Chef Ariel Manuel looks at me, bemused. “Uh, until supplies last, I guess,” he laughs. I have asked him until when his “Steak All You Can” promo will be in effect, fully intending to bring groups of friends to partake of this carnivorous feast in the coming weeks.
Chef Manuel has been one of my favorite local chefs since his days at Lolo Dad’s. Going to his restaurant was almost like going to church for me—it is a gastronomic occasion. I prepare: my stomach, my taste buds, my wallet. It isn’t that his food is particularly avant-garde or innovative. Ariel makes food for those who love to eat. It has never been to show off what is new, but what is consistently delicious. He knows the value in good-quality meats and vegetables, and how to expound on their natural flavors without overwhelming the palate.
While his year-old Bistro Manuel is still a fan favorite, lesser known are his watering holes, Taperia Poblacion and The Sippery, both on the ground floor of Six Axis Center in Poblacion, right below Bistro Manuel. It is a comfortable and easy Taperia with good eats and solid cocktails (their flaming sangria is not to be missed). It’s the place you go to after a long day’s work to unwind, or when you’ve had that FML day that can only be alleviated by eating your feelings. And what better way to eat through your issues than with a great, juicy steak?
Now there may be many places in Manila who offer all you can eat steak, but Ariel’s steaks still beat them all. There is no steak sitting on a chopping board, under a heat lamp here. Each U.S. Black Angus rib eye steak is cooked to your specific taste in a tiny cast iron skillet, and comes with a trio of selected sides—also unlimited. It is the exact same steak you will get in Bistro Manuel, albeit slightly smaller.
Now there may be many places in Manila who offer all you can eat steak, but Ariel’s steaks still beat them all. Each U.S. Black Angus rib eye steak is cooked to your specific taste in a tiny cast iron skillet, and comes with a trio of selected sides.
“There was a group of guys last week that each ate four steaks,” Ariel says with a bit of awe. I look over at my brother, often called the family trash compactor for his ability to eat not just his food, but everything else the rest of the family is too full to eat ourselves. “You gonna beat that?” I ask. My brother looks dubious. In the end, he ate three steaks before giving up. I on the other hand, was still in the middle of slathering each slice with a bit of Ariel’s truffled mashed potatoes. It was beefy bliss. You won’t see the truffled mash on the menu (it’s a side dish available in Bistro Manuel), but regulars know that they can order Bistro Manuel food to be brought down to them in Taperia and The Sippery (though not the other way around).
At the end of the evening, sloshed by sangria and sated by steak, I fall asleep in the passenger seat of my car. I am almost certain I was dreaming of cows jumping over the moon.
Taoperia's All You Can Meat is P1,800++ per person. Sharing and leftovers are not allowed. Taperia is at 2/F Six Axis Center, 4347 B. Valdez Street, Poblacion, Makati City; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; (02) 871-8566.