MANILA: 2018 Restaurant Openings To Check Out

Where to eat in Manila? One of the most anticipated 2018 restaurant openings was the reincarnation of Gallery Vask-- Gallery by Chele (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

Hi guys! I’ve been traveling so much, I’ve been in the Philippines only two months straight– this July and August. While in Manila, I took the chance to experience some of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings of 2018— places I highly recommend to you on your next visit to the Philippines. xx

GALLERY BY CHELE

In the Philippines, Gallery by Chele (formerly Gallery Vask + Vask Tapas Room) reopened, after months of renovation, last May 22, 2018– no longer as just a tasting menu experience (Gallery Vask) nor Spanish tapas concept (Vask) but one that offers ala carte + multi course menus under the umbrella, “Modern Cuisine. Local Ingredients,” helmed by Chele Gonzalez and Carlos Villaflor.

Gallery by Chele, formerly known as Gallery Vask, still on the 5th floor of Clipp Building, BGC (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

Designed by partner and architect Carlo Calma as a kind of barn house in the city, apart from the main dining area, they have the Stvdio Lab— their test kitchen which will soon be offering more experimental tastings; and a private room that can be booked for events.

Gallery by Chele’s Stvdio Lab (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

So how is the new Gallery by Chele different from its previous life as Gallery Vask? The short answer is— it’s a lot more accessible.

Accessible in terms of price points, length (there are 3-  5- and 9- courses now, ranging from PHP1,500, PHP1,950 and PHP2,950 respectively, as well as ala carte, and vegetarian tasting menus) and flexibility for customers (ie. If you want a long tasting and your companion wants ala carte— go!) while still maintaining the same quality of techniques, ingredients and flavors (predominately Filipino but of course with a touch of Spanish as that is chef Chele Gonzalez’s heritage) that its patrons have come to love, under the umbrella, “Modern Cuisine, Local Ingredients.”

Case in point: Pan de sal with pure coconut butter; Oyster and scallops ceviche in Tiger’s Milk— they are on a mission to elevate our Filipino kinilaw, which is so similar to ceviche, with the exception of using coconut milk; Octopus cooked inasal-style (roasting, after being marinated in lemongrass, calamansi, coconut vinegar); Tuna belly grilled the Basque way before being topped with green chiles; The Spanish torrija dessert turned Filipino by way of ube or purple yam.

Oyster and scallops ceviche in Tiger’s Milk (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Octopus cooked inasal-style (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

The Spanish torrija is given a Filipino twist with the infusion of ube or purple yam at Gallery by Chele (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)Gallery by Chele is located at 5/F Clipp Center, 11th Ave. corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metero Manila. For reservations, phone +63 917 546 1673, +63 2 218 3895 or email reservations@gallerybychele.com

HELM

On August 21, Josh Boutwood’s Helm— a 10-seater, multi-course chef’s counter— opened its doors. Located underneath his Savage (which uses elemental cooking techniques like wood and fire), Helm is the opposite: it’s technique-driven, with equipments like a sous-vide machine, PacoJet, and a charcoal grill to name a few. For the next 4 months, Josh will be using predominantly Filipino ingredients— no, the food is not Filipino— but the ingredients are sourced around the country, and you can have them for PHP3,200 for 8 courses + bites + desserts.

The 10-seater Helm by Josh Boutwood is located at Arya Residences (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Josh Boutwood (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

In case you’re wondering how Helm is different from Test Kitchen— at the latter, they use what’s available to them, hence the menu changes daily— and in my humble opinion, a little more free-style. Also they will be undergoing renovation soon!

Here are some of the dishes you can expect at Helm — well, for the next 4 months, at least (before Josh changes the menu). Currently, the 8-course tasting menu features Filipino ingredients. It’s *not* Filipino food; he just uses local ingredients sourced around the country, ie. rendered pork fat as “butter;” Kitayama wagyu as tartare served on a pancake crisp; Kamote (sweet potato) chips with marbles potatoes cooked in a dashi of dried fish; Pig’s blood fried to a crisp atop braised pork rib with a sauce made from pig’s trotters.

Bread course of sourdough and lavash served with rendered pork fat as “butter” (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Kitayama wagyu as tartare served on a pancake crisp (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Pig’s blood fried to a crisp atop braised pork rib with a sauce made from pig’s trotters (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

Helm has 2 seatings per night: 6 PM and 8:30 PM, from Tuesday through Saturday. It is located at G/F The Plaza, Arya Residences, Mckinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Philippines. Phone +63906 234 1900 for reservations

BCN BY RAMBLA

We’ve all been to Rambla in Rockwell numerous times; BCN by Rambla in Legaspi Village is their 2.0– predominantly a wine bar (up to 100 bottles, and open til 2AM) but with dishes you would have on side streets in Barcelona (on a second visit), rather than on the main thoroughfares.

BCN by Rambla in Legaspi Village, Makati (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

Most of their dishes are cooked on their charcoal oven or charcoal grill, and standouts include: tuna tartare in cones (PHP380); salmon tartare with white truffle dressing (PHP575); grilled octopus (PHP995); grilled Iberian pork also known as presa (PHP1,350), and torrija de pan brioche or caramelized warm bread brioche with tiramisu ice cream (PHP275).

Tuna tartare in cones (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Grilled Iberian pork or presa (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Torrija de pan brioche with tiramisu ice cream (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

This is the Bistronomia Group’s 5th concept in the Philippines— they have another one opening before the year ends, so stay tuned!

BCN by Rambla is located at G/F, The Grand Midori Building, Bolanos St., Legazpi Village, Makati. For reservations, phone +63 966 3311352

THE GRID FOOD MARKET AT POWERPLANT MALL

So, one of the hottest food openings in Manila is the upscale The Grid Food Market at Powerplant Mall (Rockwell), with a stellar lineup of chefs and concepts. (Trivia: The logo designed by my high school classmate Maybelle Uy + branding by Inksurge!)

The Grid Food Market at Powerplant Mall in Rockwell, Makati (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

Representing Filipino food is my beautiful aunt Happy Ongpauco-Tiu, with her Le Chon concept. It’s a play on the Filipino suckling pig, lechon, but as it is pronounced “le-shon,” she wanted to highlight that she uses French techniques here— mainly everything is slow-cooked.

Happy Ongpauco-Tiu (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

So basically you choose your viand— porchetta, angus beef belly, chicken or spicy tuna belly— then the flavors, sides, rice and sauce— and they’re all within the price range of P299 to P495, one of the more reasonably priced stalls at The Grid— and delicious, too!

How to order at Le Chon– mix and match your mains and sides depending on what you are feeling (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)
Angus Beef Belly at Happy Ongpauco-Tiu’s Le Chon stall at The Grid Food Market (Photo by Cheryl Tiu)

The Grid is located at the R2 level expansion of Powerplant Mall, Makati 

*There have been other new openings over the month ie. Wildflour’s BGC branch renovation, Bistromania’s new Italian concept, Bar Centrale– a pasta bar helmed by Italian chef Antonio Facchinetti– coming this November! And Osteria Daniele coming in January 2019; Nokal in Poblacion, with Raul Fores at the helm of the kitchen, and the secret new bar at Shangri-La Fort, which I’ll get to visit when I’m back in a couple of months. xx