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MBKRS Awards 2012: And the Best Restaurants in Manila are...

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Mandarin Orientals Javi Berenger-Testa cheering on Chef Robby Goco

Who do you think should win this year's Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets Awards?

Here are the MBKRS Awards 2012 Nominees (I highlighted my votes):

Note: MBKRS Awards 2010 award winners are not eligible to compete this year. They are, however, eligible to win the Best Restaurant award, and to participate in future competitions (every two years).

Read: And the 2010 Manila's Best Kept Restaurant Secrets Awards Winners are...

Legend:  - MBKRS 2012 Winner, Underlined - OAP Vote

CUISINE-­‐BASED AWARDS

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

  • L’Opera
  • Café Caruso
  • Carpaccio
  • ★ Va Bene Pasta Deli
  • My Kitchen by Chef Chris

BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

  • La Girolle
  • L’Entrecôte
  • ★ Brasserie Ciçou
  • Champêtre 
  • Chef Jessie

BEST SPANISH RESTAURANT

  • ★ Terry’s Selection
  • Casa Armas
  • La Tienda
  • Las Flores
  • Cova

BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

  • Ukkokei Ramen Ron
  • Kikufuji
  • Seryna
  • ★ Sugi ?
  • Tsumura

BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

  • Tao Yuan
  • Lugang Café
  • ★ Hai Shin Lu
  • Gloria Maris 
  • Choi Garden

BEST CONTINENTAL CUISINE

  • Lolo Dad’s
  • ★ Sala
  • Masseto
  • Aubergine
  • The Goose Station

BEST THAI RESTAURANT

  • Mango Tree
  • Simply Thai
  • Som’s Noodle House 
  • ★ People’s Palace
  • My Thai

BEST FILIPINO RESTAURANT

  • Romulo Café
  • ★ Abé
  • La Cocina de Tita Moning
  • Milky Way Café
  • XO 46 Bistro Filipino

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT

  • Persia Grill
  • Mana-­‐ish and More
  • Kasbah
  • ★ Hossein’s Persian Kebab 
  • Arya

BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT

  • Dong Won Garden
  • Manna Korea Garden
  • ★ Kaya
  • Ye Dang Korean BBQ
  • Korean Village

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

  • Queens Crystal Garden 
  • Swagat Indian Cuisine
  • Taj of Tagaytay
  • ★ New Bombay Indian Cuisine 
  • Legend of India

BEST CENTRAL EUROPEAN RESTAURANT

  • Magyar Hungarian Restaurant
  • Balkan Yugoslavian Home Cooking
  • Vieux Chalet Swiss Restaurant
  • Chesa Bianca Swiss Restaurant 
  • ★ Old Swiss Inn

BEST SPECIALTY CUISINE

  • Orale! Taqueria Mexicana
  • ★ Corner Tree Café (vegetarian)
  • Achiote Taqueria (Mexican)
  • Clawdaddy Crab House & American Grill (Cajun) 
  • Hermanos Taco Shop (Mexican)

Note: In keeping with the spirit of the book Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets, international restaurant brands and franchises are not eligible to compete.

SPECIALIZED RESTAURANT AWARDS

BEST STEAKHOUSE

  • ★ Elbert’s Steak Room 
  • Fire Lake Grill
  • I’m Angus Steakhouse 
  • Malcolm’s
  • Bistecca

(Who do you think has the best steaks now?)

BEST BISTRO

  • ★ Sala Bistro
  • Wildflour Café + Bakery 
  • Chelsea Market Café 
  • Stella
  • Cibo

BEST RESTO/BAR

  • Opus
  • ★ M Café
  • Rocket Room 
  • Draft Gastro Bar 
  • The Blind Pig

(Who's your vote for the best resto/bar?)

BEST ENOTECA

  • The Wine Club 
  • ★ Cav
  • The Wine Museum 
  • Purple Feet
  • The Wine Bar

BEST WINE LIST 

  • Champêtre
  • Elbert’s Steak Room 
  • ★ Barcino Gourmet 
  • Sala
  • Aubergine

(Not sure, who do you think has the best wine list?)

