36 delicious things we ate this year | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Goto Tendon

We eat for work. That’s one of the joys and hazards of being on Inquirer’s Lifestyle team. Part of our job is tasting all kinds of food, meeting chefs, exploring different cuisines, mapping trends and trying new restaurants so we could tell our readers about them. During the pandemic, we also focused on the many home-based businesses that have sprung up, and discovered gems coming from kitchens big and small. But you know what we relish even more? Knowing that our readers trust our recommendations, and they show it by ordering and trying the many dishes and businesses we write about.

Here are 36 delicious things we ate this year; you’ve seen them on our pages, and hopefully you’ve already tried them. too.

Cremadettes by Wildflour

Lifestyle food columnist Reggie Aspiras called them “to die for,” and she’s right. Wildflour’s caramelized puff pastries, which are stuffed with all kinds of deliciousness, both sweet and savory, are one of our favorite food discoveries in 2021. Try the Nutella, the key lime, the cheddar, the corned beef—who are we kidding? Try them all, they’re all good.

Wildflour is at Bonifacio Global City, Salcedo, Greenhills and The Podium (@wildflourmanila and @wildflourtogo on Instagram; Wildflourtogo.com).

Mango Float Pie by Seaxalt

Jezzie Igs makes the most beautiful pies, and perhaps her Mango Float Pie is the most beautiful one of all—slices of mango floating in heavenly cream encased in a flaky, buttery crust. Just thinking about it makes our mouths water. You’ll have to be a little patient if you want to get your hands and mouth on Seaxalt’s pies, though. Slots for orders fill up quickly, and we’re not surprised. She’ll have another order form up on Dec. 10; make sure you log in early (@seaxalt on Instagram).

Mayor Biko

Mayor Biko has our vote. This has so much more going for it other than the funny punny name. It’s really, really good. We couldn’t get enough of that latik. We’ve given these as gifts, and here’s a tip: ask the Mayor to write notes for you. He comes up with really funny ones (@mayorbiko on Instagram).

Creamed Spinach Ravioli by Callanta Kitchen

Roy Callanta makes raviolis by hand in the home kitchen he shares with wife Joana. Together, the couple runs Calmat Kitchen, offering beautiful plump raviolis that customers are supposed to cook at home. The raviolis come with different fillings, and our favorite is the Creamed Spinach, a mix of fresh spinach, mozzarella, cream cheese, Parmesan and cream. It takes such a short time to prepare, and you always feel like you’re eating a restaurant-level meal at home. (Tel. 0917-8905904; @callantakitchen on Instagram).

Ikea meatballs

Ikea finally opened its doors in the Philippines, and with its affordable furnishings and flat packs came the famous Swedish meatballs. We’ve heard stories that people actually go straight to the cafeteria before shopping instead of the other way around, because the wait for meatballs takes nearly two hours. Is it worth it? Yes! And there are so many other delicious things on the menu—plant balls, Daim cake, wings and hot dogs. There’s even an automated soft serve machine. Yep, that’s a lot of food, but it’s also a lot of walking through the biggest Ikea store in the world. Ikea is at Marina Way, SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.

Lamb Adobo from Grace Park

Earlier this year, people were up in arms when they heard that the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Philippine Standards had formed a committee to create an international standard for Filipino dishes, including adobo. Eventually it was clarified that they’re just standardizing adobo for international promotion; they are not touching your mom’s adobo recipe. We know that the best adobo is still the one you eat at home, but the hullabaloo inspired Lifestyle food columnist Angelo Comsti to write about his favorite restaurant adobos. Among them is Grace Park’s lamb adobo, which Margarita Fores’ grandma started making in the ‘70s, while they were exiled in New York.

Grace Park is at One Rockwell, Makati. (Tel. 88437275 and 0939-9347223).

Salted Macadamia Milk Chocolate by Chocol8 at City of Dreams

This one we discovered while grilling Nobu Manila head chef Michael de Jesus about his culinary favorites for Lifestyle’s Food Slambook. Chocol8’s Salted Macadamia Milk Chocolate is his favorite midnight snack, and when we tried it we understood why. For weeks we couldn’t stop eating it—at midnight, in the morning, after lunch, for merienda. It’s just too good (Tel. 88008080).

