French-Filipino chef Stephan Roxas Duhesme of Metiz. Photograph by Paul del Rosario
Food & Drink Restaurants

Why the food at Metiz is as mestizo as its French- Filipino chef

Metiz has become Manila’s modern restaurant of the moment by being “not quite” Filipino in its approach to local ingredients and Filipino-leaning flavors.
Cyrene de la Rosa | Dec 17 2019

With the arrival of Metiz, the newest restaurant to open in Karrivin Plaza, this compound located off Chino Roces Avenue Extension is fast developing into a restaurant enclave for those craving good Filipino food. The area was once known more for its high-end car dealers, wine purveyors, and art galleries rather than for its dining options. But these days, the small compound of three low-lying buildings now boasts The Alley, which houses Chef Jordy Navarra’s award-winning Toyo Eatery and his bread haven Panaderya Toyo, alongside Chef Margarita Forés’s fresh new take on Lanai’s café, now called Lanai Café by M, which serves some Filipino dishes from Forés’s now defunct Café Bola.

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Comfy seating and warm wood tones give a homey feel to the industrial concrete-filled space.

Adjacent to The Alley is The Moplex, The Moment Group’s headquarters and its office cafeteria called The Mess Hall. Open to the public, this is the place for more casual and cheaper Pinoy fare. In the building across The Moplex, hidden in the back corner is the newly opened Metiz, which has already generated quite a lot of buzz just a few weeks after opening.

Metiz’s main draw is its spacious open kitchen which runs the length of the restaurant.

 

Filipino or not?

Metiz’s name comes from the French “métis” and the Spanish “mestizo,” referring to a person of mixed heritage. It works as an apt description of Filipino cuisine and how it is influenced by many cultures. But it also references the restaurant’s young chef-owner, Stephan Roxas Duhesme, who is half-French and half-Filipino.

Metiz isn’t quite a Filipino restaurant, at least not in the traditional sense. According to its Instagram account, it is a “chill little restaurant” that happens to be produce driven and technique centric, and that champions the use of 99.5% local ingredients (except for the occasional use of imported butter), and with a predilection for fermenting different kinds of ingredients.

Various vinegars fermenting on an open shelf.

Metiz is gaining a regular clientele of more adventurous diners who are charmed by its creative take on Filipino-located flavors, an ingenious use produce and vegetables, and unusual ingredients mash-ups. For example, unfamiliar and perhaps even polarizing dishes include a salad that uses jackfruit seeds that are usually discarded, as well as a carabao cream dessert with tamarillo fruit that was well received by our group.

The kitchen seems to spill into the dining area, with diners free to walk around.

Diners also appreciate the seemingly good deal they are getting from the restaurant’s prix fixe-only menu—at five courses for just P1,500—considering that the restaurant exerts a big effort to make everything from scratch. I’m also impressed with the speed Metiz comes out with new dishes. On my second visit less than a month after my first one, Duhesme had already changed four out of the six dishes that formed the opening menu.

Everything is out in the open, including the local ingredients used by the kitchen.

 

The chef at play

At the helm of Metiz is 30-year-old, Manila-born, French-Filipino Duhesme. A Kedge Business School graduate-turned-chef, he honed his cooking skills by apprenticing in the kitchens of Purple Yam in Brooklyn, Matsunozushi in Tokyo, Gallery by Chele and its now closed sibling restaurant Arrozeria in Manila. He then opened his first restaurant, Tria Neo Bistro, in Bogota, Colombia where he lived for three years before moving back to Manila.

Duhesme constantly tinkers with dishes, resulting in an always evolving menu.

According to Duhesme, it was during his time in Colombia that he discovered what kind of cook he is and what kind of food he really wants to cook. “I realized I simply enjoyed (and missed) Filipino food. When I came back home, I had access to what I need, to cook what I love to cook,” he says.

 

A menu that challenges

So what is the food like at Metiz? Guests shouldn’t expect straightforward updates or deconstructed versions of familiar Filipino dishes. For example, Duhesme initially had a pork pata dish that looked like kare-kare as it was made with similar ingredients. But the similarities stopped there as Duhesme played more with the combination of peanuts and bagoong rather than coming up with a tweaked or upgraded version of kare-kare.

According to Duhesme, a dish is often created based on a flavor, an ingredient, or a concept that he and his team may like, but it is produced following a set of standards that they strictly follow. “It has to be local, it has to be funky, interesting or challenging yet familiar,” says Duhesme. This includes a predilection for bitterness as a flavor. He elaborates, “It’s a very real aspect of Filipino cuisine that is hardly represented in this category of a restaurant and actually considered a no-no in most European countries.”

Beef tendon, egg, Kalinga rice, palapa, guava vinegar.

Duhesme likes to push the flavor envelope further by using “backyard” ingredients like ampalaya, duhat, talinum, kamias. One dish that I enjoyed was charcoal-grilled, kamias-glazed pork pata on wild pepper leaves, meant to be eaten rolled like a burrito. Note that during my first visit, the pata was glazed with a jackfruit-infused sauce in lieu of kamias.

Pork trotter, wild pepper leaf, kamias glaze, green chili, kalamansi.

Even less “Filipino” was an extra tasty, foie gras-like, seasoned bone marrow flan lying on top of stir-fried shimeji and shitake mushrooms, and finished with a lace-like tuile (baked paper thin wafer) made of annatto seeds.

Beef bone marrow flan, duhat jam, mushrooms, singkamas, annatto tuile.

While Metiz’s menu is bold and experimental, Duhesme hopes to even further challenge himself with new ideas and techniques. “We are constantly trying out things and learning a lot through trial and error. Hopefully, this will give fruit to more exciting things to come,” he promises.

 

G/F Building A, Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City, (0917) 898-5751, [email protected], IG @metizresto

Photos by Paul del Rosario

Follow the author on Instagram and Twitter @cyrenedelaros