By : Adolfo Aran, Jr

Tough and challenging year, huh? And an exciting time to discover new and old stuff, renew our old selves and rediscover a new “us” or a new “me”. For the past 9 months, I discovered some amazing dishes, desserts and other kitchen creations, made by professional chefs and home cooks and bakers and fastfood kitchen staff. Maybe it’s from your neighbor’s oven, or from your favorite fastfood restaurant or from the displaced executive chef’s kitchen, everyone has their share of favorite take out or delivered food, which disrupted our go-to dining experience. There are no specific categories, premium or budget, expensive or affordable, lunch or dinner or dessert, solo serving or family size; simply, here is a list of my food discoveries during the time of corona.


  1. Turf & Surf Platter and Surf & Surf Platter by Slow Burn Manila

Recommended by an old friend from U.P., I did not know Chef Chryso Morales from Adam. This is one of those times when you take a chance based on a cold reco. And boy was I glad that I did. When my eyes feasted on the delivered platter, it increased my level of flavor expectations. A former executive chef of a hotel in Boracay, Chef Chryso transformed a standard combination of seafood and smoked ribs, mixed with umami rice, cherry tomatoes and French beans into a visual feast of flavors. A complete meal starting at less than P1000. Fantastic value for money! His inspiration behind the dish? “I thought of and experimented with various tastes and flavors until I came  up with the combination of barbecue and truffle oil with umami thus the dish of barbecue ribs with truffle oil and umami rice flavors.” Comes in 2 sizes, for 2-3pax (half tray) or 4-5pax (whole tray), with slight variations on seafood (shrimp or salmon, or both).

IG: slowburnmnl, FB: Slowburnmnl, mobile:0956.027.0730 


  1. Crispy Pata by MeatSumo Premium
Crispy Pata by Meatsumo Premium

A crispy pata is a crispy pata is a crispy pata. One of the most popular Filipino dishes, The Hungry Chef aka Chef Nathaniel Uy, known for his freshly baked pastries, managed to pull this off and create his own version. Truly crispy, tender meat, fully cooked inside and out, and comes with “sawsawan” and pickled raddish.  Now, you can add crispy pata to your cart full of Chef Nats’ moon cakes. When asked why this famous dish, “There is the ‘cook’ frustration in me that just wants to serve, and create without the need to worry about anything else but just cook. This was when I took a few weeks off from work, and just focus on cooking.  Good thing about the lockdown is that I was left with a full pantry of ingredients from my travels. I was able to merge, and play around with flavours that I thought in my mind could and will work.  We’ve created a new dish, a 1.3kg Crispy Pata Ssam, served with our own premium sauce. You can opt to eat this with Pickled Radish, Kimchi, or Umami Steak Rice, and wrapped in Lettuce.”

FB: meatsumopanay IG: @meatsumopanay Mobile: 09331346534

  1. Sushi Bake by Cilantro Catering
Cilantro’s Sushi Bake

Give me your top 3 new food discoveries and popular dishes during this pandemic and I’m sure Sushi Bake is one of them. What’s there not to like? It’s Japanese (Filipinos love Japanese food), it’s rice-based, and it’s for sharing. Plus, there’s the “busog” factor.

Cilantro Catering’s version is a straightforward Cali Maki, accompanied with nori strips, and great value for money, considering its portion size and relative affordability. Ideal potluck dish! It comes in two kinds of flavors, Classic California Maki Sushi Bake and Ebi California Maki Sushi Bake, and in two sizes, small tray (8×4), and medium (8×8).

FB: cilantro.cateringservice, Mobile: 0927-5132830 (Globe), 0949-7509569 (Smart)


  1. Roast Beef, Beef Salpicao and Beef Pares by Scorched
Scorched Roast Beef

Home cooks who love to cook for their families, there’s a lot out there. But home cooks who discovered within themselves that they can serve classic dishes beyond the confines of their homes and are brave enough who dare to make a business out of it, and be “brutally” judged by non-family members, there’s just a few. One of them is the Torres Family, a family of cooks (great grandfather, grandfather, father and grandson), who’s behind the Scorched brand of classic dishes, Spiced Roast Beef and Beef Salpicao. Another most requested dish is the Beef Pares, inspired by the regular pares cart vendors around their neighborhood, driven by a desire to elevate the dish by using prime imported beef and serving it with more meat than sauce. When you bite into any of the beef dishes, it has the taste of  perfection, from a recipe that’s tried and tested by generations of cooks. Ribeye Salpicao @250gms, Roast Beef with gravy @300gms, Beef Pares @500gms. Portion sizes are good for sharing for 2-3pax.

FB: scorched.beef IG: @scorched.beef Mobile: 09175343919


  1. Godfather’s Cheesecake by Atty. Rado Dimalibot
Godfather’s Cheesecake

A lawyer slash baker? I object! How can a man with no background in baking, have the skills, the talent, the creativity to do not one or two cheesecakes, but 300 cheesecakes as of today (and may easily hit 500 by yearend), from the original target of doing 100 from July to December? Atty Rado explains, “The inspiration came when I was already doing it. Godfather’s Cheesecakes was not a planned venture at all. Though baking was already an old hobby, I started baking again when I had the extra time, given that the pandemic forced everyone to work from home. The overwhelming response from my family and friends inspired me to think that I’m doing something right. From my immediately circles, Godfather’s Cheesecakes just hit the taste buds of a wider customer base.  To me, the funniest and biggest compliment I get is when people, after tasting my cheesecakes, would ask: “So who really bakes the cheesecakes?!” Comes in Triple Chocolate, Oreo, Blueberry, Strawberry, Chocolate Chip, Carrot, and Ube.

FB: Rado Dimalibot

Check out the Part 2!