30 Classic Restaurants That Taught Us How to Eat

(Excerpted from Esquire’s “30 Classic Restaurants That Taught Us How to Eat” by JJ Yulo, originally posted on October 9, 2017 http://www.esquiremag.ph/culture/food-and-drink/30-classic-restaurants-that-taught-us-how-to-eat-a1597-20171009-lfrm2)

JJ Yulo talks about the crazy trendsetters who did their thing and allowed the rest to follow


One of the youngest establishments on this list, WF had presence from the day they opened. From their masterpiece display of pastries and breads, to their seemingly simple but delicious menu made to specifically by their hard-working kitchen, WF upped the American café/bistro bar and also managed to capture the hearts of the expat crowd who fill them day in and day out. Oh, and kimchi fried rice everywhere in town? It started here.

IMAGE Toto Labrador

Review: Jonathan Gold can't stay away from Grand Central's Sari Sari Store

(Originally posted on October 6, 2017, “Review: Jonathan Gold can’t stay away from Grand Central’s Sari Sari Store” by Retaurant Critic Jonathan Gould in the Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/food/jonathan-gold/la-fo-gold-sari-sari-store-20170921-story.html)

I have stopped by Sari Sari Store five times in the last three days, and I’m not sure if I should be admitting this to you or to a therapist.

On Monday, I walked over with Times Food editor Amy Scattergood, my Sari Sari Store enabler, and tried the arroz caldo, the sisig fried rice and also the adobo fried rice. On Tuesday morning, Amy texted me to say a section meeting was already underway at Sari Sari Store, so I found myself back at the counter with an order of lechon manok — spit-roasted chicken — as well as a cantaloupe slush and a few forkfuls of buko pie. Late that afternoon, I came in for an early supper of grilled pork ribs, silog made with homemade “Spam’’ and a taste of tortang talong, which is grilled eggplant dipped into beaten egg and fried. Wednesday’s breakfast (Amy’s choice, again) was another bowl of arroz caldo, and I breezed through again a few hours later for halo-halo and a coffee with condensed milk. I’ve given up my fidget spinner. I have Sari Sari Store instead.

My colleagues and I have probably adored Sari Sari Store a little too much lately, partly because we’re as likely to become crushed out on a new restaurant as a 14-year-old is on the latest Zayn track, and partly because the idea of a Filipino-style lunch counter run by République’s Margarita and Walter Manzke is just too much, especially in downtown L.A.’s Grand Central Market.

Deputy food editor Jenn Harris swooned over the buko pie this week. So I won’t say that much more about it, other than to say that Margarita Manzke comes close to baking the best, darkest pie crust in Los Angeles, that the custard is as dense as pastry cream because it is pastry cream, and that while you would think that the jelly-soft layer of buko, young coconut, might pull the dessert toward the exotic, it ends up tasting like the kind of coconut cream pie you might find at a roadside diner in Oklahoma if you were very, very lucky.

Amy loves the halo-halo, a layered dessert of jellied coconut, ice cream, fruit, crushed ice and other things, although I will act the purist for a moment and insist that the purple yam, omitted here, is an essential part of the experience, and that the Sari Sari Store version may bear a closer resemblance to the chewy, icy Vietnamese desserts called chèyou find at sweet shops in Little Saigon than it does to the halo-halo at the old-school Filipino places. There is a place for them both.

Sari Sari’s arroz caldo is rice porridge with pork, mushrooms, fried garlic, scallions and soft eggs. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

But Sari Sari Store is basically devoted to the Filipino rice bowl, a hybrid form made popular here at places like Rice Bar and Oi, a savory, salty, nominally healthful dish of silog — a toss of meat, vegetables and aromatics — served over pickle-spiked garlic-fried rice. There is always a fried egg on top. And the Manzkes, whose refined French cooking has been revered in Los Angeles for years, are masters of balance — you may notice the subtleties before you blast them into the umami zone with fish sauce, Sriracha and chile-infused vinegar. (You may have self-control, but I am kind of a peasant.)

It may be an odd thing to say about a restaurant, but at Sari Sari Store it really doesn’t matter what you order. If you get adobo fried rice, you will find a bit of sweetness from the pork belly’s marinade; the sisig, fried pig’s head, is crunchier and more assertively salty; and the grilled eggplant is smokier, richer, more tart. The grilled pork ribs tend to smack more of the backyard Weber than of the pit, if that’s a factor, and the chewiness is not quite tamed. The slices of housemade “Spam,” soft and fluffy, seared almost black, are pretty wonderful, especially if you were expecting the high salt-sweet flavor of the actual trademarked meat in a can.

