Showing posts with label 12/10. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 12/10. Show all posts

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Let's Eat - Mini Newspaper

Let’s eat
The date night special
The new romantic
Let’s eat
On true romance
We live interesting times. We are enjoying a restaurant renaissance, and the choices are dizzying. I have never seen this phenomenon before; we are not even halfway through the year, but there are already at least a dozen contenders for my favourite new restaurant of the year, and there is so much more to anticipate in the latter half of 2018. You name the visions, there is a restaurant for it. The influx of Mainland Chinese investing in the Philippines has led to a proliferation. If Hunan and Sze Chuan destinations, mostly in Makati. And JB the hippest part of the city, the boom I. The Pobliacion continues unabated.  And then there are the successive launches of popular international franchises, one after another, in the Uptown BGC and SM Fashion Hall hotspotts. The list is endless.


But majority of the new players are either brightly lit family friendly establishments, or half-restaurant/ half-club hybrids: places that pump up the volume after dinner service, perfect for groups of Friend out on the town, dining and drinking in one conventional location.

This begs the questions: where to go for an intimate, romantic date? We are recommending three of our favourite restaurants that can surely set the mood for love: dim lights, lovely music, fine cocktails, tables for two, and last but not the least, excellent food.

Let’s eat!
Sparky Hizob Enriquez

Patrick Diokno
Art Director

Gabby Canetro

Lucky Leoparte
Photographer’s  Assistant

Lucien Dy Tioco
Executive Vice President

Ann Alyson Delgado
Editorial Assistant

Let’s Eat is published by The Philippine Star
202 Roberto Oca St, Port Area, Manila For enquirers, call 5277901 local 132 or email


