YEAR IN REVIEW: 7 New Restaurants We Loved in 2018 - Food & Travel

In the last five years, the Manila food scene has greatly improved. New food concepts continuously open, and many receive raves and fanfare from discriminating diners. This year, there were seven restaurants in particular that we loved to eat at. Scroll down to see what those restaurants are, and what you should order during your visit. We’ve also included the links of our original stories below, in case you’re interested in further reading…

Scampi Escaper from Ça Va Creperie & Floral Atelier

Ça Va Creperie & Floral Atelier

Splashes of sunlight and charming interiors greet customers at Ça Va Creperie & Floral Atelier, one of the recent additions to Podium’s fine roster of stores. Lots of cozy corners and beautiful flowers, both fresh and dried, add to the eclectic space. The brainchild of partners Emi Jorge & Kai Nakanishi-Lim of Cura V and Comme Çi, blogger and food purveyor Nicole Ortega, lawyer Kim Cuerva and fellow entrepreneur Bianca Pangilinan, the menu at Ça Va boasts of both savory and sweet crepes made with premium quality ingredients, as well as filling rice bowls and snack items. These are all reasonably-priced, in keeping with the casual dining feel of the restaurant.

Must-try items on the menu include the Creamy Carbonara, with bacon bits and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, and the Fried Chicken Rice Bowl, that has crunchy breaded chicken strips on rice and drizzled with a tangy Siracha mayo sauce and a bit of cabbage slaw on the side. Savory menu standouts are the Stracciatella Salad featuring the creamy, stringy cheese topped with black salt alongside crisp salad greens and tomato simply dressed with honey, the “Tapa The World” rice bowl which paired the fluffiest scrambled eggs with morsels of tasty marinated beef on top of garlic red rice, and the “Scampi Escaper,” a delicious buckwheat crepe topped with grilled shrimp, béchamel sauce, mushrooms and some capers to cut through the richness.

Ça Va Creperie & Floral Atelier is located in The Podium, Dona Julia Vargas Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig, Metro Manila

RELATED READS: Flavors and Flowers: Inside the Newly Opened Ça Va Creperie & Floral Atelier

Clams, river prawn, moringa tapioca, seaweed from Gallery by Chele
Clams, river prawn, moringa tapioca, seaweed from Gallery by Chele

Gallery by Chele

Restaurants by Chef Chele Gonzalez have always been popular amongst Manila society types. His previous establishment Gallery VASK was a big hit, even garnering a spot on the list of Asia’s Best Restaurants in 2017. His latest food destination is Gallery by Chele, a follow-up to the former, which he has partnered with Chef Carlos Villaflor. The restaurant is so hot right now that the Chaine de Rotisseurs, the country’s oldest society for epicurean food and distinguished wine, recently held their latest dinner there. They dined on a very special, one-night only seafood degustation inspired by the Philippine’s 7,107 islands. Prepared in the open kitchen were hors d’œurves served on ceramic pottery, tuna tartare on black ink cracker, milk oyster ceviche, and a main course of clams and river prawn with moringa tapioca and seaweed.

Gallery by Chele is located at 5th floor, Clipp Center, 11th Ave corner 39th St, Fort Bonifacio, 11th Ave., Taguig

RELATED READS: Chaine de Rotisseurs: A Seafood Degustation at Gallery By Chele

Lobster roll from Bun Appetit, available at The Grid
Lobster roll from Bun Appetit, available at The Grid

The Grid

The Grid is the new food hall concept from gastronome entrepreneur Charles Paw, and Power Plant Mall. It opened in 2018, capturing the attention of discriminating foodies for their wide selection of premium food fare. Paw is no stranger to the food industry. His company, the Tasteless Group, is responsible for Hole in the Wall, the popular food court at Century City Mall. With The Grid, he takes the food hall concept and elevates it to a whole new, luxury experience.

Paw was able to bring together numerous culinary stars of the Philippines under one roof and asked them to open individual stalls. Some Manila favorites you can find at The Grid include food options from famous Poblacion eatery Bucky’s, Filipino cuisine from Happy Ongpauco-Tiu, Bruce Rickett’s La Chinesa, fan favorite lobster rolls at Bun Appetit, and gourmet burgers from rising chef Josh Boutwood.

The Grid is located at the 2nd floor of Power Plant Mall’s new wing. It opens on weekdays at 11AM and closes at 10PM from Sundays to Thursdays. The Grid closes at 9PM from Friday to Saturday.  

RELATED READS: Everything You Can Eat at The Grid, Rockwell’s New Luxury Food Court

Pan Fried Jumpo Scallops from La Mère Poulard

La Mère Poulard

The original La Mère Poulard, which opened in 1888 in Mont Saint-Michel, has impressed generation after generation with classic French cuisine using ingredients from the region. Today, the culinary representative of French culture and tradition has opened its first outpost in Manila, offering the best of French comfort food. Decorating the walls are copies of autographs of famed diners at the original restaurant, from Ernest Hemingway to Yves Saint Laurent.

