More than just serving gourmet food and the right ambiance, these restaurants take the overall dining experience to a higher level
Sunday Inquirer Magazine (September 16, 2007)
What makes restaurants awesome? One would say as long as it serves great food. However, “great food” is subjective and it varies with each person's experience and background. To be considered awesome, restaurants have to take the food and overall dining experience to a higher level. Food that leaves an indelible mark in your taste buds, experience that imprints lasting memories in your mind, and ambiance that carves a special place in one's heart for you to share it with every person that you meet.
Each restaurant is carefully chosen to be prestigiously included in this list. Each one serves gourmet food with the freshest ingredients. It combines nature elements, artifacts or a sense of history in its overall ambiance. Simply, these restaurants have a story to tell which spreads out via word-of-mouth. I can proudly say that you can only find these restaurants ONLY in the Philippines.
KUBLI SPRINGS @ KINABUHAYAN CAFé, DOLORES, QUEZON
The road to Kubli Springs is literally a road less traveled where you'll be glad you decided not to drive your sedan car. Flashlights, candles, mobile phones, and the moon are the only source of light. Occasionally, they would put up Christmas lights connected to portable battery source to make the place special. You will find yourself in the middle of the forest, with boulders as your neighbor. The spring water flows through your feet as you look up and appreciate a clear black sky with twinkling dots. You sit on rocks and make shift benches as you smell the steak grilled on the spot. Ah, this is the perfect time to play the acoustic guitar and sing with the barkada without shame and the fear of disturbing anybody.
For P500/ person, you get fresh salad with flowers, grilled steak, Jay's special rice and fruit platter. The meal ends with friendly Lambanog and special roast of Barako coffee. Water is served from a bamboo "faucet" with mineral water coming from the mountains. Drinking and taking a bath from fresh mineral water is one unique experience. Your dining experience is a mixed emotion of satisfaction, fear, and happiness. Somehow, you wished the night will never end.
Kinabuhayan Cafe Bed and Breakfast
Tel (042) 565 6828
Jay +63 917 368 0054
Winston +63 917 327 1106
You'll get excited every time you enter the entrance doors of Antonio's. It is like entering a magical portal to a world where any of the food you choose is something worth raving about. The service feels like you are in a six-star hotel where you don't have to worry about anything. Even going to the restroom is a chance to appreciate nature and its beauty. The positive energy in the place encourages conversation and it bears witness to thousands of memorable life stories.
You don't mind waiting for your food because you know that it is being prepared to perfection. The real flavor of the meat and ingredients stands out without any of the sauce overpowering its taste. Any of the wine selections seems to match with the food that you order. My favorite in Antonio's includes the Salad with Foie Gras, the steaks or sea bass dish, and the soufflé dessert to end the night. I envisioned our silver marriage anniversary to be held in Antonio's because of the food, service and its garden.
Mobile No.: +63917-899-2866
UGU BIGYAN, TIAONG, QUEZON
It still continues to be a secret place in the Tiaong area because Ugu never advertises the place. There are no road signs that points you to it and even their neighbors never realized that such place exist. One of the amazing things about Ugu's Pottery Garden Restaurant is that the entire place is a labor of love of the entire family. They designed everything from the huts, layout of the garden, the pottery designs, and its food concept.
Ugu is known for his dishes namely, Kulawo and Lato. Kulawo is charcoal grilled banana heart with a smokey flavor taste and it taste like Tuna while Lato is seaweed in vinegar. Both are traditional Filipino dishes that you seldom find in Metro Manila. It is home cooked Filipino food artistically presented and served in Ugu Bigyan's signature pottery. I do hope it remains to be a secret.
Address: 490 Alvarez Village , Brgy Lusacan, Tiaong, Quezon
Telefax: +63 42 545-9144
Manila #: +632 250-8416
ISLA NABUROT, GUIMARAS
Isla Naburot resort is like wine – the older it is the more exotic it becomes. Electricity is supplied by solar panels that can only support the incandescent bulbs in the room. Your mobile phone will be lucky to survive after one day because there are no charging stations nearby. All you have to do is swim in the clean beach, play sunka, and spend quality time with the family.
The main attraction is doing nothing and eating gourmet Filipino dishes prepared the traditional way. Fresh seafoods are patiently grilled in a way that their natural juices are kept intact inside the meat. You enjoy each meal with home made sinamak vinegar. Fruits are abundant specially the famous Guimaras mangoes. The taste of the food is enhanced by the fresh air environment and by the love of the people cooking it. It is a foodie heaven and I can’t wait to go back this summer.
Mobile #: Ana +63920-9275372
LA COCINA de TITA MONING’S, MANILA
As you enter the gates of this old mansion, you can't help but be transported back to the Old Rich ambiance in the Malacanang area. You are welcomed with drinks and pica pica in the patio before starting with the mini-tour of the mansion. You'll be fascinated with the antiques and the old-fashioned design of the living room, bedroom and especially, the bathroom. The dining area is small enough for a big group to easily dominate with their presence and laughter.
It is a treat to enjoy Spanish food cooked from recipes handed down from generations. You will leave La Cocina raving about its paella and its bread pudding. The former could rival the paella’s in Manila’s Spanish restaurants. The latter tastes like milk bread leche flan that melts in your mouth. The service is slow but sure. What is important is that they serve you with a smile and put every effort to make the experience memorable. I never forgot our La Cocina experience ever since January 2005.
A memorable dinner @ La Cocina de Tita Moning
Address: 315 San Rafael Street, San Miguel, Manila Philippines
Telephone Number: (632) 734-2141, 734-2146
Mobile #: (63917) 538-3490