Cover The Test Kitchen by Josh Boutwood

Meet the 14 restaurants we are awarding as the most resilient in the industry.

In the past, Tatler Dining has released an annual top 20 list of the best restaurants in the Philippines. However since the past two years were challenging to say the least, instead of a top list of the best restaurants we wanted to honour establishments that impressed us and braved the odds.

This year we reveal the Most Resilient awards and present restaurants that rose to the challenge, innovated, and pushed onwards–those that really went above and beyond.

Here are the 14 award winners:

1. Bamba Bistro

Beaming with a familial charm, Bamba Bistro is home to chef Tina Legarda’s inspired array of comfort food and the precious memories that have formed within its walls. Beyond its delicious food, Bamba Bistro is well-loved for its heartfelt service and care for its loyal customers. Over the pandemic, the quaint restaurant introduced drive-in dining complete with a steering wheel tray, a curated playlist, and even a tent to shield diners from the heat as they enjoy a meal in the comforts of their own cars. When the city fell back into Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), Legarda quickly got to work on a secret ECQ menu to bring some excitement in such a dispirited time. All this, while successfully moving to a second location—one much larger, rich with the same neighbourly allure.

See also: Dining News: Bamba Bistro Launches A Drive-In Dining Experience

2. Cibo

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Cibo

As the Italian casual outlet of culinary icon chef Margarita Forés, Cibo has long been a natural go-to for reliable comfort food. With diners trapped at home and unable to visit the vibrant restaurants, Cibo introduced in-house delivery services, integrating front of house and kitchen staff to minimise layoffs and meet the intensified demand. Additionally, chef Forés launched Cibo’s frozen pizza line, now stocked in countless supermarkets around the country (albeit, often sold-out). To celebrate its 24th birthday, the brand also introduced festive EATalian boxes filled with Cibo’s greatest hits.

See also: 21 Must-Know Filipino Women In The Food And Drink Industry

3. Gallery by Chele

Gallery by Chele is no stranger to innovation. Lauded for their creative approach to celebrating quality local ingredients with world-class techniques, the eccentric team continued to apply their out-of-the-box thinking throughout the pandemic. Through Gallery by Chele | At Home, the restaurant brought fine dining to the homes of discerning foodies while championing sustainable and biodegradable food containers. True to its ethos, Gallery by Chele also launched Deli by Chele, a sustainable artisanal delicatessen that has made its way into numerous pop-up markets throughout the metro.

See also: Deli By Chele Brings Luxury Home: We Talk To Chefs Chele Gonzalez And Carlos Villaflor

4. Hapag

First making its mark in the local food scene as a private dining concept, Hapag has quickly accelerated into one of the country’s most talked-about destinations. Midway through 2020, the homegrown restaurant introduced Hapag Family Meals—an earnest invitation for their beloved diners to be a part of the kitchen's daily staff meals, inducting us into the Hapag family. Although lauded for their Filipino fare, these family meals spanned from Korean to South American cuisines, including collaborations with other chefs.

See also: Why You Should (Finally) Go To Hapag

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Hapag

5. Korea Garden

Since first opening its doors in 1974, Korea Garden has welcomed families with its warm hospitality and comforting yet spirited Korean-Filipino dishes. Thus, when they rebranded halfway through 2020, the fresh, youthful appeal was somewhat surprising but undeniably brilliant, to say the least. Apart from launching their direct ordering website, the brand encouraged takeaway orders by enlisting young creatives to participate in a takeout photo series on Instagram. Korea Garden also piggybacked on the success of Korean pop culture in the Philippines by introducing meal sets inspired by popular Korean dramas, complete with promotional videos and photoshoots in the style and costume of the shows.

See also: Where To Eat Korean Food In Metro Manila This 2021

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Korea Garden

6. Lampara

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Lampara

Operating in what was recently the metro’s busiest and perhaps most competitive drinking and dining district, Lampara continued to draw an audience with its inspired neo-Filipino dishes and unique cocktails. Poblacion was among the hardest-hit areas in the dawn of the pandemic, and Lampara was certainly not immune from its consequences. However, as establishments old and new shut their doors, Lampara boldly continued their operations and even launched a weekly meal subscription service called Lite by Lampara, as well as bottled cocktails to enjoy at home.

See also: Running A Restaurant During The Pandemic: Alphonse Sotero Of Lampara Speaks Out

7. Manam Comfort Filipino

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Manam Comfort Filipino

Manam Comfort Filipino, The Moment Group’s biggest restaurant brand, is well-loved for its reliable local fare whether served in traditional fashions or with a creative twist. The culinary titan was among the first organisations to pivot its services with Mo’Go, an in-house delivery service and Moment The Grocer, an online shop with ready-to-cook meals from its portfolio of restaurants—strategies that soon inspired many others to follow suit. The Moment Group also launched a delivery-only concept Papa Pancitan, collaborated with 7-Eleven to offer microwavable Manam meals, and joined the online-to-offline gift voucher platform ShareTreats.

