Food and Leisure

Top 10 food finds in Manila for 2013

IN BETWEEN DEADLINES - Cheryl Tiu - The Philippine Star

Last year, I started this list by sharing my top food finds around the metro. This year (and in years to come), I’ll be continuing the tradition. Some of these eateries have just opened, and some have been around for quite some time but I only got to try them this year. Here, in no particular order, are my top 10 personal favorites for 2013. 

1 The croissants and pastries at Eric Kayser

The first time I tried Eric Kayser was in January this year when I was getting ready for a wedding in Hong Kong. My brother Chris waltzed in with a bag of pastries. “Here, this is Eric Kayser,” he said, referring to the master Parisian baker who has opened over 80 branches around the world. “Try it.” I vowed to take only a bite but it was so good, I ended up finishing the massive white chocolate cookie. It became a challenge to slip into my gown that afternoon, but it was worth it.

Fast-forward 12 months later. On Dec. 22, Eric Kayser finally arrived in the Philippines. My siblings and I were takaw-mata and grabbed almost every pastry — from the butter and chocolate croissants to the milk, white and dark chocolate cookies to the salted caramel eclairs to the baguettes and rustic breads — until our sensible mom warned us that we would not be able to finish everything. I need to declare that Eric Kayser has the flakiest, crispiest butter croissant — the best in the country so far — that makes the mouth want to dance with joy. The reason for this, explained pastry sous chef Justin Tee, is “not just the quantity of butter but also the folding technique. Each layer has dough, butter, dough, butter, which gives you the flakiness and airiness of the croissant.”

We had to sadly break the news to our mom that she was wrong and all the Eric Kayser goodies at our home were good as gone by afternoon. And as for the Eric Kayser store at Power Plant Mall, by 3 p.m. all the croissants had sold out, and there was not a single piece of anything left even before the day ended. 

Located at Marketplace by Rustan’s, Power Plant Mall, Makati

2 Chicken Poppers at Bon Chon

Famished one weekday, having had no time to eat in the office but with a busy night ahead with formal work engagements, I was trudging, stomach growling, to Regine’s Salon at The Link Building for a quick blow-dry when I looked up to see my savior just a floor below the — Bon Chon. I needed something quick and easy to eat since I was five minutes to my appointment, so I opted for their newly launched Chicken Poppers. Made of 100-percent-chicken fillet chunks, they were hot, bite-sized balls that sacrificed neither the juiciness nor the flavor (I opted for Spicy — but they also have it in Original Soy Garlic, and now Honey Citrus). It’s such a convenient, delicious snack, and needless to say, sated my hunger in one go.

Located at The Link Building, Ayala Triangle Gardens, Greenbelt 1, SM Megamall, Shangri-La Plaza, Bonifacio High Street, SM Megamall, Alabang Town Center, and Robinson’s Magnolia. For delivery around Metro Manila, call 633-1818.

3 Lechon Degustacion at Pepita’s Kitchen

When Nana Ozaeta invited me to the International Wine and Food Society (IWFS) Women’s Chapter’s Hayop na Degustacion thanksgiving dinner at “Lechon Diva” Dedet dela Fuente’s Pepita’s Kitchen in Magallanes, I didn’t even bat an eyelash before saying yes. It was an incredible 13-course meal that showcased inventive ways of presenting traditional Filipino dishes (for example, bone marrow with oxtail marmalade with a special salt served in a seashell, or dessert of guinataan brulee with carabao flan). Her piece de resistance, however, is her lechon de leche, presented whole, and to be cut before guests. That night we had the French lechon, which had a truffle rice stuffing. It had the crispiest, crispiest skin that crackled when the knife sliced through it, inviting the fragrant aroma of the truffle rice to spill out. The meat was so tender that the sauce was unnecessary. The degustacion in itself is an experience (great to bring foreign and balikbayan guests to, too) and the lechon can be ordered in advance for takeout.

Phone Pepita’s Kitchen at (0917) 866-0662, 425-4605 or e-mail [email protected].

4 Tartare de Boeuf at Brasserie Girolle

I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but the countless times I’ve been to Brasserie Girolle this year, I’ve only ordered their Tartare de Boeuf. Served with a side salad and a heap of fries, it is simple, straightforward good-quality beef with a dash of piquancy. When I was there for a nightcap and was asked what pica-pica I wanted to go with the wine, I saw on the menu that they had a new appetizer version of it served on toast. It was a no-brainer to guess what I ordered.

Located on the ground floor of the Fort Strip. Call 856-6639.

