These Manila-based affairs are steeped in Japanese charm, French flair, and worldly appeal and if there’s anything we’ve learned this year, it’s that the Filipino palate is continuously evolving.
And this list below are confirmations of that fact as much as they are testaments of the Philippine capital’s growing culinary prestige.
Kitted out in all their unique trappings, the establishments, events, and everything in between featured here mean that the Filipino customer is spoiled for choice during the most wonderful time of the year—and beyond.
In the urban north, a fox leads us to Inari Sukiyaki
Foxy is one way to describe Inari Sukiyaki, the latest venture from entrepreneurial couple Rich and Maxine Sanz. Precious is another. Or genuinely good. But foxy sums up the heart, soul, and vibe of the “first sukiyaki bar” in the country.
In Japanese mythology, Inari is a Shinto deity associated with rice, harvest, prosperity, and fertility. As in the case with most gods, Inari is also said to use an animal to serve as their messenger and, you might have rightfully guessed, it’s depicted as the kitsune or a white fox.
Many Shinto and Buddhist Inari shrines are found across Japan (Fushimi Inari in Kyoto might be the most famous) but the Sanzes’ Inari Sukiyaki, while not a place of worship, bears the unmistakable quality of reverence and veneration in their flavorful bowls.
There’s a lot to suggest in the rounded bar space Inari Sukiyaki employs in Public Eatery that this is a nod to some sort of religious sukiyaki devotion. And it’s easy to see that as the cooks prepare the sukiyaki—the star of the lean menu—right in front of customers.
Unlike the traditional sukiyaki, the version at Inari Sukiyaki is “dry” and akin more to a donburi with a serving of miso soup and soft boiled egg on the side. Atop the heap of ingredients is a bounty of USDA Angus beef that lives up to expectations and turns the bowl into a spectacle. There are three options (karubi, misuji, and ribeye) to choose from depending on fattiness, richness, and tenderness.
Although the ribeye is the most premium ingredient with its melt-in-your-mouth quality and fine marbling, the misuji’s lean and tender quality and karubi’s medium strip of fat equally offer a satisfying experience. Likewise, the small plates are near-universal favorites that surprise with a remarkable balance of flavors (chicken and mozzarella kushikatsu) and textures (ebi tempura).
If you need further proof that food is akin to a veneration, then a trek up north to Inari Sukiyaki might unlock your answer. No fox messenger needed.
On their third branch, One World Deli proves they still have plenty of wind in their sails
Third time’s a charm for what seems to be the metro’s growing favorite when it comes to F&B retail.
With a third branch moored at MOA Square, One World Deli easily expands its specialization in varied meats, responsibly sourced seafood, pantry staples, global selection of wine, cheese, and charcuterie, and organic local produce in a cavernous space resembling an oceanic vessel.
You get a ship-like moment here with wood panels covering the interiors and striking light fixtures and banquets for diners, rendering an on-board, high seas adventure; for a private sojourn effect, there’s a private room that can accommodate as many as 10 people for a more serene along-the-coast experience.
Regardless of where you choose to dine (or take out your treasure), it’s the sectional pods that truly earned One World Deli a reputation for, well, being one with the world. Amassing a stock of products and produce in various parts of the store pushes the feeling of a worldly exploration.
There’s a seafood bar with live aquariums that isn’t quite unlike the local dampa places where you choose what you want the chef to cook for you—except that guests have the pleasure of picking fish, crabs, lobsters, and even oysters from Ireland and the US that can be shucked on the spot for you.
In the meat section, the attentive staff welcomes customers with John Stone Beef dry-aged meats from Ireland, black Angus beef by Braveheart in the US, Red Duroc pork from Dingley Dell in the UK as well as Australian lamb from Ovation. This is complemented by handpicked Old and New World wines and sakes from the shelves just a few steps away.
Other draws include a branch-specific Daily Deli Meals or freshly made meals for takeaway and, unsurprisingly, brilliant holiday offerings anchored on feeling, tasting, and smelling the Christmas spirit. The curated deli gift sets can either save yourself from the hassle of cooking for the holidays or make for great gifts, while their “festive feasts” are dominated by group platters like bruschetta and sushi, and mains such as bacon-wrapped tenderloin and honey soy-glazed salmon.
The desserts from The Tattooed Baker are also teeming with classic flavors—from a spicy and sweet gingerbread cheesecake to a buttery and nutty pecan tart.
Clearly, any of these One World Deli finds are sure to float your boat.
Christmas with a French flair? Head to Bizu
What comes to mind when you think of the French? Food usually ranks high on the list. This year, Filipinos can rendezvous with a fine and festive Christmas collection with a little French touch.
