You’ve most likely dined in one of its restaurants, or at least ordered from these restaurants’ menus. The Moment Group, which turned 10 years old recently, has established 13 homegrown food brands since diving into the F&B industry in 2012. These include Manam Comfort Filipino, 8Cuts Burgers, Ooma Bold Japanese, Mo’ Cookies, HuChi Southeast Eats, Shawa Wama, The Mess Hall, Moment Catering, Bank Bar, Mecha Uma, and the delivery-only Pancit Pancitan and Cuckoo Chicken. The group also owns, manages, and operates the Philippine franchise of the world-famous xiaolongbao brand, Din Tai Fung.
Now with 50 establishments to its name, the restaurant group, according to one of its founders Abba Napa, continues its aim to fulfill an everyday mission: make people happy through the course of a meal. “The special thing about F&B is that it is a field that allows you to make a living out of making people happy, which is a driving force inside of Moment,” says the lady who is also the group’s creative director. “The first thing we think about is not the bottom line. It’s more a question of whether we can give people happiness through what we create and ensure this created value is worthy of their tummy and wallet space, not just today but also tomorrow.”
That’s practically the answer to the question: “What’s the secret to Moment’s success?” Which can also be answered thus: by serving what pleases the Filipino palate, whether its by serving familiar dishes with a fresh approach or adventurous experiments that offer surprising new flavors. Patrons will sure have their own favorites from their menus, but here are the 10 most popular dishes that have helped define Moment in the last decade, according to the Moment people themselves.
1 Manam’s House Crispy Sisig
Manam’s House Crispy Sisig continues to be a favorite among diners and even Manila’s top chefs. Manam’s take on this popular Filipino dish is beloved for being extra crunchy. It’s cooked with the shop’s signature sour-savory sisig sauce and sprinkled with crispy chicharon bits, garlic, and spring onions on top.
Almost every table at any Manam outpost will have a plate of this classic on any given day. It goes well with any dish on Manam’s extensive menu but is best paired with a hot bowl of garlic rice and a glass of Ube + Sago shake to wash it down.
2 Manam’s Sinigang na Beef Short Rib and Watermelon
The watermelon chunks lend a touch of sweetness to the dish’s expected sourness. The sweetness balances out the soup’s traditional flavors and elevates it into something new and exciting.
This crowd favorite was developed from a recipe from Moment co-founder and managing partner Eliza Antonino’s family. The idea came when Eliza and her mom tried to cook sinigang in New York but couldn’t find all the exact ingredients used when preparing the dish locally. Mother and daughter decided to use what was available to them at the time: short rib, lemon, broccoli, and tomato.
The recipe is now an Antonino family specialty. Back in the Philippines, they were able to localize it by using sampaloc and gabi instead of lemon and broccoli. It was the perfect addition to Manam’s menu of classic comfort Filipino fare each of which have their own twists.
3 Pancit Pancitan’ Pancit Sisig
Pancit Pancitan is Moment’s first delivery-only brand. It was inspired by the Filipino fiesta culture. It serves bilao-sized noodles and Filipino party staples like lumpia, crispy pata, and pork barbecue. Its pancit selection features mouthwatering crowd favorites like the Pancit Sisig, which combines pancit and Manam’s famous house crispy sisig. This comes in four bilao sizes: Pan-Pamilya (feeds 3-5), Pan-Barkada (feeds 6-10), Pan-Barangay (feeds 11-15), and Pan-Fiesta (feeds 16-20).
4 Din Tai Fung’s Pork Xiaolongbao
DTF’s signature dish has been lauded by food journalists and publications across the globe. The magic lies in the way these soupy babies are made: Specially trained xiaolongbao kitchen masters called shifus carefully roll, cut, and weigh each soup dumpling to a specific number of grams before it is wrapped and pleated—with 18 to 21 folds.
This procedure ensures every xiaolongbao is of the highest caliber, with the perfect balance of dough, filling, and broth. The team behind DTF Philippines, along with Moment’s Antonino, trained under DTF president Warren Yang himself for six months at the brand’s global headquarters in Taiwan to learn this decades-old DTF tradition.
5 The Cheeseburger of 8Cuts Burgers
Back in 2012, The Moment Group set up a burger bar on the upper floor of a little spot in the mall and aspired to make some of the best burgers in town. Ten years down the line and several “Top Burgers in Metro Manila” lists later, The Cheeseburger still packs an all-killer-no-filler burger patty that’s lightly salted and leaner to the bite, melted House Cheddar that’s got dip and stretch, and 8Cuts’ secret Sauce No. 3 in between two hot buns. No extenders, no fillings, no foolings, of course.
6 Oh-Rings from 8Cuts Burgers
8Cuts’ Oh-Rings are thick-cut onion rings coated in a batter that gives them crunch. They’re dusted in a secret seasoning that envelops them with a barbecue-y flavor. It’s the perfect side dish to any 8Cuts meal, but its cult following will argue they’re good enough to consume all on its own.
7 The Chocolate Chip of Mo’ Cookies
In 2016 when it moved into The Moplex, its official headquarters at Karrivin Plaza in Chino Roces Avenue Extension, The Moment Group created a Chocolate Chip cookie that grew a humble but fervent following in its in-house cafeteria, The Mess Hall. This Chocolate Chip Cookie was crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and gooey in all the right places. Plus, it was bigger-than-your-palm—the cookie childhood dreams were made of. Today, Mo’ Cookies continues to bring this original larger-than-life cookies to more neighborhoods across the metro, alongside new flavor and product offerings, which include a new soft serve line.
8 The Ooma Hanger Steak
Ooma has always been about interpreting Japanese flavors in bold and colorful ways. One absolute Ooma favorite that’s a testament to this is its succulent Hanger Steak—tender slices of hanger steak cooked sous-vide, served on a bed of sweet potato mash containing baby potato crisps, and dressed in white truffle oil, herb oil, and ponzu butter. Who wouldn’t like that?
9 The Mess Hall’s Pancit Palabok
The Mess Hall, which is located at the aforementioned Moplex, serves as the Karrivin compound’s neighborhood cafeteria. It has also earned its place as a lunchtime and afternoon destination for the office crowd of Chino Roces Avenue Extension. It’s where you can get all of your Moment favorites including this dish, filed under the IYKYK section of the Mess Hall menu, and made for the pancit and merienda obsessed.
10 The Bank Bar’s Mariang Bastos
As night begins to take over the city at the end of each day, there is nothing that compares to finding yourself at the bottom of a deftly crafted drink, more so, one enjoyed in a space defined by its high ceilings, well-stocked bar, and mysterious location (it’s been named as one of CNN International’s “7 Most Intriguing Speakeasies in the World”). The Mariang Bastos is a Bank Bar evening favorite that is also one of the strongest on the house classics menu. Chalk it up to a mix of two Dons (Don Papa, and Don Papa 10), Cointreau, citrus mix, island butters, overproof rum float, cherry, and cinnamon in one dainty drink.