See also: The Moment Group's Abba Napa Shares How The Pandemic Affected Her Work And Restaurants

8. Metronome

Without an outdoor dining area for their acclaimed restaurant, Metronome was forced to shut its dine-in operations on numerous occasions. But as fans of the gourmet takeaway brand Lazy Oeuf will know, this did not stop the Metronome team from serving its loyal patrons some exquisite gourmet fare. Since launching this sister brand in April of 2020, Lazy Oeuf has rolled out French onion burgers with foie gras, croissant sandwiches, and many more sinful savoury creations, alongside decadent desserts to boot.

See also: Order Truffle Mac And Cheese, Blue Cheese Burgers From Lazy Oeuf

9. Mijo Comfort Food

Whether you’ve come for the good music, killer cocktails, or creative yet familiar comforts, you can never go wrong with Mijo Comfort Food. Its inviting, make-yourself at-home atmosphere earned loyal stalwarts, most especially among the Poblacion crowd. When pandemic restrictions halted the district’s hustle-and-bustle, chef Enrique Moreno took the opportunity to prepare thoughtful meals for our essential frontliners thanks to donations from the Mijo community. The kitchen then launched at-home pasta kits, deli and pantry items, and ready-to-cook meats, plus a meal plan subscription programme called Mijo Express.

See also: Mijo Comfort Food In Poblacion Makati Is Open for Dine-In and Takeaway

10. Sarsa

Helmed by Tatler Philippines’ 2020 Local Champion, Sarsa continues to be a proud proponent of Filipino cuisine and Filipino spirit. Amidst the pandemic, chef JP Anglo and his team at Sarsa prepared meals to thank and support the courageous health workers at Makati Medical Center, sold merchandise to raise funds for the victims of Typhoon Ulysees, and even offered free water and canned foods for the delivery couriers stopping by the restaurant. To top it off, Sarsa even collaborated with fellow Filipino establishment Hapag for a family meal set and launched ready-to-cook kits with seafood purveyor Marv’s Boqueria while offering a range of inspired meals-to-go from their own kitchen.

See also: Chef JP Anglo of Sarsa On The Lessons He Learned During The Pandemic

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Sarsa

11. The Test Kitchen by Josh Boutwood

True to its name, The Test Kitchen by Josh Boutwood features an ever-changing yet consistently reliable menu that exemplifies the chef’s boundless talents. While many establishments opted for a leaner menu of time-tested dishes, Boutwood explored sourdough pizzas, brunch specials, micro-batch ice creams, and even sous vide kits for home cooking. The restaurant’s new bakeshop, Test Kitchen Bakery, is emboldened with the same curiosity and fearlessness, leading to creations like a naturally fermented ale sourdough and a hybrid croissant-cardamom loaf.

See also: 5 Restaurant Tips From Experts: How to Power Through the Pandemic

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The Test Kitchen by Josh Boutwood

12. Toyo Eatery

Internationally praised for its thought-provoking renditions of Filipino food, it comes as no surprise that Toyo Eatery’s innovative flair persisted through these challenging times. Together with its sister bakeshop brand Panaderya Toyo, Toyo Eatery crafted whimsical bilao sets with lip-smacking barbecue skewers, the restaurant’s signature silog fried rice, and other festive staples. Chef Jordy Navarra captured the attention of foodies once more in July of 2021, set to host the Philippine leg of the global food event Gelinaz! with other top chefs featured in the ensemble. Confronted with yet another round of lockdown and unable to provide the dine-in service they had planned, Navarra and the team devised a safe drive-through alternative, oft considered to be among the most innovative dining experiences to date.

See also: Tatler Close Up: This Is Why Chef Jordy and May Navarra of Toyo Eatery Are Successful

13. Wagyu Studio

After making its much-awaited debut in October of 2020—a bold move, but certainly the right one—Wagyu Studio continued to entice indulgent carnivores with luxurious takeaway creations. Showcasing the luxurious beef it’s known for, the modern Japanese steak house offered a Kobe chirashi with uni, caviar, ikura, and edible gold; and a Kobe pastrami burger showcasing 10-day homemade pastrami made with 100 per cent A5 Kobe, among others. In addition, executive chef Yoji Kitayama collaborated with chefs Josh Boutwood, Margarita Forés, Miko Calo, and Chele González on four separate four-hands dinner degustations, breathing invigorating life into the restaurant scene at a time it was most welcome.

See also: Wagyu Studio: Manila's Best Chefs Create Four-Hands Dinners

14. Wildflour

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Wildflour

At this point, is there anything that Wildflour cannot do? Since opening its doors in 2012, the restaurateurs kept themselves busy launching original concepts Farmacy, Little Flour Café, and Wild Flour Italian plus bringing Pink’s famed American staples to the Philippines, all within 2014 to 2019. This vivacious drive remained relentless over the past two years as they introduced delivery-only concepts Wildflour Pizza, Wildflour Burger, Wildflour Rotisserie Chicken & Wings, and Wildflour Pantry as they expanded their delivery services throughout the metro with Wildflour To- Go and the Wildflour mobile app.

See also: Wildflour Burgers: Newly Opened And Ready To Deliver This March 2021

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