What makes a new restaurant so exciting that it stands out indelibly in your mind? We look for great food and thoughtful service (although, to be honest, some of the best dining experiences have no service at all to speak of). But most of all, it's how the entire dining experience is a story that unfolds through all your senses. On such a journey as this, a birria taco is not just a taco but a superbly savory dish full of culture and tradition. A Mediterranean restaurant offers not just a meal but a sensuous trip to a small fishing village in France or Italy. And pizza is never just pizza, but an exciting adventure into cool new ways to combine flavors, textures and cuisines. Here's our ten picks of the most exciting restaurants that opened in Makati just this year.
By Metro.StyleFebruary 25 2024, 12:32 PM
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Ember by Josh Boutwood
For all its casual elegance, Ember by Josh Boutwood is a maverick of a restaurant. Essentially, it is the chef taking the primal element of fire (ember) to transform humble, simple ingredients into superbly delicious food that is uncomplicated and yet smolders with sophistication. Star dishes include a beautifully-charred steak dry-aged in-house and cooked over embers to perfection, served with creamy spinach and mashed potato. Applewood-smoked shrimps to be dipped in garlic emulsion with lemon. And, my personal favorite, a simple dish of mushrooms and hazelnuts cooked with lavish shavings of comte cheese. The minimalist menu barely hints at the wow factor of the dishes. The restaurant seats 30 inside, with a small mezzanine for private dining, but there’s more room in the al fresco area. Even so, the place is packed every day of the week so reservations are recommended. With a modern casual-yet-elegant vibe, it’s perfect whether you’re just dropping in for a business lunch or want to dress up for dinner. Don’t miss the signature sourdough bread that’s served for starters with smoked butter. Yum. Address: Greenbelt 3, Makati City. Contact: (0916) 420-1600. Website: joshboutwood.net. IG: @ember.manila.
In his new restaurant, Chef Sau del Rosario reinterprets classic Filipino cuisine into new dishes executed with French flair. The results are fantastic. Think of crispy pata where the pork knuckles are cooked sous vide for 24 hours then fried to a deep crisp golden perfection, with juicy tender meat within. Or a briny poached lobster swimming in coconut and crab fat-infused alavar sauce from Zamboanga. A personal favorite is inihaw na pulpo, exquisitely char-grilled and served with tangy vinegary sauce. Personalize these dishes with a variety of sawsawan, including homemade banana catsup. No need to move for dessert, order the champorado ice cream with caramelized tuyo and rice crispies. The cocktails are superb, crafted by award-winning mixologist Auie Benisano, and named after figures in Filipino mythology like the Dyesebel with its homemade rum, bonito, nori. All in all, Sawsaw presents a delicious range of Filipino cuisine where local ingredients like heirloom grains, seafood and produce are stars. An al fresco dining is available in its urban garden. Sawsaw is closed on Mondays, and the place is usually packed so we suggest to reserve a table in advance.
Address: 8491 Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City. Contact: (0917) 810-9322. IG: @sawsaw.ph
This sleek and elegant restaurant — the newest concept by the Bistronomia Group, which owns Las Flores, Rambla and Tomatito — evokes the sensuous luxury of the Mediterranean both in ambience and through its menu. Bistronomia head chef Alfredo Rodriguez Sangrador takes inspiration from the classic dishes of Greece, Italy and Spain and presents them with singular falir. The star of his kitchen is the mibrasa charcoal oven, brought in from Spain, on which he cooks over 90 percent of his dishes, including French-style free-range roast chicken, lamb chops, duck confit, pulpo, cheeses and cochinillo. Even the paella is cooked in a cast iron casserole in this oven, imparting an earthy hint of smokiness to the tender meat. This gorgeous restaurant is the perfect spot for lunch, dinner, or simply tapas — we recommend the pulpo a la brasa, empanadillas and tortilla bacalao. Always packed, so make a reservation.
G/F The Shops at Ayala Triangle Gardens, Paseo de Roxas corner Makati Avenue, Makati City
Contact (0915) 856-4262.
A spanking brand new Peruvian-Japanese restaurant by Notorious Concepts, the group behind fabled Alamat and West 32, this is the playground of Chef Luis Higa, a Japanese who lived in Peru for many years. The menu is a delicate balance between the two cuisines. You can find the usual Japanese favorites such as fresh sashimi and yakitori, as well as Peruvian classics like lomo saltado. Expect all your favorite Peruvian sauces and dips too, like chimichurri. We recommend the Japonesa Lunch Experience of oyakodon with breaded chicken thigh on a bed of Japanese rice, with silvery onions and scrambled egg. And don’t miss the cocktails! Try the Noricillin, a take on the classic Japanese penicillin cocktail made with Japanese whiskey and nori. Plant-based options are available such as the Coliflor Frito that’s made with cauliflower, edamame purée, red bell pepper sauce.
