WATCH: Celebrity chef Josh Boutwood gives tour of pre-industrial BGC restaurant
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo ( - November 19, 2019 - 12:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — In the Philippine culinary scene, English-born celebrity chef Josh Boutwood is a heartthrob not only because of his dashing James Bond-like British accent and charm, but also due to his fresh concepts that titillate the palate.

Among these concepts are new dishes in his unique Bonifacio Global City (BGC) restaurant, Savage, a modern chic dining hub that uses pre-industrial cooking techniques.

Tuna Tartar made of fish from General Santos City, paired with homemade bread baked in traditional oak-fired brick oven. Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

“Savage is a little more than a year old. Since its infancy when I first opened it, I feel that Savage is now, figuratively, in its adolescence stage.  It’s about time to make changes to emphasize the maturity of the brand. So I refined and polished the menu, adding dishes here and there, removing some but keeping the core items that we are known for,” the chef explained.

The restaurant at the ground floor of The Plaza, Arya Residences, McKinley Parkway in Taguig City has been patterned after Boutwood’s “nomadic life.”

“Savage was built because I wanted a place where I could eat on a Sunday when I wasn’t cooking. I love food that’s cooked open-fire. The flavor’s kind of more evolved, than (cooking) in gas or electric,” he told “No machines are used in creating the dishes. Everything’s made by hand.”

Apart from having no gas or electric equipment, true to its name, the diner boasts of a laidback vibe adorned with graffiti and caveman-like murals that invite guests to let their hair down and leave their troubles behind as they wait for their food to be cooked in the customized grill fueled by Oakwood imported from Ukraine.

For appetizer, the chef recommends the Eggplant, a vegetarian dish of roasted eggplant and bell peppers mixed with garlic and oil, a robust house sauce, and pickled mustard leaves. It is then drizzled with Ajvar, a pepper-based condiment used in the Serbian Balkans.

The Cucumber is another fundamental yet intense dish. First, cucumbers are churned into the fire, then marinated with lemon and distilled vinegar and paired with a sinfully decadent crab fat emulsion. It is then served with dried local heirloom tomatoes to append a little bit of chewiness in the texture and garnished with fresh lemon wedges.

For those who crave for fish, there is the new Tuna Tartar, with tuna sourced fresh from the country’s tuna capital, General Santos City. 

“We used to have Beef Tartar in the menu, and we changed it. And since we serve Tuna Jaw, I realized we haven’t been using our tuna loins,” Chef Josh explained. 

The Tuna Tartar is actually an old dish which Chef Josh used to make in his first restaurant in Boracay, “Alchemy.” But unlike that recipe, this one isn’t served with chowder. Instead, it comes with fresh wasabi roots, a sesame emulsion, orbiting around the idea to make the tuna a little dry then lube it up with the emulsion to offset taste, tang and texture.

Chef Josh’s favorite is the Veal Chop, a meat dish that comes from well-selected, milk-fed veal, paired off with a simple yet flavorful Pasta Gremolata. 

The restaurant's signature duck dish. Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

“The robustness provides the balance to the dish. It is one of my favorites, because it required a high level of skill to be able to cook it using our techniques - no oven, no gas- just the veal thrown straight into the fire,” he explained. 

Other new dishes include mussels and a whole lamb leg. In all these new dishes, the restaurant focuses a lot on the technique: being able to cook a creative dish in a pre-industrial manner which adds a smoky-sweetness and still be able to retain the particular flavor of the dish.

Veal Chop and Ribeye Steak. Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Chef Josh has decided to keep the staple dishes that he knows guests crave. “The Rib Eye, Chicken and Flank are still there. Our Bread Program remains; so does our Cured Meat Platter, which is meant for sharing. I cannot take the Deviled Eggs off the menu; it’s synonymous to Savage and guests look for it all the time.” 

Also still on the menu are the dry-aged duck in blackberry glaze, the Barramundi and the Tuna Jaw.

Kladkaka (Swedish sticky chocolate cake) with vanilla cream. Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Signature cocktails Ape Garden and Cloudy Sky. Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

“Savage is a concept that defines itself and is not based on existing trends or what is popular. If anything, we want to be a trendsetter because of our innovative cooking techniques. I guess that’s more fulfilling than merely following what’s out there,” Chef Josh enthused. — Videos by Deni Rose Bernardo, editing by Efigenio Toledo IV

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