Review: Northern and Southern Eats 2013 by Anton Diaz

What a busy day yesterday was! It was so busy I didn’t have time to work on my blog entry. I had playtime with my daughter in the morning then a full day at work, followed by dinner with my husband – which I will be blogging about soon – and, as a nightcap of sorts, more work. My GlamourBox January box arrived yesterday as well so I spent a few minutes taking pictures, but upon reviewing them, it looks like I’ll be redoing them today. And this morning I had to prepare my daughter’s school snacks, take her to school… and here, now, I have a few minutes – an hour at most – to tell you about this great restaurant guide from none other than Anton Diaz.

My husband and I like to explore new restaurants. We have our favorites, but it’s always nice to venture out and discover new, or even always-been-there-but-never-tried, restaurants, adding them to our list of places to go back to if you’re in the mood for a certain type of cuisine. For example, Chelsea Market Cafe in Serendra is our pick for comfort food, and it’s Omakase if we’re hungry for maki, or Moshi Koshi for ramen.

We get recommendations from friends but also from online reviews. One such trusted blogger is Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet, a trusted foodie and restaurant reviewer. He’s also one of the founders of the successful Mercato Centrale (and Midnight Mercato), Soderno, Manda Centrale, Cucina Andare, and Mezza Norte food markets. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Taste Test series.

It thus goes without saying he is well-respected in the food business. So when he launched a restaurant guide – one each for the top restaurants in the north and in the south – you know for sure that these are well-chosen, and that my husband and I have just found inspiration for our foodie adventures.

a.k.a. our Restaurant Bibles (old and new testament?)

Created in partnership with Northern and Southern Living magazine and Avida Land, Anton shares his list of top 50 restaurants that offer the best dining experience. Dividing the guide into two books, one for the north and for the south, is simply a good idea; there are just too many restaurants to cover, and a top 50 list covering the entire Metro Manila/surrounding areas would just not do.

(Side note: I found the font a little too small, making it hard for me to read the text-heavy pages. Perhaps future editions could fix this?)

Now, whenever you have a top-anything list, one of the things you must begin with is a selection criteria, a way to filter and calibrate. It’s also a way to give the list some credibility and basis, giving the readers insight into the selection process. In the book – which is a slim less than a hundred pages – Anton shares his selection criteria. First, the restaurant is not commercialized; second, it has a unique concept; and third, it has an inspiring story.

The book is organized by city: Northern Eats features restaurants from Manila, Mandaluyong/Pasig/San Juan, Quezon City, and Marikina /Rizal/Pampanga; Southern Eats, from Pasay/Makati/Bonifacio Global City, Muntinlupa/Paranaque, and Laguna/Cavite. I was quite surprised that there were only two in Muntinlupa/Paranaque! I know there are a lot of good restaurants there. Perhaps only a few passed Anton’s criteria and ranked against the other southern restaurants, fell to the bottom? Well, my husband and I take this as a challenge to find really good restos in the south.

The list is both familiar and new to me. I see a couple of restaurants that I have already been to in the past – Lolo Dad’s, Charlie’s Grind and Grill, Lemuria, C’Italian Dining, Apartment 1B, Studio Kitchen, Kanin Club – and ones that I have only heard of but have yet to try. And then there are the ones that I have never heard of but look promising. It’s that combination of “Yes, I’ve been there and I agree, it’s good!” and “Hmm, haven’t been there, but let me visit them…” that just makes the guide a must-have for any foodie.

Each restaurant in the list provides the basic info – address, contact details, operating hours, price range, and payment options – as well as featured dishes. Anton says that these are recommendations, and encourages the readers to also try out other items on the restaurant’s menu. I think the only thing that’s missing is probably a link to Google Maps. Here’s my suggestion: put a QR code that, when scanned, will link to the resto’s Google Map view. This way, on-the-go foodies can get travel directions to the restaurant.

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Each guide retails for PHP150 and is available in most bookstores. It was launched last November 2012 but I had a hard time getting a copy – Fully Booked, Powerbooks, and National Bookstore stores in the south didn’t carry them (they said). Finally I got a copy from Powerbooks in Serendra. I really recommend this for just about anyone who likes to eat out.

Let me know if you have bought it, or have tried any of the restaurants in the guide, and what you think!

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