McDonald’s BTS Meal

Is any list complete without the Bangtan Boys? The BTS Meal became available in the Philippines in June, and it was dynamite. Ten-piece chicken nuggets, medium fries, medium Coke, plus sweet chili and cajun dipping sauces—oh, we love those sauces, and we miss them so (@mcdo_ph on Instagram).

‘Lugaw’ is essential and delicious

The internet was stirred back in March during a return to strict lockdown, when a barangay official from Bulacan insisted to a rider delivering lugaw or rice porridge that the staple Filipino food is not essential. Essential po ba si lugaw? “Hindi, kasi mabubuhay ang tao ng walang lugaw,” the barangay personnel said in the viral video. Well, duh. Lugaw is a warm bowl of rice porridge, meat, garlic bits and scallions that we eat for dinner, merienda, late night snacks or when we’re sick. It’s comforting, delicious, customizable and affordable. Malacañang also quickly settled the issue, saying that all food items including lugaw are essential, and that delivery of these goods should not be hampered. Inspired by this viral moment, Lifestyle released round-ups of the best bowls of lugaw you can eat. Among them are Gotobox Office Hit by Gotobox, JTG’s, Lugawan Republic’s Pilugaw Goto Tendon, Gotong Marikina by Kusina ni Kambal and, of course, Philippine Airlines’ arroz caldo. As Reggie Aspiras wrote, “It tastes good, then it’s essential.”

New York Style Brisket Pastrami by Deli by Chele

Deli by Chele is the pandemic pivot of chefs Chele Gonzales and Carlos Villaflor, the men behind Gallery by Chele. The deli has a wide array of offerings, from cheeses and sausages to breads and kombuchas. It was the New York Style Brisket Pastrami that quickly became our favorite; it was love at first bite and reminded us of our first visit to Katz’s Deli. But there’s no need to travel to New York for good pastrami now. You can get it from Deli by Chele. You may also want to order the New York Style Brisket Pastrami Sandwich Box, which includes pickled cucumber, mayo mustard and sourdough toast—all the ingredients you need for a killer pastrami sandwich (Delibychele.com, tel. 0917-1602382).

Ube Cheese Pie from Jollibee

In the beginning of lockdown in 2020, Filipinos went through an ube pan de sal craze. Fancy bakeries and home bakers whipped up their version of the pastry, and we ate it all up. One year later, Jollibee jumped on the bandwagon and released the Ube Cheese Pie, a crispy pie with sweet ube and gooey, savory cheese filling. The homegrown fast-food joint also introduced earlier this year its Ube Macapuno Pie that’s two Filipino flavors in one bite.


We love to call this little concoction Yakult for adults. Suntory’s Horoyoi chu-hi in a can, a cocktail of shochu fruit juice and sparkling water, has been one of our favorite companions during these stressful times. It’s affordable, has low alcohol content (just 3 percent) and tastes just like our favorite probiotic drink but with a kick. Kanpai (Horoyoi is available at SM, S & R, Puregold, Lazada, Boozy, PandaMart and Grab).

Beggar’s Chicken

“Our Beggar’s Chicken is fit for a king,” said MNL Food Co.’s Marilen Francisco. We couldn’t agree more. Underneath that clay covering foil and layer of lotus leaves is sumptuous yellow chicken stuffed with all the good things—shiitake mushrooms, shrimp, wolf berries, chestnuts, dried scallops and liver sausage. We’ve said this before and we re saying it again: it’s chicken worthy of royalty (Tel. 0918-8984253).

Maple Bacon Sandwich by Little Wave Coffee Co.

We want to go back to Boracay to eat this sandwich. And if you think we’re crazy for wanting to fly, ride a boat and travel by land just for a sandwich, then you haven’t tried Little Wave’s Maple Bacon Sandwich—sourdough slices with house-made coffee-rubbed bacon, cheese, veggies, mustard and maple syrup. Ugh, so good. And while we’re there, we’ll wash it down with Little Wave’s Death Cream.

Little Wave Coffee Co. is at Station X, Boracay, @littlewaveboracay on Instagram.

Messy Chocolate by Crem Gelato

Crem Gelato is another discovery we made, thanks to the people we’ve featured in our Food Slambook. This gelato is made in small batches using French cream. We love Messy Chocolate, we love Pistachio Praline, we love Silver Haze Coffee—okay, let’s be real, we haven’t tried a Crem Gelato flavor we didn’t like. cremgelato.com.

