Don’t know where to eat? Turn to Solenn, @MasarapBa, et al
How do you find out about new restaurants nowadays? There are so many, I can hardly keep up.
So, I now do what the millennials do … I look at Instagram. (For the lolos and lolas at heart, Instagram is an app that you download on your smart phone; create an account; then follow other accounts that interest you.)
Here are a few Instagram accounts that I love and have found helpful in the hunt for good restaurants and good food.
For delicious cooking, here are a few of my favorites:
1. Ten Thousandth Spoon, @tenthousandthspoon
Tenthousandthspoon is the La La Land of food photography. Every photo looks like it came out of Gourmet Magazine. It is styled elegantly, with colors popping out even against dark backgrounds. It’s the kind of feed you simply dream about and wonder how each shot was achieved or how long it took to style it.
The author/publisher (what do you call an Instagrammer?) features all kinds of food: From pinakbet to pancit to ginisang sardinas. She mostly posts desserts: Cookies, macarons, fruits, churros, chocolate cake, and the list of yummy posts goes on.
I discovered that @tenthousandthspoon is owned by Jacklyn Garcia, a food photographer and a food stylist now based in Doha. She is a proud member of Iglesia Ni Cristo—not that your religion has any bearing on food—but she mentions the INC with such endearment in her posts that you know it is a part of who she is and a source of pride and strength for her.
She also has such fond memories of her father and mother.
Musing on why adobo is the national dish, she theorized: “The farther you go away from Manila and its nearby provinces, the more you’d realize that Filipino food is not all about meat. Lechon (roasted pig) or adobo is not the only thing we eat. I think that this misconception also rose from the fact that on special occasions, meat (pork, beef, chicken, goat, duck, offal, etc.) is served especially for guests. So if you are served lechon, hamonado, crispy pata, bulalo, pinaupong bibe, papaitan, sisig, kare-kare, etc., consider it a privilege. And the vegetables? The ginisang upo, ginataang langka, ensaladang talong, adobong kangkong, monggo, etc? Yup, just for everyday life.”
Then she recalled her father: “One of my favorite stories about my dad is how, when he was a child and they would have fried pork, he would purposely dab the oil all over his lips, go out and walk around their little barrio just to show off that they had pork. It always makes me chuckle.”
Clearly homesick, one of the few times I got lucky enough to be messaged by her, she sent a few emoji tears, referring to my own food post. I asked why. She replied, “Because it’s 6 a.m. here and I have no way of eating anything resembling that.”
I wish I could send her some Aristocrat food in exchange for anything she has cooked.
2. 80 Breakfasts, @chichajo
I have been following Joey de Larrazabal-Blanco’s blog 80 Breakfasts when blogging was still raw, or when it wasn’t about the likes or the styling but simply about sharing a common interest or passion on something like food.
I’m so happy that she has thrived in this new platform as much as she did in blogging.
Today, we get a blow-by-blow account of what she’s cooking through her Instagram stories. And it still has that warm feeling, as if you were in her kitchen, literally watching her cook.
From a simple breakfast of yogurt with honey to lutong bahay like grilled pinakbet to making use of leftover food (she seems to be a staunch advocate against food waste, like Massimo Bottura), all the tips a home cook might need are on this Instagram feed.
3. Solenn Heusaff, @solennheusaff #solenncooking
Solenn Heusaff, the actress/model, is known for her beauty and her [amazing] body. But her posts show that her fitness is achieved not just by hitting the gym but also by what she eats.
The amazing thing is this: She doesn’t just cut down on rice or eat power bars or order delivery food; she cooks.
And it’s no ordinary canned tuna cooking. Click on the hashtag #SolennCooks and you will see her “baon” for taping of salmon and quinoa; a salad made with adlai, black beans, red onions, basil, jalapeño, kosher salt, avocado, lime and feta cheese; oven-baked fish with potatoes, kalamata olives, zucchini and paprika.
She also cooked a dinner of “fake paella” for her husband Nico Bolzico (follow @nicobolzico as well—so hilarious he could give Vic Sotto a run for his comedic money). This is a very creative concoction using cauliflower instead of rice and sundried tomatoes, diced roasted tomatoes, paprika and chili flakes for what is clearly a healthy dish with layers of taste.
She also makes her own homemade ice cream (when she’s bored), energy balls (she bakes them) and cakes.
