Dishes That We Saw Everywhere This Year and New Eats to Replace Them WithDecember 15, 2014
Since Manila has become saturated with restaurants, trends have been permeating the dining scene, from craft cocktails to South American restaurants. While this leaves loads of room for creativity, some trendy, semi-identical dishes are appearing on menus everywhere, almost always in the same form. Even though some have been responsible for pretty delicious meals, maybe its time to retire these for awhile and usher in more good eats for 2015.
1. Salted Caramel, Salted Chocolate
Salted caramel, salted chocolate—this trend has been everywhere but hasn’t seemed to fade in the past year. Salted caramel is probably the most ubiquitous, appearing in everything from ice cream, macarons, pancakes, milkshakes, to eclairs. We’ve seen a rise in the pairing of dark chocolate with sea salt too, from Wildflour’s infamous salted chocolate cake to dark chocolate truffles doused in honey and salt from home chocolatier, Petit Chocolat by Dominique.
While we love the sweet-salty combination, there’s so many other ways this marriage can be experienced—Sebastian’s Ice Cream’s infamous green mango sorbet with bagoong is a good place to start, Vask does a playful cheese course with warm coeur de lion cheese, cream cheese ice cream, and honey, Magnum lets you put cheese popcorn and chili pepper on your ice cream bars, and Kwong’s Provisions inside Hole in the Wall do a killer salted egg yolk dessert pao.
2. Southern Fried Chicken, Waffles Optional
If we had to name one specific dish that made an appearance on almost every new menu in 2014, it would be the Southern fried chicken. Essentially dredged in buttermilk, this delicious crispy, savory treat had everyone temporarily eschewing their ChickenJoy cravings for the more upscale version. Most iterations came with waffles too, another sweet and savory pairing that diners just couldn’t get enough of.
The Girl and the Bull’s was deemed the best by many, paired with brioche french toast, and Kettle‘s boneless thighs made news, too, but it’s hard to choose when almost every new trendy restaurant has their own take on the dish. Best yet is newcomer Bad Bird, found in Hole in the Wall, with their umami fried chicken, served with a dense sweet potato waffle. If you’re looking for delicious chicken though, roast is making a comeback, trying to prove to everyone that deep-frying isn’t the only method that’s good for the bird. Señor Pollo has established itself as the best roast chicken place in the metro, and Gostoso Piri-Piri is doing a Portuguese, piri-piri take on the roast.
3. Kimchi Rice Everywhere
We did a Pepper Taste Test on some of the most famous kimchi rice bowls in the city, including the plate that started it all. Everyone loves this hybrid combination, with the slightly sour, slightly spicy rice a perfect foil to some well-cooked meats and of course, a yolk-y egg.
Our love for Korean flavors and our favorite starch is the reason behind the success of this dish, which has sprouted everywhere from bistros and high-end eateries to casual, fast-food places. The new bowl that can knock this off its throne has a lot to do with quinoa, a delicious seed that’s got a lot of bite. This isn’t just for the health-conscious; the minuscule pearls can hold tons of flavor. Gaspi’s in SM BF has a paella made with quinoa, Erwan Heussaff’s Crisp on 28th has been making a lot of noise due to their Tinapa and Quinoa, and if you want to be a little healthier, CDP‘s CQ Salad has plenty of beet and well-cooked quinoa.
4. Foie Gras in Burgers
Who the heck doesn’t love foie in their burgers? On top, the glorious fatty liver combines with a beef patty for a luscious bite, but when incorporated into the meat, or hidden in the middle, it flavors every little bit of beef with the taste of foie. It is decadent, it is divine, and it is deadly. Lusso’s burger has been on the best of lists for years, because it has set such a high standard; drench the thing in more cambozola and you’ll be drooling for days.
22 Jupiter, formerly Cova, has a more heart attack-inducing take, with both foie and bone marrow making an appearance in their patties, and 2nd’s combines their foie burger with crispy jamon. There are many burger places popping around the city, so it’s time to try weirder combinations and go out of the box. Teddy’s Bigger Burger’s has one that mimics the Aloha, complete with sliced pineapple and teriyaki sauce. 8 Cuts just came out with their burger of the season, an ode to Pasko with Christmas ham and queso de bola.
5. Truffle All Over
I’m done with truffle oil. If it ain’t real truffles, or at least good quality truffle oil, then that oil can taste easily like petrol, and leave a funny aftertaste on your tongue for days. For Christ’s sake, some have even started putting it on buffalo wings. Truffle fries are everywhere too, and only a few taste like the real thing. There are tons of good truffle pastas too, decadent and rich, but really, only a few places do it well.
Everyone loves Mamou’s take, La Nuova does a mean Profumo di Tartufo, and Duck and Buvette does a refreshing truffle cauliflower. But if you want to douse your food in some condiment next year, it better be of the Japanese variety. Mecha Uma and 12/10 are leading the pack when it comes to Japanese-inspired cuisine, but many other restaurants are offering up some ponzu with their steaks, or mentaiko in their noodles.
6. Egg On Top of Everything, Please
While we used to think egg was reserved only for breakfast, it has become the final topping of choice for many chefs. Egg really, truly, makes everything better, so it’s no surprise that it’s graduated from being on top of eggs benedicts and tapa, to salads and burgers. It’s been poached, slow-cooked, sous-vided, fried and scrambled all over everything this year.
Onsen eggs in ramen have always been a staple, but eating one with your ramen at Yushoken is a particular delight. Impressions deep-fries a Pamora chicken egg in soubise of asparagus, making the rich soup even thicker and richer. Scotch eggs were around the metro this year too, with Blackbird’s tiny quail eggs on betel leaf the most memorable of the lot. There is no replacement whatsoever for the luscious, orange-yellow yolks of the egg, and we wish nothing ever comes up to dethrone it.