Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Four New Restaurants to Try in Manila

Published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, July 30, 2015

The Newcomers 
No more eeny-meeny-miny-moes. Here are 4 of Manila’s must-try restos

I remember not so long ago, my biggest dilemma in life was finding a new restaurant to try. It is amazing how fast things have changed over the last two years. New establishments pop up so frequently nowadays that my to-try list has grown longer than the trail of cars along EDSA on a Friday night. It may sound silly, but I ponder over one question rather often lately, which is also the most frequent query I get from readers: Which new restaurant should I try first? After all, we are abundantly spoiled with choices, and life is too short to consume unworthy calories.

Today, I share with you four newcomers I enjoyed recently, and the dishes not to be missed at each place.


Perhaps the most awaited opening in recent months is the younger sister of the hottest table in town, Mecha Uma. Food is fun, modern, playful, and mischievous, reflecting the personality of its talented young chef, Bruce Ricketts.

What to order:

Tori Karaage
Ooma’s version of this Japanese staple puts mainstream restaurants to shame. Bruce takes 
fried chicken to a whole new level by coating pieces of chicken thigh with crunchy camote 
spikes and a generous dusting of scallions and togarashi.

Soft Shell Crab Taco Maki
Little nuggets of crispy, soft-shell crab smothered with crab fat mayo and a sprinkling of tobiko
 (flying fish roe) on open-faced temaki. Did I mention they are little nuggets of pure joy?

Hanger Steak
Beef slices, earthy mushrooms, and crispy baby potato chips on a bed of velvety sweet potato 
mash with ponzu butter, pickle dressing, and yes, truffle oil. I finished a whole plate on my own. 
I bet you will, too.

Ooma is located at 3F, Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong.

Ooma Facebook Page


Walking into this French-Japanese bistro by chefs Miko Aspiras and Kristine Lotilla is like stepping into an enchanted garden. The greens, the warm glow, the sunshine-colored chairs make me want to stay all day and devour shameful amounts of soufflé.

What to order:

Kinoko Frites
I did not expect to be so enamored of deep fried fungi, but that was the effect of Le Petit Souffle’s
 crispy enoki and oyster mushrooms on me. I munched nonstop on the tasty, full-of-umami treats
 and, for a while, I forgot they were vegetables.

Japanese Beef Curry Souffle
Take my favorite soft and creamy Japanese rice, toss it with mild curry, top it with the most 
delicate slices of beef, and then crown it with puffy, airy, savory soufflé. Now, feed it to your 
belly to make it happy.

Matcha Valrhona Ivoire 35% White Chocolate Souffle
What can I say, Miko and Kristine have mastered the perfect soufflé—a light, springy exterior 
that gives way to a jiggly, molten center. The matcha flavor is evident, pleasantly bitter the way 
I like it and sweetened just enough by white chocolate.

Le Petit Souffle is located at 3F Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati. Tel: 02 886 3056

Le Petit Souffle Facebook Page


What a joy to discover that the newest Australian restaurant in town is headed by no other than Chef Wade Watson, formerly of Abaca Cebu, where I enjoyed many a delectable meal. His style hasn’t changed. At Wade’s new Makati outlet, you can expect the same hearty dishes prepared with much love.

What to order:

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie
Flavorful, shredded lamb that I am sure has been languorously simmered to reach its current 
state of tenderness, blanketed in creamy mashed potato and baked until golden. 
Ultimate comfort food for the soul.

Chicken Parmigiana
I am, admittedly, not a huge fan of chicken, but there is something about the crispy crust, 
the savory tomato, and parmesan cheese topping that makes this a favorite at B&B. 
A dish so painfully simple, but pretty darn good.

Strawberry Lamington
Pink and dainty little cake with a thin layer of strawberry jam in the middle and covered all 
over in coconut snow like a sweet strawberry dream.

Bondi & Bourke is located at Ground Floor, Cattleya Condominium Building, Salcedo Corner Aguirre Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City. Tel: +639988406268

Bondi & Bourke Facebook Page


Hidden behind a parking lot with no signage at all, the new steak place by Chef Steve Scudder certainly does not want to be found. I must admit I love it for that. Smith is carnivore’s heaven, boasting premium steaks from different regions including my most beloved matsuzaka from Japan. Even the couch there screams “moo.”

What to order:

Jamon Iberico
Freshly carved from the whole leg as you order, this treasure from Spain is a great way to start
 a red meat-laden meal. Every bite makes me want to get up, stomp my feet, and shout at the
 top of my lungs, “Ola!”

A Little “Cheeky” 
Truly a cheeky name for my favorite nonsteak dish at Smith. Slow-cooked veal cheeks open ravioli,
 stewed in shiraz with mushrooms and wild spinach. Rich, generous, lip-smacking goodness.

Irish Sirloin Steak
Grass-fed and dry-aged for 45 days, this hunky meat from Ireland is a big surprise. It is lean yet
 amazingly tender with silky texture and intense flavor. Enjoy it medium rare in all its juicy glory.
 I promise you this one cuts the mustard.

Smith Butcher and Grill Room is located at ACI Building, 147 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City. Tel: +63927-3759467, +63915-4295167

Smith Butcher and Grill Room Facebook Page

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