Food

Top Filipino Chefs Reveal Their Favorite Restaurants (Except Their Own)

Where do chefs eat?
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Where chefs eat has always been a bit of a mystery. You'd wonder if, by now, they'd be sick of their cooking. You'd think maybe they don't eat at all, after all, they must be full from all the tasting. You have to ask if they eat in other restaurants, scoping out rivals, dining incognito. Do they cook for themselves? Do they buy takeout? Do they eat anything that's not made from scratch?

As it turns out, chefs have pretty regular dining habits to regular people, except that they eat at really odd times during the day. They're also pretty supportive of each other's enterprise. We surveyed the country's top and most prolific chefs to ask what their second-favorite restaurants are. And no, they couldn't choose their own.

Tatung Sarthou, Talisay Garden Cafe

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"Gourmet Gypsy. It serves the kind of food I love. Food I wish I could serve in my restaurant but it doesn't fit. It's fun, playful, eclectic, and delicious. The menu is so mixed and varied: Asian, South American, European, Middle Eastern all in one restaurant. Ang saya."

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Gourmet Gypsy is at 28 Maginhawa Street, Diliman, Quezon City; 25 Don A. Roces Avenue, Paligsahan, Quezon City

Josh Boutwood, The Test Kitchen, Helm, Savage, The Bistro Group

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"In all honesty, I'm a very simple person when it comes to my personal sustenance.

"My kids are usually the ones who choose where to eat, but for my personal choice, I enjoy our Bistro brands, it's the familiar face that serves us and consistent food, I know what to expect and it gets delivered how I know it should be.

"Out side work, I have some some great meals in Chino BGC, and the new Thai stall in The Grid (Samyan) was really good. [I also go] to Sweet Ecstasy for my burger fix.

"Aside from the fact that I have very little time to actually eat out, I enjoy eating at home a lot."

Chino MNL is at G/F One Bonifacio, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; Samyan is at The Grid, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati; Sweet Ecstasy has branches at Jupiter Street Makati; Uptown Parade, Taguig; Ayala the 30th, Pasig; and Greenhills, San Juan.

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Jordy Navarra, Toyo Eatery

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"It's so difficult to say one specific one. I like a lot of places. I’ll just go all out. 

"For solid meals and specific things, there are a few. I love inasal places like JT’s Manukan and almost all silog places. For isaw, Sarsa is super good. For family restaurants and for foreign guests we always go to Manam—always love the sisig and the attention to detail for Pinoy fare.

"Love also Lipa Grill for regional family fare from Batangas. For a super local experience, I enjoy dampa because of the vibe and because growing up, my family always went there when we wanted to gather for dinner. For delivery we really enjoy the Tatang’s Spicy Lechon and Amber we like at Toyo for birthdays and meals when we can’t cook as a team.

"Also, a beautiful place for a trip outside Manila is Balay Dako. I haven’t been out much to eat in the newer places but for the more modern Pinoy restaurants we really like Lampara and their fresh take on Pinoy flavors. They’re run by passionate chefs who are such a wonderful addition to the dining scene. Grace Park by Margarita Fores, my wife and I love because of the regional delicacies and unique takes on familiar dishes for Filipinos. Special place by a special person close to our hearts. For more American flavors in the local scene (that supports local product) we always enjoy Wildflour. Always a good meal, breakfast lunch and dinner.

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"For a more Japanese sensibility but still relevant for Filipinos, all of Bruce Ricketts’ restaurants are great—top-class chef! Top quality experience is at Mecha Uma with Bruce. Of course, Chele Gonzalez and Josh Boutwood are also great chefs at top restaurants Gallery and Helm.

"Talking about chefs, there are a lot of talented ones in the Philippines and one I greatly admire is Chef Jam Melchor. He has the farmers and Filipino food in his heart so definitely a chef’s chef. Like Chef Sau (del Rosario) and Chef Ferns (Aracama), whom I admire and look up to also."

www.momentgroup.ph/brands/show/manamsarsa.phantoniosrestaurant.ph/balay-dakowww.amber.com.ph; Lampara is at 5883 Enriquez, Makati; Mecha Uma is at G/F RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 25th Street, Taguig; Grace Park is at One Rockwell, Makati; Gallery by Chele is at Clipp Center, Taguig; Helm is at Arya Plaza, Taguig.

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RJ Ramos, Lampara

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"The restaurant I've eaten at the most this year is Desgo Hot Pot. It's 24 hours. Since I rarely have the time to eat out on normal operating hours, my best options are the 24-hour joints."

Desgo is at Victoria de Makati, Washington Corner Dela Rosa Street, Pio del Pilar, Makati.

