! Congratulations!

The Story of Marikina Garlic Buns 
by Manny Marbella, Founder

We were developing our burger buns for burger project. When we saw a video of a korean cream cheese garlic buns on YouTube, Noel immediately copied the recipe, modified them and in less than 2 weeks we soft launch our Marikina Garlic Buns. It was supposed to be just a side hustle during the pandemic.

We are bakers based in Marikina.
Instagram: @marikinagarlicbuns

Marikina Garlic Buns – Original
Though the original recipe was too sweet, we managed to develop somehow a balance between tangy, sweet, garlicky, creamy and custardy recipe which leaves the foodie to want more and finish the whole bun or box, which ever comes first.

Marikina Garlic Buns – Bacon Mushroom
The original was basically a mix of savory and sweet at the same time. A lot of customers were asking what’s the next variant or flavor. And the obvious ingredients that come to our senses was bacon & mushroom as a play towards more savory taste.

What the Judges say about Marikina Garlic Buns?

Both are good. However, the other has a little hint of sweetness. Best served with hot coffee.

Both are awesome!! Better than other offers in the market.

In my opinion the buns have a little too much filling which might make them soggy after time. Still though the best garlic buns we’ve tasted!

Quite satisfying as a quick snack.

Beautiful buns! Very rich but with the right amount of savory. Best eaten with tea (to take out the richness) and fresh from the oven when the crust becomes crisp!

Bacon Mushroom was the best!

The OG Garlic Bun is the benchmark for all other Garlic Buns

Highly recommended! Maybe cut just a tad of sweetness.

The breads could be fluffier but the cream cheese and garlic were really fantastic. The bacon mushroom was very tasty!

Really good bread. It can get addicting

This is super addictive. I couldn’t stop eating it and I would eat this everyday if I could but that’s also because I just REALLY love anything garlicky. 😊

They deserve the rate, + points generous serving, they even gave take home boxes. Love it,!

Best Garlic buns I’ve tasted!

I bit too creamy for me but the flavors are terrific! I am not sure if I can eat past one bun. I was torn between recommending it and loving it. This is probably a one bun affair for me. So placed it in the Love it! category.

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

5. Lola Conching’s Kitchen (4.11) @lolaconchingskitchen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I don’t like apple pies and I thought they’re just a waste of calorie, until I tasted Lola Conching’s Apple Pie. This is what I like about the pandemic, we get to taste the best of the best homemade heirloom recipes.

I would agree this is the best Apple Pie in Manila! Congratulations!

The Story of Lola Conching’s Kitchen
by Patricia Matti, Founder

Lola Conching’s Kitchen is a family owned business offering old-fashioned apple pies. Operations began in October 2020 when we saw an opportunity for pies of this kind in the market. We are operating out of a home kitchen in Quezon City armed with an heirloom recipe that has been passed on from generation to generation.

Our old-fashioned apple pie is created out of a recipe that has spanned generations. Lola Conching’s Kitchen is an ode to our dear grandmother, Concepcion Miller Matti, a daughter of an American soldier who fought in Iloilo during the Spanish-American War.

Lola Conching took the family around the world in the comfort of her kitchen, one dish at a time. Since then, her recipes have been passed on from generation to generation. Today, her spirit lives on as we gather ‘round the table and delve deliciously into the secrets and stories behind her dishes.

This apple pie is one of our all-time favorites and we’re thrilled to share it with everyone!

Imagine caramelized Fuji apples with a hint of cinnamon packed into a flaky all-butter pie crust. This recipe has been enjoyed by the family for years and we are happy to see other families beginning to enjoy it as well.

It’s hand-made with love and careful attention to details. The most awesome thing about it is the satisfaction it brings to those who have tried it thus far. An apple pie has always been a staple in many a celebration, and while there are a lot of other sweet and savory desserts on a quintessential Filipino table, we believe that our old-fashioned apple pies elevate the experience and contribute to what constitutes a truly memorable meal.

Home of the best, most decadent apple pie ever.
: @lolaconchingskitchen
Facebook: Lola Conching’s Kitchen

Lola Conching’s Old-Fashioned Apple Pie – Original Recipe
Our old-fashioned apple pie is made from scratch using caramelized Fuji Apples with a hint of cinnamon packed into a flaky all-butter pie crust. It’s both sweet and savory, an indulgent treat for the taste buds that provides a fitting exclamation to the most memorable meals.

What the Judges say about Lola Conching’s Kitchen


Perfect heirloom recipe.

