10 new exciting spots to watch out for
(The Philippine Star) - August 30, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -Manila is brimming with surprises — new concept establishments from Halal to Peruvian Japanese food to secret spots inside that have no signage to multi-story design spots that serve comfort food. Here in no particular order are 10 new places in my black book that you should be checking out on your city list — because you always have to be the first to know, and the first to try them out, too.

1. Nikkei

Roughly translated Nikkei means “Japanese out of Japan.” Born from homesickness, Nikkei was cooked up by migrant workers who mixed Eastern recipes with Peruvian ingredients. Like the love child between Japan and Peru. This concept has been adapted by many of the world’s top chefs and is now in Manila, at Frabelle Building, Rada Street, Legaspi Village, to be specific. South American chefs Christian Cejas and Juan Barcos whip up ceviches, sushi-sashimi, tiraditos, burgers and steaks.

2. Mandalay 

The talk of the town is this multimillion-peso secret mosque devoted to what else? Whiskey. Whiskey lovers have their own world and know their stuff and they don’t like crowds and loud music. They just want a nice place to enjoy their “me time” with like-minded people who know the value of the good life. Located at a secret spot (okay, above Family Mart on C. Palanca st, Legaspi Village, Makati) without any blaring signs, nothing says “connoisseur” quite like Mandalay.

3. Bon Bon

Now if there’s a spot devoted to whiskey, how can gin be far behind? Apparently there’s so much more to gin than your neighborhood gin-and-tonic, and so Bon Bon wants to give you the 101 on it. The best and widest variety of gin to be found is at this address: Ground Floor of Tropical Palms, Gallardo Street, Legaspi Village Makati.

4. Cafe Naya at the Palace

Chef Mikko Reyes whips up dishes like 24-hour short ribs and grilled skirt steak for meat lovers and does zesty salads and a wildly delicious uni brioche dish to start. Cafe Naya at the Palace (36th St and 9th Ave, Uptown Bonkfacio, The Fort) does a really good weekend barbecue and you get the best view of The Palace Pool Club, with Brazilian models running around to get your appetite going. Yummy food, excellent service and the best view of the action. What more can you ask for?

5. Unit 27 Bar and Cafe

This three-level industrial space houses unique furniture pieces and comfort food with a twist. Find quirky Leeroy New bronzed Converse sneakers flying over the ceiling, wise words scrawled on the walls and the yummiest adobo salpicao on the strip. The owners are very friendly and are almost always there to welcome you to a place they call “your second home.” They also hand Tito and Tita nights where you can hashtag yourself as a #ProudTito or #ProudTita of Manila! Located at the Icon Plaza Building, The Fort.

6. Bank Bar

A few steps away from Unit 27 is a 7-Eleven around the corner. And inside 7-Eleven is a corner where there’s a bouncer who decides if you are on the list or not. A most impressive addition to the Moment Group’s list of impressive establishments, Bank Bar banks on people who prefer quality over quantity. Impressive cocktails, an extensive bar list and the yummiest yakisoba in a box by Bruce Lim make this a new gem on the nightlife block.

7. Belle and Dragon

Soon to open at the same complex of Mandalay is Belle and Dragon, a stylized version of what we know to be a neighborhood pub. Expect craft beer, and other things done with more style but no pretensions in this exciting pub spot.

8. Smith Butcher and Grill Room

Matsusaka beef, Australian Wagyu, US Tenderloin, Irish Wagyu — or, in other words, around the world through steak from the same people who brought you Lulu and Hooch in Salcedo Village. Located at ACI Building, 1217 HV Dela Costa.

9. Ruby Jack’s 

Another Japanese import, Ruby Jack’s comes in from Tokyo, with founder Nathan Moy flying in to make sure everything goes well for this steak and wine place that’s opened this month at the City of Dreams Manila. A very impressive wine cellar and a whole lotta meat to satisfy your steak and wine meal dreams.

10. The Halal Guys

Fans of the American-Halal street food, The Halal Guys, won’t need to take a trip to New York’s 53rd and 6th anytime soon. Because The Halal Guys will open their first international franchise here in the country, with their first store in the Mega Food Hall. The Halal Guys are known worldwide as the pioneers of American Halal food. Since 1990, customers from all over the world have lined up at their food carts to get a taste of their popular chicken or gyro over rice, topped with their famous white and red sauce. Opening this October.

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