BEST BURGER JOINT

  • ★ Charlie’s Grind & Grill 
  • Army Navy
  • Mr. Jones
  • Sango Burger Master 
  • Murray & D’Vine

BEST DESSERT, ICE CREAM, AND CAKE SHOP

  • ★ The Cake Club
  • Chez Karine
  • Cupcakes by Sonja
  • Café Mary Grace 
  • Conti’s

BEST NEWCOMER

  • Draft Gastro Bar 
  • Aracama Manila 
  • Las Flores
  • Va Bene Pasta Deli 
  • ★ Wildflour Café + Bakery

NoteExcept for certain specialized award categories, such as Best Newcomer, Best Wine List, restaurants may only be nominated for one awards.

HOTEL RESTAURANT AWARDS

BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT: INTERNATIONAL BUFFET

  • ★ Spirals (Sofitel)
  • Crossover Buffet (Dusit Thani)
  • Paseo Uno (Mandarin Oriental)
  • Heat (Edsa Shangri-­‐La) 
  • Escolta (Peninsula)

BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT: FINE DINING

  • Red (Makati Shangri-­‐La)
  • Verbena (Discovery Country Suites)
  • Cru Steakhouse (Marriott)
  • Prince Albert (InterContinental) 
  • ★ Impressions (Maxims)

BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT: SPECIALTY

  • ★ Shang Palace (Makati Shangri-­‐La)
  • Umu (Dusit Thani)
  • Li Li (Hyatt Hotel & Casino)
  • Summer Palace (Edsa Shangri-­‐La) 
  • Benjarong Royal Thai (Dusit Thani)

BEST HOTEL BAR

  • Le Bar (Sofitel)
  • Conway’s (Makati Shangri-­‐La) 
  • The Bar (Peninsula)
  • Kipling’s (Mandarin Oriental) 
  • ★ Salon de Ning (Peninsula)

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT

BEST EMERGING TALENT

  • ★ Martin Wisniewski (Raintree Restaurants) 
  • Marco Lobregat (Ministry of Mushrooms) 
  • Jim Araneta (Global Beer Exchange) 
  • Walter Manzke (Wildflour Café + Bakery) 
  • Ian Padilla (La Girolle)

BEST CHEF

  • ★ J Gamboa (Cirkulo)
  • Cyrille Soenen (Brasserie Cicou) 
  • Marc Aubry (Champetre)
  • Robby Goco (Cyma)
  • Rob Pengson (The Goose Station)

BEST RESTAURANT GROUP ENTREPRENEUR

  • ★ Annabel Wisniewski (Discovery, M Café, Chelsea, Mr. Jones, etc.)
  • Erik Cua (Republiq, Opus, Privé, etc.)
  • Tony Tan Caktiong (Jollibee, Red Ribbon, Chowking, Greenwich Pizza, etc.) 
  • Raj Sadhwani (Distillery, Draft, Beso, etc.)
  • William Stelton (Italianni’s, TGI Friday’s, Bulgogi Bros, Ma Maison, etc.)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

  • Claude Tayag
  • ★ Juan Carlos de Terry 
  • Glenda Barreto 
  • Nora Daza
  • Gene Gonzalez 

ABOUT Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets Awards

MBKRS Awards organizers Elian Habayeb and Ines Cabarrus

In late 2007, Ines Cabarrus and Elian Habayeb published their bestselling coffee-­‐ table book Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets, whose success inspired them to organize the awards recognizing excellence in Manila’s burgeoning dining scene. Patterned after the Oscars, the awards are decided by restaurant industry insiders, who understand its dynamics, trends, and standards. Since 2008, the MBKRS Awards (a.k.a. “the Dishes” given the award’s dish-­‐like shape) are celebrated bi-­‐ annually at Enderun Colleges, the country’s top Hotel Restaurant Management school, sponsored by leading players such as Citibank and San Miguel, fully supported by the Tourism Department, and pretty much every relevant media outfit.

