It’s my blog’s 10th anniversary. Yay to me!
Whether you’re a tourist planning a trip to the Philippines or a balikbayan who wants good Filipino food in Manila, here are my top 3 restaurants that you should add to your ‘must eat’ list.
Filipino meals are eaten family style and that means sharing a lot of food. But when you’re alone that makes it difficult. That’s where Manam comes in. All their food come in 3 sizes. Small for 1-2 pax, Med for 3-4 and large for 5-6.
For classic Filipino dishes with a twist Manam is the place to go to. They have the usual Filipino favorites like kare kare, crispy pata, adobo but my favorites are their unique dishes with Filipino flavor.
Next to adobo, sisig is one of the most popular Filipino dishes. It’s made from parts of the pig’s head and liver. There are so many variations to sisig but my favorite is Manam’s version which is a good introduction to those who are wary of trying it. Even the late Anthony Bourdain said, “”I think sisig is perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole.”
Another favorite which I always order is their sizzling corned beef belly kansi, tender corned beef chunks in a sour gravy, their take on Bacolod kansi. It tastes similar to sinigang. Just the sauce with a bowl of rice and you’re all set.
I’m not a big fan of veggies but at Manam I have 2 favorite veggie dishes. They are the Gising Gising, winged bean in coconut milk and Adobong Bulaklak ng Kalabasa. This isn’t always available because of the scarcity of squash flowers. But you must try this dish cooked with adobo sauce, fried tofu and tinapa (smoked fish) flakes. It’s a big change from the usual fried and stuffed squash flowers.
Manam has several good desserts but my favorite is the leche flan made with coconut milk. It’s super creamy but lighter than the ones made with regular milk.
Manam must order
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- crispy sisig, corned beef kansi, adobong bulaklak ng kalabasa, gata leche flan
- baby squid in olive oil & garlic
- short ribs and watermelon sinigang
- lamb adobo
- overloaded garlic bangus belly
- gising gising (winged beans in coconut milk)
Though Grace Park isn’t technically a Filipino restaurant they have unique regional dishes which everyone should try. Most of the Filipino dishes are come from the province of Bacolod, the hometown of chef and owner Margarita Forés, Asia’s best female chef of 2016.
Pitaw are sugarcane rice field birds and a delicacy in Bacolod. These small birds are cooked adobo style then fried to a crisp. Each bite is packed full of flavor and a delight to eat with the garlic butter brown rice.
Lechon is the quintessential Filipino party food. I’ve tried several lechons but this is the first lechon I know of that has a whole bottle of beer nestled in a bed of lemongrass inside the pig as it is cooked. The bottle cap of the beer is pierced and as the heat increases the bottle expands and the beer seeps out and flavors the meat. The result is an extremely flavorful lechon with very crispy skin. The pig is organic and flown in from Bacolod. You can have this lechon on Sundays at Grace Park or you can order a whole lechon in advance.
River eel cooked in coconut milk is another dish unique to Grace Park. The fish is very fine and perfect with the sauce and rice of course.
My most favorite dessert in Grace Park is their hot cassava cake with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It’s light, gooey, sweet with a touch of salty.
Avocado is usually eaten in savory dishes but in the Philippines we eat avocado as dessert like ice cream, fruit shakes or simply mashed with condensed milk. When in season Grace Park makes avocado into a delectable pie.
Grace Park must order
- Pitaw, river eel, cassava, avocado pie
- buttered chicken
- pinisik na manok (chicken cooked with classic lemongrass & leeks with truffle paste)
Lampara is the newest restaurant in this list and is owned by two young chefs, RJ Ramos and Alphonse Sotero. Their cuisine is Neo-Filipino and has Chinese, Spanish and Filipino influences
They have big potential from the initial dishes I tried on their menu. The food is not fussy and full of flavor. Among my favorites are the crispy duck leg with adobo sauce and garlic. It comes with a fabulous liver mousse empanada with a perfect flaky crust.
Tanigue fish is usually sliced crosswise and most often cooked until firm. They managed to cook the fillet perfectly with just simple garnish and citrus soy sauce that it almost tasted like sea bass. Their desserts are delicious too.
The restaurant is still a work in progress but I see a very good future for them.
Lampara must order
- duck leg, tanigue
- rice cups, ensalada and short ribs for the appetizers
- chicken inasal, veal steak
- yema tsokolate and sticky rice for dessert
Also check out:
Sarsa – sizzling kansi, isaw & inasal
Reyes Barbecue – Filipino style pork bbq with java rice
Wooden Spoon – very affordable Filipino food in a mall (Rockwell).
Recipes – another mall favorite
Kanin Club – I used to love this place but I haven’t been back in a long time.
Bangus – This restaurant has been in Greenhills for decades. They specialize in bangus or milkfish.
Fely J – another classic Filipino restaurant
4th Ave., 27th St. G/F Net Park Bldg. Bonifacio Global City (they have several branches around the city)
Landline: 02 332 9390
G/F One Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Rockwell Center Makati
5883 Enriquez street, Poblacion, Makati