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Moving to Manila. Need some recs.

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Hi guys, I'm moving to Manila next week for awhile, and would like to get some restaurant recs. I am going to based in the Fort/ Makati and since I really loathe the traffic I would like to stick around there. I have been to Manila a number of times and have always enjoyed the food. But since I am planning on moving there and Filipino food isn't always the best on the waistline I'd like some help finding some good international and fusion restaurants. Namely:

-French. Especially for Valentines day, I'd like the best in town.
-Thai. Since sometimes I need some spice in a country devoid of it.
-Japanese. Any good Izakaya style places and of course the best sushi in town would be wonderful.
-Fancy. For getting dressed up on date nights... ;)
-Contemporary. The hot new spots, and the best of the best. I have been to Lolo Dad's (the original location), and while quite good there has to be better.
-And of course anything else that is fantastic. I've read most of the threads on Pinoy food, so I think I'm covered there.
-Oh, and recommendations for gourmet markets where I can get some good ingredients for home cooking. The non local fancy stuff.

Thanks a lot. I'm hoping to make the most of living there.

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  1. For Thai, I liked Benjarong at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati.

    http://www.dusit.com/hotels/philippin...

    1. Thai: Aside from the previously mentioned Benjarong, there's People's Palace in Greenbelt, as well as Som's (more like street food) near Rockwell.

      Japanese: Tsumura in Salcedo Village, the Japanese restaurants at both of the Shangrila hotels (Inagiku at Shangrila Makati), and the pricey Tsukiji at the Milky Way Building

      Fancy / Contemporary: The Goose Station (yes, it's a corny pun on "degustation") at the W Building in Fort Bonifacio, In a similar vein, there's the restaurant (expensive, and I forget the name) of the cooking school near the corner of 5th and 32nd in Fort Bonifactio. And an abiding favorite of mine for over a decade, Sala, near the corner of Ayala and Makati Ave. Sala Bistro is pretty good, too. Lu at Rockwell has good modern Mediterranean food.

      French: the closest thing to proper French cuisine is probably at the Prince Albert at the aging Intercontinental Hotel, though they are probably best known for their prime rib. For simple French food made with local ingredients, there's the Alliance Francaise on Reposo St. La Regalade on Pasay Road was okay the time I went, though friends tell me it is inconsistent. Bizu in Greenbelt for uncomplicated food and French pastry. The macarons can compare with those in San Francisco.

      (In any case, I'd avoid eating out on Valentine's Day--restaurants are packed to the gills, service is bad, and the outrageously priced, barely edible food will annoy the romance out of anyone.)

      Chinese: Shang Palace at the Shangrila for very good dimsum; Tao Yuen in Malate for seafood.

      Gourmet groceries for imported foods and wines: Terry's Selection on Pasong Tamo for chiefly Spanish delicacies (think jamon iberico de bellota), Santi's on Yakal and at Rockwell for stuff with a Swiss slant, and Bacchus at the Rockwell Power Plant for everything from Italian chocolates to American beef and Chicago popcorn..

      If you are going to be in Manila for a good while, try to get into the Cheese Club. (You'll have to be invited by a member.) The club usually meets at the Polo Club on the first Wednesday of every month and they have a wonderful selection of wines and cheeses.

      And, first chance you get to have a few people over to your new home, order a lechon de leche--a whole roast suckling pig. The smallest ones are good for 4 people. A good size is around 12-15 kilos. (You'll need around 1 kg per person, if you want leftovers.) Call the oddly-named
      Lechon Family (Cebu style lechon--forget the sauce)
      129 N. Domingo St. cor. P. Tuazon Bldv., Cubao
      Phone Number: (63 2) 724-9353, (63 2) 725-9342, (63 2) 410-4281

      Enjoy your stay in the Philippines, and please report back.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pilinut

        The name of the Fancy/Contemporary restaurant on 5th and 32nd in Fort Bonifacio is Aubergine.

      2. Prince Albert at the InterContinental? A French Restaurant? I think NOT! It’s a steak place wannabe. Now, even if it is French, I wouldn’t recommend it. The last, and only time, I was there, everything was laughably bad … from the comical and inept service to the awful dishes.

        The Goose Station is OK. Aubergine, also in the Fort Bonifacio area, is not bad. Good service in both restaurants. But, honestly, I’ve been taken to many so-called leading-edge contemporary restaurants in Manila and none have really provided a lasting impression on me sufficient for me to eagerly return for a second go around. I don’t know if it’s the ingredient or something else, but the dishes just don’t measure up to those similar type places that we have here in the US. Also, I notice that some of these restaurants try to overdo the dishes with gazillon of unnecessary ingredients and overly elaborate execution (try the steak with prawns with foie gras at Lolo Dads).

        Pinoy and Asian foods are a different story, though. I heartily recommend Abe in Serendra and Kanin Club in Alabang for some terrific Filipino dishes. Centro in Greenbelt 3 serves solid Filipino/Asian dishes. Cafe Remedios in the Malate area is also one very good Filipino restaurant.