The academy of judges includes over 100 renowned chefs, restaurant owners, educators, food critics, bloggers, lifestyle publication editors, broadcasters, and celebrity foodies. They cast their votes via a secure online ballot system, and the results and integrity of the voting system are reviewed by leading accounting firm SGV & Co. The 30 award categories are categorized by cuisine, specialty, and individual achievement. There are even categories for hotel-­‐based restaurants to keep thing fair, and one restaurant gets to take the prize of “Best Restaurant” home.

For more information on the awards, visit www.facebook.com/mbkrsawards.

Live an Awesome Life,

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Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
Follow @antondiaz in Twitter and @OurAwesomePlanet in Instagram.
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If you have tips on awesome food and travel destinations, please email me at anton@diaz.ph.

Full Disclosure:  

Live an Awesome Life,

anton  signature 
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
Follow @antondiaz and Like our Official Facebook Page: Our Awesome Planet :) 
If you have tips on awesome food and travel destinations, please email me at anton@diaz.ph.

Full Disclosure: I wrote this blog post myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company mentioned in this post or any organization promoting it. As a policy, I don't accept advertising from food and travel places we feature in the blog. I was invited to participate as part of the 2nd round judges for this year's MBKRS Awards.

P.S. The nominees are the top-­‐5 restaurants that received the most votes in the “Round One” ballot. Judges were allowed to cast up to three (3) votes in each category. Judges will only cast one vote in the “Round Two” final ballot.

Here are the Partial List of MBKRS AWARDS 2012 JUDGES  as of the End of “Round One” Voting:

RESTAURATEURS
martin wisniewski m café
archie rodriguez cpk
chiqui mabanta corner tree café
louie ysmael opus
abba napa ‘cue modern barbecue
conrad alcantara craft
kimmie assad‐lamata di mark’s
vanessa vitrano galileo enoteca
rollie fabie mesa
johnlu koa the french baker
paolo nesi l’opera
sergi rostoll las flores
charrie lim sugi
robi joseph nectar

CHEFS
bruce lim asian food channel
david pardo de ayala discovery
adrian cuenca elbert’s steak room
christian vecin citrus la boqueria
thomas wenger enderun
kerwin go people’s palace
luis de terry ‘cue modern barbecue

RESTAURATEUR-­‐CHEFS
colin mackay people’s palace
sau de rosario villa café
cyrille soenen brasserie cicou
katrina khun‐alcantara chuck’s deli
marivic diaz-­‐lim apartment 1b
robby goco cyma
rob pengson the goose station
tina pamintuan l’incontro
ed quimson petra & pilar
josh tiu zong
claude tayag bale dutung
paul huang fire lake grill
him uy de baron nomama
gino gonzalez taqueria amiga mia
ian padilla la girolle

HOTELIERS
chico angeles mandarin oriental
alfredo roca fuego hotels
bobby horrigan enderun
ed vitug the bayleaf intramuros
charisse chuidian mandarin oriental
jimmy concepcion days hotel

MEDIA
erwan heussaff esquire
amanda griffin-­‐jacob lifestyle network
joy subido philippine star
ana gonzalez 99.5 rt
lexi schulze anc
audrey carpio esquire
bel castro manila bulletin
boyet sison anc
cj juntereal f&b world
kat tuason radio republic
lara parpan women’s health
marco rodriguez freelance food writer
heidi ng lifestyle asia
nana ozaeta food magazine
pebbles reyes asian food channel
robyn narciso abc
edward simon appetite
gwen carino gjc
dinah ventura daily tribune
anna sobrepena lifestyle asia
izzy gonzalez people asia
bebeth timbol abs-­‐cbn
marilen fontanilla f&b world
kat lagman rogue
yvette tan philippine star

