If there’s any ‘holiday’ that can be used as the perfect excuse to splurge a little bit on food, it’s Valentine's. As much as candlelit dinners and set menus can be cliche for some, nobody can deny the extra dash of romance that these set-ups offer with their sophisticated air and curated arrangements. When it comes to romantic flair, tasting menus—a collection of small plates served to sample a type of cuisine or culinary theme—definitely take the crown in terms of culinary experience fit for the season. Below, a number of restaurants that you can visit for Valentine’s Day whether you’re with someone or a proud single.
1. Toyo Eatery
Address: 2316 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati
For reservations, call: 0917 720 8630
The brainchild of Filipino chef Jordy Navarra, Toyo Eatery has brought local cuisine into the radar of international gourmands after being named as the recipient of the 2018 Miele One to Watch Award and for placing no. 43 on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2019. Chef Navarra’s idea to elevate karinderya-inspired dishes is brave, but the very approach became Toyo’s main weapon for drawing on diners who want out-of-the-box food that still tastes familiar to the palate. The restaurant offers a tasting menu that includes entrees up to desserts for P3,500 per person, but the place also has more affordable set menus for P1,600 per head. P.S. Their version of Bangus Silog is to die for.
2. Hapag Manila
Address: 201 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City
For reservations, call: 0947 560 1853
Another Filipino restaurant that is making waves in the local culinary orbit is Hapag Manila (Hapag Private Dining), a proudly local food haven that nails its theme from its interiors down to every plate in its menu. Unlike other restaurants of its type, Hapag doesn’t claim to revolutionize local cuisine. It is simply Filipino, no more, no less. Hapag’s pull is that all its food is top-quality regardless of not having any frills that make them special. It offers an eight-course tasting menu for P2,500 which will take your palate to a rollercoaster ride of some of its best-sellers like the Oyster Bonete (fresh Aklan oyster served with buttery bonete bun and adobo aioli) and main dishes like Apahap Mayonesa (local sea bass with malunggay and calamansi mayonesa, squid ink rice, and okoy).
Address: 7635 Guijo Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City
For reservations, call: 0915 663 2823
Craving for a Japanese treatment on your dinner date? 12/10, an izakaya restaurant from the makers of The Girl + The Bull is the perfect place to go. The restaurant has nailed the charm signature to every Japanese restaurant with choices like Wagyu Tartare, Octopus Croquette, and Seaweed Rice. While the plates are small, they are definitely interesting, especially since some of the menu items also have Spanish and Filipino influences. Unlike other tasting menus, you can DIY your way into your meal with courses ranging between P180 to P1,250, a good deal if you want to adjust your budget a little.
4. Ninyo Fusion Cuisine & Wine Lounge
Address: 66 Esteban Abada Street, Loyola Heights, Quezon City
For reservations, call: (02) 426 0301
When it comes to serving romance visually and gastronomically, Ninyo has everything down pat. The place, with its rustic set-up and sophisticated menu, offers an explosion of flavors with plates influenced by Asian, French, and Japanese cuisines. What’s great with Ninyo is that you have a variety of degustation courses you can choose from like the Paradise set which offers seasonal seafood offerings, The Paris which is a medley of oysters, U.S. top blade, and panna cotta, and the Ninyo Classics which curates all of the restaurant’s bestsellers. They even have a vegetarian degustation menu—The Farmer’s Table—which is perfect if you want to eat clean. Prices depend on the set of your choice with P1,250 as the minimum cost per head.
Address: Arya Residences, McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City
For reservations, contact: 0906 234 1900
From the maker of The Test Kitchen is Helm, Chef Josh Boutwood’s restaurant that elevates its degustation experience into an artistic experience. The 10-seater theatre dining place offers a rotating menu that is not only curated according to taste but also according to the stories behind each of the ingredients used on them. Sitting down at Helm is a certified experience, thanks to its set-up which lets diners have the chance to have close interaction with the chef himself. Its degustation menus can include 12 to 15 plates max and can cost at least P3,500 per head.
6. Purple Yam
Address: 603 Julio Nakpil Street, Malate, Manila
For reservations, call: (02) 523–3497 0r 0917 870 5760
Purple Yam in Malate has slowly become an institution ever since it opened its doors in 2014. The brainchild of Chef Romy Dorotan, the place follows a very straight-forward approach with its food—by focusing on the freshness of seasonal ingredients and using that as a springboard to present its plates in a satisfying yet creative way. It offers lunch and dinner menu sets comprised of 7-piece plates that include dishes like the humble Sinigang and Piyanggang Manuk (braised chicken cooked with coconut ash, coconut cream, and spices). Its lunch set costs P2,000 while its dinner menu is priced at P2,500 per person.
7. Foo’D by Davide Oldani
Address: FOOD Shangri-La at the Fort, 30th St. cor 5th Ave, Taguig
For reservations, call: 0917 711 4469
At first look, everything about Foo’D seems very intimidating. It offers Italian fare and its creator, world-renowned chef Davide Oldani, has earned a one Michelin Star for his other restaurant D’O located in Italy itself. It’s very surprising to know that the place actually offers very affordable tasting menus for all its credentials—made possible since Chef Oldani focuses on creating dishes using seasonal ingredients that are more affordable to the pocket. You can try a three-course tasting menu for only P1,700 (antipasto, secondo, dolce), a four-course one for P2,200 (antipasto, primo, secondo, dolce), and a five-course set for P2,600 (antipasto, insalata, primo, secondo, dolce).
8. Lemuria Gourmet Restaurant
Address: 5 Julieta Circle Horseshoe Village, Quezon City
For reservations, call: (02) 8724 5211
Everything about Lemuria spells romantic. Taking a step into its well-curated interiors will almost make you wish that you’re in a flowing long dress or a formal tux. Top that with the amazing French cuisine it offers and you’re in for a day of romance. The place currently offers a curated Valentine’s menu for P3,200 but you can also opt for its six-course tasting menu (P2,100) or nine-course tasting degustation set (P3,100) if you want to experience the best plates this food spot has to offer. Ask your server to pair your meal with their best wines for the ultimate experience.
9. Mecha Uma
Address: G/F RCBC Corporate Center, 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
For reservations, call: 0917 855 7230
Chef Bruce Ricketts is sort of a rockstar in the local culinary world. He may not have formal training in using classical techniques, but it is his modern approach that made him especially effective with Mecha Uma’s fares which, as you could already guess from its name, is predominantly Japanese influenced. Its tasting menu is a little bit more expensive at P3,600 (and more if you want add-ons) per person, but the price is worth it for the ten-course plates that you get to enjoy. Plus, the place’s interiors are breath-taking, too!
10. Stvdio Lab
Address: 5F Clipp Centre Building, 39th Corner 11th, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
For reservations, visit: www.stvdiolab.com
Stvdio Lab is not your conventional restaurant. It’s the headquarters of the restaurant consultancy group AdViChe and only opens twice a month to welcome twelve people who get to try their latest test kitchen results. Reservation can be tough, but the competition and the price (P3,200 as of the current menu) is definitely worth it for the quality of food you get to try. They are currently offering a five-course dinner set which includes plates of octopus in grilled vegetable emulsion and risotto duck.