        1. Thanks for the replies everybody. I am excited to check out some of these restaurants. Any ideas on what the top sushi joint in Manila is? I would think with all the fresh seafood there and all the japanese tourists and business people that there has to be one good sushi place. Also thanks for letting me know about the cebuano lechon place. I haven't had any lechon in Manila that compares to Cebu yet so I will have to give it a try.

          4 Replies
          1. re: apollo

            For sushi, check out Sushi Kappo Kobikicho located at 150 Legaspi Street, Makati City. Or you can try the numerous japanese restaurants in Little Tokyo located beside Plaza Fair in Makati. A personal favorite for sushi, albeit a bit pricey, is Tsukiji at the Milky Way building on Pasay Road, Makati.

            I don't think anyone has mentioned it yet but for French, try Gourmand at the Net One building in Fort Bonifacio. Lastly, for contemporary cuisine, check out Sala at the Locsin building on Makati Ave.

            Have fun eating!

            1. re: mjchua

              It's actually called Je Suis Gourmand

              Net One Center, Ground Floor
              Fort Bonifacio
              Tel: 815-8801

              It's next to the Neo Spa and BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands)

              1. re: mjchua

                Thanks for reminding me about Je Suis Gourmand, which I did enjoy a few visits ago, and the Japanese restaurants in near Plaza Fair. I wasn't able to get to that part of Pasong Tamo during my last visit, but my siblings' Japanese favorites are a couple of places there, the names of which I can never remember.

                As for sashimi in Manila, I do think that the local fish, properly handled, is fresher tasting than the more expensive stuff flown in from japan. There just isn't much fatty fish in tropical waters. However, if you can get some fresh, fatty marlin belly, you will be in for a real treat.

                1. re: pilinut

                  The best sashimi I've had in the Philippines was either Yellowfin Tuna caught off the coast of Southern Mindanao or Malasugue (Marlin). If the Manila restaurants are sourcing their fish from there and are properly handled and delivered within a day or two they should be great. Personally I've never eaten sushi or sashimi in Manila but the best sashimi I've had has been in Davao City and in General Santos City, the tuna capital of the Philippines. But for how much longer remains to be seen...

            2. For your Valentine's Day meal, why not try Red at the Makati Shangri-la:
              http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property...

              Inagiku at the same hotel is also very good, but not sure if their sushi can be considered the best in town.

              1. French: Cicou ~ Pasay Rd. corner Makati Ave. Ground Floor of Hotel Celeste
                Je Suis Gourmand - Net One Bldg.
                La Regalade ~ Pasay Rd. beside Kashmir (Indian)

                * There has been a French revolution of sorts with French restos opening here in Manila but, I would say it's not really something done well here.

                Thai: Dusit's Benjurong ~ Tom yum soup, Pad Thai et al
                People's Palace Greenbelt 3 ~ Khao soi, son in laws eggs, Pomelo Coconut Salad
                Azuthai ~ Pasay Rd.

                Fancy: The Establishment's Crystal Room at the Fort ~ where food is an afterthought :-)
                Sala - Locsin Bldg ~ my personal favorite. consistently good.

                Contemporary Hot Spots :

                1) Luis de Terry's LU off Rockwell at the G/F of the Joya Condo Bldg ~ Lamb ribs, med lamb stew,. turmeric chicken, mandarin orange w/ goat cheese salad, zucchini blossom and goat cheese fritters, hummus.

                2) The Goose Station ~ they serve ala carte but best value for money would be their express menu (4 courses) at PHP 1,700 per head. A Signature Menu (8 courses) for PHP 2.5K

                3) Masseto ~ would go here more for their wine actually. but, food is decent but a tad overpriced...located at 114 Valero St., Salcedo Village Makati.

                Current "In" place for restos here is the Burgos Circle in the Fort area. But, only resto that I would patronize there for their food would be Cafe Juanita (their kare-kare Crispy Binagoongan is too die for) and Henry's Place, Fusion Chinese and Barcino for good priced Spanish wines and tapas.

                For Hotel Buffets:

                1) Spirals at the Sofitel has the most extensive buffet spread
                2)Dusit's Cross-over Sunday Brunch best choices w/c includes access to it's Thai resto Benjurong, Umu Japanese and Tosca Italian.
                3) Inagiku (Shang Makati) Sunday buffet may satisfy your sushi/sashimi fix as well

                Japanese:

                Expensive =

                1) Tsumura ~ Sedeno St. Salcedo Village (2/F of 88 Corporate Center Bldg)
                2) Tsukiji ~ Pasay Rd.
                3) Kuratake ~ Powerplant Mall, Rockwell

                Moderate to Cheap

                1) Seryna - Little Tokyo Area - Off Pasong Tamo near Makati Cinema Square
                2) Izakaya Kikufuji - same area as Seryna
                3) Kagura - same area as Seryna ~ specializes in Okonomiyake

                Pinoy Japanese = Sugi at Greenbelt 3 for reliable rolls and sukiyaki

                Gourmet Markets etc:

                1) Santi's
                2) Terry's
                3) Bacchus Epicerie at Rockwell
                4) S & R at the Fort
                5) Gaisano Supermarket at Market Market at the Fort
                6) Produce and Fruits at Market Market plus native goodies stalls there
                7) Wine Depot at Nicanor Garcia St.

                Enjoy!