If the number of restaurants popping left and right are any indication, then it’s quite obvious that Filipinos love to eat. And the long queues outside newly opened and much-hyped restaurants are further proof of that. Whenever we plan on eating out with our friends or family, we often ask "anong bago?" referring to new restaurants around us. We are always on the lookout for new places to dine in, hopping from one place to another until we hit the right one, which pretty much sounds like a more spontaneous version of popular industry trend food crawl.
Food Crawl, as defined here, is a multi-stop investigation of new restaurants, meals, and special items on the menu. And as we embarked on one for ForkSpoonManila’s “Beyond Manila Bites: Global Meet Local” we discovered a lot of places that offer the best of the world's cuisines in one area that is UP Town Center in Katipunan. Organized by ForkSpoonManila Founder, Alexis Deocaris, the food crawl aimed to bring together people from different fields of the food industry and other influencers for appreciation and celebration of food. As Alexis explains, "Through the ubiquitous influence of media, today's generation thrives on visual cues to guide them on trends and their choices, primarily when it comes to food." After visiting eight restaurants in eight hours, we found ourselves crawling (quite literally), but for all the good reasons. And here's what we discovered during this one-of-a-kind food adventure:
IHOP. With their commitment to spreading happiness not just for breakfast, but for lunch and dinner as well, IHOP (International House Of Pancakes), launched an all-new lunch and dinner menu in the country, which includes dishes that were created specifically to suit the Filipino palate. One of the of their new offerings,is the Waffle Burger,that won in the International Dine Chef Contest. It has premium beef burger, topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and an egg sunny side up on a crisp Belgian waffle. And if a dish bested many entries from international IHOP chefs throughout the world, then you’ll know you’re in for a real treat.
Must-try: Waffle Burger
Location: Ground Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City. Open from 7 AM to 9 PM. Contact number: +632-2887660
Lucky Chick. Fried chicken is one dish that many of us find comfort in. And Lucky Chick specializes in that. Inspired by the concept of fried chicken houses in the U.S., Lucky chick takes pride in their southern-style chicken that’s less greasy, less oily, and has much more flavor, and get this, crispier skin! “Aside from all the unique flavors that we have, it’s our chicken skin that we’re really proud of, because it’s really crispy and crunchy plus it's very flavorful.” says Patrick Santos, owner of Lucky Chick.
Must-try: Luckier Meal—one-piece chicken, rice, and choice of side.
Location: Second Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City. Open from 11 AM to 11 PM. Contact number: +632-9585349
Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen. What started as a small restaurant in the owners’ two-story house in BF Homes Parañaque has grown so much over the years, expanding to other branches. With a menu that boasts of the family matriarch’s own recipes, Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen became known for home cooked dishes that truly give us that feeling of "home".
Must-try: Truffle Mac & Cheese
Location: Ground Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City. Open from 11 AM to 9 PM. Contact number: +632-2469069 local 302
Kyochon. This phenomenal Korean fried chicken restaurant chain that’s just too hard to miss what with the standee of Korean heartthrob Lee Min Ho at the entrance to greet you, first introduced the concept of double-fried chicken in South Korea. Over the years, they have carved a niche in the Korean dining scene with their distinctively tasty fried chicken served with your choice of three different sauces: Hot and sweet (Kyochon Red Series), Salty-savory (Kyochon Soy-Garlic Series), and Sweet and tangy (Kyochon Honey Series). But what sets Kyochon apart from the other chicken specialty stores, you might ask, is that all their meat are fresh and are cooked for exactly 22 minutes ensuring that the quality of every piece is at its best.
Must-try: Chili Chicken Steak Rice
Location: Ground Floor, UP Town Center, Diliman, Quezon City. Open from 10 AM to 10 PM. Contact number: +632-2363333
Shawarma Bros. Staying true to their promise of “A Different Shawarma Experience,” the five men behind Shawarma Bros continue to find unique ways of somehow reinventing this popular Persian dish, infusing it with different elements and techniques from other cuisines all the while maintaining its authenticity, making it their own. From their Panini Pressed Shawarma wrap, that’s slightly toasted and crunchy on the outside, to their Burrito Bro, which is basically a Shawarma Wrap stuffed with Biryani rice, Shawarma Bros really stands out from the others, and what started out as a food truck soon turned into something bigger now with three branches under their belt and another one on the way. Their bestsellers include their three signature Shawarma Rice Plates (Beef, Chicken, and Lamb) topped with their special sauces (Cheese, Garlic Yogurt, and Chili), which they also take pride in. “Personally I mixed the cheese and the garlic yogurt in the meat that’s my personal recommendation.” says Joey Reyes, co-owner of Shawarma Bros.
Must-try: Beef Shawarma Wrap
Location: (Opening in early September) 2nd Floor Student Hub, 2nd Wing, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.
Wingstop. On a mission to serve flavor to the world, Wingstop comes up with 14 unique flavors that will satisfy your craving for this classic favorite dish. There’s Honey Garlic, Honey BBQ, Hickory Smoked BBQ, Lemon Pepper, Teriyaki, Korean Soy, Garlic Parmesan, Mild Buffalo, Spicy Soy, Mango Habanero, Atomic, Hot Buffalo, Cajun, and Louisiana Rub. It really just depends on your mood for the day, but whatever it is, they will surely have something to match it.
Must-try: Louisiana Rub Wings
Location: Third Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City. Open from 10 AM to 11 PM on Monday to Thursday, and 10 AM to 12 MN on Friday to Sunday. Contact number: +632-6254105
Yabu. As we always say, you can never really go wrong with Japanese, and with all the different restos in the city offering just that, Yabu stands out with their authentic Japanese katsu, the dish that they became widely popular for. But for the non-meat lovers, don’t fret, because they now have something you can indulge in—the Salmon Don! Now if you’re a salmon lover, this one will not disappoint.
Must-try: Salmon Don
Location: Ground Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City. Open from 10 AM to 9 PM on Monday to Thursday, and 10 AM to 10 PM on Friday to Sunday. Contact number: +632-9601774
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. It may be one of the more popular hangout places among those who consider coffee as their best friend, but The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf are not only all known for their coffee but for their selection of cakes as well, making it the perfect spot to work those early mornings or extra hours after work. The aroma of coffee beans will stimulate you further, giving you more reasons to stay.
Must-try: Banana Caramel Slice matched with your choice of coffee.
Location: Ground Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
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Photographs from Facebook.com/Wingstopph, Facebook.com/mamalous, and Facebook.com/coffeebeanphilippines.