The fresh, homemade flavors of Mont Saint-Michel are bought to Manila with favored dishes like scallops, salmon, cod and the iconic puff omelettes. On the 130th anniversary of Annette Poulard’s decision to open the inn, La Mère Poulard Manila pays tribute to the brand’s French roots and sense of tradition paired with contemporary culinary innovations. This dining experience brings France closer to home.

La Mère Poulard (Manila) is located at SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

RELATED READS: A Taste of French Dining in Manila: La Mère Poulard Opens in SM Aura

M Bakery's Confetti Cake
M Bakery’s Confetti Cake

Magnolia Bakery

In 2018, Manila has joined the Magnolia Bakery Cities Club, with the recent launch of M Bakery in BGC. Diners were given a little piece of New York in the palm of their hands, through the brand’s freshly baked cakes, cookies, and cupcakes made fresh daily. The new branch tries to recreate the original Manhattan experience by bringing in the same vintage and homey atmosphere, excellent customer service, and unique sensory experience as the Magnolia Bakery branches in the United States. In addition, the Icing Theater allows patrons to peek into M Bakery’s kitchen and see the behind-the-scenes action live. “From the aroma of the freshly baked cookies coming out of the oven to the cakes and cupcakes being decorated in full customer view, M Bakery will be much more than just a bakery—it will be an experience,” says Pastry Chef and Partner Candy Lu.

M Bakery is located at the Lower Ground Level of One Bonifacio High Street Mall on 5th Avenue corner 28th street.

RELATED READS: Iconic NYC Institution “Magnolia Bakery” Has Opened Its Doors in the Philippines

Peking Duck is served tableside at No. 8 China House
Peking Duck is served tableside at No. 8 China House

No. 8 China House

The Grand Hyatt Manila in BGC opened No. 8 China House this year, a fine-dining destination that excited Manila’s palette. The big draw of No. 8 China House is the Peking Duck that is immediately visible a few steps from the entrance. Grand Hyatt Executive Chef Mark Hagan explained that much research went into preparing the set-up for the restaurant’s centerpiece. A specially built wood-fired over was built to roast the Peking Duck for 60 minutes. Traditionally, lychee wood is used but aligning with The Grand Hyatt’s sustainability core value, the staff researched and found that locally sourced, fragrant mango wood was just as suitable.

The duck is prepared in a special patented process from the time of incision and dispatch, devised by the Grand Hyatt team. Eight Chinese chefs led by Masterchef Carson Luo, the Chef de Cuisine of No. 8 China House follow the recipe for the authentic Peking Duck which was passed on from generation to generation. Tableside service will carve the duck that is served with traditional paper-thin Chinese pancakes, strips of cucumber, hoisin sauce and sugar. “The beauty of an authentic Peking Duck dish is the manner of consuming it,” Masterchef Carson Luo said. “Knowing the right way to enjoy it defines if you consumed a roast duck or an actual Peking Duck.”

No. 8 China House is located at Grand Hyatt Manila, 35th Street, Taguig, Metro Manila

RELATED READS: A Culinary Journey to the Middle Kingdom: Peking Duck at Grand Hyatt’s No. 8 China House is a Must-Try

The Grill serves an impressive food menu that is best paired with The Peak's extensive wine selection
The Grill serves an impressive food menu that is best paired with The Peak’s extensive wine selection

The Peak  

On the 62nd floor of the Grand Hyatt Manila is The Peak, a new food and drink concept in Metro Manila which impressively incorporates a premium restaurant, music lounge, and busy night spot bars all under one roof. Tokyo-based international design firm Nao Taniyama & Associates were commissioned to design The Peak’s interiors, with which each room subtly showcasing elements of local culture. For instance, the main receiving area makes a bold design statement with walls reflective of traditional Filipino tattoo patterns. The Peak Bar, which is right off the entrance hall, features a glorious view of the Manila skyline (the bar sits at the highest point of BGC), and is well appointed with communal tables and sofas, best for gathering around with close friends. The view is best enjoyed with a glass of champagne and fresh oysters imported from Belgium.

Walk deeper into the large space and you will find two whiskey bar destinations. A good glass of scotch is recommended while enjoying a cigar, which is hand rolled to your liking right before your eyes. In another room downstairs, busy chefs prepare gastronomical treats in a large open kitchen. Guests are able to personally see their food being prepared just the way they like it. Spearheaded by Grand Hyatt’s Chef de Cuisine Manuel Baenziger, the quality of food at The Grill is top notch. Options range from servings of sweet Maryland Crab Cake to juicy Australian Wagyu Rib Eyes. Pair dinner with your choice of The Peak’s extensive selection of new and old wines. Al fresco dining facing the cityscape is also possible when asked to be seated at the open air terrace.

The Peak is located at the 60th to 62nd floor of Grand Hyatt Manila, 8th Avenue, corner 35th Street Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For reservations and more details, call +632 8381234 or email [email protected]

RELATED READS: The Peak of Luxury Dining Experiences

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