Dec 15, 2021
Ed. Note: Thanks to you-know-what, the last time we published Best New Openings of the Year lists – for the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia – was 2019. So, throughout this series, you’re likely to encounter hotels, restaurants and bars that launched in 2020, included both to make up for missing them last year and as a hat-tip for persisting through the pandemic. Wishing all you wanderlusters happy holidays and best of luck getting back on the road and in the air to visit these places soon. – Jeninne
BEST NEW RESTAURANTS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Le Petit Café Fleur
Courtesy of Le Petit Café Fleur (3)
Chef Sau del Rosario is back in the Manila scene with this adorable little café that has bloomed on the re-budding streets of Poblacion. White plaster walls, rattan furniture and a lovely outdoor setting makes this place a perfect lunch spot. Our picks of their comfort food with global flavors include the duck leg confit with lemongrass and pumpkin; tuyo (local smoked fish) with capers, cherry tomatoes and penne; crab cakes with calamansi aioli; and curried falafel with pickled cauliflower.
Meal for two P1,500; cafefleur.ph
Run by French-Filipino chef, Stephan Roxas Duhesme, Metiz is the hottest table in metro Manila. Focused on local produce and flavors, the prix-fixe menu is an immersive experience as Duhesme is fond of using often overlooked ingredients like bitter gourd or banana heart and elevating them to pretty and flavorful plates. Grilling, fermentation and pickling are some of the techniques he enjoys playing around with. Wash it all down with their inventive and refreshing cocktails.
Courtesy of Hapag (2)
The minimalist interiors in the non-descript building are a perfect blank canvas for the innovative and vibrant cuisine from the three school friends behind Hapag – Thirdy Dolatre, Kevin Navda and Kevin Villarica. Hapag is the local word for dining table and with that, the three chefs aim bring together people around the love for good food through “a modern but culture and tradition-rich” cuisine. Highlighting local produce, Hapag features an eight-course menu with dishes such as kinilaw na tuna sa pakwan or citrus cured tuna loin in a watermelon consommé; kambing Luzviminda – goat elaborated three ways using techniques from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao; and tinupig na litson manok – coconut braised and grilled chicken.
Tasting dinner for two from P6,000; hapagmnl.com
BEST NEW BAR IN THE PHILIPPINES
This cute watering hole in the heart of the Makati CBD features only one item: wine. Blanc has an excellent selection of small producer wines from around the globe with charismatic somms on hand to help guide your choice. Unlike the usual caves, the edgy artwork, electro beats, and glary neon signage makes this joint more hip than ho-hum.
BEST NEW RESORTS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Lihim El Nido
Run by a Philippines boutique outfit, Araw Hospitality, new opening Lihim is the spot to be in El Nido, up on the north of Palawan. Its name means “secret” in the local vernacular and best describes this gem of a resort, which is surrounded by lush greenery before opening to crystalline waters. Seventeen villas are decorated in contemporary Filipino style, each boasting of unique features: stunning sea views, direct pool access or luxe jungle vibes.
Courtesy of Inara Siargao (2)
Founded by the beautiful Natalia Zobel, this charming boutique hotel is the perfect tropical oasis in the popular surf spot of Siargao. Bold mustard walls, sage shutters, thatched roofs and vibrant bougainvillea lend a bit of a latin feel to the bed and breakfast. Five well-appointed suites surround the swimming pool and welcome guests with that rustic barefoot chic that Siargao is known for. Zobel’s private one-bedroom villa is also for rent on AirBnb.
To read about more the Best New Openings in other countries around the region, see here.