My ninong (godfather) invited us to dinner a few days before we were heading to Taiwan. One of his favorite restaurants in town is Allium by Chef Mark Tan. I’ve never actually been there for an ala carte dinner so it’s different dishes every time I step inside. Exciting! This time we were invited to taste Chef Mark’s specially prepared wagyu burger.
Brah brah was in town for a hot minute during the holidays and requested some fusion food because we definitely had our fill of Chinese food with the OGs (that’s what I call my grandparents and they actually respond). So I racked my brain for a place and came up with Nikkei, a semi-recently opened Peruvian-Japanese joint. I’ve been meaning to try this place but was hesitant to bring mom to because she is a purist when it comes to food. We dragged her along anyway. Heh.
This place was popping even on a Monday night. So popping that parking became an issue for a little bit and I basically had a scenic driving tour of Legazpi Village by the time I got a decent spot (I’m lazy and didn’t want to walk far at night).
For me, Stockton Place has that country home type feel with rustic white wooden furniture and an al fresco area for those who wanna enjoy the fresh Makati air (as fresh as it can get anyway) or for those who want to enjoy a smoke with their meal. I was half tempted to book a table outside cause people watching (aka judging) is a favorite past time but the heat and humidity were unbearable even at night so a table inside was in order.
It’s hard to go on Facebook without seeing photos of those glorious wagyu cubes. So I decided to venture to Kikufuji on my birthday (hint: it’s on February 30th) with a couple of friends because why not. Also, Erwan Heussaff likes this place so heeeyyyyyy. By the way, hi Erwan, we passed each other on a crosswalk once and I really wanted to ask for a picture but I also didn’t want to get run over by oncoming traffic. #priorities
I made a reservation for dinner on a Friday night and found that the non-smoking section was already full so we settled for the smoking section hoping that not a lot of people would be smoking and we got lucky! The non-smoking section has regular tables and seating at the bar while the smoking section features low tables and sitting on tatami mats. That was a little tough for me cause I had a previous knee injury but that’s a personal thing.
It’s no secret that Japanese food is my ultimate fave. It’s just something that I don’t find myself getting sick of anytime soon. No matter how many consecutive times I’ve eaten it, there’s always something new to try. That’s what caught my eye (or my stomach) when I heard that Rikuseki An offered Omakase-Kaiseki for dinner. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese meal showcasing the fresh ingredients of the day/season. That means that the dishes are ever changing and basically up to the chef and the ingredients of the season.
I read about this place in a small article on the newspaper of all places. Rikuseki An is located on the ground floor of the unassuming GC Corporate Plaza in Legazpi Village. You’ll notice the bamboo plants on the outside and a door that’s easily missed but you have to go in that door. Go through it. The inside is fairly plain and what I would consider to be characteristic of a Japanese restaurant where you would take clients to. It’s very clean and surprisingly empty until you realize that there are function rooms and talk and laughter seem to be emanating from there.
I’ve actually gone to Your Local twice now so I’ll just combine both experiences into one review:
Located in Legazpi Village in Makati, Your Local is actually pretty easy to get to barring traffic and one way streets. On weekends, there’s ample street parking but just be careful because the one way streets become two way streets on the weekend and on holidays. Go figure. Your Local is not that difficult to find since Esteban St is like one block and it’s right smack close to the middle. Just past Murphy’s, Yardstick (which is connected to Your Local!), and across the street from an Elorde boxing gym. Hard to miss, really.
The decor in the restaurant was pretty hip and it’s got that industrial type feel you’d probably find in SoHo Hong Kong or the The Mission in San Francisco. There’s an open kitchen which is pretty impressive cause they’d need a really strong exhaust system to keep the smell of cooking at bay, which they do. I found the table spacing a little too close to each other and it’s almost like I can hear the next table’s conversation. No, I actually heard their conversation about quinoa and its health benefits. I guess it’s one way to maximize the space of the restaurant. The servers are attentive and try to help you out even if the place gets really busy.
The dishes we ordered included the fried chicken wings appetizer (I think there’s a name for it?), tofu steak and eggs, lamb rendang, and torched salmon donburi. Drinks were strawberry lemonade, Arnold Palmer, and Yardstick coffee.
The chicken wings were so bomb. Well, I think the sauce they smeared on the side made it as well. Some kind of mayo mixed with ground pepper. Quite addicting. The tofu steak and eggs looked like a veggie version of Spamsilog. There was flavor to it (especially the tofu) but it was quite oily. I personally thought the lamb rendang was perfect. Not as spicy as traditional rendang but it’s got enough to give it a slight kick. I also liked the addition of mint leaves in the rice for a refreshing after taste. I have heard mixed reviews about the salmon donburi which I think is their best seller. I did see almost every table order it but my mom and one of the girls at the next table thought the salmon needed to be cooked a little bit more. I was okay with the medium cooked salmon although I thought the one we got was a little bit slimy.The three entree’s came with heaps of black rice with the lamb rendang’s rice topped with a perfectly poached runny egg.
The lemonade and the Arnold Palmer were a little too sweet for our taste so we had to water them down but I’ve learned that extra sweet is a normal thing here in The Philippines. The Yardstick coffee was on point as usual. You could either order it at Your Local or go through the inconspicuous swivel door right into the cafe. A+ for convenience. Although the bathroom is on the G/F of the Universal LMS Building, outside both the restaurant and cafe which isn’t too big of a hassle. Just bring your own toilet paper cause sometimes they run out!
Personally, I would go back to Your Local again and again and I think it’s somewhere I feel comfortable enough to take a break from traditional Asian food. I would also go back on a day that isn’t a Sunday because no chicken wings on Sunday!
G/F Universal LMS Bldg
106 Esteban St, Legazpi Village
Makati, Metro Manila
+63 917 654 3355
Monday to Saturday 1100H – 1400H; 1800H – 2200H
Sunday 1000H – 1500H