7 Chefs and Restaurant Owners Tell Us Where to Eat After HoursYesterday
- Mikka WeeWords
After a long day of bussing tables, taking shit from unreasonable customers, toiling over pots of boiling soup, and getting body parts sliced from the most unfortunate of knife-related encounters, all chefs and restaurant owners (and their staff) want to do is to sit down and gorge on a hearty, satisfying meal—at least, this is what we gather after interviewing several of the local industry’s most creative culinary minds. Something we noticed is that these folks like going for the cheap stuff, edging closely on Ghetto Grub, which we totally dig.
1. JP Anglo, Sarsa Kitchen + Bar
“I can think of three places at the moment. The ultimate favorite go-to is Hap Chan along Makati Avenue. It solves everything—all the stress and hangover. I order their beef and broccoli with a bowl of jasmine rice. If not that, I order the fish and tofu hot pot (just to go a bit healthy). I also love their kai-lan (Chinese broccoli) with garlic. They top it off with a bit of oil from the wok so you smell it as you eat. It’s so good.”
“Another is Sweet Ecstasy along Jupiter Street. I’ve never tried In N’ Out and Shake Shack, but their burgers are packed with this old school flavor. It’s a straightforward good burger—bread, mayo, ketchup, cheese—straight up and no fancy stuff; just really good beef that’s not from the freezer. I remember the first time I tried it and oh my god, napamura talaga ako sa sarap. I was like, ‘Putangina, sarap nito solid talaga.’ I love those kinds of restaurants where you can feel the love. I hope they don’t expand, and the way they cook is well-principled and you can tell it’s not trying hard. They menu is on a board, and you instantly know that it’s going to be a good meal. I heard their chicken is also great, but I’m a sucker for their normal burger or cheeseburger. And their onion rings—some of the best I’ve tried!”
“Lastly, Ziggurat. It’s an institution even though it could be hit or miss—on a good day, it’s really good. When they get it right—it’s bull’s eye! Good food, beer, and the red light environment make it perfect when maximizing my cheat days. I order kebabs, curries, and basmati rice. It’s also the best place to get drunk especially when you’re surrounded with all this good food, and it makes my cheat days worth it.”
2. Jonathan Choi, Magnum Opus
“There’s this place by Army Navy called Coco Hut Chicken & Fish, and they’re open 24 hours, which my staff and I like to go to after service, or even when I’m alone, haha. I like their chicken, their laing, and they have this house chili-garlic sauce that’s similar to the ones they serve at Chinese restaurants.”
“Another place we frequent after service is Eros Inasal along Tropical Avenue, which is just behind Aguirre. It used to be a tiny shop that tricycle drives used to frequent, but now they’ve expanded! We go there for the pares, ramen, lechon kawali (which comes in huuuge slabs), and of course, some Red Horse. ”
3. Nicco Santos, Your Local
“As much as possible, I have ‘family meals’ with my team after dinner service. If I eat out it would usually be at Behrouz or at Hap Chan because they’re both on my way home. But if I’m really tired, it would have to be McDonald’s and KFC Drive-Thru.”
“If I could, though, I would have some hot soup. I enjoy a piping-hot bowl of bah kut teh, laksa, or ramen. I love the soothing silence it brings as it also calms my mind. I can enjoy a bowl alone or with friends since it takes me back to the kitchens of the aunties and uncles who’ve taught me how to cook.”
4. Allen Buhay, Wildflour Bakery + Café
“Hap Chan on Makati Avenue because I love Chinese food! I’ll always order some siomai, congee, and some crispy squid. Hap Chan, for me, is also closest to a ‘California Chinatown restaurant’ here in Metro Manila, so I can feel at home having it.”
“Also, Sarsa—after shift or any time of the day, really. I love their inasal, garlic rice, and crispy dilis! Sarsa never ever fails.”
5. Ed Bugia, Pino/Pipino/Pi Breakfast and Pies
“Chefs usually finish work late, so they want something cheap, fast, and…dirty! We usually go to pares joints, but personally, I go to the one near my house in Commonwealth. I order a beef pares with an extra fried egg and lots of chili sauce!
Another option nowadays is El Chupacabra—really good and cheap street tacos. I love how they cook their lengua there! And a few steps away is Tambai. Get their beef rib fingers and ice cold single serve sake.”
“Finally, probably my most-frequented late night destination is Countryside along Katipunan Avenue. I get the goat papaitan, beef kaldereta, and chicken ass!”
6. Gab Bustos and Thea de Rivera, The Girl + The Bull & 12/10
“Since we always end late, our options are always limited. On nights that we’re in The Girl + The Bull, and we’re lucky enough to leave before 11, we usually try to catch Ramen Yushoken for our usuals—Tantanmen for myself and Tokusei + Gyoza for Thea.
“But before 11pm is a different story, haha. Otherwise…
“Nihonbashitei! It’s not the best Japanese restaurant, but it is our go-to spot after midnight. Our usuals would be the spicy toro maki, salmon head yaki, ebi tempura, or the bacon enoki. I guess we always go here because it’s one of the few good and quiet options past midnight—plus it’s close to the Skyway! I never get sick of Japanese food. (It sucks that Kikufuji closes the same time we do!)”
“Also, Family Mart! JOHNSONVILLE HOTDOGS —because JOHNSONVILLE HOTDOGS!!! It’s clean, and that snap…. To be the honest, it’s the only place I know where I can get a properly snappy dog.
“Beni’s Falafel—although you’re sure to smell like Beni’s Falafel for the rest of the night, their falafels with hummus are bomb.”
“Others are Uncle Moe’s and SSC—our go-to places when we crave for Persian! Kebabs with margarine, rice, ox brains, hummus, and a shit ton of garlic sauce. Army Navy is the classic The Girl + The Bull go-to. Their Freedom Fries are the best; Thea and I always get their steak/chicken quesadillas. North Park, too! Lemon chicken, salt and pepper squid, lechon macau, sweet and sour pork, and congee never fail. If Thea is in the mood to drink, Blind Pig! And if we can sneak out of service, Your Local. Man, I can give you a longer list, but these would have to be our usuals, I guess, haha!”