Address: 5658 Jacobo Street corner Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati City.
Hail to the return of the supper club! This charming French-Asian restaurant presents an irresistible fusion of food and music in the most tasteful space with French blue walls, white linen tablecloths, and private alcoves overlooking the main floor — so you can drink your cocktails in intimacy while enjoying the show. As a classic supper club, the idea is to come here for the evening to enjoy a full dinner from aperitif to dessert, while enjoying live music. The menu is created by no other than Chef Ariel Manuel, and features an inventive take on classic French and Asian dishes. Think, for example, of escargots in Burgundy butter and garlic, or Pondicherry prawn curry Indienne (prawns cooked in Indian curry, butter, wine and cheese). A juicy Chateaubriand steak is the star of the menu and good for two (though I refused to share mine). Then end with dessert, a dark chocolate delice with coconut-whipped ganache and kaffir lime. The wine list is beautifully-curated to go with the food, which will eliminate the stress of choosing! And do not miss the cocktails — I found some of the best renditions of the classic cocktails crafted with a deft touch. We suggest come here for the full experience, but you can also just drop by for after-dinner drinks to watch the show over elevated bar chow like duck fat fries and mushroom chicharon. A different music genre is on each night, from pop jazz Tuesdays, party retro Wednesdays, 80s dance Thursdays, Latin Fridays, Artist Series on Saturdays, and easy listening on Sundays. Not so well known is the fact they have casual but elevated lunch sets. Closed on Mondays.
Address: 110 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati.
Contact: (0917) 823-0091.
A café by day, and a craft cocktail lounge at night. This is our day-to-night favorite in Poblacion. Dear Adam, from 11 am to 6 pm, is a bistro that serves comfort food like pastas, fresh salads, and sandwiches. Vegan options are available like the Twoshroom, or miso ginger chicken salad. After 6 pm, the space transforms into Sweet Lucy with craft cocktails like Champagne Colada, and bar chow like Wagyu Salpicao. Plates are for sharing. Try the Boulevardier XO or the Strawberry Shortcake cocktails with a plate of salmon kropek and chicken wings. Closed on Sundays.
Address: 2/F 6060 R. Palma Street, Poblacion, Makati.
Specializing in Filipino comfort, this is the kind of food that reminds you of lola’s cooking but is just a bit different to interest your palate. Favorites include Pork Porchetta Binagoongan, Blue Marlin Daing, and the silog bowls. We particularly recommend the 48-hour homemade corned beef served with garlic rice and pickled onion. Vegetable dishes like gising-gising and ginisang monggo with chicharon, and desserts like Coco Saba Custard are very good, too. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vegetarian options are available, as are craft coffees and signature cocktails.
Address: 6060 R. Palma Street, Poblacion, Makati. Contact: (0945) 593-5147.
A viral sensation during the pandemic, this homebased food business officially opened a brick-and-mortar outlet just last April. The no frills space with its six stools is the hub of the most expensive quesa birria tacos in town. Made with tender USDA beef generously slathered with mozzarella on warm tortilla, this is served with a rich consomme steaming with spices. Founder Audrey Cruz imports chilies straight from Mexico. The birria tacos are pretty expensive but that hasn't kept the lines from forming at her tiny store.
Address: 5663 Don Pedro, Poblacion, Makati. Contact: (0917) 149-0798.
By the same group behind Sawsaw and Pardon M French, this gourmet food store has some of the best pantry items in town — think Fiscalini cheeses, Irish Gallagher XL oysters, and hard-to-find wines from Napa Valley. it's also the ultimate gourmet paluto. Choose the ingrdients and the in-house chefs can cook a meal for you on the spot, whether you've chosen Maine lobsters, live crabs, or salad items like romaine lettuce and butternut squash. Get dessert from the Tattooed Baker, who also makes the sweets at Pardon My French.
Address: 11 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati. Contact (0927) 478-0868, Viber (0969) 224-7658.
Another pandemic favorite, this hip pizza restaurant made waves recently after it won a spot in the 50 Top Pizzas in the Asia-Pacific 2022 awards. Crosta won raves for its signature sourdough crust with great balance of blistered and chewy textures, and the fresh flavor combinations of its pizzas. Detroit and Sicilian-style pizzas are available, as are fun vegetarian and vegan-friendly options like a cashew-based mozzarella pizza with shiitake and portobello mushrooms. Address: Liberty Center, 104 H.V. Dela Costa corner Leviste Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati. IG: @crostapizzeria