The Philippines’ sprawling capital may not be the first place that springs to mind for a gastronomic city break – understandably most tourists who fly to The Philippines are headed for one or more of the 7107 islands and islets to kick back on an idyllic white sand beach.
But it’s a big mistake to overlook Manila’s burgeoning foodie scene, so here are three places to get foodie in the Filipino capital…
1. Best For Modern Filipino Fusion Food in Manila – Chef Laudicio’s Bistro
Where: G/F Net Square Building, 28th Street Corner 3rd Avenue, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
When: Daily for Lunch 11-3 / Dinner 6-11
Imagine Jools Oliver as an internationally-trained pastry chef who’s been baking since aged 6 and has her own restaurant and cooking style to compete with husband Jamie. Transpose the scene to Manila and you’ve got Chef Laudico’s Bistro where Jacqueline Laudico holds her own as one half of The Philippines’ famous husband and wife chef team alongside partner Orlando, presenter of Filipino Masterchef.
Over the last six years the couple have pioneered the idea of high-end Filipino fayre and have created a mini-restaurant empire in the Filipino Capital, so you’re in the best of hands when dining here.
The signature dish is the Adobo Trilogy, the traditional pork dish which you’ll find on every menu in the Philippines – it’s practically the national dish – is here reimagined with duck, pork and beef and served contemporary-style in delicate glasses.
The bistro aims to serve more accessible versions of Filipino cuisine in manageable portions so you can taste a selection dishes – but try to save some room for Jacqueline’s delicate handmade chocolates with unusual and unexpected fillings such as peanut butter and jelly.
2. Best For Vegetarian Filipino Food in Manila – Bistro Remedios
Where: 1911 M. Adriatico St., Remedios Circle, Malate
When: Lunch 12-3 (from 11 on weekdays) / Dinner 6-12 (until 11 on weeknights)
Finding a veggie-friendly menu amongst The Philippines’ unapologetically pork-heavy cuisine is not easy but between the Ensaladang Ampalaya or Bitter Gourd Salad and the Paco At Itlog meaning Young Rainforest Fern Leaf Salad, as well as a host of other non-meat options, rice dishes and vegetable plates there’s enough to fill even the hungriest of vegetarians at Bistro Remedios.
And this despite the fact that the restaurant has an excellent reputation as a place for home-style Filipino grilled meat and seafood so there’s something for everyone – even fried crickets for the more adventurous.
The busy weekday location means Saturday lunch is the quietest day to come and enjoy the traditional and rather European surroundings of this popular eaterie, but for more buzz make it a weekday treat.
3. Best For Filipino-French Fusion Desserts in Manila – Kitchen’s Best Home Patisserie
Where: McKinley Park Residences, 3rd Avenue & 31st Street, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
When: Daily 8am – 10pm
Run by sweet-toothed sisters Martina and Roselyn this is the place to come in Manila for a French-style fix of cakes, crumbles, pies and brownies in stylish surroundings – the shop is decorated with gilded touches, white birdcages and giant black and white photos of famous Filipinos with their favourite cakes.
The addition of tropical mango makes for an award-winning ‘Sanrival’ – a cake usually made with meringue, almonds buttercream – and other interesting desserts include purple yam cake.
Savoury food is on the extensive menu too and you should also try to find space in your suitcase for a stash of the delectable almond brittle which comes beautifully packaged in a gold box tied with blood-red ribbon.
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