Chef de cuisine Don Dalao brines his chicken — the meat is almost bouncy — before cooking it slowly on the rotisserie the restaurant inherited from Bar Moruno, the former occupant of this corner of Grand Central Market, and the sweetish sauce inhabits the skin, which is more sticky than crackly; more bronzed than charred. In the arroz caldo, a lunch favorite at République, the rice is seethed into a loose, hot porridge, fragrant with ginger and fried garlic, thick with chewy mushrooms and little cubes of pork.

The inevitable egg is poached sous-vide to the soft, runny consistency of the eggs you find in ramen. A squirt of lime and a dash of fish sauce transform the flavor — not necessarily better, but different, with an extra level of depth. You’re ready for the morning. And Sari Sari will still be waiting for you when you return for a post-work slice of pie.


Sari Sari Store

A new Filipino food counter at Grand Central Market.


Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (323) 320-4020, sarisaristorela.com


Savory dishes $11-$13; sweets $6-$8.


8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Beer and wine. Credit cards accepted. Validated parking in lot next door.


Arroz caldo, “Spam” silogbuko pie.

Four Los Angeles pies you should probably eat as soon as you can

(Excerpted from Los Angeles Times’ “Four Los Angeles pies you should probably eat as soon as you can” by Jenn Harris, originally posted on October 5, 2017 http://www.townandcountry.ph/people/heritage/the-country-s-most-eligible-bachelors-a1590-20161114-lfrm3)

The perfect pie — flaky crust, filling you can eat on its own and a topping that makes all the components sing — is like the holy grail of baking. Sit down with a slice of your favorite, whether it be pumpkin, apple, banana cream or Key lime, and the effect is instantaneous. It’s nostalgic, it’s comforting, it’s potentially transformative.

Los Angeles is home to many great pies. Here are four you should likely seek out as soon as possible.

Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

The buko pie from Sari Sari Store at Grand Central Market.

Buko Pie from Sari-sari Store

Margarita Manzke, pastry chef at the new Filipino food stall Sari Sari Store at Grand Central Market in downtown L.A., and at Republique, the French restaurant she runs with her husband, chef Walter Manzke, is making the best coconut pie in the city. Only it’s not exactly coconut pie, it’s buko pie. The coconut custard pie popular in the Philippines is typically made with sweetened condensed milk and young coconut (buko in Tagalog), and it’s just about the most luxurious thing you can eat on top of crust. Manzke’s version features a silky pastry cream mottled with slices of fresh, young coconut and a layer of coconut jam that together give the pie a real but subtle coconut flavor. And that crust? It’s laden with butter, the texture creating that perfect trifecta of flaky, crunchy and tender, allowing it to hold the pastry cream without getting soggy. Crowning the pie is a streusel-like topping that adds a little more sweetness and some extra crunch. The flavors and textures are so perfectly balanced that even your friend who swears he “hates coconut cream pie” will go in for another slice. 317 S. Broadway, (323) 320-4020, sarisaristorela.com

Manila food: 6 dishes every visitor should try in the Philippines

(Excerpted from Anthony Bourdain’s “Manila food: 6 dishes every visitor should try in the Philippines” by Don Jaucian and Michelle Ayuyao, in CNN Travel on September 13, 2017 http://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/best-dishes-taste-of-manila-parts-unknown/index.html)

(CNN) — Forget the “exotic” duck embryos and fried pigs’ heads you often see representing the Philippines on TV.Filipino cuisine has new legs to stand on thanks to a few innovative and passionate Manila-based chefs.

One slice of Wildflour’s buko pie is never enough.

Buko pie stands are almost a roadside attraction.

A venerable pasalubong (homecoming gift) to take back to Manila after a trip south — particularly Laguna, where this humble pie was born — buko is similar to custard pie but with a denser filling that’s made without cream and sweetened with condensed milk.There are two keys to the perfect buko pie: the consistency of the crust and the evenness of the filling.

Where to try it:Wildflour, Manila’s brunch mecca and sibling to Los Angeles’ famous Republique (chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke are part owners).Heftier than most, Wildflour’s slices include a memorable layered crust that opens up to a thick bed of coconut meat underneath.Its flavor is a complex yet simple example of why the buko pie has become a beloved staple in Filipino homes. 

