Thursday, February 7, 2008

Resto List 2008, based on MBKSR

My boyfriend gave me a book for Christmas (along with other things). It's called "Manila's Best Kept Secret Restaurants" (MBKSR) by Ines Cabarrus and Elian Habayeb., I scanned and read the book, and I'm not sure whether to feel good that I've tried most of them, or feel bad that the book didn't contribute extra to my quest for the next gastronomic delight.

Not that I'd be quick to oppose their taste. After all, these writers have heavy credentials to back them up (one being a Sommelier teaching in Enderun, the other being a DJ and public accountant [huwat?!?] ). I would say that I probably agree with most of their choices, but respectfully oppose the others, adding some extras off the bat:

Fireplace grill --- haven't tried this since it's hotel food
LiLi --- same reason
Lolo Dad's --- I agree a million times. My number one!
Harbor View --- so overpriced!!!! More for foreigners who like eating without aircon, and being sprayed with mist by the dock. This resto has been open far too long (1985) without much overhaul. I think they should either improve themselves or just close down. Dencio's and Grilla's will be biting off their target customers in no time.
Casa Armas --- This used to be one of my favorite Spanish restaurants. Unfortunately, it's been depreciating the past few years. The ingredients are not as fresh, and the cooking techniques leaves little to be desired. A problem with overexpansion, perhaps?
Spirals --- yup! By far the best hotel buffet, as of the moment.

Greens --- Great vegan place, flavorful food. If only they could update the look of the resto. Not so fond of sitting on metal cafeteria chairs. But for the price, you get what you deserve.
In Yo --- Great resto for cheap fine dining. Don't expect the best quality in their ingredients (who would complain for the price?), but the cooking methods all make up for it. I wasn't so fond of the lapulapu fillet wrapped in aluminum foil, though. The piece was awfully small, plain and lonesome for such a huge steam bowl.
Katre --- Great resto, reasonable prices! Skyscaper masterpieces that look almost awfully alike, using the same garnish, but taste great, nevertheless.

MARIKINA (sic) It's really CUBAO
Bellini's --- Great resto! The owner is super friendly. The fresh pastas are to die for.

Galileo Enoteca --- Not a date place. A resto to hang and laugh with the barkada. Love their antipasto meats and cheeses.

Lemuria (revisited)--- Loving it!!! See my review.
Cafe Ysabel --- Love the free ciabattas with balsamic-achovy dip!

Cafe Juanita --- The place in itself would be incentive to dine in. Note that I would just like to visit there, though I wouldn't want to live in a place that cluttered with antiques and glass (all their furniture are for sale). Mix of Thai, Filipino and Japanese food. The bagoong rice is good, as well as their toffee pudding dessert.
Paparrazzi --- Typical Italian restaurant in a hotel. For what you're paying for, you expect food to be that good. But personally, the best resto in a hotel for me would be Tivoli Grill in the Mandarin, apart from Red.
Barcino --- Great to wine and dine in. Try their Manchego platter with a bottle of wine, their house one being as low as 320, and still decent.

Portico 1771 --- comfort food; nuff said
Piedra --- I never knew them for their food! Was always here past midnight.
Abe --- Great Filipino-infused resto. Tried their deconstructed adobo, and it was flavorful, even without the sauce.
Chef Laudico's --- I like the fact that you go to his house and stay in individual outdoor seating areas, complete with canopies and banisters. Experimental continental food, worth every penny for the work that they put in each dish. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for his other resto, Bistro Filipino, which I found overrated. As much as Chef Laudico is a highly respected chef, they presented Filipino fusion food quite sloppily there. Take for instance, the unappealing pigeon salad, which tasted as horrendous as it looked. And my friend disliked the butchering of the foie gras in the adobo. No finesse in its combination.
Cafe Caruso --- tried their pastas. It's decent. But I heard their pizzas are even better.
Je Suis Gourmand --- Love their lamb shank and duck!!! It's fine dining, with a casual elegance.
Zong --- It's good, I guess. Just as efficient as North Park, only with better ingredients. And also no MSG.
L'Opera --- I adore their pizza with salmon, capers, caviar and cream. Yes, no cheese. This isn't your run-in-the-mill pizza.