Fresh, delicious, just feels like home whenever I bite into it.

Awesome! One of the best apple pies I’ve ever tasted. Only saying this because my sister in law also makes a mean apple pie.

Super pie! The filling isn’t the regular ones that are tangy instead of sweet.

Very generous filling with soft whole apple pieces, the crust is good too, still soft and chewable even when its cold! Was wondering, perhaps would be better with more hints of cinnamon (?).

I was looking for crisper apple pieces.

Truth in Advertising: one of the best, if not the best Apple Pie in MMLA!

Pity I forgot to get a sample but it really looked good.


Indeed. The. Best. Apple. Pie. Evah!

Perfect 10.

I loooooove Lola Conching’s apple pie. Would really go well with a salted caramel sauce, I think. Love love love it.

Crisp chunks of apple in not-too-sweet filling. Will also try it warmed and with ice cream!

Heirloom recipe with quality ingredients! Not the modern flaky buttery crust either. Eaten by itself, with whip cream or a la mode, hints of history can be tasted in each bite. Recipe from early 1900’s. Ingredients may not be exactly the same, but I’m told the flavor is just as close as Lola’s pie!

Must be eaten hot but the filling was top notch.

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

6. Adie’s Delight (4.11) @adies_delight

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Certified as one of the best bibingkas in Manila! I love how Adie was able to innovate the classic bibingka using galapong rice with the right balance of toppings, cheese and other flavors.

Ang husay n’yo! Congratulations, Addie!

The Story of Adie’s Delight
by Adeline Co, Founder

Reinventing the classic bibingka by giving it a more delicate texture that stays soft even when stored in refrigerator and reheated the next day. The blend of three kinds of cheese namely queso de bola, cream cheese and cheddar plus salted egg on top gives it a creamier taste making this all time favorite even more amazing.

It is a classic Filipino dessert with a unique twist while staying true to being a genuine rice cake as it is made of purely ground rice.

Adie’s Delight is here to satisfy all your cravings! 
Baking bibingkas Mondays to Saturdays.
Baking pies on Saturdays.
Instagram: @adies_delight
Facebook: Adie’s Delight

Triple cheese Bibingka Galapong with Holland Queso de Bola 
This delicate and creamy texture of bibingka that stays soft for days is unique that it’s even hard to describe in words. One just has to taste it.

What the Judges say about Adie’s Delight?

Love the charred flavor and pleasant banana leaf smell. The Bibingka is not crumbly almost in between Maja de Blanca and cheese cake texture like. Love the contrast of sweetness of Bibingka and saltiness of the toppings (Itlog na Maalat + Queso de Bola). Lastly, the baked Queso de Bola does the magic.

Soft, gooey good! I just had to have more.

The bibingka was delicious! Perfect dessert for the season! The serving was quite generous, not too large and enough to fill your tummy if you ate it alone.

Very interesting twist to the traditional bibingka. This one is fluffy and denser than the usual bibingka. Not too sweet too. A lovely take on an old timer classic where traditional taste and novelty actually comes out nicely!

The taste was great !

Delicious. Interesting flavor and texture

Didn’t taste like the usual bibingka that I know – lacks smokey taste. super sticky almost cassava texture.

Not your traditional bibingka, but good all the same.

To soft for a texture, reminds me of souffle.

Good texture.

This was just weird for me. It’s not the bibingka that I’m used to so I’m quite not a fan of this one. I thought the texture was a little weird but that’s just me. 😁

I like it, still soft even malamig sya.

Moist and tasty! Perfect as a gift!

Full of salted egg, and cheese 🙂

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

7. Valini Cuisine (4.09) @ValiniCuisine

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One of the best surprises of UTT 2020! Spanky was raving about Valini’s cuisine before the event and most of the judges were raving about the Bagnet Macao throughout the day.

Congratulations, Valini Cuisine. Can’t wait to taste more of your food!

The Story of Valini Cuisine
by Val De la Cruz

We cook what we enjoy to eat. We want to share our passion in food to the world. What makes it awesome is it’s all natural.

Instagram: @ValiniCuisine
Facebook: Valini Cuisine

What the Judges say about Bagnet Macao?

I like the taste the meat medyo dry.

Taste like a baked one and not fried. The sauce compliments well with the pork.

OMG! This is one of the best bagnet I had in my life! Congrats on a great product.

Very very good! Absolutely loved it. Loved the apple sauce, the crispness and the lack of oil. Enjoyed the sugar cane juice they had as a palate cleanser.