The Elegant Filipinas

(Excerpted from Manila Bulletin’s “The Elegant Filipinas”, originally posted on August 27, 2017, https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2017/08/27/the-elegant-filipinas/)

Elegance over beauty, substance over form, and gentility over self-importance—these are the true characteristics of a Filipina.

Two years ago, “TingTing’s List: The Elegant Filipinas” started to honor these gracious beauties. It has since become a major event. Today, preparations are underway for the selection and presentation of TingTing’s List 2017, which will be held at the Diamond Hotel Ballroom on Sept. 13.

TingTing’s List, with Consul General Fortune Ledesma and Zelda Kienle of Philux Company, has been envisioned to acknowledge these wonderful Filipina characteristics from all over the country. The two past editions of TingTing’s List have been widely accepted and shown that elegant Filpinas bound.

The event has also sought to raise funds to determined beneficiaries. The first edition had the typhoon victims of Tacloban. Last year was for the widows and orphans of the SAF Fallen 44.

This year, TingTing’s List chosen beneficiary is The Center of Possibilities Foundation, Inc. which caters to autistic individuals with special needs. The event will celebrate not only the elegance of the Filipina but the artistic potential of these special individuals. A major highlight of this year’s event is the sale of art pieces rendered by autistic children.

Albert Andrada will present his 20-piece collection. A silver leaf trophy of elegance mounted on a plexiglass for the elegant women will be made again by Arnel Papa.

As of now, sponsors are DMCI, ATZ Marketing, W groups, Organique Acai Berry, Magsaysay Shipping Lines, I Remit, Shoemart, Ralph’s wine and Philux Company, Oishi, Federal Land, Inc., and Calata Corporation.


Ana Marie Lorenzana de Ocampo is a graduate of Restaurant Administration from Cordon Bleu, London. Under her steadfast leadership, the Wildflour Group has grown to include Farmacy Ice Cream and Pink’s Hot Dogs Manila.

5 Places to Enjoy Boozed-Up Desserts

(Excerpted from Esquire’s “5 Places to Enjoy Boozed-Up Desserts” by Angelica Guittierez originally posted on June 1, 2017 http://www.esquiremag.ph/culture/food-and-drink/5-places-to-enjoy-boozed-up-desserts-a1628-20170601)

These days it’s so humid that just stepping out of the house without drowning in your own sweat is a struggle in itself. Ice cream is obviously a great way to cool off, but we’ve got something even better: alcoholic ice cream and desserts. We’ve rounded up five places where you can indulge your sweet tooth like a grown-up. Plus, we all know that when shit hits the fan, plain ice cream isn’t enough.


This good old-fashioned soda fountain serves up some great Moonshine, or bourbon-flavored ice cream.

IMAGE Gabby Cantero

Farmacy has branches at G/F Netlima Building, 4th Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; O Square Greenhills, Ortigas Avenue corner Wilson Street, Greenhills, San Juan City.

Wildflour Café + Bakery

While this restaurant is better known for their breakfast and pastries, their Rum Caramel Panna Cotta is definitely worth a try.

Wildflour has branches at Netlima Building, 4th Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; V Corporate Center, 125 L. P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City; 111 Rada Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City; The Podium, ADB Avenue, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City; O Square Greenhills, Ortigas Avenue Corner Wilson Street, Greenhills, San Juan City.

Wildflour owners to open Pinoy restaurant in LA

(Originally posted on May, 19, 2017, “Wildflour owners to open Pinoy restaurant in LA” by ABS-CBN News http://news.abs-cbn.com/life/05/19/17/wildflour-owners-to-open-pinoy-restaurant-in-la)

MANILA – The people behind the popular Wildflour Café + Bakery in Manila are set to open a Filipino restaurant at the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, California.

According to a report from Eater Los Angeles, Wildflour co-owner and pastry chef Margarita Manzke will open a “savory-side Filipino restaurant” called Sari-Sari Store in mid-summer of 2017.

It noted that Sari Sari Store will “focus primarily on easygoing comfort-food style silog dishes, which are usually encompassed by rice and eggs and any other variety of ingredients, and is served for both breakfast and beyond.”

“For those unfamiliar, sari sari roughly translates to ‘whatever,’ a loose phrase that denotes small pop-up stores across the Philippines that might sell everything from Filipino meat skewers to water to cigarettes. That’s the ethos of the new restaurant: Small, colorful and casual,” the report said.

