Spoilers ahead! Best to try Hapag for the first time without reading this review.

HAPAG MNL is a private dining venture turned into a modern Filipino restaurant by Chef-owners Thirdy Dolatre (CCA), Kevin Villarica (ISCAHM) and Kevin Navoa (Malaysia-trained) in a Quezon City neighborhood.  The name of the restaurant is inspired by the dining table where the family gathers to bond and eat.

Often compared to Toyo and said to be the younger and bolder version, Hapag elevates Filipino cuisine with cleaner execution and exciting presentation without losing its bold flavor taste profile. The comparison can’t be avoided because of their similarities: both are Chef-driven modern Filipino concepts characterized by an open kitchen, tasteful Filipino furniture and location that’s hidden in an alley.

Is it better than Toyo? Is it the next best thing in modern Filipino cuisine in Manila? Or is it all just hype?

I tried it with Rache and Chef Tatung, and here’s what we think…

 

HAPAG Private Dining
201 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines
Tuesdays to Sundays: 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm seatings
Mobile: +63 947 560 1853
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @hapag.mnl
Facebook: Hapag MNL
Website: http://hapagprivatedining.com


PAUNA

Hapag is in a quaint hidden location off Katipunan and open only for dinner service.

Hapag Menu: Eight Course Tasting Menu | A la Carte Menu

The 24-seater restaurant features an open kitchen, a chef’s table counter and two seatings, 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm.

Signature Cocktails

Mapapa-mores Ka (₱280). Mulberry, gin, lemon, basil | Hele ni Nanay (₱280). Cucumber, aloe vera, gin, elderflower | Dalagang Pinay (₱280). Dalandan liquer, tequila, lemon, agave.

Beverage MenuSignature Cocktails, Wine | Coffee, Tea

It has a decent Filipino-themed cocktail selection by Larry Guevara featuring spirits from Destileria Limtuaco.

EIGHT COURSE TASTING MENU
₱2,500 Vat inclusive + ₱800 for Beverage Pairing

As first-timers, we tried the eight-course tasting menu, but you have the option to order ala-carte subsequently.

PANIMULA

Pan de Kalinga

Pan de Kalinga

The bread service was exciting—rye bread with fermented black rice served with Bukidnon butter and tanglad honey.

Warik Warik

Warik Warik

One of the best Filipino palate teasers we tried—sisig on wonton topped with adobo aioli, calamansi and pansit-pansitan. Galing!

Sinuglaw

Course #1: Sinuglaw (₱310). Market fish kinilaw, grilled pork, pickled vegetables.

The tanique kinilaw, served with suka tuba and cilantro oil, was a bit too sour that you couldn’t taste the grilled pork to balance it.

Oyster Bonete

Course #2: Oyster Bonete (₱285). Fresh Aklan oyster, buttery bonete bun, adobo aioli.

Oyster mini-burger! Local brioche bread with fresh oyster, sweet mulberry reduction, fried kangkong and truffle salt.

An edible garden in a palayok, sprayed with mango vinaigrette to pique your interest before interacting with the next course, was served.

Laing Stones

Course #3: Laing Stones (₱310). Squid ink laing balls, last year’s mango pickles.

Get the squid ink crunchy stone filled with laing and eat it with fennel, alugbati, purslane. Cool concept, but the flavor wasn’t as cool though.

Ginataang Alimasag

Course #4: Ginataang Alimasag (₱285). Coconut squash, custard, crab meat, prawn head sauce.

It was like crab palabok squash sauce (without the noodles) topped with chicharon and served like a custard. No-carb palabok.

Banana Heart Granola

Course #5: Banana Heart Granola (₱285). Slow-cooked banana heart, black banana “bagoong,” betel leaf, pinipig-cashew-raisin granola, whipped cream.

You eat this like a taco filled with banana heart topped with Filipino granola, bagoong of black banana and garnished with cream.

Calamansi Sorbet

Course #6: Calamansi Sorbet

One thing about Hapag is that the dishes have a sweet profile. Even this calamansi sorbet was more sweet than sour. Why?


PANGALAWA

Course #7:

Each person chose his/her main dish, but the dishes were served family salo-salo style for variety. You could add ala-carte mains.

Bistek Tagalog

Bistek Tagalog (₱880). Ribeye steak, onion puree, crispy onion strings, bistek jus.

This was my favorite—steak with toyomansi rice like how you would enjoy it at home but a lot better.

Kare Kare ni Lola V

Kare Kare ni Lola V (₱495). Ox tail flakes, peanut sauce, vegetables, bagoong multi-grain rice.

The Kare Kare was deconstructed with bagoong mixed with the rice. A bit too sweet, too rich and nakakasuka sometimes.

Apahap Mayonesa

Apahap Mayonesa (₱890). Pan seared local sea bass, malunggay & calamansi mayonesa, beetroot mayonesa, squid ink rice, dulong okoy.

The apahap was okay—served with squid ink rice, okoy for texture, malunggay and calamansi flavored mayonesa. Why make it sweet?

Litson Binagoongan

Litson Binagoongan (₱495). Slow-cooked pork belly, coconut bagoong sauce, pickled mango and eggplant, garlic multigrain rice.

For value for money, order this slab of pork belly with coconut bagoong sauce, which had all the flavor but none on the meat itself.


PANAPOS

Manggga't Suman

Course #8: Manggga’t Suman (₱275). Warm panutsa rice cake, guimaras mango, mango cream.

A nice take on suman and mangga, with added crisp textures and a messy presentation. Just okay.

The Tropics

Course #8: The Tropics (₱275). House churned coconut ice cream, roasted pineapples, gluten-free polvoron, latik with fish sauce.

I liked this better, but there was too much going on. Scoop the right mix of ice cream, desiccated coconut, pulvoron, latik and fish sauce.


HATOL

Overall, Hapag is better than Toyo in terms of delivering authentic bolder Filipino flavors that a Filipino can identify with.

However, profile was a bit on the sweet side and too rich that if you eat the food in succession, masusuka ka and you won’t enjoy the mains and the desserts.  The service needs improvement in terms of more engagement and knowledge about the courses.

For first-timers, try the 8-course degustation and budget about ₱3,500/head for the tasting course + drinks.  I would go back and enjoy the ala carte main dishes, and I do hope they offer new dishes that are not too sweet nor too rich to balance the meal.

More power and congratulations to Chef-owners Thirdy Dolatre, Kevin Villarica and Kevin Navoa for an awesome modern Filipino concept in QC!

 

HAPAG Private Dining
201 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines
Tuesdays to Sundays: 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm seatings
Mobile: +63 947 560 1853
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @hapag.mnl
Facebook: Hapag MNL
Website: http://hapagprivatedining.com

Live an Awesome Life,
Anton
Founder, Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: We paid for our mealI wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.

P.S. Hapag is located behind H.O.B. along Katipunan Ave.