It was a great year for foodies enjoying so many new restaurant openings in Manila. With about 250 restaurants in total, SM Mega Fashion Hall was probably the biggest contributor of new restaurant openings out of any mall and certainly the favorite venue for international franchises to debut in Manila. 8 out of 10 restaurants from this month’s list can be found in malls. It is also interesting to see that a humble Bulalohan made the cut. Read on to see where you can find Booky‘s most loved bulalohan in Mandaluyong!
10. Linguini Fini – SM Mega Fashion Hall
Last month’s #7
Another one of Hong Kong‘s finest, headed by Chef Vinny Lauria, arrived to the Philippines this year. Linguini Fini is a farm-to-fork concept Italian restaurant rooted in New York culture. It is committed to supporting local farmers and agricultural sustainability. It’s for everyone who enjoys classic and authentic Italian dishes. It’s not for lactose intolerants. We recommend the Papardelle and porchetta selections. Our insider tip is a lot of their dishes are unique to its location, i.e., only we will have the Longanisa-infused dishes.
9. R & J Bulalohan – Mandaluyong
R & J Bulalohan today is a bigger 24-hour carinderia that serves Filipino specialties like Bulalo and Tapsilog. It has stood in the same block near the Mandaluyong City Hall for more than 20 years now, they call themselves the “bulalo ng mga artista.” It’s for affordable late night barkada gimmicks or post workout/party eats. It’s not for people looking for an upscale ambiance. We recommend the Bulalo Soup and their Binalot selections. Our insider tip is come in casual cool clothes, the place can get crowdy and hot.
8. Torch Restaurant – Greenhills
Torch Restaurant serves International Fusion Cuisine, their specialties include thin crisp pizzas, sizzling marbled angus steaks and oven baked sushis. The place transforms from bright and casual in the morning to dimmed and intimate in the evening. It’s for everyone that enjoys wide menu variety. It’s not for people looking for a quiet and private venue. We recommend the Chili Cheese Crispers for starters, and the Salpicao Medallion and Baked Fish Fillet in Tangerine Teriyaki for mains. Go for their pizza selections as well. Our insider tip is they serve unlimited wine from Mondays to Thursdays.
7. Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza – The Podium
Gino’s is a Neapolitan style pizzeria that serves freshly made 12-inch pizzas using their own kesong puti (white cheese) made with milk from the Philippine Carabao Institute. Named after the son of owners Jutes and Cello Templo, it is a cozy neighborhood restaurant and may be easily missed if not for their bright signage. This is their second branch after Katipunan. It’s for anyone who prefers something casual or wants to order takeout. It’s not for foodies who want their pizzas big with a firm crispy crust and lots of cheese, Neapolitan pizzas are not your usual American pizzas. We recommend any of their burrata dishes and the SMEG pizza. Our insider tip is to add a little of their honey syrup and chilli flakes on their pizzas.
6. 8Cuts Burger Blends – SM Mega Fashion Hall
Last month’s #3
Joining the make-your-own burger wagon is the highly raved about 8Cuts Burger Blends. ‘8Cuts’ is a reference to the eight cuts of beef used in the five custom blends that only they offer. With these specialized joints sprouting across the city, fastfood to-go burgers may soon become a thing of the past. It’s for people who enjoy getting their hands dirty. It’s not for people looking for a quick take away meal. We recommend the Q-Daddy Burger.
5. D&B – Duck & Buvette – Shangri-la Plaza Mall
Duck & Buvette is the old Cafe Provencal reinvented. It’s a French bistro and bakery specializing in duck confit and buvettes (the French version of tapas or small plates that uses seasonal produce and hand-picked ingredients). It’s for weekend lunches and dinners with family or friends. It’s not for children looking for spaghetti or fried chicken. We recommend the Maple Candied Bacon & Lemon, D&B Crispy Half Duck Confit and French Ice Cream Sandwich. Our insider tip is they serve Intelligentsia specialty coffee, a leading coffee roaster company in Chicago.
4. Green Pastures – Shangri-la Plaza Mall
Last month’s #4
Green Pastures, another farm-to-table concept restaurant created by Chef Robby Goco of crowd-favorite Cyma, promises to deliver wholly organic and locally-sourced dishes. It’s for people who wants to feel a little less guilty on their ‘cheat day’. It’s not for people who prefer salty foods. We recommend their homemade cheeses and juice selection. Our insider tip is Chef Robby constantly updates the menu ‘based on what’s in season, what’s new and what’s fresh,’ which is why their menu is stamped with a validity period.
3. Yabu: House of Katsu – SM Megamall
Yabu is the leader in all things Katsu (meaning cutlet in English); they have set the standard of what all other katsu-serving restaurants should aim to emulate. Owner John Concepcion of Uniliver RFM Ice Cream, Inc. brought in Chef Kazuya Takeda from Tokyo to partner with and create this specialized dining experience with him. It’s for people of all ages who like all things fried. It’s not for people looking for a wide menu selection. We recommend the Kurobuta Premium set (‘Kurobuta’ is also known as the kobe beef of pork) and Hiroshima Oysters. Our insider tip is talk to the manager, he/she might give you free ice cream! P.S. If you don’t already know ‘The Yabu Promise’, it’s 20 minutes serving time or it’s free.
2. Ippudo Philippines – SM Mega Fashion Hall
Last month’s #1
Ippudo is the first branch of this international group in the Philippines. A joint venture with the guys at Yabu, it specializes in Hakata-style Tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen produced in their kitchen and tailor-fitted for the Filipino palate. It’s for all the people who wants straight up ramen minus all the fancy embellishments of modern cuisine. It’s not for people who don’t like queuing (sometimes 2 hours long). We recommend their Shiromaru Motoji ramen and the pork buns. Our insider tip is to come in pairs for quicker accommodation. “Kiddie sets” may be requested for your little ones.
1. Tim Ho Wan – SM Mega Fashion Hall
Last month’s #2
Tim Ho Wan is Hong Kong’s most celebrated dim sum restaurant, after all it has been recognized as the cheapest One Michelin star in the world. It’s for everyone who loves good and fairly affordable dimsum and more. It’s not for people who hate long lines. Their crowd stealer is definitely the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork, we also recommend their Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling and Steamed Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp. Our insider tip is to queue after lunch rush hour or 2 hours before closing time for shorter lines. P.S. The buns are P145 for 3 pieces, VAT exclusive.
As always, these rankings are based on the number of people who have added a restaurant to their ‘Favorites’ lists. If you still haven’t, update your Booky app to version 1.11.18 for a sleeker in-app look of ‘Top Restaurants by Area’ and a new ‘Hottest New Restaurants’. For any app concerns and suggestions, leave us a message on the comments section below. Happy eating!