Good Restaurants in Manila
I'm looking for some good authentic Filipino, seafood, or a unique dining experience. Anyone know of any places?
I have never had what I would call a memorable meal in Manila. I think most people stick to the restaurants in the hotels which, at least for me, have always been quite good. I have been taken to a couple of Filipino places along Roxas Blvd (can't remember the names) that were just OK. Lechon (Roast suckling pig) seems to be a big specialty. Good luck
Josephines in Makati is about as good as it gets. Mostly eat what my Mother In Law cooks which is quite good . Also , Aristocrat BBQ on Roxas blvd is good
There is a great deal of excellent food in Manila, but you have to know where to get it. Sadly, most Filipinos are not as passionate about food as Singaporeans. But if you can work your way into a food-loving circle, you will not lack for memorable meals.
My first choice for great local food is the open air Saturday market in Salcedo Village parking lot. When I am in Manila, all my Saturday mornings are blocked off to shop and eat at this market. It starts at around 7:30 a.m., and ends around 2 p.m. There are dozens of stalls selling everything from live fish to fresh tropical fruit to 3 kinds of lechon to all sorts of regional specialties. A lot of it is restaurant-quality food in a street-food setting.
A word on lechon. The really good stuff has to be ordered whole and in advance from a few places that do nothing but lechon. Places that sell chunks of lechon by the kilo range from bad to bearable. If you have the opportunity--say a party of at least 3 ravenous people--you can go to Casa Armas on Nakpil Street in Malate and order a cochilillo, a whole roast suckling pig. Casa Armas also does some pretty good Filipino-Spanish dishes, seafood paella, tapas, etc. I believe they have a branch on jupiter Street in Makati.
My favorite Filipino restaurant in Manila is a few doors away from Casa Armas. It's on the ground floor of the Adriatico Arms Hotel, on the corner of Nakpil and Adriatico Streets. If you eat raw fish, the kilawin na tanigue (similar to fish ceviche) is excellent; the gambas al ajillo (prawns in olive oil and garlic) are delicious, too; the prawns cooked with ginger, coconut milk, and bitter melon is the sort of thing that you would get at the home of a very good Filipino cook. You can order pretty much anything here and not be disappointed. (Except for dessert, for which you're better off at Cafe Adriatico, a few blocks away.)
Oh, yes, the Via Mare Oyster Bar, in the Makati Greenbelt (Building 2 or 3) has very good seafood, too. The oysters here are deliciously prepared, but if you are accustomed to the flavor of cold water oysters, you will probably prefer the Philippine oysters baked. Try the sampler. And the seafood bisque used to be quite nice, too.
For dimsum, go to the Shang Palace at the Shangri-la Makati. Not as good as the very very best in HK, but better than anything in San Francisco.
Give these places a try, and I think you will come away with some very good food memories of Manila.
I realy appreciate the long response you wrote back. Thanks a lot and I'll take this information for my trip.
Wow, I'm in Manila right now until Dec. 5th, (we were spared the destruction of the typhoon). For authentic, fine, AND especially unique you can't go wrong with LA COCINA DE TITA MONING. It's located in an ancestral home near the Presidential Palace of Malacañang.
Note that reservations are REQUIRED and they do not take solo diners (min. 2 persons). You must select your menu in advance when making reservations, which can be done from their website.
Many Philippine dishes require extensive preparation & cooking, which is why I like the fact that you pre-order your food. I think this is why the Philippine dishes served in restaurants States-side aren't really that great, they don't take the required time to authentically create a dish. Good food maybe, but not great. This is a cuisine which excels when cooked in the home.
Note that the menus are divided into Classic & Filipino. I find the Classic selections to be more Spanish-Filipino, while the latter is more "native." I highly recommend Filipino Menu 1 for your needs.
They also have tasting menus, which are more of the "Classic" dishes.
Prices are quoted in Philippine Pesos, these past couple of days the exchange rate has been around 49.70 Ph. Pesos to 1.00 US$.
Note that it's not near the major hotel areas, so you will need to take a taxi (a minor deterrent for Chowhounds!)
re: Mr. Roboto
Mr. Roboto is absolutely correct in saying that the best Filipino food is cooked at home. tk467's mother-in-law's food is almost certainly better than Josephine's and Aristocrat's, which are, well, big chain restaurants, and not representative of the best of Filipino cooking any more than Chili's and TGIFriday's are of American cuisine.
I haven't been to Tita Moning's, though some friends, who recommended it highly, were supposed to take me there a couple of years back. (Ironically, I think it was a typhoon that changed our plans. Tita Moning's is in an area that tends to flood during heavy rains.) I did get to try their bread pudding, and it was delicious.
One more excellent restaurant which I had forgotten to mention, is Circulo, at the corner of Pasay Road and Paseo de Roxas in Makati. If you are willing to eat pork, their version of sisig (seasoned minced pork cheeks with skin--and maybe ears and muzzle--grilled to a crisp) is killer stuff! The beef belly is also delicious, though very rich. Lots of other yummy things on the menu, including dessert. Just ask the manager or waiter what the regulars order:)
I was staying within walking distance to this restaurant, it's actually spelled "EL CIRKULO", here's their website:
Very good restaurant, however it's more Spanish. Also, please note that it's on Pasay Road, which is the old street name, and everyone still refers to it as such, even on El Cirkulo's website. The current street name is ARNAIZ Ave., however all the drivers still refer to it as Pasay Road.
Gotta run, I'm typing this right now at the Manila Airport, heading for Taipei.