Love the crunch of the skin. Although it is my first time to have it with the hickory type sauce, I should try it without the sauce. Maybe it should be served on the side, as many people don’t like sauces or gravy doused on their entree.

Yum! Fried very nicely, meat,skin and fat all blended very nicely for a really sinful experience! And the tubo juice was a very welcome add on too!

One of the #1 best in UTT!!!

One of my favorite stands!

Bagnet is cooked to perfection. Great flavors too! The sauce is too sweet

Tender and tasty! The glaze was ♡

Considering it’s not fried, the skin is really crispy. I would eat it without the sauce which I feel will overpower the bagnet.

Bagnet was so good! Crunchy and so flavorful.

First of all, I love that they offered sugarcane juice as a palate cleanser. Nice touch. Good piece of pork. Love the combination of spices used. Very flavorful.

Amazing! I didnt know bagnet could be cooked that way!

Filipino-style Macao lean, tender, crispy, tasty bagnet (pork imported from Spain ata?)… and that sauce! Loved it! Outdoor, music and cold beers please!

My 1st bite was awesome.

Lechon Macau is juicy and plump.

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

8. MailChip (4.05) @mailchip

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is how we like our cookie—not too sweet, with the right texture and a good story.

I’m so happy for our friend Nines for winning the Best Home-Based Cookie in Manila for 2020 Pandemic season during the UTT 2020 Masters Edition!

The Story of MailChip
by Nines Licad

The journey wasn’t easy, but we can definitely say that MailChip is worth keeping.

Like most success stories, MailChip was built through lots of practice, learnings, patience, hard work and passion to create a great something that’s perfect for all ages, young and old.

There are those who prefer the latest and greatest cookie discoveries out there, but we want to be there for those who prefer timeless classics that gets better with age.

We knew what we wanted to create right from the start. It should not be as big or thick enough that you can’t finish it, not too sweet that it burns your tongue, or not too crumbly that it goes all over the place. 

For most, MailChip’s soft batch cookie texture is almost nostalgic, really. Our hearts are always full when we get feedback that they remember their childhood, their parents and grandparents, and their kids. 

We couldn’t forget the insane support from our family, friends and mentors who continue to inspire us to go the extra mile despite the many odds, one of which, a pandemic that changed the world. 

🍪 One of the Best New Cookies of 2020 🍪
Instagram: @mailchip

Orange Dark Chocolate Chip
Dark Chocolate and Orange is a classic combination that more people need to appreciate

White Chocolate Cranberry
It’s our best take on a classic white chocolate cranberry cookie.

What the Judges say about MailChip?

 I like the texture.

Delicious and nicely done.

The flavors are awesome! So much flavors put into their cookies, will be a staple in our household.

The orange dark chocolate chip cookie was like nothing i’ve ever tried before! It was so so good!

Keep up the good work!

Both are good but between the two, the orange Dark Chocolate chip is better. It has the right amount of sweetness that comes with nice tart orange kick in the end!

White chocolate cranberry is super sweet. Maybe the texture can be improved.

A little too sweet for my taste.

Too sweet for my taste.

The orange dark chocolate chip was the star. The white chocolate cranberry was good too but I wanted more of the cranberry flavor. Overall, good cookies.

I recommend the Orange Dark Chocolate Chip!

Orange dark chocolate is moist and chewy!

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

9. Marlene Monfort Pastries (4.05) @marlenemonfort

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We’ve been a fan of Marlene’s cakes ever since her carrot cake, regarded as one of the best in Manila. We also like her Sansrival with custard filling!

All the chefs, foodies, food writers, bloggers and restaurateurs love Marlene’s Cake during the UTT2020 Event. Congratulations, Marlene!

The Story of Marlene Monfort Pastries
by Marlene Monfort, Pastry Chef

Marlene Monfort Pastries is the eponymous name behind the cakes, pastries and sweets that I bake with love, using only the finest sourced ingredients. Because my name appears on these products I feel the passion and obligation to put forth only delicious food I myself would indulge in. This mindset of baking with love has translated because of word of mouth, a sustained and thriving home-based business during this pandemic.

The cakes are awesome because they use simple ingredients and the taste of the past—no short cuts in technique and using only quality sourced ingredients.

Instagram: @marlenemonfort
Facebook: Marlene Monfort Pastries

Carrot Cake with a Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
This simple and humble carrot cake recipe was what we served my father-in-law in the states when he was sick… needless to say, the ingredients are just shredded carrots and the usual flour, leavening agents, oil, sugar and eggs!!! Iced with a classic cream cheese frosting that’s not too sweet! 
That’s it!! 
No nuts!! 