Pupor by The Pork Project

Reggie Aspiras calls it one of the most decadent chicharon. Made by chef Redd Agustin of the Pork Project, pupor is made with back fat, which has a fat-to-skin ratio. She wrote, “Pork Project’s pupor is heavenly, the kind that’s gently crispy then crumbles. The fat, once bitten, melts in the mouth while the skin remains crunchy.”

@theporkproject, tel. no. (0917) 438-2133

TikTok pasta

Former Inquirer columnist Norma Chikiamco became a convert of the feta and tomato pasta that went viral on TikTok. “ I’d say that if you have only one pasta recipe that you can make for the rest of your life, then let it be this one,” she wrote in February. Any kitchen amateur can make this super easy pasta dish, but the result is nothing less than magical. It’s best eaten piping hot, while the feta cheese is still gooey and stringy.

Sukiya ‘gyudon’

We can’t fly to Japan right now to eat our favorite treats from the Land of the Rising Sun, but at least Japan’s favorite gyudon is finally here. Sukiya Philippines (read: not a franchise) serves bowls of Japanese comfort food, and promises that it tastes exactly like the ones in Japan. The fast-food chain just opened late last month, but people are already lining up for their bang-for-the-buck hearty meals.

Sukiya is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Glorietta 2.

Kalbi chim by Korea Garden

K-Dramas make us feel all the feels—including hunger. Why are they so good at highlighting food in their shows? Korea Garden’s kalbi chim is the answer to our K-Drama-fueled cravings. This Korean beef stew is so flavorful, so comforting, so delicious that we can totally imagine ourselves eating it with our favorite oppa. Hello, Kim Seon Ho.

Korea Garden is at 128 Jupiter St., Makati, Koreagardenph.com, tel no. (0949) 053-8567.

Honey Walnut Shrimp by Panda Express

When we found out that Panda Express was opening in the Philippines, our first question was, “Will they be serving Honey Walnut Shrimp?” Now they do. This dish—battered shrimp, honey sauce and glazed walnuts—just goes so well with Panda Express’ fried rice and chow mein.

Panda Express is at SM Megamall, SM Grand Central, DD Meridian Park Pasay and SM North Edsa (order.pandaexpress. com.ph).

Doritos donut

The masterminds behind Poison Doughnuts came up with the most extra creations this year—donuts topped with Doritos Ruffles and Cheetos. The deep-fried donut is glazed with decadent chocolate and dusted off with crumbs of all-time favorite chips. Who needs sprinkles when you can have Cheetos with your donuts? (poison.pickup.ph or via Grab)

‘Uraro’ by Kelly and Co.

Kelly and Co. turned us into uraro fans. Their version of the arrowroot cookies is delicate and crunchy with a powdery center that melts in your mouth (@kellyandcosnacks on Instagram, bit.ly/OrderKellyandCo).

Shrimp Parmesan Rocket Salad by Bun Appetit

How can a salad so simple be so good? Bun Appetit’s Shrimp Parmesan Rocket is exactly that—shrimp, Parmesan and rocket. But the combination of pan-seared shrimp skewers on a bed of Parmesan and arugula with honey-lemon dressing makes for a delicious and satisfying meal, one that we ate for three days straight. Bun Appetit is at The Grid Power Plant Mall every day and Salcedo Market on Saturdays (@bun_appetite on Instagram bunappetit.shop).

La Paz Batchoy by Ning’s La Paz Batchoyan

The foodies of Inquirer aren’t found only in the Lifestyle section. Our president and CEO Rudyard Arbolado is great at discovering delicious dishes, as well. He was the one who gave us the tip about Ning’s La Paz Batchoyan’s P125 La Paz Batchoy. This mixture of noodles, chicharon, pork, garlic and spring onions and hot broth is comfort in a bowl (Tel. 0917- 6800117; facebook.com/ningslapazbatchoyan and @ningslapazbatchoyan on Instagram).

Chocolate Brioche Babka by The Daily Knead

This beautiful braided buttery brioche is ribboned with veins of dark chocolate that melt when you heat up your slices. Is it bread? Is it dessert? Does it even matter? It’s just an absolute delight (thedailyknead. com.ph).