Sugi --- Consistently excellent. Which is why it's worth paying the hefty price.
People's Palace --- Some hit-or-miss dishes. Surprisingly spicy, fortunately (for me).
Lavigne --- When I eat here, their bouillabaisse was horrible. Perhaps they overchallenged themselves.
Di'Mark's --- Haven't tried this.
Terry's Selection --- Great food, especially their arroz con gambas al 'cognac.'
Kashmir --- Good Indian.
Fat Michael's Place --- Love the homey personality of the place. I liked the Fruit and Walnut Salad. It was refreshing.
Hosseins --- Good Persian.,
Queens --- I like this Indian resto, because its presentation and ambiance is wonderful.
Cirkulo --- I like their Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake...It's now known more for a resto than what it used to be: a happening bar ranking with the likes of San Mig (by the old Glorietta Quad)
Palato Fino --- haven't tried
Benjarong --- hotel: so haven't tried
Apartment 1B --- I'm not sure why the three times I've gone here, it wasn't as good as people have said it would be. So I'm going with the overrated verdict.
Alba --- Yes, a great Spanish resto, sorely lacking these days in Manila, what with La Tienda, etc. closing down
Bianca's/Carpaccio --- Exquisitely charming! It's connected to Santi's, so the ingredients are undoubtedly excellent.
L'Incontro --- Forgettable. I haven't been here in ages since the last time.
La Cabane --- Great place to hang out for beer or wine with friends. Check out the cool furniture of the place, which they also sell and export.
Som's --- Satisfies both gourmands and hungry men who aren't as discerning. Try to load up on their red curry as well as their spicy rice with basil, and watch smoke go through your ears! What a rush!
Schwarzwalder --- Consistently good German food. Has been around since forever.
Tsumura --- haven't tried.
Ziggurat --- Love the lamb with couscous. Great barkada place, especially when the inside is open. Thank god the outside is open 24 hours for those after-gimmick meals.
Old Manila --- I've only tried the breakfast here. It's good.
Paseo Uno --- Used to be the best hotel buffet, before being usurped by Spirals. Awesome interiors. Very complicated and intricate dishes.
Mati --- is now CLOSED. the only one left is Zuzuni, in Boracay, no less.
Sala --- excellent, next to Lolo Dad's.

Amoroma --- only tried the closed branch in Makati. Miss this place. A cute date place, with delicious Italian home-cooking.
Amalia's --- Haven't tried. Alabang is just too dang far. I heard praises about their Spanish cuisine, though.
Skyline --- ibid.

Antonio's --- world-class fine dining in the pretty gardens of an ancestral house. An epicurean's dream.
Sonya's Garden --- used to be the Tagaytay resto destination, before Antonio's, Massimo's and Cliffhouse came along. Still, it's good to try at least once in your life to experience the freshness of the ingredients that Sonya grows from scratch. Now includes a bed and breakfast, though I'm not entirely partial to sleeping without ac nor using a kulambo. Quite charming, though, if you're the type who likes communing with nature and all.
Cafe-on-the-ridge --- this resto of Taal Vista serves great breakfast buffets. But I wouldn't trek all the way to Tagaytay just to eat here.
Fire Lake --- Good steak, though I wouldn't go all the way just for this either.
Manos Greek Taverna --- Haven't tried.
Verbena --- I heard raves about this resto in Discovery, and I sure will try it soon :)

