Best Bites: My Top 60 Eats for 2014 (Part 2)

Compiling my list of the best dishes for 2014 wasn’t easy—but while completing this list, I tried my best to weigh the merits of noteworthy dishes I’ve eaten. The listed dishes are generally my favorites for this year—the most comforting, satisfying, daydream-inducing, mind-blowing food I encountered in 2014. These are the dishes that made me throw plates and cusswords at random people—snacks and mains so good I wanted to kiss the chef’s feet, desserts so orgasmic I wanted to explode literally.

In Part 1 of this list, I told you all about my favorite appetizers, snacks, sandwiches, chicken and seafood dishes, and pasta dishes. This time, let me give you a round-up of some of the best steaks, pork dishes, desserts, and drinks I’ve had this year. A few items I fell in love with during my trip to Ilocos are at the end of the list as well.

Happy Eating and Happy New Year!


31. Dry-Rub Smoked Ribs (PhP880 full rack) from Big Daddy Jay’s All-American BBQ

Who would have thought that the best ribs in town would come from a humble little place in Cubao, Quezon City? Big Daddy Jay’s All-American BBQ’s ribs are proof that great food doesn’t have to be pretentious and expensive. The preparation involves a 7-hour smoking process that requires shutting down the restaurant every Monday. But even though Big Daddy is big on flavor, the prices aren’t exorbitant at all. For a full-rack worth PhP880, you can get the best, smokiest, most flavorful, and most tender ribs ever.

32. Ribs (PhP685, family size) from Rub Ribs & BBQ

Rub Ribs is home to one of the best and most affordable ribs in the metro. For only PhP685, the Family Brunch serving can satisfy up to four people, and even comes with three side dishes of your choice. The BBQ sauce is more tangy than sweet, and the meat very tender and falls effortlessly off the bone. This restaurant is perfect for enjoying a no-fuss, ultimately satisfying meal.

33. Bagnet Binagoongan (PhP245) from Pino Restobar

Chef Ed Bugia’s inventive and creative take on Filipino cuisine is definitely what keeps loyal patrons returning. One of Pino’s best dishes is the Bagnet Binagoongan—a heap of crispy, tender bagnet on top of sweet-salty bagoong and shredded green mangoes. I’ve never seen anything more sinful and salivating.

34. Yuzu Pepper, Negi Shio, and Ume Shiso Katsu (PhP1,200 for a 3-flavor Set) from Kimukatsu

Kimukatsu may be the latecomer in the katsu craze, but their 25-layer mille-feuille, flavored pork cutlets are—I think—the best. My favorites from the 7 selections are the Yuzu Pepper (yuzu fruits and green chili), which is delightfully spicy; the Negi Shio (spring onion), which tastes like gyoza; and the Ume Shiso (sour plum and shiso leaf), which is a bit on the sour side. All three are perfect with ponzu sauce.

35. Beef Salpicao (PhP298) from The Primary Kitchen & Bar

There’s no excuse trying to murder a dish that’s already good, and The Primary proves this with their version of the salpicao. The beef cubes are so tender—the dish not too garlicky so as to overwhelm the palate, with the jalapeno rings adding an extra kick.

36. Pressed Pork Belly (PhP320) from OPA! Mediterranean-Inspired Cuisine

Every foodie who can’t say no to crispy pata, bagnet, porchetta, lechon, and other porcine things must try OPA’s Pressed Pork Belly. One of the best (if not the best!) items in their new menu, this sinful slab of layered skin, meat, and fat boasts of contrasting textures and robust flavors. The pork belly is brined with salt and brown sugar and marinated with herbs, garlic, and white wine before slow-cooking it, then finally being cooked at high temperature to achieve that perfect crispness.

37. Surf and Turf from Todd English Food Hall’s Limited Truffle Menu (PhP1500++, 3-course)

Todd English’s Surf and Turf is composed of a US Hanger Steak served with truffle potato, bacon and corn succotash, fresh truffle shavings, and baby lobsters. The 12-hour sous vide steak is tender and succulent, and the truffle potato creamy and subtle, letting the truffle shavings get the spotlight. Each element, even the roasted corn and truffle salt on the side, enhances the experience of eating this dish.

38. Herb-Crusted Heavy Porterhouse Steak (PhP1,959) from Red Baron Ribs & Steaks

Tender slices of slightly smoky, succulent beef that’s been aged for 22 days make up this superb steak. The beef strips are smothered with a honey garlic sauce so delicious that each bite inadvertently leads to another. This premium steak set from Red Baron comes with 1 cup of rice, a jar of peanuts, and 3 sides of your choice—so make sure you bring the family of the entire gang.

39. Stuffed Pljeskavica (PhP330) from Balkan Yugoslavian Home Cooking

A slab of ground beef, formed into a patty, peppered with spices, then filled with mozzarella, it’s no wonder this dish is a best-seller. Balkan calls it the Serbian burger, but to me it was more like a steak. The meat is spicy, perfect with milk cream sauce and tons of rice. Whoever invented this can totally enslave me.


