LIST: Where to take Balikbayans for good Filipino food in Metro Manila
When you’re Filipino, your homecoming is as much about food as it is about family. After all, food and family is practically inseparable in Filipino culture.
Locavore Kitchen and Drinks
Aside from its commitment to using locally sourced ingredients, what sets Locavore apart is the way it reinvents the dishes we all know and love, serving up familiar flavors in exciting and creative ways. The food is Filipino fare with a French flare, a fusion of our native cuisine and chef Mikel Zaguirre’s background in French cooking.
Locavore successfully reimagines sinigang as beef short ribs smothered in sampaloc gravy and served on a sizzling plate with garlic confit and sautéed string beans on the side. It’s different and yet will satisfy anyone craving that sour sinigang hit even without the piping hot soup.
The sisig, also a crowd favorite, is made of oysters fried to a crisp and a creamy chicken liver sauce. It’s just as good, just as delicious, and just as sinful.
Visit Locavore at:
- 10 Brixton Street, Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig City
- Unit 5-7AB Forbeswood Parklane, Taguig City
- A1-A2 Three Central, Salcedo, Makati City
- Level 1 S Maison, Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Manam Comfort Filipino
One of the things balikbayans look forward to when they come back is the comforting flavors of home— dishes they’ve loved since childhood and flavors they grew up to. At Manam, they can get a taste of traditional Filipino food as well as more modern renditions of familiar local dishes.
Speaking of food that’s comforting and familiar, Manam’s silogs prove that nothing beats a hearty Pinoy breakfast, not fluffy pancakes, or crunchy waffles, or yes, even crisp bacon. Your guests can take their pick between tapa, longganisa, or daing na bangus.
However, the two dishes that diners really come to Manam for are the House Crispy Sisig and the Sinigang na Beef Short Rib and Watermelon. The sisig is a classic, no bells and whistles, just sisig done right. Meanwhile the watermelon gives the sinigang a hint of sweetness that adds an extra dimension to the dish.
If you still have room, wash it all down with the Ube + Sago shake or order the mango turon with kesong puts ice cream for dessert.
Visit Manam at:
- GF Net Park Building, BGC, Taguig City
- GF Greenbelt 2, Makati City
- GF South Wing, Main Mall, Mall of Asia, Pasay City
- Central Garden, Ayala Fairview Terraces, Quezon City
Sarsa Kitchen + Bar
Sarsa serves Filipino food, highlighting Negrense cuisine and bringing it to the fore with its modern take on classic dishes from the Negros region. Here, the menu, the ingredients, and the flavors all reflect chef JP Anglo’s passion for Ilonggo food.
Of course you have to try the inasal, and make your own personal sawsawan mix from the condiments— sinamak, soy sauce, atsuete oil, calamansi, and sili — available on the table.
Aside from this famous Bacolod specialty, you also need try the Sizzling Kansi, a dish of shank bone and marrow swimming in simmering batwan gravy and served on a sizzling plate. It gets its unique sour note and flavor profile from the batwan, a fruit native to that region.
For something warm and satisfying, there’s the special batchoy with its flavorful broth and deep umami flavor. You’ll happily notice that they don’t skimp on the toppings either.
Last but not the least, order the isaw. It’s grilled just so the edges are the perfect kind of crispy without compromising that chewy texture that’s unique to the popular street food.
Visit Sarsa at:
- Forum South Global, 7th Ave. cor 25th st., BGC, Taguig City
- Frabella One, 109 Rada St. Legaspi Village, Makati City
- 3L Mega A, SM Megamall, Ortigas
- Level 2 South Veranda, Entertainment Mall, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City
- 2nd Level, Phase 2, U.P. Town Center, Quezon City
At Wooden Spoon, chef Sandy Daza’s takes distinctly Filipino flavors and reworks them into innovative dishes. You can tell that the food was created by someone who has sampled dishes from all over the country and around the world, and has brought them together to come up with new and surprising ways to prepare Filipino food.
One of the bestsellers is the Crab Pancit, a dish created by French chef Jacques Marniere and Sandy’s mom, Nora Daza, and served in the Paris restaurant she ran. It’s fried vermicelli noodles topped with a creamy crab and egg sauce.
The Stuffed Pechay, tinapa wrapped in pechay leaves and sitting on a bed of creamy coconut sauce, is another stellar item on the menu. The flavor of each ingredient is unmistakable but they all still manage to come together beautifully.
Visit Wooden Spoon at:
- LG Power Plant Mall, Makati City
Sometimes nothing beats good old-fashioned authentic Filipino food, the kind that lola used to make at home. At Crisostomo, that’s what you get and more. You get food that’s as comforting as mom’s home-cooked meals, but with chef Florabel’s deft touch. This is Pinoy food that will have you reaching for that extra rice again and again.
You won’t be able to pass up Crisostomo’s Kare-Kare ng Kura, which is made of ox tripe, ox tail, and the usual kare-kare veggies in homemade peanut sauce.
The laing with lechon kawali is simply delicious. The laing with the creamy and rich coconut milk is divine in itself, but the addition of the crispy lechon kawali makes the dish even better.
Crisostomo may be keen to serve its guests classic Pinoy fare, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get creative with their dishes. The best-selling Adobo Damaso is a perfect example. It’s twice-cooked chicken and pork adobo topped with adobo flakes and kesong puti.
Visit Crisostomo at:
- Ground Floor, The Garden, Alabang Town Center, Makati City
- Blue Bay Walk, Macapagal Avenue Corner EDSA, Libertad, Pasay City
- 2nd Floor, Veranda, Eastwood Mall, Brgy. Bagumbayan, Quezon City
- Ayala Fairview Terraces, Quezon City
- 2nd Level, Phase 1, U.P. Town Center, Quezon City
- 2nd Floor Newport Mall, Pasay City
- Level 1 Vertis North, Phase 1 & 2, Quezon City
From the kitchen of the Romulos (yes, that Romulo clan) to your table, from their family to yours, the food at Romulo Café is a family affair that is rich in heritage, history, and steeped in tradition. It's Filipino comfort food at its best.
You can’t go wrong with Lola’s Chicken Relleno. The lola the dish is referring to is Virginia Romulo, the wife of Carlos P. Romulo, who inherited the recipe from her grandmother and tweaked it a bit while she was living in Washington DC as a diplomat’s wife.
Tito Greg’s Kare-Kare is also a crowd-pleaser. Keeping with tradition, the kare-kare is made of oxtail, tripe, and steamed vegetables in peanut sauce. It’s served with Romulo Cafe’s signature house bagoong. Rich and full-flavored, it’s sure to satisfy the palate and appetite.
Visit Romulo Café at:
- 32 Dr. Scout Lazcano corner Scout Tuason, Tomas Morato, Quezon City
- 148 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air Village, Makati City
- GF Azumi Boutique Hotel, 2206 Market Street, Madrigal Business Park, Ayala Alabang
Maggie Adan is a storyteller at heart. She is a freelance editor, writer, and content creator.
When she’s not stringing words together, she’s practicing yoga, doing crafts, puttering around in the kitchen, or providing free petting services to neighborhood dogs.