restaurants in Metro Manila

Let’s eat! New restaurants, international chains we welcomed in 2023

Steph Arnaldo

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Let’s eat! New restaurants, international chains we welcomed in 2023
From Malaysian favorites to popular South Korean names – here are the popular chains that opened around Metro Manila this year!

MANILA, Philippines – While some restaurant doors (unfortunately) had to close…many new ones opened. Our F&B industry has seen both losses and wins this year, but it is undoubtedly picking itself back up from the whirlwind that was the pandemic.

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Famous names from the provinces, as well as internationally-renowned chains from abroad, found their new homes in Metro Manila, and foodies welcomed each one with open arms (and open mouths).

Here are some of the new restaurants that opened in 2023!

Old Town White Coffee

PSA, instant coffee addicts! In May, Malaysia’s renowned coffee shop chain Old Town White Coffee opened its first Metro Manila branch in SM Grand Central in Caloocan City.

The modern and minimalist restaurant is located at Level 3, SM City Grand Central, serving signature Old Town White Coffee, tea drinks, smoothies, floats, and oat milk beverages, as well as hot meals, sandwiches, pastries, and more Malaysian-inspired fare.

The brand quickly expanded in just a few months – Old Town White Coffee now has branches in Ayala Malls Manila Bay, SM City Fairview, SM City Sto. Tomas Batangas, and Venice Grand Canal Mall.

Old Town is a popular, widely-distributed instant coffee brand available in select supermarkets and convenience stores. In Malaysia, it is also a successful halal coffee and restaurant chain founded in 1999. It now has 200 branches in Malaysia and in neighboring countries, including Singapore, China, Indonesia, Australia, and now, the Philippines.

South Korean takeover: Paik’s Coffee, Saemaeul, O’ Mango Six

There’s no denying that Korean culture has taken the Philippines by storm – but more than the invasion of K-pop and K-dramas, K-food has also been making its way into the Metro Manila scene this year!

One of the popular South Korea-based restaurant chains Filipinos have warmly said annyeonghaseyo to was Paik’s Coffee, a budget coffee chain founded by South Korean celebrity chef and entrepreneur Jong Won-paik in 2006.

The self-named Paik’s Coffee opened its first Metro Manila café at the fourth floor of Glorietta 1, Makati City in February, and has expanded to Bonifacio Global City, Robinsons Place Manila, Century City Mall, Robinsons Magnolia, and many other Robinsons Malls. It’s even headed to Boracay Island soon!

The Korean coffee budget chain – which is one of Korea’s largest coffee chains with over 1,000 branches so far – sells hot and iced coffee, tea, ice cream, yogurt smoothies, milk tea, fruit refreshers, and freshly-baked pastries. It is also popular in Singapore.

Famed Korean barbecue restaurant Saemaeul BBQ opened its first Metro Manila branch in K-Park, Level 4 of Glorietta 1 Mall, Makati City in July, also owned by Jong Won-paik.

Its Philippine menu includes its best-selling Spicy Yeoltan Bulgogi, Soy Sauce Yeoltan Bulgogi, Ogyeopsal, Yangnyeom Pork Gui, and Samgeyopsal, plus kimchi and pork stew and other authentic Korean dishes. “The Original Korean BBQ Restaurant” originated in Seoul and has branches in the US.

Popular K-drama café O’ Mango Six opened its first Philippine outpost in May at Aseana 3 Building, East Tower, Aseana Avenue, Parañaque City.

O’ Mango Six is an iconic K-drama location featured in 2013’s The Heirs, 2012’s Gentleman’s Dignity, and 2015’s Kill Me Heal Me, where the mango cream smoothie, mango coconut, and mango strawberry smoothie were featured.

The café is also known for its savory pastries and Honey Americano, Coconut Coffee, and Oriental Latte. Most of its drinks – the coffee-based “mangocinno” drinks and non-caffeinated “mangocinno” drinks in mint mocha, java chip, Oreo, and green tea flavors – are made with fresh mango and Hawaiian Kona coffee.

Zus Coffee

Another famous Malaysia coffee chain ZUS Coffee – which has over 259 stores across Malaysia – landed in the Philippines in September, with its first branch at the ground floor of Eastwood Le Grand Tower 2 in Eastwood City, Quezon City.

ZUS Coffee is certified halal, serving Muslim-friendly beverages without any trace of pork, alcohol, and other ingredients considered haram. According to its website, ZUS Coffee’s top picks include the “strong and aromatic” CEO Latté, as well as the Spanish Latté and Vietnamese Spanish Latté.

Zus Coffee just opened its second branch at Connecticut Arcade, Greenhills Shopping Center in December.

Yakiniku Like!

Yakiniku Like! Philippines began grilling from its first Metro Manila branch in SM Mall of Asia in January, serving the famous Japanese fast casual restaurant chain’s straightforward menu of beef, pork, and chicken parts, served either ala carte or in set menus with rice, soup, and kimchi or salad.

Yakiniku Like! has another solo/family dining branch in SM Megamall, which also houses the chain’s authentic yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) experience of premium meats on tables, cooked on solo smokeless grills for the legit cook-it-yourself experience.

