Before my chronic procrastination becomes terminal, I really ought to show my gratitude for all the great tips other hounds have given me by updating some info on Manila, based on my most recent visit this year. Manila doesn't get much attention, and though I am biased for my home town, I can see why: the inadequate tourist infrastructure and high proportion of uninspired eateries make it difficult to find the culinary gems. But make no mistake, those gems are out there, and well worth seeking out.
But first, here are links to a few threads that contain some relevant information:
The best Filipino food (aside from mom's, of course) was at Fely J's, previously mentioned by klyeoh, to whose favorite dishes I will add the kare kare. Fely J's is the only restaurant I've tried which makes a version of this Filipino classic that can compare with the one I grew up with.
Makati Shangri-la's Shang Palace still serves the best dimsum I know of in Manila, though the seafood (and Singaporean) dishes are appreciably better at Tao Yuan, which now has two outlets, one on Gen. Malvar St. in Malate, and the newer one at Resorts World not far from the airports.
Cirkulo on Arnaiz (Pasay Road) still shines for Spanish and Fil-Hispanic food--the cabeza de cerdo (a.k.a. sisig) is the center of many of my pork fantasies.
Other restaurants that remain pretty good: Sala Bistro and People's Palace (Thai) in Greenbelt, Tsukiji (Japanese) and Milky Way (Filipino) in the same building as Cirkulo.
My new favorite restaurant (if and when I have 2 hours for lunch, as the service is very slow): CiÇou. A real surprise, as I had given up finding first-rate, authentic French food in Manila. I had 3 excellent lunches there: melt-in-your-mouth pork rillettes, a silken soft-boiled farm egg topped with sea urchin and surrounded with cauliflower and green pea purées, a richly flavored bouillabaisse, braised beef tongue with sauce ravigote, pork belly confit, and perfectly cooked steak frites. . . And dessert--an improbably light, flaky, and salt-buttery kouign amann with caramel ice cream.
Other great places to check out the food scene: Saturday market at Salcedo Village, the Sunday Market in Legaspi Village, and the Mercato Centrale in Fort Bonifacio on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
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