Bizu’s 2023 Christmas collection is a refreshing take on simple holiday food. So what is so special about Bizu’s holiday venture? A lot, actually. First, a range of chef-crafted roasts that could brighten Filipino homes in an explosion of flavors—a traditional Christmas ham, a tender lamb rack, a pastry-encased beef Wellington, and an eye-catching cochinillo that rightfully serves as a centerpiece for grand gatherings.
Playful desserts meanwhile reference the French connection with sweets. Headlined by the Yule log cake and its elegant display, it’s a toothsome affair that would totally bring people together to tuck in for second helpings. Just don’t overlook the fun strawberry truffle tower, holiday wreath cake, and the masterful macaron de Paris tower.
And for anyone not quite prepared for the gift-giving part of the season, thoughtfully assembled Christmas hampers are also available.
For reservations and orders, contact Bizu at 0917-6273970. Last day of orders for Dec. 24 is on Dec. 21, and for Dec. 31 is on Dec. 28.
Okurimono Holiday Food Fair has it all for Filipino Japanophiles
As of today, it seems as if everyone is in Japan or just got back from Japan or is preparing to visit Japan before the year ends. You couldn’t go any of your social media feeds without seeing a fellow Filipino posting about their trip.
This Japan boom hasn’t gone unnoticed. So this year, the Japan External Trade Organization is bringing back a bigger and better Okurimono Holiday Fair for Filipinos.
Unlike previous editions, this year’s fair will be hosted thrice across three malls: the SM Mall of Asia Hypermarket (until Nov. 30), the SM Makati Supermarket (until Dec. 31), and Mitsukoshi BGC (until Jan. 3).
With a delightful “Gifts from Japan” theme that transforms the three locations into Japanese F&B retail shrines, the Okurimono Holiday Food Fair is easily one of those events that seems to have made a habit of enticing and exciting Filipinos.
The wonderful thing about this fair is its ability to bring both the Japanese experience to locals and provide a space to find unique Japanese products such as liquor, confectionery, and food that could very well serve as gifts for loved ones.
Here’s a list of Japanese products you can expect.
Ramune – a popular Japanese carbonated soft drink available in a Codd-neck bottle, which is a heavy glass bottle with an opening sealed by a round marble due to the pressure of the carbonated contents.
Hino-Shizuku yuzu sake – brewed by Kanbai Brewery in Osaki, this sake is flavored with yuzu grown organically in the Umaji Village of Kochi Prefecture.
Meltique sirloin steak – a favorite beef product with beef tallow to simulate marbling for consistency and guaranteed quality.
Kaki Mukimi oyster – these medium- and large-sized oysters are grown in Japanese oyster farms to ensure consistency and world-class quality.
Imuraya Yawamochi ice dessert cup – Yawamochi is made of three layers (chewy and soft texture mochi, sweetened azuki bean paste, and frozen dessert).
Farm8 Ponshu gria – Japan’s fruity answer to sangria that is best enjoyed mixed with your choice of sake or sparkling water.
Nagatoya peach caramel popcorn – made from white peaches, its gentle sweetness combines beautifully with the subtle saltiness of the popcorn.
Hokkaido milk sable cookies – made from Hokkaido’s finest ingredients of flour, chicken eggs, butter, and milk, these sable cookies are light, delicate, and deliciously creamy.
For updates, visit www.jetro.go.jp/philippines.
A nostalgic Filipino Christmas can come in small packages
What makes Pan de Manila something of an institution in the local F&B scene aside from its array of products is its beautiful Christmas packaging. Vivid depictions of Filipino traditions, celebrations, and recipes in collaboration with local artists and designers has always been in the wheelhouse of Pan de Manila.
This year, graphic designer Mia de Lara served another reminder that Filipinos shouldn’t only anticipate the pandesals, spreads, and boxes of coffee blends during this time of the year but also the artistic epic splashed on Pan de Manila’s holiday paper bags and packaging. Operating with the theme “Kay Sarap Balikan, Paskong Nakaraan,” de Lara invokes an important conversation with history and shows today’s generation today what an idyllic Filipino life once was.
“On the paper bag’s exterior and in the holiday packaging of your favorite Cafe con Leche and Chocolate con Leche, a traditional Filipino stone house stands in the middle of laid-back plaza life. Women in their baro’t saya stand under the shade of a towering mango tree as onlookers in traditional Spanish-era garb continue to prepare for the noche buena ahead,” states the press release.
De Lara admits that she thought of the feasts that awaited her family whenever they would travel to her mother’s hometown of Pampanga. “I think what makes a Filipino Christmas truly unique is the family ties that bind us closely together,” she says. “No matter how far away you are in the world, Christmas signals homecoming, reunion, and reconciliation.”