P37 fried chicken by Chicken Star

This affordable fried chicken rocked our world and clearly, yours, too, given how quickly they sold out after our feature came out. Chicken Star, which has stalls all over the country, sells whole roasted chicken and fried chicken by the piece— crispy, juicy fried chicken for just P37. Yes, please (facebook. com/ChickenStarPh).

Gochujang Chick’n Bites by Shake Shack

We always get excited by Shake Shack’s seasonal offerings, and the Korean-inspired menu was no different. We loved the Gochujang Chick’n Bites crispy chicken bites with a gochujang kick that you can get in boxes of six or 10. We re praying to the gods of Hallyu that this limited menu item will make a comeback. And while we’re at it, let s pray to the truffle gods for the return of the Black Truffle Burger, too (Shakeshack.ph).

Killer BC by Vito’s BBQ

Reggie Aspiras is a fan of Vito’s Barbecue’s Killer, that’s boneless chicken. She describes it as tender juicy and succulent and she loves enjoying it with Vito’s Barbecue’s java rice (vitosbbq.com).

Tamago Sando

Those who are missing Japan’s konbini egg sandwiches will enjoy Tamago Sando’s version. It’s one way we’ve let our taste buds travel during the pandemic (@tamagosando on Instagram).

Salted Giant Banana Chips by Banana Chief

Banana Chief’s Salted Giant Banana Chips are made with giant saba that are grown by local farmers and cooked in coconut oil. They’re all-natural, gluten-free, have no added sugar or preservatives, and are super yummy (Bananachiefs. com; @bananachiefsph on Facebook and Instagram).

Auro’s 50% Regalo

Auro’s 50% Regalo dark milk chocolate bar is 100-percent pure goodness. This award-winning local brand is molding chocolate into a variety of delectable concoctions, from choco bombs and gelatos to ice cream pops, and we’re here for it (aurochocolate.com).

Andok’s Litson Baka

Remember when lechon manok was a thing and there was someone selling it on every corner until everyone got sick of it? Well, Andok’s killer app this year was its thinly-sliced, juicy litson baka that became so popular at one point there were lines outside the Andok’s branches and people were, we kid you not, ordering 40 of it at a time to cater entire parties. The lines are shorter now, but that’s because it’s now available via Grabfood.

Anchovy Butter and ‘Nduja by 11 A Fine Food

We first learned of these two wicked spreads from the Instagram stories of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo- Puyat, who heard about it from another foodie, Bettina Osmeña. We’re suckers, so we ordered and didn’t regret it, even if we had to wait a week since they make them only in small batches. We were already fans of the umami flavor of anchovy butter, awesome on seafood and toast, but the ‘Nduja was a revelation. It’s a spicy spread made of salami and Calabrian chilies that we ate with toast every morning and every chance we got. It’s a secret we almost didn’t want to share. Some people we like are getting these for Christmas (@11finefood on Instagram).

All-natural Hummus and Three-Cheese Pimiento by CC Table

We have never had hummus we actually liked until a friend sent us a bagful of goodies from CC Table by Carole Tagle. The former magazine editor used to live in the San Francisco, and when she moved back here she missed hummus so much that she set off to recreate it. Her version tastes light and clean, brightened by a hint of lemon. Her Three-Cheese Pimiento is also topnotch; we had it on toast every day until the jar was very clean. Some people we like are also getting these for Christmas (@cc_table on Instagram).

Chocolate cake from Cakes by Louise

We’d been hankering for the chocolate cake of our dreams for too long. It had to be fudgy but not too fudgy, chocolatey but not too cloyingly chocolatey. The one by Cakes by Louise fits the bill. It’s by the same family that popularized the Cookie Monster chocolate cake back in the late 1970s, but this time, the 12-year-old granddaughter is carrying on the tradition. The dense and delicious cake is best eaten at once, but leftovers are welcome (@cakes. bylouise; tel. 0920-9098459).

Sinaing na Gigi by The Pantry

Those bottled sardines with pickles, peppers and garlic drowned in olive oil are tasty on their own, eaten with steamed rice or mashed and mixed with hot pasta. The only drawback is that they come in these tiny bottles good for two servings. The Sinaing na Gigi (galunggong) from The Pantry comes in a hefty serving that can last a week. I love that the garlic comes in a generous portion. I sometimes use the oil when I sauté chopped vegetables for a quick stir-fry (Tel. 0917-6728182; @thepantry_ph on Instagram

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