Filipino cuisine has come a long way the past decade, and this is all thanks to the game changing geniuses in the kitchen who have gone beyond the recipes that they've grown up with and altered the make of the dish while still maintaining its DNA. Here, we pay tribute to exceptional millennials helming battles in the kitchen, those considered the new guard of Filipino cooking.
Diners get to see their meals prepared for them at relative newcomer Hapag, and behind the bare counter, trio Thirdy Dolarte, Kevin Paolo Villarica, and John Kevin Navoa helm the open kitchen. What started as a private dining venture with no establishment of its own, Hapag evolved into a venue where three creative minds could collaborate and create a menu that sets the bar high for contemporary Filipino cuisine. The chefs have reinvented dishes that have otherwise gritty backgrounds. Not only are their presentations otherworldly, but the experience of scarfing down a plate of laing, kare-kare, and pares is unlike anything you have ever consumed in the past.
In this tiny eatery in Poblacion, traditional staples such as adobo and sisig are eschewed and replaced with finer renditions that hint at familiar Filipino flavors such as aligue, togue, and longganisa. The culinary minds behind these dishes are none other than chefs RJ Ramos, Prince Tan, and Alphonse Sotero who are redefining the very essence of Filipino food by serving dishes that have delved away from the typical techniques but anchor the uniquely Filipino taste with ingredients that each tell a story. The Melon Milk, for instance, is their tribute to a childhood favorite from the ‘90s, while a diced duck dish is prepared in a way that a dinakdakan would be. The space itself is telling of its owners’ generation and gives off the feeling that one is casually dining in a friend’s rooftop apartment.
Lampara is at 5883 Enriquez Street, Makati City; open from 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday.
No longer a new name in Manila’s dining scene, Locavore and its chef Mikel Zagurre has been around for quite some time. But that doesn’t stop him from taking humble recipes and giving them a playful twist, as he’s always done with favorites such as the sizzling sinigang or the oxtail sisig. At Locavore, the fare has never been one to impress through its aesthetic, but Zagurre and his staff have always pushed the envelope by pedaling their new (or heirloom) creations that Filipino diners have come to crave for.
Locavore has branches at 10 Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City; and Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.
Métiz get its name from its owner and chef’s half-Filipino, half-French heritage. Stephan Dehusme has always been interested in food, and this interest carries on to his establishment, which takes pride in local ingredients and makes use of under-the-radar components in his food. After a stint at a restaurant in Colombia, Dehusme moved back home. In a very millennial manner, the restaurant’s layout revolves around an open kitchen and the space is akin to the co-working office trend where diners can come together and enjoy the chef’s modern take on Filipino cuisine.
Metiz, Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Don Chino Roces Extension Avenue, +63917.898.5751
Gallery by Chele
It’s a cross of cultures during a night at the Gallery by Chele. There’s a hint of Spanish cuisine, a touch of Filipino flavors, all prepared in innovative methods, yet all these elements seem to come together nicely. This is majorly thanks to the collaborative efforts of partners Carlos Villaflor and Chele Gonzalez. Dishes are made with ingredients meticulously sourced from around the country and transformed into almost unrecognizable creations that honor preservation of cultures and sustainability.
5/F Clipp Center, 11th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, 0917.546.1673
There’s a romantic atmosphere at Don Baldosano’s Linamnam. It could stem from the fact that it’s located in the young chef’s backyard garden, where he whips up 16-course degustations for small parties. Baldosano received training from Locavore’s Zaguirre and Toto Eatery’s Jodry Navarro, which is why it comes to no surprise that he’s taken the Filipino route as well. His dishes are earthy, and while they may look simple and clean, quite a lot of complexities hide underneath. If this is what the 21-year-old is doing now, we can’t wait to see what else he has in store ahead of him.
*This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.