7 Metro Manila restaurants for when you want to splurge

These establishments are sure to pamper and spoil, but more importantly, you leave feeling like it’s money well spent.

With inflation hitting the country hard, it’s not easy to drop major cash for a good meal in a nice restaurant. However, when you’re feeling celebratory and want to indulge your cravings for top-grade wagyu accompanied by an aged bottle of Opus One, expect those premium items to fetch a pretty penny.

There are many fancy places around the metro that promise the ultimate in luxury dining, but only a handful deliver that overall experience. What is worse than having a sub-standard meal? Having a sub-standard meal that you paid good money for.

So, let us save you the trouble and disappointment by listing down some of the restaurants in Metro Manila that are neither as flashy as some out there, nor do they have the weight of an international franchise to back them up, but they make up for it with impeccable execution every single time.

1. East Ocean Palace

Top restaurants in Manila
Photos from the restaurants’ social pages

My Filipino-Chinese friends always complain about how expensive this Pasay City restaurant is, and yet they keep going back. If that is not a testament to the quality of the food and service, then I do not know what is. This palatial Cantonese seafood restaurant has everything: a dining room that can accommodate casual lunches, function rooms for private get-togethers, and ballrooms for larger and more festive celebrations.

Top restaurants in Manila - the East Ocean Palace

East Ocean Palace is owned by the same family that owned and operated Century Seafood Restaurant in Malate. They run this massive operation like a well-oiled machine, as they offer everything from Cantonese short order classics to the most luxurious bounty from the sea. Truth be told, with mindful ordering, one does not have to blow a month’s salary when dining here. However, a lauriat with all the pricey seafood (abalone, crab, sea mantis, lobster, grouper, et cetera) accompanied by bottles of premium wine and cognac can rack up quite a bill.

2. Kasa Palma

Top restaurants in Manila - Kasa Palma

Not all tasting menus are built the same, but you can be sure that the good ones do not come cheap. If one must indulge on a tasting menu experience, then you might as well go all-in and dive into chef Aaron Isip’s multi-sensory tropical escape at Palma Street, Poblacion. Found in one of the quieter streets in Makati’s party district, Kasa Palma is designed to transport us to the island paradise of chef Isip’s dreams, which is a combination of sunny El Nido, Palawan and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Come hungry and have the 10-course menu which sets you back P7,500++ per person, to be enjoyed in either the chef’s table with a view of their open kitchen, or in one of their private rooms upstairs. The food here is unique to chef Isip’s culinary skills and personal experiences, and many guests have made repeat visits to enjoy signature dishes such as the starter of ube three-ways, the innovative foiesilog, and the visually stunning lobster lechon.

3. Lusso

Top restaurants in Manila - Lusso

If walking into either of their Greenbelt 5 or Balmori Rockwell branches remind you of fancy lobby lounges at five-star hotels, it’s because those were the inspiration behind this enduring Margarita Forés concept. Who does not love sitting on plush velvet chairs while being catered to by seasoned waiters in white jackets and bowties, eager to replenish your Negroni or offer a fresh pour of the pouilly-fuisse chilling in a silver wine bucket?

The menu reads like your list of favorite comfort food, but elevated with the finest ingredients, such as a juicy burger topped with foie gras and drenched in cambozola cheese sauce, or a lasagna of lobster and river prawn blanketed in béchamel. You can break your intermittent fast with classic egg dishes such as their organic 3-egg omelette with truffle cream. But, if money is no object, I suggest you upgrade that egg dish with some caviar (for sure they always have a tin of the good stuff on standby) washed down by a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon.

4. Cork Elite

Top restaurants in Manila - Cork Elite

The members-only wine club of Cork Wine Bar has definitely seen some luxurious dinners and parties accompanied by some of the finest wines from all over the world. Located on the roof deck of The W Fifth Avenue in BGC, they have opened the private enclave to non-members while the wine bar on street level is being refurbished.

Guests can now enjoy the elegant setting while they feast on dishes specially prepared by chef Hennessy Casaclang and his team. Special wine pairing menus are the norm here, as chef Hennessy has expressed how they do this regularly for their members who request multi-course meals to go with specific wines. With the kind of bottles they have in Cork’s temperature-controlled cellars, it is no surprise that these dedicated wine lovers plan their events around them.

5. Cru Steakhouse

Top restaurants in Manila - Cru Steakhouse

Filipinos love steak, and there are plenty of restaurants out there catering to different salary brackets. How your steak is cooked might not matter when you are eating it in the food court, dousing that sizzling meat with buttery gravy. But, if you are at a fancy steakhouse on a date, splurging on a dry-aged prime US Angus porterhouse or Kobe beef, then it better leave that kitchen in the temperature you specified and with sides that will enhance your dining experience.

Top restaurants in Manila - Cru Steakhouse interiors

Cru Steakhouse at Marriott Hotel Manila may be low-key compared to those with the brand names, but their steady stream of regulars can assure you that they grill your steaks here perfectly each and every time. Plus, they have enduring partnerships with some of the best distributors in the country, such as Alternatives Food Corp who supplies them with choice picks of premium beef, Snake River Farms American Wagyu, and A5 Omi Wagyu from Japan, so you can be sure that you are always getting the best.

6. Kazunori

Top restaurants in Manila - Kazunori

The flagship restaurant of the Nippon Hasha group—the same guys that brought us Ramen Yushoken and Mendokoro Ramen-ba— has been setting the standard for authentic Japanese dining since it opened in 2017. Kazunori has three concepts within its walls: a casual cafe offering sandos, rice bowls, and pastas; their main dining room that serves lunch and dinner; and an intimate sushi bar set-up where their Japanese sushi chef serves his omakase.

This Japanese-style tasting menu serves what is freshly flown in from Japan that day, so dishes served are completely at the chef’s discretion. Guests can choose to have 15, 19, or 24 courses depending on how hungry they are, and you can be sure that you will be served only the finest and freshest ingredients from the fish markets in Tokyo, and some items sourced locally. For those who prefer to enjoy a refined Japanese dining experience in the comforts of their home, Kazunori now also offers private dining, wherein chef Kazunori prepares and serves your otoro nigiri table-side.

7. Txoko Asador

Top restaurants in Manila - Txoko Asador

The upscale Spanish restaurant has been a reliable name when it comes to succulent grilled meats and seafood, as well as their version of Basque and Castillan favorites. Their Legazpi Village dining room has played host to many intimate celebrations of Manila’s food-loving, well-heeled set. Its understated elegance is made for the unaffected and discreet, rather than the loud and flashy.

Chef Albert Mendoza does not scrimp on ingredients, choosing a more straightforward approach that allows the quality of the dishes to shine. Txoko Asador has classic and innovative tapas and pintxos; different kinds of well-executed paellas; and of course, the centerpieces are their grilled mains prepared in their Josper ovens, such as tomahawk steak, cochinillo, and the juiciest suckling lamb. Accompanied by some spicy Spanish reds, these dishes can never go wrong.

The new lifestyle.