Chocolate Cake with Coffee pastry cream filling and an old fashioned hand stirred over the stove top cocoa frosting!!
In 1980, the Cookie Monster chocolate cake recipe was given to me by a relative but the cake batter would explode when I baked it in the oven.. In 2005, after pastry school, I fixed the recipe—adjusted the flour ratio to the leaveners and decreased the sweetness in the pastry filling… also used the technique I learned of how to make pastry cream properly; plus took out the flour in the frosting and hand stirred the frosting until it thickened to frosting consistency—the long way!!

What the Judges say about Marlene Monfort Pastries?


Deliciously good! 🤟

Not too sweet and brings out the flavors, so good for sweet endings.

Both cakes were amazing! Wish we had a full size! Could have eaten both in one sitting.

My #1 Favorite CARROT CAKE Ever. It’s not complicated, but it’s sublime!!!

Presentation, taste and texture were fantastic!

Love the chocolate cake, carrot cake is a little bit too sweet.

The carrot cake was so good. Super moist. The chocolate cake comes a close second.

 It wasn’t bad. But again, I don’t have much a sweet tooth. This may be a bit too sweet for me and bit to creamy which sort of overpowered the texture of the cake. I enjoyed the carrot cake a lot, but I’m more accustomed to having nuts and a citrusy cream cheese kick.

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

10. Kuma Kuma Curry (4.02) @kumakumacurryph

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We tried a lot of Japanese for delivery in Manila but I would agree that Kuma Kuma Curry is the best in the Metro with their unique taste of Curry and butter chicken version.

Congratulations to the Kuma Kuma Curry Team—Nathaniel Benedicto, Nina Capistrano, Takumi Reyes and Erika Pangan!

The Story of Kuma Kuma Curry
by Nathaniel Benedicto, Co-Founder

We started the business during the pandemic mostly to follow our own passions. Takumi, our head chef, was the former sous chef at Mecha Uma. He recently left his position there to venture out yet continue his passion for food, in this case, through Japanese curry. For the other partners, we are the team behind BirdBox, a chicken shop that started out in BGC. We ended up working together through mutual friends given that we had the same goal of wanting to provide a new experience for customers through food – hence kumakuma curry!

Our “story” finds its origins in our chef, Takumi’s, immense, insatiable liking for Japanese curry. At the core of it, the dish was actually something Takumi grew up eating in his household. Japanese curry was the kind of dish that the whole family would look forward to every Sunday. Takumi’s love for the dish not only led him to try different variations of Japanese curry inside and outside of the country, but likewise drove him to learn more about the process of creating it and the rich history behind it. Given this and Takumi’s culinary background, working as the sous-chef in a critically acclaimed restaurant, he was compelled to create his own blend of Japanese curry that he felt would do the dish justice.

All our products are made-to-order by our chef. Our ingredients go through the utmost care and precision during cooking. Everything from the type of pickles down to the curry powder we use is made fresh for each batch by our chef. Its the dedication to quality and the obsession over the finer details.

You might call us the Japanese Curry enthusiasts.
Instagram: @kumakumacurryph

Signature Beef Curry
The Signature Beef Curry consists of two types of Japanese curry. 24 hour sous vide beef brisket curry and dry beef curry with an onsen egg. These are served with two types of pickles – spiced carrots and a beet & radish mostarda. Unlike most japanese curry dishes, this features two types of curries in one dish. We recommend trying each one separately and then together with alternating bites with either pickles to alter the flavor with each bite.

Foodies would love this due to the number of flavors that they’ll be experiencing throughout the dish. The pickles we use have two varying flavors used for either cleansing the palate or for altering the flavor of each bite.

Butter Chicken Karaage
The butter chicken is a staple for most lovers of curries. Our version takes its inspiration from the indian murg makhani that everyone knows and loves. We use japanese techniques however for the cooking and the calibration of our butter chicken karaage. For the meat, we use Karaage glazed in our butter curry with the goal of the skin absorbing the flavor of the curry.

Foodies would love this due to the familiar flavors of butter chicken with the slight variation due to the Japanese cooking techniques and the twist of having Karaage as the main meat of the dish. The pickles we use have two varying flavors used for either cleansing the palate or for altering the flavor of each bite.

What the Judges say about Kuma Kuma Curry?

