In a building along Pasong Tamo, where an inasal joint is the only establishment that will catch your eye, hides Prime 101. You wouldn’t even know it was there unless you were actually seeking it out. It’s a privy restaurant up a winding staircase that will strike you initially like any other restaurant out to impress.
But here, instead of a menu, you get a list of raw ingredients on a blackboard. It’s an impressive list: a variety of high-grade steaks from Wagyu to a Kimberly Red to a US Super Prime Rib; pig-both Kurobuta and Iberian; and a selection of seafood like lobsters, mussels, scallops, and soft shell crab. There’s one thing missing though-they don’t tell you how it’s cooked, or how you’ll eat it, which is the central concept at Prime 101. It’s a customizable dining experience envisioned by chef Marco Legasto. Tell them what you want and it will be made for you, the personal chef you never imagined you could have. It’s sort of like the many customizable cocktail joints that have sprouted in the metro, except here, you can decide on your entire meal. And if you’re not adept in the language of food, Chef Marco will gladly help you out. Want those Asian flavors in your
western steak? That can and has been done (much to the dismay of Chef Marco who was slightly uncomfortable about bastardizing a good steak). But if the customer wants it, he will have it, and it will be done with effort par excellence.
From his extensive travels, the chef brings back the global flavors he’s experienced to this homey space. In Prime 101 it feels as if you’ve walked into your own living room, perfect for more low profile, quiet nights without scrimping on the luxury. Even (and most especially) if you’re just looking for a decent steak, this is the place to get it. They know how to cook it to perfection, how to treat the meat with utmost care. Begin with a sampler and taste for yourself the differences
between the beef. Season your steak to your liking with their four kinds of salts: pink, chili, garlic and paprika. Have it with some scotch and it’s a meal made for a real man.
A rich appetizer of baked oyster in three cheeses, garnished with foie gras
Crab timbale sauteed in truffle paste and drizzled with lemon honey
Deep-fried dark chocolate mousse encased in an intricate caramelized shell
And because there is always room for dessert, you need to try theirs. A deep-fried chocolate mousse may sound overpowering, but encased in an intricate caramelized cage, it’s a showoff.
Damn good too. Like a chewy donut filled with fluffy chocolate cream, except even better than that paltry description.
Come here for some me-time, take your golfing friends or reserve a night out for your date. It feels like your own private hideaway where you can invite all kinds of guests. It’s a place that doesn’t try too hard but definitely aims to make you happy. And you will leave pleased because the food was made with specifically you in mind...and you’re kind of like a rockstar, a rockstar on a night when he just wants to stay in.
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.