Manzke and her husband and fellow chef, Walter, also own a French eatery in LA called Republique

What Does a Restaurant Owner Eat and Do Every Day?

February 15, 2017 01:13 PM by Wildflour Café + Bakery

(Originally posted on February 15, 2017, “What Does a Restaurant Owner Eat and Do Everyday” by Manica C. Tiglao in Town&Country, http://www.townandcountry.ph/people/inspiration/what-does-a-restaurant-owner-eat-and-do-every-day-a00179-20170215-lfrm)

Ana Lorenzana De Ocampo, co-owner of Wildflour, Farmacy, and Pink’s Manila, talks about the perfect brunch, the Ina Garten diet, and last meals on earth.

What time did you wake up today?

5:30 a.m.

What’s the first thing you usually do when you wake up?

I check my messages and do a quick scroll through social media.

What time do you head out to work?

8 to 8:30 a.m.

What was for breakfast today?

Green juice, cranberry walnut bread, strawberry jam, and butter.

You’ve helped revolutionize the brunch scene in Manila. What is your idea of a perfect brunch?

Free-flowing conversation with the ladies, interrupted by “oohs” and “ahhs” because of how delicious the food is. A view to admire also helps.

Fashion staple?

The black dress that makes me feel my best.

Newest piece of clothing you’ve bought?

A top by TC Alvarez.

What are your favorite clothing labels?

COS, Idée, Two Chic, Theory, and Jaspal.

Favorite shoe brands?

Adidas, Jimmy Choo, and Nine West.

Bag brand?

Bottega Veneta.

IMAGE Dan Harvey

Any signature accessories?

A simple yet elegant pair of pearl earrings.

What are you wearing?

A top by COS and a shower-fresh scent from Santa Maria Novella soap.

Favorite designers?

Jojie Lloren and Vania Romoff.

Muses or style icons?

Cate Blanchett, who is chic but not a fashion victim. She’s mastered the balance of being current but still age-appropriate.

Any specific diet you follow?

The Ina Garten diet. Which is, I’m guessing, no diet.

Do you work out?

I do cardio and strength training four to five times a week.

Other consuming passions?

My children, food, and travel.

How often do you entertain?

Three to four times a month.

What sort of entertaining?

Usually casual.

Entertaining staples?

Always the proper assortment of guests.

Your tips to creating a memorable meal?

Dessert, dessert, dessert.

How do you prepare for an afternoon or evening of entertaining?

Relaxing the nerves a bit. Wipe work out of your head so you can be present in the moment.

Dream dinner guests?

Ina Garten and her gaggle of gays.

What books are you currently reading?

Commanding Your Morning, a daily devotional. And I just started on The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt— I’m a little late to the game but this feels like a timeless book.

What music is currently on your playlist?

I saw the trailer of the new Jackie biopic with Natalie Portman and the song “Camelot” has been on loop since. Magical.

What do you like most about your appearance?

I think it’s better to say that I’ve learned what looks best on me, and that’s a good lesson to learn.

Lunch companions?

My chefs, Allen Buhay and BJ Mantuano, at Wildflour, of course.

What do you love about being in the food industry?

Satisfying appetites and expanding people’s palates.

If you were not a chef and restaurateur, you would be…

An owner of a shop that sells cooking gadgets, utensils, and ingredients.

What made you become a chef?

Watching my grandmother prepare food for family occasions. She was spectacular.

What is your earliest memory of food?

It would have to be Christmas dinners at my grandmother’s home in Zambales.

Favorite drinks or other meal accompaniments?

Green juice made with moringa, cucumber, green apple, celery, and ginger.

Do you ever still cook for yourself?

The answer to that is a great lady called Vilma, our home cook. After a day of hopping from one restaurant branch to another, the last thing I want to do when I get home is fire up the stove.

What is the secret to your restaurant’s success?

A passion for the food we serve and the drive to create something simply delicious.

What’s your go-to order at Wildflour and Pink’s?

A simple baguette with a hockey puck-sized side of quality butter at Wildflour. At Pink’s, give me a classic hotdog.

Favorite restaurants?

Here, I like Summer Palace. Abroad, I loved Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, and Republique in Los Angeles.

Favorite chefs?

Ina Garten.

Favorite trend in food?

Locally, the one where everyone is upping their game and constantly challenging each other to do better.

Food trend you’re not so fond of?

A lack of originality.

Favorite cheap eat?

Bottled tuyo with rice.