40. Paella con Setas, Manchego y Trufa Esencia (PhP960) from Calderon Cocina Tapas y Bebidas

By far the best paella I’ve ever had—mainly because it has truffle (wink, wink)—Calderon’s Paella con Setas, Manchego y Trufa Esencia is intoxicatingly and mind-blowingly good. Mushrooms and vegetables provide crispness and texture to the perfectly-cooked rice infused with truffle and Manchego cheese. Throw away your manners and hoard the entire pan to yourself.


41. Davao Malagos’ Goat’s Milk Leche Flan (PhP160) from Restaurante Pia y Damaso

Damaso’s version of the leche flan is perhaps one of the best I’ve tried in the metro. Dense and creamy, it uses Malagos Goat’s Milk from Davao. The sweetness and consistency was really good—perfect for NOT sharing.

42. The Original Shibuya Honey Toast (PhP145/175) from Café Shibuya

I can’t fully grasp how a simple piece of bread can be this delicious. Café Shibuya’s buttery toasts are crunchy on the outside and cottony on the inside. Already good on its own, it becomes even more delicious when your pour some honey syrup and eat it with the nutty whipped cream. A simple dessert that’s ultimately comforting.

43. Molten Chocolate Cake (PhP250) from Prost Braumeister

While I enjoyed munching on Prost’s sausage selections, it was their Molten Chocolate Cake which made me want to come back. An exquisite lava cake filled with the most delicious dark chocolate I’ve ever tasted—never mind the ice cream—a filling that calls to mind the tablea from Cebu. I have yet to try the #1 cake ranked by, but so far this is the best lava cake I’ve had.

44. Mississippi Mud Pie (PhP160) from Racks

I don’t know what kind of person wouldn’t perk up when he sees this plate of dessert: a huge lava cake, topped with a tower of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, drizzled generously with chocolate, which practically flooded the cake. Racks’ version of the cake was a bit crunchy on the edges—crunchy and warm inside the mouth—and the gooey chocolate inside? Exquisite, with a sweetness that isn’t cloying at all! Also, the cake is so big you will need to order another scoop of ice cream.

45. Chili Choco Lava Cake (P220) from B&T Mexican Kitchen

I’ve always been a fan or weird flavor combinations, so naturally I had to try the Chili Choco Lava Cake from B&T Mexican Kitchen. Imagine your warm chocolate cake, filled with gooey dark chocolate with a nice, hot surprise provided by dashes of cayenne pepper. The vanilla ice cream, fudgy filling, moist cake, and spicy hints give this dessert a multi-dimensional deliciousness.

46. Haw-Haw Cake (PhP110/slice) from The Baker’s Table

Chef Jonnathan Em of The Baker’s Table revives your favorite childhood candy with the Haw-Haw Cake—a tower of tres leches, vanilla, custard, cream cheese, and melted Haw-Haw. Light and exquisite, the cake isn’t as saccharine as it looks, urging you to take one mouthful after another. Ordering a slice gets you a free Haw-Haw candy as well, so you can taste the difference—or in this case, the stunning likeness.

47. Reinventing Tablea from the chefs of CCA Manila

I was able to try this dessert when I went to an event at CCA Manila—a winning dish in the 2013 CCA Culinary Cup. This dessert creation was pure sex, heaven, and bliss on a plate: a tablea cake, both bitter and sweet, velvety and rich, it tasted almost pure and flour-less or whatever it is that gives cakes a bread's texture. Some mint and raspberry sauces are just nearby, call them when you're ready for an orgasm.

48. French Salted Caramel Cupcake (PhP350/6 pcs) from The Silly Goose Gourmet

This cupcake made by home-based seller Steph Puno boasts of a fluffy chiffon-like base, a sweet caramel frosting drizzled with fleur de sel, and an overall perfectly balanced flavor. In lieu of refined white sugar, the brown variety is used—aiming to be “a bit healthier”. All salted caramel lovers must put this in their must-try list.

49. Nitro Ice Cream from Todd English Food Hall’s Limited Truffle Menu (PhP1500++, 3-course)

One of the most memorable desserts I had this year, Todd English’s Nitro Ice Cream is a crunchy caramel ice cream that’s made in-house and prepared infront of you using liquid nitrogen technology. Owing to the process, the ice cream is very creamy, almost gelato-like. Best of all, it’s topped with truffle sea salt that just takes this dessert into an entirely new dimension.

50. Avocado Ice Cream (PhP70/scoop) from Milky Way Restaurant

Milky Way Restaurants, one of the oldest institutions in Manila dishing out the best of Filipino cuisine, also serves one of the best homemade ice creams. Local flavors, you say? Try the avocado—their version is one of the purest, creamiest versions there is, and I guarantee you won’t be satisfied with just one cup. And while I’m at it, try Milky Way’s caldereta, lechon paksiw, and grilled pork chops too!