BLOGGERS
cecile van straaten chuvaness
chinkee koppe one big bite
vince golangco when in manila
sanjeeb golpadas table for three please
ginger arboleda manila reviews
richie zamora the pickiest eater
cyrene de la rosa chowbuzz
rj galang man eat manila
jean fernando trip or treats
richard co tales from the tummy
jin perez jin loves to eat
paul syjuco table for three please
francis ang frannywanny
jane chua between bites

CELEBRITY FOODIES
ruffa gutierrez actress
harry thomas us ambassador
janice de belen actress
kit conjuangco businessman
annette ablan belarus consul
krip yuson author
arnie del rosario chaine des rotisseurs
johnny revilla actor
luli arroyo former first-­‐daughter
vanessa fernando businesswoman
carlos celdran advocate

RELATED FIELDS
nandy villar mccaan erickson
bea teh citibank
jin gonzalez quickdelivery
jay labrador the wine steward
jim araneta global beer exchange
gigi bautista gba events asia
jojo madrid premium wine exchange
eric khan future trade
david dennis opus
tricia tensuan enderun
edna diaz best world beverages
john suits enderun
tetta tirona stram events
markus jentes ptfj ad consult
raymond rufino the net group
adolf aran courage asia
alfie sy enjoy philippines
cacay moras events specialist
kat holigores ava
aneth lim citibank
robbie dinglasan bullet
chesa zimmer co.lab 

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Don't mean to bad mouth anyone in particular, but there are some horrible restaurants on this list that I would never step foot into again. I am shocked that they are on the list and I can think of a few way better places that aren't even mentioned. Seems like if you're friends with the organizers or judges then you have quite an advantage. And if you're not...

While I agree with some of the winners, I question the integrity of a few of the choices and the criteria in why it was chosen...especially over some other restaurants that AREN'T on the list.

Great list, but i think every person has a different "best personal" one

And since restaurants are a daily business, each customer's experience maybe different from the others especially if the customer is just a commoner like us. The challenge is to really be consistent regardless of the situation or the customer's name and connection.

There are so many unique restaurants in Philippines. I've never been in any of the restaurants mentioned. I noticed that most of the restaurants mentioned are not franchised. Sometimes, the restaurants that are not so familiar, their dishes are delicious and exotic.

Well, for me, the important is the taste and the presentation of the dishes, next is the cleanliness of the restaurant, and lastly the customer service. If the customer likes a restaurant, then they will visit the restaurant often and they will recommend it to anyone.

Being familiar with Walter Manzke's cooking for many years now, it is very weird to see his name under "Best Emerging Talent".(He is a very well-established chef here in L.A.)

P.S. No Brother's Burgers for "Best Burger Joint" this year?

Blind Pig for best bar :D !!! -Ray

On P.S. No Brothers Burgers for Best Burger Joint this year?, theres none because they already won :)


Anton

I want to see more "hole-in-the-wall" restos next year. :)

Elbert's shouldn't be nominated. They already won best steakhouse before.

Someone definitely rigged Sugi. It gets sketchy when hum drum mediocre japanese restaurant wins an award, and all the while, the presentor is affiliated with the restaurant. Japanese food is definitely the Filipinos most loved cuisine, and it's definitely a harsh battle between the top Japanese restaurants. Quite frankly, Sugi has no reason to be on that list.

Also, is it a requirement for the judges to go to all of the nominated restaurants, or do they just check their favorite? The latter seems to be the case.

Take best bar and resto for example. Blind Pig would be the clear winner for the cocktails. Absolutely no one comes close. Opus would be a close second because they have a full dinner menu- which is delicious. But M Cafe? Their drinks and food fall short.

In my point of view, the process of judging could have been better. I do think that choosing the right judges and requiring them to try all the nominated restaurants is a must- which obviously isn't being implemented. And leave people affiliated with the restaurants out of the judging and presentations- Sugi as best Japanese restaurant... what a joke.

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