From her and her husband’s Instagram posts, it seems the only thing she can’t do is catch Betty the Fly (yes, the hilarious husband named a random fly in their house and posted videos of Solenn trying to swat the fly). It is the only proof that she is human, after all. Alas, as of Thursday, in a solemn Instagram Story post (#RIP Betty), she informed her husband that she finally defeated and killed Betty the Fly … so no, she is no mere mortal. She just humanizes herself by the fact that she cooks!
For new restaurants in the metro, I follow:
1. Booky, @bookyapp
First of all, you must download the app. Must. It’s the Yellow Pages of restaurants for this generation (and this generation would not be able to relate to the Yellow Pages). If you do not own or know how to work a smart phone, go to https://ph.phonebooky.com/ on your computer.
This app makes life so convenient. You just type in the restaurant you are looking for and it will give you info on the address, phone number, hours when it is open, even the menu. Then it has a function that allows you to share the details to your friends so there is no need to copy and paste several times when you have a dinner date and your friends ask for 700 details.
It also works even when you are offline. They even offer promos.
2. Zomato, @zomatoph #zomatoPH
Another interesting page to follow is Zomato.
Zomato is a restaurant search and discovery service founded in 2008 by Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah. It currently operates in 23 countries, including the Philippines.
It’s a good handle to follow to be alerted on new restaurants as well as treats, promos and discounts.
3. Masarap Nga Ba?, @masarapba
This is my ultimate favorite Instagram feed for “restaurant reviews.” The author tells you in all honesty, and I mean honesty, if a dish at a restaurant is good or not.
The picture of the dish is labeled then judged in big bold letters “Masarap (tasty/good)” or “Hindi Masarap (not good)”.
For example, “Yung Bacon sa Poco Deli,” it says is “Tulala sa Sarap.” Or “Yung US Angus Short Ribs ng Kettle” is judged “Masarap.” But, “Yung Christmas Drinks sa Starbucks,” it honestly says, “Hindi pa rin masarap.” Or “Yung mille crepes ng Paper Moon Cafe,” it’s “Hindi Masarap.”
It is refreshing because when a restaurant opens, you will see the usual Instagrammers—you will notice them because they all post around the same time—oohing and aahing about the food in the new restaurant. They belong to the Gush Committee even for bad food.
@MasarapBa tells you what food tastes like when it is not free.
For where to eat when you travel, follow:
1. Michelin Guide, @michelinguide
There is still no better authority on the world’s best restaurants than the Michelin Guide. When you see the star or stars, you can expect that it will be a restaurant that delivers good food and the expectations are met.
The only problem with this page is that there is no hashtag for every country. But it’s always lovely to scroll down and see which restaurants have been noticed by The Michelin Guide.
P.S. Bad Saint, a Filipino restaurant in Washington D.C., is on their feed.
2. Dating Mr. Michelin, @datingmrmichelin
This Instagram is coyly run by a “Mrs. Michelin” who is “documenting our dates at over 200 Michelin restaurants all around the world.”
While the pictures are not glossy magazine-worthy, it is an honest documentation of what “Mr. and Mrs. Michelin” are eating at Michelin-starred restaurants. And my, they eat well!
Just on their last trip to France, they ate at Epicure, L’Astrance and Guy Savoy, L’Ambroise, Alain Ducasse at Hotel Plaza Athenee—all given 3 Michelin stars.
There are no comments, reviews or tips, though. So you would not know what their thoughts were on what they ate.
3. The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, @theworlds50best
A publisher friend said something very witty about a girl who is obsessed with the “World’s 50 Best”: I don’t agree with using food as a social status.
The ranking, by no fault of the organizers, has that effect on diners: It cultivates the desire to eat at “the world’s best” so much so that sometimes, people dine at a ranked restaurant not to experience the food, but to say that they have eaten there.
There is also another theory on how the ranking is achieved: Diners, including the many judges of the 50 Best Academy, look at the list when they travel and understandably would want to eat at the restaurant that has been ranked “the best” (Guilty!). It is no surprise that year on year (you must have eaten at the restaurant to vote for it), the same restaurants are on the list.
Understandably, some do not agree with the list.
In any case, it’s still a good list to reference for new restaurants. It is also a good feed to find out what the world’s “best chefs” are now up to.
I hope this list of Instagram accounts helps you in your hunt for good restaurants and good food.
In the past, you would find out about restaurants through newspapers or by word of mouth. Today, social media has changed all that.
It’s a new world, we need to adapt!