Personally, I would add these to the list:
Old Swiss Inn --- consistently good Swiss food, and open 24 hours a day. Arguably the best fondue.
Sango --- for your quick fastfood, with a unique Japanese twist. Opened a new branch in Pearl Drive. Yay!
Kikafuji/Seryna/all other Little Tokyo restos --- for authentic Japanese cuisine. Can't get it more authentic than in Little Tokyo itself.
Amici di Don Bosco --- For fresh pastas, pizza and carabao gelatos for really cheap prices. Not a date place, tho. Looks pretty much like a cafeteria.
La Grotta --- for your more reasonable yet fine dining Italian meals
Elbert's Steak Room --- arguably the best steak....
Red --- the other steak resto that Elbert is competing with. My favorite hotel resto, found in Shang Makati, along with Tivoli Grill of Mandarin.
Malcolm's Place --- for your wagyu fixations
Fish Over Water --- King Crab upgraded.
Salcedo Weekend Market --- ideal for shopping fresh produce, even organic ones, while eating from an array of makeshift stalls selling fine-dining type dishes in styro.
M Cafe --- Japanese inspired fusion dishes, converted into a pre-fort gimmick bar at night.
Cyma --- awfully yummy moussaka and saganaki (flaming cheese), if you're not being too adventurous with exploring their other Greek dishes.
Le Souffle --- Duh! I guess the reason why they put this is that it's no secret that it's one of the best fine dining places around. Love staying at their branch in Top of the Citi.
Mickey's Deli --- They make the sausages themselves!

Tomas Morato:
A Taste of L.A.
--- in Tomas Morato. Gosh, how could one miss this yet put in Greens!? Their pizza with lamb, rosemary and feta is to die for.
Uno --- Another resto missed in Morato. Their constantly changing menu features radical cooking tachniques, and has a similar feel as Katre.
Zucchini --- Another missed resto in Morato.

Aubergine 2nd review --- the newest, hippest fine dining destination in Fort.

French Corner --- How can one miss the extraordinary cooking of Billy King in his own fine dining spot? FYI, his claim to fame is being the executive chef at Le Souffle.

Restaurant 101
--- Cabarrus is a teacher in Enderun, the school that houses this restaurant. Maybe she didn't include it because of the conflict of interest.

Omakase --- Japanese fusion gone good. Unlike John and Yoko (gone bad).

Chateau Verde --- garden resto in U.P. Go maroons!
Pino Resto Bar --- in Maginhawa St., an endeavor by Sotto siblings, probably related to the actor. How could one not like wasabi onion rings with a yin-yang dip (alioli and something else)? Casual dining.


La Cocina de Tita Moning --- a fine dining resto serving good bread pudding, lengua, etc.

San Juan:
Angel's Kitchen --- homey cafe. love the mandarin chicken, choco lava cake, as well as their free chicken-pistachio pate on melba toast.

Cookbook Kitchen --- homey type food. Try it if only for the Scarlett cake and parmesan crusted white fish.
Lime 88 --- Street food "sosyal" style

The disappointing thing with the book is that it had the wonderful pictures of the dishes, yet no food captions. I guess I'd have to lug that big book around and point its picture in the resto itself if I liked how the food looked in the pictures so much.

Also, I wouldn't consider hotel restaurants "best kept secrets." By their very location alone, those restos are no secret.

That's about it. The book is a great guide for non-food enthusiasts, but I wouldn't buy it myself.


Anonymous said...

is blue frog still around?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

fish out of water is Red crab upgraded
emaiol me please
my blog was hacked

grey eats said...

sakai: gosh, you're right! Blue frog closed down... The owner was an acquaintance, and I always used to like that cozy spot. Goes to show how long I've beem to malate :/

Johnny said...

I wouldn't say the authors have the credentials.

Also, most if not all of the establishments they listed are well known, so how can they be called best kept secrets?

BTW, I cringe every time the word sommelier is used to describe Ines Cabarrus. She is far from it, and it is an insult to the sommeliers of the world if she is to be entitled as such. The closest she has gotten to a formal education on the subject of wine is that she attended the William Blue School of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Management in Australia. That's about it. Sommeliers are kist like Chefs de cuisine. It is a title to be earned, not self proclaimed.

graey eats said...

johnny: I didn't know that! Not too familiar with the wine industry because I'm not really fond of alcohol to begin with...but thanks for the input, and I agree with you when you say that the some or all the restos listed aren't really best kept secrets to being with! Sad but true :/

Anonymous said...

How about antipolo restos?

graey eats said...

Anonymous May 15, 2008: are you referring to Vieux Chalet? I need more "research" on that, haha

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