The best things we tasted in March 2024 2
Food & Drink

The best things we tasted in March 2024

Here are the most memorable dishes and drinks we tried in March.
Jeeves de Veyra, Cyrene de la Rosa, Joko Magalong-de Veyra | Apr 01 2024

Pancit Negra at AYA by Hapag

If you haven’t tried the tasting-menu-only Hapag, AYA by Hapag can serve as the perfect venue for you to finally try its take on Filipino cuisine via its ala carte menu of Filipino small plates and signature drinks.

A must-try is the Pancit Negra comprised of hand-made squid ink egg noodles coated with just the right amount of adobo negra sauce, that’s topped with chicaron and served with some prawns and taba ng talangka aioli. — Cyrene de la Rosa

Beef Sukiyaki at Omotenashi by Kazunori

The Nippon Hasha group, owners of popular Japanese restaurants Yushoken, Kazunori, Mendokoro, and Marudori, just launched a catering business called Omotenashi by Kazunori.

This high-end catering service aims to embody the principles of Japanese omotenashi that pertains to hospitality by wholeheartedly looking after their guests, and providing everything they need to host a Japanese dinner either in the comforts of their homes, chosen event space or at the Kazunori private dining room.

Standout dishes included a mind-blowingly delish beef sukiyaki served in individual sized bowls that presented a mouthwatering slice of thinly-sliced, lightly grilled Wagyu beef that was served with raw egg yolk and and a slightly sweet and salty, savory soy-infused sauce. — Cyrene de la Rosa

Fried Asuhos and Pinakbet at Inatô

Sandwiched between Toyo Eatery and Panaderya Toyo at the Alley at Karrivin is Inatô. This newest addition to the Toyo Eatery group of restaurants, now fondly called #BarangayToyo, is a 14-seater Filipino restaurant helmed by Toyo Eatery’s longtime (now former) sous-chef JP “Jepe” Cruz, where he now shares his own take on Filipino cuisine via an ala carte menu where main dishes or “ulams” are currently served with complimentary sides of rice, fried asuhos from Mindoro that’s deep-fried to perfection from head to tail so that you can eat the whole fish and its bones.

Plus the best pinakbet that I have tried so far! According to Chef Jepe it’s a Northern/Ilocano-style inspired pinakbet that they slow-cooked or stewed in palayoks or clay pots, just like how his mother taught him — just seasoned with homemade patis bisugo (a local fish), with no water added, ahaking the pot from time to time to avoid it from sticking at the bottom. — Cyrene de la Rosa

Sizzling Kesong Puti at Bamba Bistro

It’s always a treat to eat at Chef Tina Legarda’s Bamba Bistro at Aguirre St., BF Homes as there’s always something new to try. My favorite during my last visit was her new take on serving the homely kesong puti and pandesal. She served the keso on a sizzling hot cast iron plate with a hearty side of roasted bone marrow that went well with the berry marmalade served with it, as the marmalade added just the right amount of tartness that cut through the bone marrow’s richness, making it easier to eat. Pro tip: for the best experience, eat ASAP or while hot. — Cyrene de la Rosa

Baked Hokkaido Oysters at Hakitori Hachibei

There are many things to love in Kiwami Food Hall at Bonifacio High Street, but my best bite this month comes from Hakitori Hachibei. These Baked Hokkaido Oysters have been available since January, but I’ve been sleeping on them (and Kiwami) for years, it seems. 

The name of the game here is umami, and everything on the Baked Miso Oyster and Baked Hokkaido Oysters Rockefeller screams it — from the fresh delectable oyster, the bubbling blend of cheese and cream, and spades of it in spinach or miso. And yes, I’ve had baked oysters before, but these ones were special. Was it the oyster? The right amount of cheese? The squeeze of lemon on top? The way it was cooked? I don’t know, but what a gorgeously balanced beautifully delicious way to indulge. — Joko Magalong-de Veyra

Cowboy Chili Soup at Texas Roadhouse

Have you ever had Texas Cowboy Chili Soup? I had this before, but I fell in love with it again last month. Comes with crackers, but I would eat this with rice and call it a day. Not spicy, but it’s awesomely spiced, loaded with melty cheese and beefy goodness. I did a quick web search, and a lot of people claim that this is their favorite chili and there’s recipe dupes for days. For me though, it’s my Manila go-to for a quick chili and rice fix (or bread, since their bread’s delicious). — Joko Magalong-de Veyra

Sisig Donuts at The Westin Manila Lobby Lounge

Westin Manila's executive chef Rej Casanova's quirky experimental dishes are good reasons to occasionally pop by The Westin Manila to check the menu. The hotel has had these sisig donuts (P505 for 4 pieces) for some time even before they made a big splash during the Manila Food and Wine Festival launch last year. This is similar to a munchkin with vinegary sisig inside and glazed with a soy vinegar aioli. — Jeeves de Veyra

Alfredo Pizza at Cuesta Roccia, Cagayan de Oro

It's always a pleasure to find great food in the most unexpected of places. Self-taught pizza maker Celeste Lascuña fires up her pizza ovens in Cuesta Roccia on the outskirts high above Cagayan de Oro. I thought it was remarkably similar to pizza di Roma where her dough is thin and slightly chewy. For the Alfredo (P500 for a 10-inch pizza), this is topped with a creamy sauce, artichokes, prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan cheese finished with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. — Jeeves de Veyra

Shrimp Vindaloo by Khana Sutra, Cagayan de Oro

New York-trained Indian chef Natish Singh cooked up a special Shrimp Vindaloo (P199) for Ayala Centrio's Big Bite festival. He's first to admit that this isn't an authentic recipe. The first spicy hit slowly gets toned down with a wave of sour-sweet flavors from the tuba vinegar in the sauce plus the fresh herbs served with basmati rice. — Jeeves de Veyra

Johnnie Walker Blonde Popcorn Highball at Wanderland

Give ‘Liquido Maestro’ Kal-el Demetrio any spirit and he's sure to make music with it. For this one, he uses his special caramel popcorn and the new Johnnie Walker Blonde to concoct a refreshing cocktail specially for the Wanderland Music Festival. The new whisky's approachable toffee notes actually extended the popcorn into a cocktail. It's like drinking a cup of boozy caramel popcorn! — Jeeves de Vera

Kuheiji Junmai Daigingo ‘Eau Du Desir' from Sake Hanbai PH

Thanks to Japanese External Trade Organization Philippines’ consistent efforts to promote Japanese liquor in the country, sake is slowly but surely getting more popular in the Philippines. Paving the way for incredibly popular sake brands like Kamoshibito Kuheiji that’s exclusively distributed by Sake Hanbai Philippines to enter the Philippines.

The Kuheiji sake brand is said to enjoy a cult-like following among sake connoisseurs, who has the highest regard for the brewery’s sake making skills. Kuheiji is also known to follow a domain-style of sake making similar to the wine world. The Kuheiji brand makes mostly Junmai Daiginjos.

My early favorite from the Kuheiji line-up is its signature Junmai Daiginjo “Eau Du Desir” or “Water of Desire” — an elegant yet, spritzy and lively sake brew that will surely appeal to both old and new sake drinkers alike. — Cyrene de la Rosa