There was a time I would do my top 10 favorite restaurants of the year. However, I found that most times, some of these restaurants would disappear or close shop by the following year… or their food would not be as good as when I was last there. So I decided that this year, I would just select the food or dishes which have given me such joy and satisfaction and which are soooooo damn good, I’d keep coming back for them or they’d make me want to try whipping them up at home. Of course, the dishes I make are never as good as when I had them. Still, these are my top 12 favorite dishes of 2012 (NOT in the order of preference, though):
Chocolate Pot de Crème at Wild Flour. Rich dark chocolate custard topped with coarse sea salt and crushed peanuts! I’m not much of a dessert person but I NEED to order this every time I’m in Wild Flour
Gnocchi al Funghi e Porcini at the Mona Lisa Ristorante at Filinvest, Alabang is definitely umami-yummy! The rich earthy taste of the mushrooms comes through wonderfully!
Ulcing’s Cebu Lechon combines moist succulent meat with beautifully thin, deliciously golden crisp skin, which is not too oily and perhaps a bit saltier than most lechons. Orders are generally for pick-up only, except within Makati. To order, call 497-7957 or 0919-361-3291.
Chef Chris Locher gained foodie popularity mostly from his Panizza — “rollable” thin pizza with a 5-cheese base, with sidings of arugula and alfalfa sprouts. Whichever of the many toppings you choose, it’s superb! At My Kitchen, at the Oasis Hotel beside Paco Park.
The Lava Roll. Scallops in sushi rolls, topped with molten cheese and flambéed. At Krave Restobar on C. Palanca Street in Legaspi Village, Makati.
Milky Way’s Crispy Hito with Mustasa Salad. A modern version of the classic Capampangan dish of deep-fried-to-a-crisp hito or catfish, eaten with a zesty salad of mustard leaves, tomatoes, onions, and bagoong. Only at the Milky Way (Pasay Road, Makati).
Soft-shell Crabs in Aligue and Garlic Sauce. Succulent soft-shell crabs, cooked adobo style and smothered in a rich sauce made from crab fat (aligue) and garlic! To die for… and deadly for those with high cholesterol or blood pressure… but divine. Also at Milky Way on Pasay Road.
Barbacoa Burrito Grande at Órale Mexican Taqueria. Gimongous burrito made with marinated meats slow-cooked to perfection and served with your choice of spicy salsa and homemade tortilla corn chips. Washed down with Órale’s fantastic margaritas, it’s soul-satisfying. At the Fort Strip, BGC.
The President of Myron’s. That’s hefty half-kilo of prime Angus Rib-eye steak, beautifully done to perfect char and juiciness! Can be shared by 2-4 people, depending on size of appetite. At Myron’s Place in Greenbelt5.
Foie Gras and Unagi Salad. Pan-seared foie gras and unagi wrapped in wafer-thin slices of cucumber and drizzled with aged balsamic vinaigrette. Masterful and delicious! By Chef Seiji Kamura at his eponymously named restaurant Seiji on Pasay Road, Makati.
Oysters Foie Gras. A sinful union of two sexy ingredients — succulent Aklan oysters and sumptuous foie gras baked and smothered with fine cheese! Heavenly! At Myron’s Place.
Wild Flour’s Mac & Cheese. Far from your typical American Mac & Cheese, Wild Flour’s version has that perfect balance of salty and creamy, with that beautiful crust of gruyère and cheddar. It’s a classic kicked up a notch. At Wild Flour at the Fort.