Most memorable food experiences of 2022 | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Aaron Isip

There’s no question about it, the food scene in Manila is definitely back in business! And it seems like everyone has more than made up for the lack or absence of eating experiences and face-to-face dining brought about by the pandemic.

The latter half of 2022 saw lots of eateries being fully booked, one-off collaborations among chefs here and abroad, the emergence of more tasting menus, the opening of over 50 new restaurants and bars and catering companies hosting three, sometimes four events in a single day. All these are evidence that life is indeed back to normal, and we have been enjoying every minute of it by indulging in great food.

These talented individuals, who marked milestones this 2022, share their most memorable food experiences.

Ige Ramos

“The highlight of my year was being able to eat authentic Palestinian food in the West Bank, in Bethlehem, Palestine.”

—Ige Ramos, whose “Lasa ng Republika Dila at Bandila” won the 39th National Book Award for Best Book on Food

Jam Melchor

“I had the chance to immerse myself among the indigenous peoples (IP) of Mindoro last May. It made me realize that our IP’s traditional food ways can help ensure our food security. They can also provide lessons for improving sustainability in our problematic food systems and in protecting local food biodiversity and ecosystems.”

—Jam Melchor, who spearheaded the Filipino Food Month festivities last April

Aaron Isip

“It would definitely have to be at Sorn in Bangkok to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was a fun weekend of food adventures in the Thai capital with some of my closest friends from Manila. We were lucky enough to get a table reservation, and were seated at the chef’s table with a view of the kitchen! Service was smooth and impeccable, but the highlight was the Southern Thai cuisine by chef Supaksorn Ice Jongsiri of Baan Ice fame. As a seafood enthusiast myself, I was thrilled to know that the menu is seafood-centric, using local seafood of Thailand. What stood out for me were the raw live spiny lobster with seafood sauce, the prawn roll with salted egg, their famous crab leg in crab roe and yellow curry and the fiery crab curry that made me ask for more rice twice.”

—Aaron Isip, who finally opened a private dining space in Poblacion

“My most memorable food experience this 2022 was when I shot ‘The Crawl: Singapore’ TV show! Ten days of exploring Singapore’s food scene and going around the neighborhoods to feature the best local restaurants was truly epic!”

—Happy Ongpauco-Tiu, whose food and travel show won prize for Best Lifestyle program (national level) in the Asian Academy Creative Awards

Tina Legarda

“My most favorite food memory this year would have to be my mom gifting me with one-on-one classes of her recipes. We would have full day classes twice a week and it was not just a day of teaching her culinary secrets, but learning more about our family and where our love for certain ingredients comes from. It is truly a gift to have this kind of opportunity, especially since the last three years have taught me that time is gold. On our first day of ‘school,’ her first words were, ‘Time to pass the spatula.’”

—Tina Legarda, who created the Business Class menu for Philippine Airlines

May and Jordy Navarra

“We’ve had plenty of memorable food experiences this year and it’s difficult to choose. But if we had to pick one, it would be eating saang, a local conch. It has a bite and a chew similar to geoduck or abalone, but with a cleaner taste. We were fortunate enough to try it in Siargao, freshly caught ones, straight out of the mangrove which the fishermen simply grilled over coals. Also in Cebu, where they boiled the conch in sea water, enhancing its very subtle briny taste. I prefer it plain, while [my wife] May likes dipping it in vinegar. So simple but so good.”

—Jordy Navarra, who staged multiple dinner collaborations abroad

Charles Montañez

“Babi guling! I had to eat it almost at least once a day during my multiple trips to Bali, Indonesia, this year, and I tried it in different establishments, from warung and resorts to bars. It’s very memorable because it gave me a lot of comfort this year. I’d like to think of it as very similar to lechon Cebu, which is one of my favorites, just a lot more punchy in aromatics and more spicy, which I prefer. It’s the bumbu paste that makes a huge difference, and I’m also fascinated by how they serve it looking deconstructed with all the sides, rice and the broth!”

—Charles Angelo Montañez, who opened four Alegria restaurants this year INQFollow the author at @fooddudeph on Instagram.