Is a P1,050 Burger Worth It? The Most Expensive Food in Manila
When one has the taste (and spending power) for the extravagant and luxurious, the sky is the limit when it also comes to gastronomic delights. Eating is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures and for those who can afford it, there’s no stopping them from going all out.
While the arbiters of good taste are all about elegance and restraint, sometimes splurging on the ridiculously sublime is good for the soul. Manila’s food scene is as polarizing as its society, and while people might have something to say about spending a month’s minimum wage on a slab of meat, that’s a discussion we can save for another day. Remember though, a study has proven that money can buy happiness. What more if what you bought was food?
Hence, today, we feast.
1| BURGER: Lusso’s Demi Pound Burger
Modeled after Chef Margarita Fores’ fond memories of hotel lobby dining with her family, this Greenbelt 5 restaurant is known for its luxe interpretations of comfort food. Its eponymous demi pound burger is its decadent masterpiece: an artisanal bun holding a massive angus patty, a foil for a generous block of foie gras. On top, it is simply garnished by onions caramelized in Prosecco, with a side of Cambozola sauce either as a bath for the burger or dip for those perfect fries. The most expensive burger in Manila, yes, but it's worth every centavo at just over P1,000 (P1,050 to be exact). Definitely a life-changing burger.
Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati
2| STEAK: Finestra’s Omi Wagyu
Diners at Solaire’s Italian steakhouse (an Esquire favorite, we may add) are typically the high rollers who will not flinch at a five-digit price tag, so they expect nothing but the best their big-time budget can buy. They can opt for giant hunks of Bistecca Fiorentina, or go straight for the most prized beef in the room: the 250-gram Omi Japanese Wagyu Ribeye or Tenderloin, which will set one back P18,500. A drop in the bucket, really, for those who bet seven-figures without blinking.
Solaire Resort and Casino, Aseana Avenue, Entertainment City, Pasay
3| CHINESE: East Ocean Palace’s Ultra-Premium Lauriat
Robert See’s (Century Seafood) Cantonese palace by the bay has become quite the popular draw for lavish celebrations. With high ceilings and towering chandeliers setting the mood, a lauriat here understandably fetches a pretty penny. Though it opened only in 2018, East Ocean Palace is already beloved among serious Chinese food lovers. Its most expensive set menu is P8,000 per head, and has all the high-ticket items you would expect—roast suckling pig, cold tiger lobster salad, Buddha Jump Over the Wall Soup, braised Australian abalone, steamed live garoupa, stewed sea cucumber, and soft shell crabs. That is the price one pays for live seafood, plus the service of expert Cantonese chefs who know what to do with them.
Aseana Business Park, Bradco Avenue, Entertainment City, Pasay
4| SUSHI: Saito’s Special at Kazunori
This dish is so ridiculous that owner Ryan Cruz’s fine sensibilities is keeping this an off-the-menu special. Still, what he calls “the most un-Japanese thing we have” is also the most photographed dish in the slightly off-the-grid Makati restaurant. For P5,500, their sushi chef dumps 500 grams of otoro, negitoro, uni, ikura, and dignity on top of a simple cucumber and daikon maki. Considering the sheer magnitude of sashimi-grade, imported seafood on the plate, the price is totally justified. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.
2301 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati
5| LECHON DE LECHE: Richman's Ultimate Lechon of Pepita’s Kitchen
When TV personality Adam Richman came to shoot an episode in her home, Lechon Diva Dedet Dela Fuente prepared a 12-course menu she aptly dubbed Rich Man’s Degustacion. As with all of Dela Fuente’s feasts, it was capped with a theme-appropriate stuffed lechon de leche (baby pig). The Richman’s lechon is stuffed with truffle rice studded with foie gras which becomes the Ultimate Lechon when gold leaf is added to its already glistening skin. With the Richman’s lechon priced at P15,500, what’s another thousand to bling it out?
For orders, call (02) 425-4605
6| EGG: Flower Boy’s Jumbo Blue Crab Omelet
In upscale food hall The Grid at Powerplant mall, diners can expect fancier options to come with the plusher-than-usual surroundings. But, what has people doing a double take on Stall number 2’s chalkboard menu is their jumbo blue crab omelet and its P1000 price tag. To be fair, it is massive and it is quite the beauty. While most people balk at the premium price attached to it, those with a genuine love for the dish do not seem to mind it.
Stall No. 2 at The Grid Food Market, Powerplant Mall, Rockwell, Makati
7| YAKINIKU: Miyazaki Gyu’s Yakiniku Platter
Not everybody is enamored by the dizzying amount of beef offered in the all-you-can-eat grills peppering the city. Some actually prefer quality over quantity, which is what makes Miyazaki Gyu one of the hidden gems in BGC. For P10,000, you get half a kilo of what is arguably the best beef in Manila in various cuts. With its extreme marbling and inherent richness, you do not need much to be satisfied and can easily share this with two or three others. A fair price, we believe, for a taste of the best.
One McKinley Place, 26th Street corner 4th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
8| CHOCOLATE CAKE: Love Cakes’s Chocolate Overload
Addiction drives people to madness, and only a true chocoholic can fully appreciate the sweet insanity that is the fully customizable Love Cake’s Chocolate Overload, with prices starting at P10,500. To begin with, this stunning masterpiece by siblings Reagan Arcega and Ann Arcega Dy is massive and prepared with the finest ingredients. Add to that an over-the-top retrospective of truffles, chocolate bars, chocolate-covered pretzel sticks, chocolate-dipped fruits—you get what we mean. It is truly resplendent in all its gaudy magnificence, and you can say whatever you want, but it made you look.
For orders, call 0998-998-1826.
9| CONGEE: The Peninsula Manila’s Pamora Farm Arroz Caldo
It is what you would expect from a bowl of rice porridge, but better, if only to match the impressive surroundings where it is to be consumed. The free-range chicken imparts a much denser flavor into the broth, making the job for the usual accoutrements much easier. P790++ for a bowl of lugaw might have people raising their eyebrows. But, when it’s 2 a.m. after a fun night and you’re sitting in the most iconic hotel lobby in the Philippines, that is a small price to pay for living your best life.
The Lobby, The Peninsula Manila, Apartment Ridge Road, Makati
10| Pan de sal: Panaderya Toyo’s Knotted Pan de Sal
We heard stories of first-timers who walked into the upscale bakery along Chino Roces Extension, grabbed a handful of the hefty pandesals, whipped out a P1,000 bill, and shout out an expletive when the cashier asks for more dough (see what we did there?). At P85 per piece, the knotted pandesals of baking maestro Richie Manapat (who schooled Martha Stewart on preparing the traditional Filipino bread during her recent visit) are noticeably bigger and denser, more sourdough, less sweet, and 10 times more expensive than the average roll. It is pandesal with the grit and gumption to stand up against more refined European-style bread. So, sure, take our money.
The Alley at Karrivin, Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati