From left, charred squid from the Metiz takeout menu, packed bags delivered by Mendokoro Ramenba, Mimi & Bros.’ fried chicken bundle.
Food & Drink Features

How Manila’s top restaurants are getting creative with their menus as they transition to takeout

Support your favorite restaurants (and their staff) by trying out their newly-created meal kits and family-size platters adapted for the so-called “new normal”. By CYRENE DE LA ROSA
ANCX | May 02 2020

Most businesses are suffering during this COVID-19 crisis, and our beloved restaurants are especially hard hit. Restaurant dining rooms remain closed, with only establishments that provide meals via takeout or delivery allowed to remain open. So restaurants that were strictly dine-in are now forced to make the shift to takeout and delivery in order to stay alive.

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Until a cure and vaccine for the COVID-19 virus is found, our favorite restaurants will need to continuously resort to creative solutions to survive this so-called “new normal.” But let us be realistic. Just a few restaurants will be able to maintain normal revenues during this crisis. In this regard, please continue to support your favorite local restaurants as much as you still can during this difficult time. They need you and we need them.

Here are some of the more popular dine-in only restaurants now offering new items adapted for takeout and delivery:

Mendokoro Ramenba and Yushoken

Instagram @mendokoro_ramenba @ramen_yushoken 

Among the first restaurants to transition to a takeout and delivery set-up were the very popular ramen joints Mendokoro Ramenba and Yushoken of the Nippon Hasha restaurant group. This came as a surprise because these two restaurants are notorious for strictly implementing a no-takeout policy, as their famous ramen is best enjoyed upon serving.

As early as March 31, Mendokoro posted on its Instagram account that “in this topsy turvy world, takeout is allowed” to let its loyal followers know that its Salcedo Village, Makati Branch is now open for takeout and delivery. On the takeout menu is the restaurant’s selection of ramen and gyoza, plus the famous chahan and karaage of Yushoken. Demand was so great that on the day the announcement was posted there was already a two-week waitlist.

To ensure quality, the Mendokoro team broke down the ramen by its ingredients—ramen noodles, soup base in paste form, toppings, and sesame oil—packaged in a paper tub complete with simple cooking instructions. Because they believe that ramen is really best enjoyed right after cooking, they decided to offer instead a ready-to-cook ramen kit with a two-day shelf life, as opposed to a straightforward takeout dish to eat upon delivery or simply reheat. The Take Home Ramen Kit is an ingenious product that the Nippon Hasha group should retain even after the lockdown is lifted.

 

Menya Kokoro

Instagram @menyakokoroph

Mazesoba

Tokyo import Menya Kokoro in Bonifacio Global City also didn’t allow takeout of its famous “brothless” ramen or Mazesoba. But it has now transitioned to a delivery and takeout operation, with equally successful results. In Menya Kokoro’s case, the transition was more straightforward, as they only needed to remove the liquid components of the mazesoba noodle dish that then adds to the bowl before reheating.

 

Mimi & Bros

Instagram @mimiandbros

Dirty Bird Pizza

For Chef Ed Bugia, Mimi & Bros. did not only open to provide work for its employees, but to also help fill the gap in providing meals for medical frontliners through Frontline Feeders PH. Bugia says he needed to tweak their existing menu ASAP and create or add new items more suited for delivery. Mimi & Bros. finally opened its delivery-only service in late April. It is now offering bundled food packages from a limited menu comprised of its bestsellers, plus an interesting new product called Dirty Bird Pizza. This crispy fried chicken is topped with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella—a definite must try. The chicken is best reheated in a toaster oven for a few minutes to crisp it up.

 

The Test Kitchen

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday and Sunday’s menu

A post shared by The Test Kitchen MNL (@thetestkitchenmnl) on

Some of the metropolis’ most popular new restaurants have also made the effort to reopen, starting with Chef Josh Boutwood’s The Test Kitchen in One Rockwell, Makati. It opens strictly for pick-up only on a first-come, first-serve basis every Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm. Deviating from the restaurant’s usual plated dishes, the very limited menu now comprises of freshly-baked bread that includes Boutwood’s signature sourdough, plus a selection of fresh pastas and hearty sauces to pair them with. The Test Kitchen has in effect transformed into a neighborhood restaurant, offering comforting items at reasonable price points. Everything is cooked by Boutwood himself who is operating as a one-man team during the lockdown, as the rest of his team are all non-Makati residents.

 

Metiz

Instagam @Metizresto

Sampaloc Glazed Short Rib

Chef Stephan Duhesme’s Metiz, the Filipino neo bistro known for its creative take on Filipino-located flavors, used to only offer a P1,700 per person tasting menu before the lockdown. He is now offering instead a family-style package, still for P1,700 that’s good for 3 to 4 persons. Everything is made to order and delivered in vacuum-packed containers that allows customers to freeze or eat the meal on the same day. Heating and serving instructions are sent by text message. The first menu package includes Sampaloc Glazed Beef Short Rib smothered in a rich peanut sauce that comes with housemade bagoong, Shio Koji Marinated Squid served with inasal style sauce, Grilled Eggplant Salad with salted egg, and Cordillera rice.

 

lazy oeuf by Metronome

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Menu du jour. Bon appétit! 💛,🥚

A post shared by lazy oeuf (@lazyoeuf) on

Since the lockdown, Chef Miko Calo’s more formal modern French restaurant Metronome had opened its kitchen several times to help feed medical frontliners. But this time, it relaunched as lazy oeuf by Metronome with the goal of helping its staff weather the current crisis. This new constantly changing menu is designed by Calo for takeout, with comforting stews like Beef Bourguignon and Lamb Stew, and homey desserts like Dark Chocolate Mousse with Flourless Chocolate Cake as the initial offerings. “We understand that, in this new normal, you still want some sense of familiarity," Metronome partner RJ Galang shares on his Instagram account. "lazy oeuf will hopefully provide some semblance of comfort.” 

 

Twelve Ten

twelveten.ph

Chef Gab Bustos' Twelve Ten just added an online store to its website in lieu of offering delivery, and they have begun stocking it up with some delicious food and beverage items including the restaurant’s famous Faux Twix Chocolate Shortbread dessert, now nicely packaged like a chocolate bar. They also started a blog called “Who’s Daisy anyway?” where they plan to document their growing knowledge of Japanese food and beverages, aside from sharing their tips and recipes on how to use the pantry kits they are selling. Twelve Ten is also planning to add food options soon. Lamb Curry or Katsu Sando sets, anyone?

 

Photos by Cyrene de la Rosa

Follow the author on Instagram and Twitter @cyrenedelarosa