MANILA, Philippines – Filipino dining is not just about enjoying delectable food with your loved ones, but also about savoring the “history, the passionate personalities and stories behind those great dishes.”
This was the message behind the restaurant guide “Northern Eats 2013,” a Hinge Inquirer Publications offering that compiles 50 of the best places to eat in the northern part of Metro Manila. The places, according to the guide book, have been discovered to offer “exciting new dining experiences for Pinoy foodies.”
Anton Diaz, famous blogger of OurAwesomePlanet, shared that the main intent of the book was not to create a top list but to come up with something that would showcase “unique, Philippine food culture and history.”
“Most of my tourist friends and Balikbayan friends ask me how and where they can truly experience the Philippines….hindi mo naman ‘yun nakukuha sa mall eh, nakukuha mo yun through the stories of these restaurants,” Diaz said in an interview at the sidelines of the book launch held at the Mezza Norte, UP-Ayala Technohub in Quezon City last week.
“So pag na-complete mo talaga itong 50, my intent is for you to love the Philippines more kasi this is what Filipino dining is all about. It’s about the experience, the stories behind the food and the restaurants,” he added.
The book served as an answer to a parallel themed-book entitled “Southearn Eats 2013,” which is a guide to 50 of the best places to dine in the southern part of Metro Manila. The man behind both compilations, Diaz said that he used three criteria in choosing the restaurants: they are not commercialized or mainstream, they have unique concepts, and they have inspiring stories.
“It may be a hole-in-the wall, a garden restaurant, a home converted into private dining, or just a simple place to eat and yet they end up being the destination restaurants that foodies can’t stop talking about,” Diaz said in an introduction for the guidebooks.
But for a man who hails from the south, Diaz said that he personally loved his picks from the north because he believed that the places were “more diverse, more artistic, and more unique.”
“Yung sa South naman kasi more modern yung dishes, more contemporary and mas homey and safe yung feel ng restaurants, whereas dito sa North, the restaurants serve as statements of the personalities of the people behind them. And they are more unique, you can’t really find them anywhere else,” Diaz said.
He said he was particularly fascinated by the old restaurants in the north, like the UNO restaurant in Thomas Morato, Quezon City, which he said has “held firm for almost 15 years despite other restos popping up left and right” and has retained its “intimate nature” and own well-balanced brand of delicious food.
He added that nothing beat eight years of Sunday food trip adventures with his wife and three children, and that they found comfort in knowing that whenever they went to the north, they were in for the sure shots.
He said that part of the journey was getting lost in trying to discover some of the restaurants, like the time when they were searching for the 14 Four Cafe, a restaurant that was hidden inside a residential area in San Isidro, Taytay, Rizal.
“We had difficulty trying to find the restaurant, but in the end, the adventure was all worth it,” he said. In his introductory note, Diaz noted that the list, showcasing notable restaurants all over Quezon City, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Manila, San Juan, Marikina, and Antipolo, was a “sacred” one – because they do not advertise and are not part of a chain or foreign franchise. He said a number of them were discovered through word of mouth and the strength of the recommendations of family, friends, and readers.
“This book is dedicated to the passionate owners, unsung cooks, and hospitable servers who devoted their work to providing the best service to all of us,” Diaz said.
The guide contains useful information about each restaurant – details on the suggested best food items on the menu, address, contact numbers, website, facebook, email, and twitter accounts, payment modes, price ranges, and operating hours.
Both the Northern and Southern Eats 2013 guides are available in major bookstores throughout Metro Manila for P150.
Eager foodies may also get their copies at a discounted price of PHP 120 when they buy it directly from the Hinge Inquirer Office at 4/F Media Resource Plaze Mola cor. Pasong Tirad Sts., La Paz, Makati City. For more information, contact 403-8825 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday.