Over the past two trying years, we have celebrated small wins. This 2022, there’s cause for even bigger celebrations as we continue to soldier on and, for some bold entrepreneurs and food companies, even introduce new concepts. These restaurant openings could just be the shot of excitement we so desperately need.
Linfred Yap’s Relish Group is set to have a busy year, as their homegrown Japanese bakery and café Kumori continues to extend its reach outside Metro Manila, north and south Luzon to be exact. They’re also working on a new concept in Megamall called Ohachi, set to open next month, that will serve Japanese comfort food, such as chicken karaage in different flavors.
Still in the same line of cuisine is Izakaya Geronimo from the Clavano brothers (LA, Mico and Lui) and their close friend, Carlo Alvarez, aka the guys behind Wagyu Studio. Named after their restaurant group, it is an all-day concept serving raw, grilled and fried Japanese fare in a 500-square meter (huge!) venue, exuding a clean, contemporary vibe.
“All of our cocktails will be on tap and there will be music provided by a DJ,” says Alvarez. They are hoping to start welcoming guests by May.
Before that, Alvarez will introduce another food concept, this time highlighting American dishes. It’s called Boys & Girls and, interestingly, the entire indoor space won’t be utilized for dine in. Instead, it will be allocated solely for kitchen operations.
There will be two take-out windows—one reserved for pastries, specifically cookies and pies in limited quantities per day, and the other for sliders and tater tots. They will be crafting their own sodas and alcoholic beverages in the form of seltzers and beer. It is expected to open in March.
The Bench Group, aka Suyen Corp., adds to their growing pool of food brands with the introduction of Boat Noodle across three SM branches (Grand Central, North Edsa and Southmall) and the Bench Tower by third quarter.
Managed by the same company as Marugame Udon, the popular noodle chain from Malaysia operates like the Japanese sushi trains. You choose from an array of small plates ranging from Pad Thai to Ayutthaya Noodle Soup and stack the finished bowls when done.
Restaurateur Marvin Agustin hit gold when he brought in Wolfgang Steakhouse. He’s flying in another foreign franchise, this time from South Korea.
“It was love at first bite,” says the actor. “Deep-fried in olive oil, and almost all their fried chicken varieties will be the new favorites of Filipinos.”
He is referring to BB.Q Chicken and Beer, which has found a home in Bonifacio Global City and is set to open this April. BB.Q means best of the best quality and their signature item is the Golden Olive Chicken that has been marinated, battered and breaded in over 30 ingredients. They also have the Chicken in the Hay, a whole crispy chicken on a nest of french fries.
Another entrepreneurial celebrity, David Licauco, who opened a couple of food brands during the pandemic, is in the process of finally taking them out of their Quezon City cloud kitchen and giving them their own homes.
There’s Sóbra Comfort Food, known for fried chicken sandwiches, beef tapa and other rice sets with rib eye salpicao, corned beef brisket and homemade “spam.” It will have a branch in Molito Alabang by May. His Kuya Korea, known for bulgogi, pork samgyu and fried chicken rice bowls, will start serving in UP Town Center this July.
Chef Josh Boutwood will be juggling two more concepts, on top of Savage, Helm and Test Kitchen. The first is Ember in Greenbelt 3, a grill restaurant with wood-fired steaks and small plates. It will also offer a selection of wines and cocktails to go with its primal yet modern and sophisticated menu.
Dandylion, previously reported to be located at the Ayala Triangle Garden, will be situated elsewhere as Boutwood prepares for another dining concept in this Makati space.
Talented young chef Charles Montañéz has his hands full this year as he works on two big restaurants. The first, Algeria Cantina, will be in Molito Alabang and is targeting a March launch. It will maintain the same casual concept of Algeria, which is Latin-Asian cuisine, only this time focusing more on wood-fired dishes using parilla, an iron grill over hot coals or wood embers.
The other, aimed to open a month after, is Alegria MNL at Uptown Parade, which will offer a tasting menu that is Latin-Filipino inspired. Think silog with jerk chicken.
Starting operations next month is chef Sau del Rosario’s latest venture called Sawsaw. It’s a neoclassic Filipino restaurant offering a full à la carte menu on the ground floor and a by-appointment only degustation on the second.
Happy Ongpauco-Tiu sets up the fourth branch of her Tsokolateria on Wilson Street, Greenhills, where her Happy Home is located, making the space a complete lifestyle concept. The brand, which has branches in Tagaytay and Baguio, showcases the versatility of local chocolate in a repertoire of savory and sweet dishes.
High-concept coffee shop
Talented young chef Don Baldosano will be closing his private dining space at the backyard of his family’s home in Parañaque in April to open a stand-alone restaurant in the same vicinity.
“Linamnam will still focus on discovering the possibilities of Filipino cuisine, but this time it will be more focused on highlighting lesser known ingredients and dishes from different provinces to showcase our diverse culture,” he says.
Viva International Food and Restaurants Inc., the group behind Papermoon, Botejyu and Pepi Cubano, among many others, adds a beloved Bangkok brand to its roster. The Greyhound Café is an extension of a fashion label opened at the Emporium Shopping Complex in the capital city in 1997. Now found internationally, including in Hong Kong and Indonesia, the brand will start serving Thai food with a modern twist in SM Aura this February. It will also set up shop in The Podium later in the year.
The Fredley Group of Companies continues to make its brands accessible to many Filipinos by opening more branches of their Macao Imperial Tea, New York Fries and Dip, Liang Crispy Roll and Nabe Japanese Izakaya + Hot Pot. By June, they’ll welcome their latest baby at The Podium Mall in Ortigas.
Café Kitsuné is a Parisian high-concept coffee shop that serves French-Japanese specialties such as their famous matcha latte, iced yuzu, pistachio chiffon cake and the iconic fox-shaped shortbread, Kitsuné’s emblematic signature from the very beginning.
“The Philippines’ coffee culture has radically transformed as a result of the the rapid expansion of multinational coffee shops,” says Avin Ong, chief executive officer of the company. “Specialty cafés have become a popular hangout. Thus we believe that Filipinos are ready to experience Café Kitsuné.”
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