Cafe Ysabel 2.0
Everything New is Old Again

It was truly the last of the great romantics. The legendary Cafe Ysabel, a landmark on P. Guevarra St. in San Juan for over three decades, shut its doors for the final time at the end did July last year. It was a historic restaurant, housed in a century-old home, and carved out a singular vision, thanks to its Chef and his singular vision, that will
Likely never be parallel. It’s cuisine withstood the test of time - it never nenes to conform to the latest culinary trends - because the restaurants’ loyalists, who number in the thousands,  across three generations or more, resisted change. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Was their common refrain. And Chef Gene Gonazalez — a fencer, a painter, a fighter, a writer - an authentic modern day Renaissance Man, valued and respected tradition above all else. And so, Cafe Ysabel prospered in its timeless bubble until the harsh realities a of urban development forces the beloved cafe to close. But before it did, the Chef Patron promised that it would one day, live again. That day has come, and happily for all, sooner than expected. After a mere eight months, the new Café Ysabel, now on M. Paterno St., just behind the San Juan City Hall, quietly opened its doors once again, and welcomed back its relieved patrons. The restaurant gods must have been smiling down on Gene when he was looking for a new location; the new one is actually another century-old house, with very similar architectural features, so much of the look of the original has been retained. The frescoes on the ceilings? Check. The stained glass accents? Check. The ornate marble floors? Check. And best of all? "Seduction Lane'", the row of tables- for-two on the café's balcony, has magically been transported to the new address. The sexiest dinner spot in all of Metro Manila now overlooks a work in progress, the sprawling front yard of the house, which is being converted to an "edible landscape'. It will be filled with boxes to grow edible flowers, a greenhouse for microgreens and terraces, not unlike a Tuscan villas where figs and other fruit-bearing plants not endemic to the Philippines, will be cultivated by the Gonzalezes, now plural, now father and son. Gino, the only son of Gene, will no play a larger role in the new Ysabel. The chef on the rise will design the "blackboard menus', the changing platescapes-- with an emphasis on seasonal produce an devotion to rare varieties of red, yellow and blue local rice-will complement the now 36-year old core menu of the restaurant. Those dishes after all, are sacrosanct. All the classics are still on the menu: the lengua, the callos, the paella, the caldereta, and that rustic star of the dessert menu, the strawberry shortcake. I'm comforted by the thought that Café Ysabel is back. It has deservedly earned its place in the pantheon of great Filipino restaurants, and I'm very pleased that it is around once again to charm a new generation of diners and lovers. Welcome home to the first of the new romantics couple, I recall. Barely out of their teens at the time, flush with youth's boundless optimism and unwavering passion, they opened a restaurant that somehow resonated with families and yes, hipsters alike. In many ways, that restaurant created a template that is, to this day, followed closely by many new ones popping up in
the Poblacion. The food they served was certainly fun, the interiors and décor captivating, and the servers.... well, they broke the mold. Many were interns from the top culinary schools, and they were all bright eyed and bushy tailed, beaming with enthusiasm as they took orders. It was almost as if a bunch of kids had decided to dreamplay a restaurant, and somehow, succeeded at it. So much so that less than a year later, the kids opened a second one, very different in concept and execution from the first: 12/10 That was in 2014. Flash forward four years, and the couple has indeed settled down-- figuratively. Though they had to make a painful "Sophie's Choice" to close The Girl +The Bull, it did pay dividends.It allowed them to concentrate on 12/10, which has become- in a very low-key manner compared to the supernova that was G+B-a prime example of how to fully grow a cool concept into a respected restaurant. Frankly, I was shocked at how good the food had become. The technique, the presentation, the flavor profiles, and the obvious talent behind it all, had all matured beautifully. The frivolousness had been replaced by focus, and all the extraneous elements edited down to excellence and elegance. Thea, who used to sport neon green hair, now maintains a pixie cut in her natural color. Gab, the former wholesome boy-next-door now looks like Anthony Kiedis, so I guess he's embraced his true LETS EATJune 2018 self. Their dynamic hasn't changed though. The Girl takes care of the front of house, charming everyone in her way, and The Bull is either in the kitchen or behind the bar: conceptualizing, cooking, creating Their roles and personalities remind me of my favorite culinary couple, Claude and Mary Ann Tayag. And that's a very promising indication indeed 12/10 has a unique proposition. All of the dishes are designed for two to share, and all of them inevitably lead to delighted "oooohs" and "ahhhhhs. The delight of discovery, the sensuality of biting into beautiful food, the whole shared experience amped up by the authentic Japanese libations and a sultry playlist, has turned 12/10 into one of the top choices for a very sexy date night. Friendships turn into flirtations and singles become couples. Two become one, literally and figuratively at 12/10. Chef Luis Chikiamco is one of the best chefs in the country. In this era of celebrity chefs and foodie fandom, many chefs endorsements-have become household n names. And they deserve to be well- thanks to television appearances and own, because they are talented, and work hard at their craft. Discovery Primea's Executive Chef fits that mold: he's soft spoken but eloquent, he projects well on truly gifted. But Luis, or Louie as he's known among his peers, would rather spend his time in the kitchen, rather than in the spotlight. I respect his determination and decision to let his food speak for itself. I prefer that much more than the myriad pretenders who spend their time creating obnoxious YouTube videos,
 purportedly cooking Filipino food. One in a's particular, with a significant social media following, massacres our local favorites and offhandedly excuses his travesties with annoying accents and "cute" antics. Videos like his are an insult to all legit Filipino kitchen professionals all over the globe, and a slap in the face in our industry's efforts to elevate our cuisine as we introduce it to the world. I am triggered by these execrable "cooking videos" that insult my intelligence, and desecrate my palate. It's a good thing indeed that there are many more bona fide chefs like Louie who don't waste their time pimping on social media, but instead, concentrate their efforts on elevating Filipino food His new menu at Discovery Primeas Flame is masterful. I was already a fan of his dishes, as are many of my favorite food critics, but his new menu ups the game towards truly world class levels. Flame has, since it opened three years ago, been a favorite for romantic dinners. It's high up over Makati, and in the evenings, outside the restaurant's pristine picture windows, the city's skyline twinkles, the lights in the high rises seeming to wink knowingly at the couples falling in love with their food, and with each other. The signature special from the first menu was the "Lobster Fried Rice": imagine the best Yang Chow ever, made with the highest quality rice, fluffy and sticky, with generous amounts of plump, fresh, and juicy lobster chunks. The whole production, cannily plated as if spilling out of a Chinese take-out box. Don't worry. It's still there on the menu, which has now taken on a more distinct Filipino character with the addition of the new specials. The croquetas, on the surface, seem traditional. But then you notice the playful streak of uni atop each piece, and the béchamel and then the dashi as you bite into one. Each flavor, every texture, complimenting the other. Then theres a dish influenced by the irresistible sweet-smoky essence of Pinoy Barbecue. Chef Louie uses wonderful cuts of Iberian pork, the fat marbled with the meat, and grills them in a Josper oven. The result is a dish that can only be described as tender love, deeply tasty barbecue that will remind you of those sheets of red Chinese tapa that you tore into as a child. Don't miss the Wagyu Claypot Rice, it's inspired by the Kamameshi rice from Louie's favorite family restaurant. The taste is spot on retro, but the premium Wagyu makes the dish all grown up. For dessert, my favorite is simply called a "Yema Cake" but it brought back the sweetest memories of the fruitiest Crema de Fruta ever. It's all food that's quite familiar from our childhood, but in Flame, our favorites are now "adulting Louie Chikiamco worked with and was trained by two highly respected chefs: Cyrille Soenen and David Pardo de Ayala. He learned his lessons well. He's now creating food that is not only worthy of his mentors' praise, but ours as well. Louies coming up with food that you will certainly fall for, and keep coming back to,