Beef us tender, love the taste.

Comparable with that of high end Japanese restaurants serving Japanese curry.

Fresh curry period! So good.


Beef curry was good, as how Japanese curries usually go!

Butter Karaage is THE BEST that sauce is BRILLIANT!!!

Love the packaging.

Lessen the sour taste and pinkish tone of the karaage.

Signature beef curry is artisan Japanese curry with authentic Jap taste. The butter chicken karaage has a taste profile that we have not seen in the Manila food market. It’s not my preference but there might be a market for very mellow curry.

Very savory even the packaging is well thought about.

Both are really good. I am a curry lover and they nailed it hard. Well-balanced and loved the Japanese umami flavors.

Loved the butter chicken.

This curry is one of the best you can get in manila! 10/10

I enjoyed the presentation and packaging. The Signature Beef Curry was what I enjoyed. The Butter Chicken Karaage was “we had a good time”. I was torn with this one as well. But it was the curry that pushed it for me.

The curry sauce is really good.

Must be eaten hot.

Chicken was tender Beef has a more deep and complicated flavor.

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

11. By : Chef Kin (3.89) @bychefkin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

There was a mixed reaction with the butternut crinkles but all of us agree that the Limoncello Tiramisù was the best—refreshingly creamy and satisfying. Congratulations, Chef Kin!

The Story of By : Chef Kin
by Chef Rankin Cailles

I started during the lockdown. I add my personal touch as much as possible. I wanted to be recognized as a new business that has promising products. I see to it that I don’t just serve good food, I want them to experience good food.

Chef Rankin
Instagram: @bychefkin
Facebook: Bychefkin

Butternut Crinkles
I made a spin from the favorite flavored donut and incorporated it into a crinkle with my personal added touch of coconut desicant

Limoncello Tiramisù
I tried to deviate a little further from the classic Tiramisù which we also serve and made a refreshing and not so sweet product.

What the Judges say about By: Chef Kin?

Love the taste and texture.

Limoncello Tiramisu is very good. The Butternut Crinkles doesn’t look like one as it looks like a cookie to me. A good crinkle has a good crust that cracks and pull apart during baking. Nevertheless, the flavour a good butternut is already there.

Had so little to taste.

The butternut crinkles were so so good!

Right there with the best of them!

Crinkles taste was really good!

Crinkles 3/5 Tiramisu 4/5

Crinkles lacks “butternut” flavor. Its tastes like brownie cookie but its really good.

The tiramisu had an unexpected kick which I loved. The butternut crinkles were chewy and yummy.

The lemoncello tiramisu is unique, something different.

Good limoncello.

Butternut Crinkles were alright for me but my girlfriend loved ’em. I loved the limoncello tiramisu more. Love the hint of citrus and acidity.

Limoncello is delicious but could be a tiny bit richer.

The tiramisu is sinfully decadent!

Yes and Yes! The citrusy lemon tiramisu was delicious! Butternut Crinkles another winner! Both were well-balanced. It felt like I had just eaten dessert at a fancy restaurant.

The limoncello soak was muddled, maybe refine that but I enjoyed the cream.


Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

12. Taco Tuesday (3.89) @tacotuesdaymnl

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Another surprising discovery during the UTT, and I can eat this everyday not only on Tuesdays. The best taco of the 2020 pandemic. Congrats guys!

by Jannella Marie Tee

The story starts off with a craving; I was seeing these tacos all over the internet. Being in a relationship with a chef and also working in the food industry I asked him to cook it for me. As soon as we ate it we knew that it was something simple yet delicious something that we could cook every Tuesday. Unlike normal people who would cook at home. Because we work in a restaurant we decided we should invite everyone to celebrate taco Tuesdays with us and enjoy these simple yet ohhh soooo flavorful birria tacos with us.

Our product started off as a craving now it’s something we do every week because we love tacos on Tuesdays!

Taco Tuesday
Instagram: @tacotuesdaymnl
Facebook: Taco Tuesday MNL

Birria Tacos
As I said, these kind of tacos have been all over the internet since 2019. Our tacos are made fresh every Tuesday we wake up at 6am to prep our taco meat and broth by the time we start sending out our food, the meat and broth have been simmering for over 4 and a half hours. We do the proper cooking techniques and we put a lot of time and love to our product.

What the Judges say about Taco Tuesday?

Good but needs hot sauce and maybe a plate.

Meat is tender, I like the taste.