What else are you up to this afternoon?

Checking the progress of the construction of Wildflour’s Greenhills branch.

What do you do as soon as you get home?

I look for my kids and give them a big hug.

What was the prettiest thing you saw today?

A beautifully made chocolate cake.

Guilty pleasures?

Ice cream from Farmacy.

Secret fantasies?

The one where my superpower is to eat without ever gaining a pound.

Best decision of your life?

To receive the Lord as my savior.

Greatest extravagance?

Travel and food.

Pet peeves?

Customers who are mean to wait staff, and people who cut the line.

Were you given any great advice today?

“Life is too short—have the ube cupcake.”

Have you dispensed any advice of your own?

“Life is too short—have the ice cream.”

Who is your dream date?

Anderson Cooper.

What do you wear on a hot date?

Anything simple yet feminine.

IMAGE Dan Harvey

Qualities you find attractive in the opposite sex?

Clean, hardworking, and with a sense of humor.

Value you appreciate most in a partner?


Love of your life?

My family.

Where are you having dinner tonight and with whom?

At home with my family.

What’s for dinner?

Lengua estofado, monggo, and rice.

Most memorable meal?

Rafa’s, a seafood restaurant in Roses, Spain.

What’s the most important part of your day?

Early in the morning when I have a quiet time with God.

Describe your idea of a perfect day.

One spent with my family exploring a new city.

What else are you up to tonight?

Cookies before bed and a viewing of The Crown.

What do you do and where do you go to unwind?

An energizing run.

What time are you going to sleep?

I try to keep asleep by 11 p.m.

What do you hope to dream about?

A future where we are a country less divided. And cake. Lots of cake.

The Top 10 Chocolate Cakes in Manila (2016 Edition)

(Excerpted from Spot.PH’s “The Top 10 Chocolate Cakes in Manila (2016 Edition)” by Sandie Gadia, originally posted on December 27, 2017 https://www.spot.ph/eatdrink/the-latest-eat-drink/67651/top-10-chocolate-cakes-in-manila-2016-edition-a284-20161227-lfrm)

It’s tough to find a chocolate cake you won’t like when several mouthwatering options are available in the Metro, thanks to professional and self-taught bakers. While we appreciate the constant supply of chocolate-based pastries, it just gets harder to select the best of the best each year.

For this year’s list, we’re keeping the selection criteria straightforward: both cake and frosting must undeniably be chocolate, the base must be dense and consistent, and the cake itself must carry a flavor worth the added calories. Read on to find out which chocolate cakes made it on our list– a mix of newcomers and all-time favorites that’ll surely stay a while in the local pastry scene.

All SPOT.ph Top 10 lists are researched, paid for, tested and selected by the writers and editors. They are discreetly conducted without any notice made to the restaurants or their owners.

IMAGE Hans Fausto

1.Wildflour Café + Bakery’s Salted Chocolate Cake (P270/slice)

It’s no surprise that Wildflour’s Salted Chocolate Cake remains the most-loved chocolate cake because it ticks the right boxes: good frosting-cake base ratio, a powerful mishmash of flavors, and a huge serving size. The towering chocolate block interlocks layers of rich icing and light sponge cake with spots of salt crystals, each forkful powerful but feathery all at once. Take just one bite and you’ll be left with nothing but “Wow”.

The Country's Most Eligible Bachelors

(Excerpted from Town & Country’s “The Country’s Most Eligible Bachelors” by The Town & Country Editors, originally posted on November 14, 2016 http://www.townandcountry.ph/people/heritage/the-country-s-most-eligible-bachelors-a1590-20161114-lfrm3)

From young scions and ascending heirs to rising stars and bona fide influencers, T&C surveys the most eligible bachelors in the country.


It’s not just skillful service and innovative recipes that are reeling in a discerning crowd of diners to these restaurateurs’ establishments.

Chef Allen Buhay

IMAGE Kai Huang

The chef and partner has catapulted Wildflour Café+Bakery into one of Manila’s favorite dining establishments and now oversees all four of its kitchens. He honed his craft working at Jean-Georges in New York and at Church & State in L.A. after studying at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena.

Chef BJ Mantuano

IMAGE Khai Van Kampen / Esquire Philippines

Raised in California, BJ helms one of Manila’s most well-loved casual dining spots as the sous chef of Wildflour Café + Bakery. Before that he worked with chef Cyrille Soenen of Brasserie Cicou.