Yakiniku Like!, which was founded in Shibuya, Tokyo in 2019, currently has over 100 stores worldwide.

Bored and Hungry

NFT-themed US burger joint Bored and Hungry opened its first standalone store in March this year at The Grid in Power Plant Mall, Makati City – its first branch in Asia. Starting out as pop-ups, Bored and Hungry is now also located at Public Eatery in Robinsons Magnolia.

Brought in by The Tasteless Group, the California-born burger resto is now permanently serving its signature menu of famous smashed burgers and seasoned fries, plus Philippine-exclusive creations like the Vigan Longganisa burger patty, and a new Truffle Series.

Bored and Hungry is the world’s first Bored Ape-inspired restaurant founded by The Food Fighters, an NFT-backed restaurant group founded in the pandemic. Founded by Andy Nguyen, Kevin Seo, Phillip Huynh, and Chef Fernando Valladares, the concept of the burger resto revolves around the characters of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection, which are among the most famous digital collectibles in the NFT universe.

Common Man Coffee Roasters

Singapore’s Common Man Coffee Roasters (CMCR) is on soft opening of its first branch in Metro Manila this December, located at Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati City.

The all-day brunch concept and specialty coffee roaster will bring Singapore’s “elevated cafe experience” to the city, which includes specialty grade coffee, award-winning brunch recipes, and beautiful interiors to match.

In Singapore, CMCR is known for its medium-roasted coffee of different profiles – from fruity and nutty to chocolatey – and its rotation of single origin offerings and blends. Aside from the classic coffee selection, CMCR also offers sweeter options, such as the best-selling Nitro Oat Honey Latte.

Its key partners are Five Senses Coffee Australia and the Singapore-based Spa Esprit Group, which is also behind Tiong Bahru Bakery. Tiong Bahru Bakery is being brought to the Philippines by Jollibee Foods Corporation as well. 

Ya Yun Kaya Toast

In December, Singapore household name Ya Kun Kaya Toast opened its first stand-alone restaurant in Metro Manila at the second floor of One Ayala Mall, Ayala Avenue, Makati City, serving its signature local kopi and crowd-favorite kaya toast.

A wide array of coffee options are available – from the signature hot kopi blend of condensed and evaporated milk, to options with or without sugar. Aside from the various kinds of kaya and steamed toasts, Ya Kun Kaya Toast Philippines also has other traditional faves on the menu, like laksa, noodle soups, barbecued meats, rice meals, and more.

The restaurant chain started out as a small family-run kiosk in Singapore founded by Loi Ah Koon in 1944. The chain now has over 50 outlets across 14 countries. It is known for the traditional kaya toast – Singapore’s breakfast staple of two slices of toast with kaya (coconut jam) and butter, served alongside milky but strong coffee and soft-boiled eggs that are seasoned with soy sauce and white pepper.

Island favorites: Siargao’s Big Belly Burgers and Two Seasons Boracay’s Four-Cheese Pizza

No need to travel domestically! Siargao’s Big Belly Burgers joint opened in Forbeswood Heights, Bonifacio Global City in October, with The Nikkei Group bringing Big Belly’s signature wagyu beef burgers from the beach to the city.

Big Belly first opened in Siargao Island in 2020, founded by two Spanish friends from Barcelona, Marc Alberich and Chef Miguel “Mingu” Marcelino. Only meeting on the island by chance through a mutual friend, they discovered a shared love for really good burgers and agreed to put up Big Belly together. 

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Siargao’s Big Belly brings wagyu beef burgers to Metro Manila

Siargao’s Big Belly brings wagyu beef burgers to Metro Manila

The menu is simple but streamlined, featuring a handful of juicy and thick wagyu burgers, smash burgers, chicken burgers, sides, and craft cocktails. 

There’s also no need to fly to Boracay to get your Two Seasons fix, because the restaurant’s iconic Four-Cheese Pizza and Oyster Sisig are now available in Metro Manila at restaurant ITMIRO Oyster Bar & Kitchen, located at 656 Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City.

The Four-Cheese Pizza is a famed thin-crust pie that has blue, cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses, while the Oyster Sisig is made from chopped Aklan oysters, onion, pepper, mayonnaise, and topped with egg.

Two Seasons Boracay – which operates as a resort and beachfront restaurant – first opened its doors in 2007 on Station 1 of Boracay Island.

Uniqlo Coffee

Japanese casual wear brand UNIQLO brought UNIQLO Coffee to the Philippines in October, starting with its first branch in Glorietta 5, Makati City.

UNIQLO Coffee serves its caffeinated classics like Americano, Cafe Latte, Cafe Mocha, Spanish Latte, and caffeine-free Hot Chocolate. Its coffee beans are sourced from the farmers of Mt. Apo.

Pastries “that mix Filipino and Japanese flavors” are also on the menu, ranging from sweet and savory items like Cookies, Smoked Salmon Panini, Filipino Pan de Sal, and Japanese An Pan (red bean roll).

The launch of UNIQLO Coffee’s first Philippine branch comes two years after UNIQLO Coffee opened at its 12-story Ginza location in Tokyo, Japan. – Rappler.com

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.