Tastewise, the flavour of birria is almost there but needs more refinement. I saw their preparation and it can be seen that they tweaked the recipe and procedure to fit in the Pinoy’s palate. Their version of Birria Quesataco con Consomme will be like by Pinoys.

The best tacos ever!! Will be ordering again soon!! Best among all this UTT.

This was the first time for me to taste Birria Tacos. The tacos were feminine and elegant and the consomme was rich, beautiful, and packed a flavorful punch. Heavenly combination. Congratulations!

Fabulous! This is my first time to have a taco with that kind of bread! So lovely newly cooked! Also, the meat is different than traditional ground meat. But the best was really the supposed sauce. You can actually enjoy it as a soup. Super hearty!

The taco filling was very even and the shell/skin didnt crack so easy to eat! Taste wise, it was good too though I’d put in more of the condiments next time to take to up the meaty flavor!

Just like Taco Bell’s Chalupa!!!!!!!!!! taco everyday dapat :))


This was one of the standout products in the whole exhibit! Super loved it. Can be less greasy but all in all it was fantastic—every bite of it.

Lacks umami.

Really friggin’ good. I eat tacos all the time in California and Taco Tuesday could seriously give them a run for their money.

Great everything!

The birria soup is to die for

Nothing really stood out for me. I didn’t get much flavor from the meat. It was a confusing blend. Sauce/dip. What I remembered most was tasting the cheese?

Would suggest making your consommé thinner 🙂


Dipping sauce was great!

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

13. CHOC (3.84)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

One of the unique cookie creations we tried during this Covid season!

Congratulations to Dana! You are on your way to follow your mom’s footsteps (even surpass it)!

by Dana Louise Sagenes

I always wanted to start my own business. When ECQ happened, I had so much free time that I took the opportunity to finally make my dream a reality. I am a chocolate lover. I can eat chocolate all day err day, hence the name CHOC.

It’s Choc O’Clock

Brownie Crinkle Cookie Sandwiches 
It a brownie cookie match made in heaven. Definitely a “CHOC” lovers dream! It’s a brownie and a cookie in one. On top of that, it has a twist of salted caramel. It’s just TDF! 

What the Judges say about CHOC?

Way too sweet.

The texture is good. Soft and chewy.

Great quick dessert.

Perfect chewy cookie, yum!

A little too sweet for my taste but the salty kick did me in. Good!

Really good! A little crisp on the outside yet chewy and gooey in the middle.

I don’t have a sweet tooth, but this unassuming cookie really packs a punch! And not too sweet! If this was a vitamin, I wouldn’t forget to take it every day!

Too thin to be a brookie. I found the brownie but not too on point but it was a really tasty chocolate cookie sandwich. Want to try it with ice cream.

Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020 Judges

Honorable Mentions

14. Boomers Tribe Variety Trading (3.74)

I personally love the umami flavors of the Chicken Pastil with palapa – a Maranao sweet and spicy condiment made of white scallions, ginger, turmeric, labuyo and toasted grated coconut.

The taste is not familiar so it got a mixed reaction but if you are looking for something unique, this is our go-to-food in a bottle to pair with rice and vegetables. Ang sarap niya.

15. Aurora’s Kitchen Makati (3.73)

One of the best Kare-kare we tried that is rich and based on the family’s heirloom Filipino recipe. Rache loved their Ube Halaya and it is hard to impress my wife with just any ube.

Final Thoughts

First of all, thank you to Gallery MiraNila by The Blue Leaf team for all the support and for making the event a Covid-free success!

Thank you to Bizu Catering Studio for the socially distanced table and chair setup and SIP Purified Water for the Covid-free drinking water experience!

Salamat to our Ultimate Philippines Brothers: Spanky for curating, hosting, and organizing the event, and Ivan Man Dy for hosting the tour of Mira Nila Heritage House!

Best of all, thank you to the love of my life, Rache @MrsAwesomePlanet for the inspiration and never doubting our advocacy to support the local food industry by doing a Covid-Free Ultimate Taste Test event a reality!

Congratulations to all the awesome home-based food entrepreneurs in Manila! #UTT2020Winners

Live an Awesome Life with Christ,

Founder & Digital Creator, Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: Thanks to Nikkei Team for the experience. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.

P.S. Thank for you all those who supported the Ultimate Taste Test Masters Edition 2020! This year has been difficult for our industry and it was awesome to meet all of you face-to-face during the event.

Your buwis-buhay presence was priceless and we will support you all on your own endeavors! Maraming Salamat!

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