All Filipinos love the local fare — and there’s no one else who can cook our fave traditional Filipino dishes better than our mums. Still, there are days that you want to try out something different, but not completely so. Luckily, more and more places are now pushing the boundaries of Filipino cuisine, serving dishes bordering between familiarity and newness. If you’re in the mood to try the local dishes with a twist, dine at these Filipino fusion restaurants in Manila. A bite into one of their signatures will surely bring your taste buds for a joyride.
Manam Comfort Filipino
In any of the branches of Manam Comfort Filipino, you’ll experience the comfort of home and modernity combined through its homey interiors and unique offerings. While they serve the traditional fare, the restaurant is not afraid to craft their own spin to the beloved dishes. Their menu is divided into two: the “Classics” and the “Twists”, giving all the chance to taste both old and new. Most Pinoy dishes are usually cooked to be shared between groups, but Manam Comfort Filipino makes it possible for a solo diner to finish their favourites through their sized servings. A must-try is their Sinigang na Beef Short Rib and Watermelon that gives the local sour stew a tinge of fruity sweetness like no other.
The Filipino fashion brand just opened the doors to their restaurant last year, making Bench Café one of the newest Filipino fusion restaurants in Manila. Still, they’ve quickly become a go-to for those looking to have a bite of something they haven’t tasted before. With their chic and modern interiors, it wouldn’t seem apparent that they’re serving Filipino food — not until you read their menu. They’ve completely reinvented the classics. Perhaps it is only here that you can have a bite of Malunggay pasta, where they’ve incorporated the local vegetable, malunggay, in the pesto sauce. Now with three branches, Bench Café is bringing everyone in a gastronomical adventure.
Of course, if we're talking Filipino fusion restaurants in Manila, there’s bound to be a mention of Sentro 1771. Launched way back in 2002, this restaurant is one of the firsts to revolutionise Filipino cuisine. They still remain in the realm of familiar, with their traditionally homey interiors and classic recipes while bringing something modern to the plate by infusing sophisticated flavour into local fares. One of their signature dishes that put them on the map is their Sinigang na Corned Beef, a once completely unheard of combo.
Locavore Kitchen & Drinks
Now with five branches around the metro, it’s safe to say that Locavore Kitchen & Drinks has succeeded in reinterpreting Filipino food using French techniques. The restaurant that serves contemporary Pinoy dishes proudly uses ingredients that are all locally and organically produced. Locavore is completely casual and straightforward with servings that are perfect for sharing with friends over drinks. A crowd-favourite from their selection is their Lechon Oyster Sisig featuring French oyster cuts and bite-sized lechon topped with chicken liver and mayo.
Friends & Family
At Friends & Family, they play around not only with the food we grew up with but also with the Filipino culture in general. The restaurant in Bonifacio Global City keeps it fun and interesting by serving traditional food, as well as the newer dishes that Filipinos have come to love over time. For one, they serve the Pinoy Birthday Spaghetti, complete with the sweet sauce and hotdog-marshmallow skewers that you’d only probably be able to enjoy in children’s birthdays. But, what’s even more worth sampling is their signature Ube Champorado, topped with salty crispy danggit to contrast with the sweet rice porridge.
(Cover photo from: @manamph)