51. Black Sesame Matchallows (PhP70/piece) from The Bald Baker

The Bald Baker’s newest product, the Black Sesame Matchallows totally blew me away. I’m not a huge fan of green tea, but the slight bitterness of matcha combined with the sweetness of marshmallows was an insane combination. Not to mention the mix of chewiness and the slight crunch provided by the cookie base and toasted black sesame. Never mind its slightly weird appearance—this is one of those times when you just have to close your eyes and let its deliciousness totally consume you.

52. Queso de Bola and Chocolate Macarons (PhP60 each) from Café Macaron – Fairmont Hotel Makati

I can’t recall how many times these macarons have appeared in my lists—monthly Best Bites, Holiday Gift Guide—and I just had to include them again here. At Café Macaron, local ingredients meet Western techniques—take for instance the Queso de Bola variant, which at first glance you will mistake for a red velvet, but a single bite confirms a totally different salty-sweet goodness. The Chocolate flavor has a rich but not-too-sweet filling made with dark chocolate infused ganache. Divine? Absolutely.


53. Good Shepherd Ube Shake (PhP125) from Red Baron Ribs & Steaks

Imagine your favorite pasalubong from Baguio, in beverage form. Red Baron’s Good Shepherd’s Ube Shake comes topped with some vanilla ice cream, making the entire concoction creamier, almost as if everything was actually ice cream. It’s worth the trip to less-explored side of QC and I highly recommend it. 

54. Pistachio Latte (PhP125) from Lucca Bakery

On rainy days, nothing can be quite as comforting as a nice cup of hot coffee. If you’re looking for something beyond your ordinary latte or cappuccino, try Lucca Bakery’s Pistachio Latte: Lucca’s custom coffee blend, jazzed up by crushed pistachio. The pistachio adds a nutty sweetness to this drink, and the extra texture lends each sip an exciting surprise.

55. Ghirardelli Premium Dark Chocolate Latte (PhP125) from Café Shibuya

Café Shibuya maybe synonymous to toast, but it serves some pretty awesome coffee concoctions as well. Take for example the Ghirardelli Premium Dark Chocolate Latte. Foodies are raving about this drink, and it’s easy to understand why! The rich, dark cocoa assails you with each sip. This drink might be too saccharine for others, but it’s definitely perfect for a cozy rainy evening.

56. New York Egg Cream (PhP110) from L.E.S. Bagels

What I thought to be an egg-infused cocktail (LOL) turned out to be an entirely different drink: L.E.S. Bagels’ Egg Cream is a popular beverage in New York made of milk, soda water, and flavored syrup. Paired with the shop’s bagels and sandwiches, these egg creams are delicious. They have the classic flavors vanilla and chocolate, but on some occasions offer a banana-rum variant. Alcohol? I told ya.

Beyond Manila

57. Special Empanada (PhP35) from JVM Sweet Empanada – Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Don’t go home without trying the authentic street-style empanadas from Laoag when you visit Ilocos—specifically, the sweetish ones from JVM Empanada. This local specialty is made of mung beans and grated papaya—not cabbage like you would see in Manila, yuck—plus egg and longganisa. Douse liberally with sukang Iloko, blow on it a little, and take a humongous bite. Perfect? Thank me!

58. Poqui-Poqui (PhP145) from Johnny Moon Café – Laoag, Ilocos Norte

You’d think Poqui Poqui is an oyster dish or a shellfish of some sort (LOL) but this Ilocano native food is actually made of eggplants. Like most Filipino food, Poqui Poqui is proof that a simple sauté can do wonders: grilled eggplants, eggs, tomatoes, and onions come together as a simple but extremely delectable dish! It’s similar to what we call ensaladang talong in Manila, but better.

59. Bagnet with KBL (PhP200) from La Preciosa – Laoag, Ilocos Norte

If your porcine dreams keep haunting you all day, then it’s probably time to pack your bags and take a trip to Ilocos. Bagnet is no ordinary pork belly—it’s the king of all pork bellies. La Preciosa’s rendition was my personal favorite: quite light, unbelievably crispy, and incredibly tender. Oh, and that vinegar and KBL on the side? Fuck.

60. Eggless Leche Flan (PhP150) from Kapuluan Vista Resort – Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

My curiosity led me into ordering this dessert off Kapuluan’s menu, and thanks to my “eats-now-or-never” attitude, I made this yummy discovery! The eggless version is more subtle and less rich compared to the ones I’m accustomed to, but delicious nonetheless. Who can say no to a light, exquisite dessert? “Light” means being able to eat more!

Did you enjoy reading this list? I hope I didn't make you salivate too much (OK, I actually hope I did). If you have anything to add to this list (I'm sure you do) please please do leave a comment, I would really appreciate it! I would love to try your favorites too!

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  1. Ang sipag mo to come up with this! Super galing! :D

  2. Hey Renz! Medyo bored lang.. :p hahaha! Happy new year! Thanks and see you around!


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