5  Ricotta Gnudis at Rambla

Rambla, the Mediterranean open kitchen and cocktail bar by the Las Flores Group, has at its helm chef Pepe Lopez, who worked at the Michelin-star Llucanes, Ritz-Carlton and Gran Marina Hotel in Barcelona. I generally like most of the dishes there but my personal favorite (which also coincidentally happens to be GM Uri Singla’s favorite) is the Ricotta Gnudis, light, gorgeous balls made entirely of cheese — no pasta coating or anything — that are clean on their own but when tossed with the seasonal mushroom sauce and bok choy, and topped with parmesan crisps, adds a light Asian flavor to the European dish. Other standout dishes include the Octopus Carpaccio, inventively topped with dollops of hummus and paprika, and “Esqueixada” salad of shredded salted cod, tomato jam and tapenade — a unique and delicious execution with a well-tempered cod.

Located on the ground floor of the Joya Building, Joya Drive, Rockwell, Makati City. Call (0926) 698-9774 or 823-6468.

6 The Foie Gras Croque Monsieur at Lusso

This is the daintiest and most delicate croque monsieur I have ever seen. At Margarita Fores’ Lusso, it is béchamel and Gruyere with very lightly seared goose liver enclosed in very thinly sliced pan de mie rectangles, each wrapped in wax paper. This is a consideration she makes for those who like to share their food — so their hands won’t get oily — and pierced with gold skewers, an idea that came to Gaita after having sampled the club sandwiches at Laduree in Tokyo. It’s a tempered indulgence that satisfies but without the overkill — elegantly portioned for ladies who want to give in to their cravings but are also careful about not overeating. 

Located on the ground floor of Greenbelt 5. Call 756-LUXE (5893).

7 Multi-Layered Praline Cake at Black Sheep

I celebrated my birthday salubong at Black Sheep in November and come midnight, I was surprised with a birthday cake! As I sliced into it, there was a gentle crackle (the base of barquillos) and when I bit into it, I was happily welcomed into another year by the silky and decadent dessert made from praline, 65 percent Malagos dark chocolate ganache, brownie sponge and chocolate mousse — with an overall flavor of hazelnut. I’ve been seeing on Instagram that this cake, which is also served as dessert, has been received very favorably.

Located at the Penthouse at W Fifth Avenue, corner 32nd and 5th, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Call 506-1380 or  (0917) 871-4388.

8 The Tomahawk steak at 22 Prime

I’ve lessened my red meat intake over the years but when I saw the Tomahawk Steak at 22 Prime I changed my mind. This is the granddaddy of all steaks: succulent, bone-in rib eye — the entire rib bone left in for a more heightened flavor. It’s served with grilled asparagus, tomato parmesan gratin, potato mousseline, and 22 Prime’s house steak sauce, which uses white anchovy from Italy, a reduction of balsamic vinegar, cloves, brown sugar and tomato ketchup. “We simply got tired of requests for Worcestershire sauce, so we decided to make our own,” Discovery Leisure Company Inc. (TDLCI) corporate chef Anthony Raymond shared.

Located on the 22nd Floor of Discovery Suites. Call 719-8888 or e-mail [email protected]

9 Kitayama Wagyu Tapsilog

My plan was to just to pick at my friend Arun’s order of the Kitayama Wagyu Tapsilog at JJ Yulo’s Pinoy Eats World event at The Podium. But when I took in a spoonful of the marinated, local-bred Wagyu from Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon, served with a sunny side-up egg, crushed chicken skin chicharon and a green bomb sauce made out of green chilies, I had to have my own. Vicky Lauchengco was personally cooking at the stall that day, and explained that the rice was sautéed with Wagyu fat. I instantly remembered two of my other guy friends who love a good tapsilog (it was a “Manly Eats” event, after all), and ordered two more for takeout. They loved it. According to Vicky, they also serve this version of Tapsilog at Malcom’s Deli.

Kitayama Wagyu is sold marinated per kilo at the Kitayama Meat Shop on 2292 Pasong Tamo St., Makati, directly across Makati Cinema Square, beside Motolite. Call 887-5848 or (0917) 889-9635. Malcolm’s Deli is located at G/F Fairways Tower, Taguig, tel. 556-3188.

10  Double Delights Polvoron Cupcakes

I was strolling along the fourth floor of Lucky Chinatown in Binondo when I looked down and found an array of colorful cupcakes. They turned out to be polvoron cupcakes that had customized toppings. I was drawn to the Super Mario Brothers since they reminded me of my childhood. Unlike the usual polvoron, theirs are coated in white chocolate and the toppings, or customized characters, add a touch of sugar frosting to the dessert. It’s inventive as it puts a twist on the commonplace cupcake, and also heightens or upgrades the traditional powdered delicacy.

Located on the second floor of Lucky Chinatown Mall, Binondo, and also at #7 Dapdap St., Town and Country Executive Village, Barangay Mayamot, Antipolo, Rizal. Call (0932) 888-1350, 296-3702, 470-2419, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.doubledelights.com.

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You can reach me at [email protected], www.cheryltiu.com, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cherytliu or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/chertiu.










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