Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Manila (That You've Never Been To)

In the flood of restaurants, there are a few that drift apart and worth seeking out.
IMAGE Kai Huang - Instagram - SIAM SUKH JAI (@siamsukhjai)
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The food landscape of Manila has reached fever pitch, with seemingly every corner of this huge city filled with places to satiate our hunger.

However, in this day and age when landlords are king, it’s not surprising to find restaurants playing like reruns, with the same faces mushrooming everywhere like magic.

Rare are the places that have earned their stripes and have their own set of fans, yet are located on the fringes of the mad house that is the Manila food scene.

Here are a few places just like thatrestaurants that serve delicious food but are only on the radar of a select few. These are some of the best restaurants you may have never been to.

Siam Sukh Jai

Here is a place that used to exist in Makati and was name-checked in whispers by Thai food aficionados. Then the Thai owners found new Filipino partners and moved to the spanking new S Maison. Since then, the Thais have moved on, but the Filipino partners, and their chefs, have stayed, serving some of the best Thai food in the city. Keep some Thai iced tea on hand and ask for Thai level spice. The heat will most definitely be on!

S Maison, Conrad Manila, Seaside Boulevard corner Coral Way, Mall of Asia Complex (MOA), Pasay City

Epilogue

The more I eat here, the more I realize that this is probably one of the most bang-for-the-buck restaurants we have. Run by a Japanese chef who’s worked in some top flight restaurantsincluding the Paul Bocuse outpost in Tokyo—it serves contemporary European food with the deft touch of the Japanese. We’ve practically eaten everything on that menu, and I will go on a limb and say that so far, all are keepers. With an elegant and cozy setup, this is also the date place you’ve never been to!

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S Maison, Conrad Manila, Seaside Boulevard corner Coral Way, Mall of Asia Complex (MOA), Pasay City

Sagana

IMAGE: Kai Huang

There are many accolades that can be said about chef and partner Marc Aubry. As someone who’s been here for a long time, he’s been waving the flag of his native France’s cuisine for many to discover. At Sagana, he tries something a little different: riffs on dishes using local ingredientsvery farm to table in that sensewith a part of the menu still retaining some Gallic favorites. Mix and match, but don’t forget to try the creative specials either.

Net One Center, 3rd Avenuecorner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

Francesco’s Kitchen

Nestled in the middle of quite San Juan lies one of the most delicious Italian restaurants to have opened its doors to us in a long time. When you tuck into its food, you know it isn’t made in the mode of typical local Italian restaurants. When we visited there were dishes like stewed tripe, roasted fish with beans and clams, a brilliant brick chicken, and one killer carbonara. Such a keeper!

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863 A. Mabini Street, Addition Hills, San Juan City

Tipple & Slaw

Tipple’s Francis Lim is one of the most fun chefs in town. He knows the kind of food that people around here enjoy: over the top and satisfyingand he serves it here at Tipple & Slaw with a whole lot of rock and roll. The only problem (if you can call it that) is that this joint is more of a place to party and down some shots with your squad…but once the hunger pangs set in, you will certainly eat well.

The Forum, 7th Avenue corner Federacion Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; The Pop Up Katipunan, Xavierville corner Katipunan, Quezon City

Savor Park Café

This is the little CBD restaurant that could. Run by some Ilongga ladies, it serves excellent Pinoy (and even Western) food that will satisfy anyone. Its pork dishes, in particular, shine very brightly. Do try its longgnisa, and its crispy binagoongan, but it is its “cowboy sisig” (made with cow and baboy!) that may be the best sisig you’ve never eaten (so far).

Adamson Center Building, 121 L.P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City

Seya’s Kitchen

This quiet Katipunan joint is run by another quiet young chef who really knows how to cook: Seya Ortega. As someone who’s honed his skills in various cooking competitions, he has gone with a more approachable cuisine at his eponymous restaurantfocusing on flavors that will make any mouth water and come back for more.

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42 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City

Va Bene

Va Bene is where carbs are worth it. The chef ownerMassimo Varonesihas a way with pasta and flavorful sauces of so many varieties, and he makes all of them fresh. When in Central Square, this is the place to chow down before catching a movie. Just don’t pass out from a food coma!

BHS Central Square, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; Petron Gas Station, EDSA corner A. Arnaiz Avenue, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City

Oyasumi

IMAGE: Majoy Siason

Another neighborhood treasure in San Juan, Oyasumi is a ramen joint that just feels like a part of its surroundings. This is the kind of place you go to when you want to drown your feelings in a bowl of rich noodles (try its tomato ramen!), and just to make sure you get pushed over the edge, end with it calls “cheesy risotto”turning your leftover soup into a food coma bomb with risotto rice grains.

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308 P. Guevarra corner Seaview Street, Greater San Juan, San Juan City

8 Treasures

Who doesn’t love Hong Kong style roasties? Roast duck, soy chicken, roast pork—even goose and roasted piggy if you order ahead of time. 8 Treasures does all this and more (don’t miss the pickles!) from its little corner inside the property of a gas station. This is comfort food at its finest—the kind you can indulge in again and again.

Petron Gas Station EDSA corner Arnaiz Avenue, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City

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JJ Yulo
Always just jonesing, JJ Yulo is everyone's favorite curator of fun. The man behind Manly Eats and its more evolved counterpart Supermanly Eats, JJ describes himself as a humble observer and peanut gallery commenter of the local food scene.
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