Mikel Zaguirre, Locavore

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"McDonald’s!!! It's consistent, straightforward, available any time. It's my guilty pleasure."

www.mcdonalds.com.ph

Miko Calo, Metronome

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"After work supper, Goto Tendon. My favorite Japanese is Kazunori, favorite Filipino fare is Manam, favorite chef-driven restaurant is Toyo Eatery. My favorite burger is Sweet Ecstasy, favorite Chinese is China Blue. They're all good and there are certain dishes that I really go back or crave."

gototendon.comwww.momentgroup.ph/brands/show/manaml Kazunori is at 2301 Chino Roces Avenue, Magallanes, Makati; Toyo Eatery is at Karrivin Alley, Chino Roces Extension, Makati; Sweet Ecstasy has branches at Jupiter Street Makati; Uptown Parade, Taguig; Ayala the 30th, Pasig; and Greenhills, San Juan; China Blue is at Conrad Manila, Seaside Boulevard Corner Coral Way, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay.

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Francis Lim, Tipple & Slaw

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"I super love The Pig & Palm. I love how they treat their vegetable dishes. Underrated ingredients that stand out with their style and techniques. Everything is clean tasting. Even ate there lunch then dinner the same day so I could try most of their stuff on the menu. Reasonably priced given the quality, ambiance and service."

G/F MSY Tower, Pescadores Road, Cebu

Chele Gonzalez, Gallery by Chele

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"For high level, I like Mecha UmaToyo EateryHelm because they have personality, identity, and they work in a way I respect. Plus, they are very delicious and at an internacional level. For more casual, I like Grace Park, LussoSarsa, and Abe

Mecha Uma is at G/F RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 25th Street, Taguig; Toyo Eatery is at Karrivin Alley, Chino Roces Extension, Makati; Helm is at Arya Plaza, Taguig; Grace Park is at One Rockwell, Makati; Lusso is at Greenbelt 5, Makati; sarsa.phljcrestaurants.com.ph/restaurants/abes

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Kalel Chan, Raintree Group

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"Second favorite restaurant is Ganso-Shabuway. Because of traffic nowadays, the restaurants that are on top of your list or you eat most at are the restaurants close to you. Because of food tasting and RND sometimes I look for a lot vegetables and extra plate of veggies."

Ganso-Shabuway is at Power Plant Mall, Makati.

Niño Laus, Ninyo, Agimat

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"In no particular order, Locavore, VBQ, Friends and Family, Tipple and Slaw, GochugangGallery by CheleSarsaAs you can see, most of my go-to places have local flavors. It's what my palate usually craves."

Locavore has branches at Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig; Forbes Town Center, Taguig; S Maison, Pasay; Three Central Mall, Makati; Eastwood, Quezon; VBQ is at 4969 Guerrero Street, Poblacion, Makati; Friends and Family is at Central Square, Bonifaco Global City; Taguig; Tipple and Slaw is at Katipunan, Quezon City; Gochugang is at The Grid, Rockwell, Makati; Gallery by Chele is at Clipp Center, Taguig; Helm is at Arya Plaza, Taguig; sarsa.ph

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JP Anglo, Sarsa

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"Kikufiji for reliable and not so expensive sashimi. We normally go here for date nights or if I want to eat by myself. Hai Shin Lou for dim sum and Cantonese food in Makati. Summer Palace in EDSA Shangri-La for Sunday dim sum. The Jolly Jeep in front of Sarsa Legazpi Village for lumpiang togue. Mamou for steak, Jollibee for fried chicken, and Wildflour for weekend brunch and bread/pastries."

Kikufuji is at Little Tokyo, 2277 Chino Roces Avenue, Legazpi Village, Makati; 810 A. Arnaiz Avenue, San Lorenzo, Makati; Summer Palace is at 2/F EDSA Shangri-La, Mandaluyong; Mamou has branches at Serendra, Taguig; Ayala 30th, Pasig; Power Plant Mall, Makati; www.jollibeedelivery.comwww.wildflour.com.ph

Patrick Go, Gochugang

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"I rarely have time to eat out. But when I do, I always make sure to try new stuff, as well go back to my favorite no-fail restaurants. Hapag was my favorite restaurant in 2019, hands down. Its menu was well-thought, well-executed, and clever. 

"For late-night cravings, Goto Tendon takes the cake. My no-fail, go-to restaurants are Providore (Turkey Sandwich), Tipple and Slaw (Shawarma Rice), Agimat (Molusco), Locavore (Oyster Sisig), and Mitsuyado Seimen (Karashi Tsukemen) But classic restaurants will always have a place in my heart. My love for Hizon's and Cafe Adriatico in Malate, Emerald Garden, and Aristocrat will stay forever."

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Hapag is at 201 Katipunan Avenue, Blue Ridge, Quezon City; Tipple & Slaw is at The Pop Up, Katipunan Avenue corner Xavierville Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City; Providore is at SM Aura, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; Locavore has branches at Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig; Forbes Town Center, Taguig; S Maison, Pasay; Three Central Mall, Makati; Eastwood, Quezon City; Mitsuyado Seimen is at 22 Jupiter, Makati; gototendon.com

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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