Foodie Finds: Roman Recto Shares His Best Takeout Orders
Welcome to Foodie Finds! This is an article series by Tatler, chronicling where and what to order according to the food-obsessed.
I myself have never understood non-foodies. How can one not love flavours, spices, aromas and all the cultural nuances and memories that come with every bite? Dining is an experience meant to be savoured and is even more fun when shared with loved ones. Dining around a table means sharing, conversing, bonding and learning. A dish can tell you so much about a person, a culture, and a country. It speaks volumes of a nation's history and is an art form on its own. Skilled hands are trained over years or are born out of pure passion and practice. Professional chefs and home cooks alike, from young stars to grandmothers, have been cooking up meals filled with emotion and have truly made us foodies, happy.
Through Foodie Finds, we ask our epicurean friends to share their favourites. In this feature, we tackle takeout and delivery. Hear what Roman Recto, food enthusiast has to say. Here, he shares his go-to shops for takeout here.
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Good Cookie PH
Good Cookie is a home business run by pastry chef Tara Lane who worked in London for a number of years. Their cookie drops open every Sunday and usually sell out without the hour, so get on it quick! They have three flavours, all of which are good in their own right and should be ordered. My absolute favourite is the malted milk chocolate which is the perfect amount of sweetness balanced with sea salt, something that I look for in every cookie now. This is from someone who does not have a big sweet tooth, so you know it must be good.
Tippi Tambunting of M Dining fame has started a line of products from her home kitchen. Some of my favourites include her pamplina which is a decadent Spanish stew with short rib, beans and chorizo, as well as her Chinese beef and tendon which works just as well with rice as it does on noodles. The tendon will leave your lips coated with gelatin. Delicious stuff.
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With the rainy season upon us, there are few things better than a steaming bowl of soup and noodles. Ramen is one of my top comfort foods, and it is one of Manila’s as well given the proliferation of new shops in recent years. Most places specialise in tonkotsu and a milky pork bone broth, but this place does it a little differently with its Tori Paitan broth made with chicken, though it is no less rich for it. The Tori King Ramen which is served with a chicken leg is the thing to get for a first-timer. Interesting topping to be sure, but it works harmoniously with the rest of the bowl.
Some of the best Singaporean food in Manila can be found at this restaurant in Resorts World, which lends itself very well to take-out. Their Hainanese chicken rice is some of the best you can find in the city, and their Laksa is sublime. Other favourites include their spicy Singaporean clams as well as their hokkien mee.
Tom Sawyers Fried Chicken
You’ve all heard of the Bee, the Colonel and the Golden Arches, but this small chain makes a fried chicken that can compete with the best of them. Tom Sawyers is something I grew up eating in Tagaytay, and they have now reopened in Tiendesitas. The thing to get is their two-piece chicken meal. Sensational.
Birria tacos are the latest craze in Manila, and this take-out business is one of the best that do it here. Simply put, barrio tacos are tacos griddled until crisp, and then dipped into a rich consommé to amp up the flavour. The pork sisig, jerk chicken, beef and battered fish flavours are all delicious, but making decisions is hard, so do yourself a favour get the birria taco set so you can try all of them. You only live once after all.
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This unassuming place in Greenhills makes some of my favourite nostalgic Japanese eats. The chef used to work in Sugi, so expect similar flavours. The spicy tuna (#iykyk) is the best in Manila, and I will die on that hill. Their tori kuwayaki has those sweet, savoury, and slightly spicy notes that pair well with a bowl of steamed rice, as well as their kaki kari kari yaki (oysters cooked teppan style). Pure comfort food for me.
Deli By Chele
One of life’s greatest privileges is being able to travel, something that has become evident during this pandemic. Chef Chele Gonzalez’s line of deli products are great, but my absolute favourite is his wagyu beef pastrami which will transport you back to the famous delis of New York City. It comes in a kit which makes it even easier to build your own sandwich. Simply amazing.
Hai Shin Lou
This may be 'just your neighbourhood Chinese takeout restaurant' for those in Makati, but what a restaurant it is. A certified classic, their menu is extensive and has a number of dishes for everyone’s taste. This place does seafood well. Their salt and peppercorn squid is addicting; their suahe spring rolls are stuffed with sweet and fresh shrimp and fried to crisp perfection. The fish fillet with homemade beancurd in hot pot is the epitome of comfort food and is delicious with just a bowl of steamed rice, although the superior fried rice with pork brisket (aka lechon kawali) is an excellent choice if you want to treat yourself. Which, of course, you want to do.
You wouldn’t expect some of the best Thai food in Manila to be found in Poblacion, but Krapow is the real deal. Chef Reginald Prospero makes Thai street food that does not compromise on ingredients and authenticity. His specialties are all the variations of the kra pow, the national dish of Thailand, which is any protein stir-fried with holy basil and lots of chilis; the crispy pork belly kra pow, in particular, is amazing. Any of the Sunday grilled specialties such as grilled pork neck (kor moo yang) and river prawns (goong yang) are worth keeping an eye out for. Pad thai is boring, so he doesn’t offer it; rather, go for the kuay teow kua gai. I order from here once a week.