8 top picks for Ultimate Taste Test 2017

Joko Magalong

Posted at Sep 03 2017 02:56 PM

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Foodies gather at this year's Ultimate Taste Test. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

MANILA -- The much-awaited annual foodie event Ultimate Taste Test (UTT) is happening this weekend at the Activity Center of Glorietta in Makati.

Bringing the best home-based food entrepreneurs to the tasting public, this two-day event had a first day “tasting” event on Saturday where diners became food critics for a day, tasting and rating food from 30 booths with the highest rated booth becoming the UTT Foodies Choice awardee -- a coveted award with many past winners going on to achieve culinary success.

On its last day (Sunday), UTT will turn into a pop-up food hall, where diners can buy full portion meals from the different entrepreneurs with the booth with the most sales receiving the UTT Best Selling Food Stall distinction.

At the end of the event, a UTT overall champion will be decided with the champion receiving a P5-million investment (as well as mentorship) from the Foodee Concepts Group, which is behind such brands as Pound Burgers, Todd English, Mesa, Tim Ho Wan, and Foo’d by Davide Oldani.

In commemoration of it being UTT’s 8th year, here were our 8 picks in no particular order.

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1. Charlie’s Pritchon

What do you get when you deep-fry a whole pig? Delicious pork. Amp it up with sauces (the default is hoisin, but ask for the white garlic sauce) and wrap it up in flavored pita. I found a liking to turmeric (I like how it cut the richness), and if you like it spicy, go for the cayenne pita, which has a spice that lingers nicely. It’s the perfect pairing to the San Miguel Beer that’s available on site.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

2. Pizza Grigliata Manila

Crispy thin pizza crusts are always a great thing, and the different pizzas of this stall delivered. While they had three very good flavors, I found myself taking more bites of the Margherita Pizza—nothing like a classic done right.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

3. Cinq

This patisserie from Makati has beautifully crafted yummy things on their table. Financiers (best for coffee) are available, but do not miss the Earl Grey Turtles—chocolate, nuts and caramel with some light earl grey flavor to make it more exciting. Yum.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

4. Broken Oven

Maybe since their oven was broken, they decided to fry up arancini instead? You can be all inception like and have these rice balls as “ulam” with rice, but they’re fine on their own with the Truffle Lechon Sisig Balls getting top marks for flavor and surprise. Truffle, face parts, rice—crispy bits with fat and all, what’s not to love?

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

5. Jam Foods

Jam Foods is synonymous to spicy tapa in my mind, but this year, they offered up some bacon tocino. Pork belly that’s cured ala tocino (sweet) and hickory smoked make for a lipsmackingly good bite of sticky-caramelization-flecked pork goodness.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

6. Blended Fruits and Herbs

With booths filled with sweet and savory things, this booth was a welcome respite filled with refreshing, healthy and interesting juice concoctions. Surprisingly, peach and rosemary work in a drink, who knew? That and many more, from this booth.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

7. Auntie May’s

Auntie May’s is comfort food. Callos that’s sticky and rich, begging for a cup of rice, and Salpicao that’s just asking for a glass of red wine. Delightful.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

8. Bakmi Nonya

One of the most generous booths in terms of portion during the taste-test, this Mercato alum known for its noodle dish brings something for the rice-lovers this time around (theirs is a yellow rice cooked with coconut and spices, as well). Beef Rendang Java is thick and nuanced thanks to its long stewing time (8 hours) with coconut and various spices. On its own it’s not too spicy, but that can be easily remedied with a dollop or two of their homemade sambal.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra

Other notable dishes include the crispy and spicy Spicy Lechon Bagnet from Oink Oink Lechon Bagnet (in photo); and the Lechon Kawali with Inihaw na Talong with Homemade Bagoong by Juan Cholo. Don Bao’s Crazy Bao with kani and tempura flakes, and Connor’s Chicken and Waffles, both drew crowds as well.

Gawad Kalinga also had quite the spread -- Oh GK was a drink alternative in the event sing calamansi, ginger, and oregano -- while Karabella had Salted Egg Ice Cream for the tasters.

Photo by Jeeves de Veyra