Sunday, June 12, 2011

Extraordinary Filipino food at XO46

Two Saturdays ago, I cleared my schedule to meet up with dear and old friends who have just opened a Japanese restaurant called Raku and a Philippine restaurant called X/O46 in the heart of Salcedo Village in Makati.

I’ve known the restaurant owners, Sandee and Andrew Masigan, for ages. Classic entrepreneurs and a fantastic husband-and-wife team, they are perpetually starting new and interesting businesses based on things they love. Well, one of their passions is food and this new Japanese-Philippine venture is truly a welcome addition to the neighborhood dining scene in this side of Makati.


I still have to try Raku, their Japanese restaurant – and when I do, you’ll certainly read about it here – but I hear that their ramen is winning rave reviews. They did extensive research in Japan and the Philippines to try and get a very delicious and original ramen flavor. I did peek into it on my way to dinner at X/O, which is just next-door, and noticed that the small place was practically filled with Japanese! That’s a stamp of approval, if I ever saw one. So I hope to go and eat there when I return from Europe at the end of the month.


Now back to X/O46. From the moment I set foot here, however, I was completely charmed by its interiors which are a combination of old-fashioned accents like carved banisters and banquettes, and modern pieces like giant chairs and stylish lamps. It’s all done in browns and woods, giving it a warm and comfortable feeling.

For a small place, it’s got a pretty extensive menu, however. Lots of it are traditional goodies, but there are also many items on the menu that you might call “traditional with a twist.” It’s not nouvelle cuisine, though, but rather a creative take on dishes that everyone knows.


For example, their kare-kare is served with the sauce separate from the meat; and the meat is crispy beef belly laid out in slices on a large platter. I also like their bangus, which is chopped slices fried in a mountain of garlic. Whenever they come over to my house for dinner and they ask ahead what they can bring, I never hesitate to request these two dishes.


They also have the very traditional favorites that are still done in the old-fashioned way. For example, their callos is a labor of love and it’s a real winner among customers. They also have a very nice version of sisig, which they make out of chopped up Cebu lechon, and a truly delicious pinakbet.

You shouldn’t miss their tapas, if you go, as they have quite an array. Some people even go just for the tapas alone and end up ordering the entire production for dinner instead. Interestingly, these tapas aren’t served with rice at X/O but with puto! Sandee’s puto is legendary among her friends, and it’s a really interesting combination with tapas and aligue butter that works. It’s the kind of thing you just can’t stop eating.


“I wanted to recreate the atmosphere and food at my lola’s house,” Andrew said. Sunday dinners at his grandmother’s house must have been pretty elaborate affairs. Food was not served family-style but instead a la carte style like in a restaurant, so if you ordered chicken from the family cook, you got a nicely arranged plate of chicken and trimmings all to yourself. Andrew’s grandmother was reportedly an excellent cook and maintained a great team of household cooks and assistants, he says.

Of course, Sandee is a great cook, as well, taking after her mother Deedee Siytangco. Both of them are famous for whipping up wonderful meals for guests, and especially Filipino and Spanish dishes. Sandee also has a great eye for detail, and this is evident everywhere at X/O 46, including the hairpieces and uniforms of the waitresses and the way the food is styled and served. So, even in the culinary sense, Sandee and Andrew are a great team for opening a restaurant like X/O 46.

The other day, too, I stopped by for breakfast. X/O 46 actually isn't open for breakfast (yet) but Sandee had invited so I dropped by on my way to work on Monday. Gosh, we had a complete feast of Spanish and Filipino breakfast specialties that I think I ate enough for three people -- and I still had a Thai lunch, a Spanish merienda and a Peking duck dinner that day. Breakfast that day began with their specialty puto, and then we had incredibly garlicky longganisa and equally garlicky fried rice, a rich goto and a beautiful Spanish omelette. I'm not even an omelette person, but I jsut couldn't stop eating this omelette, which was oozing with vegetables, bacon and ham; and wonderfully creamy inside. Then -- as if that wasn't enough -- we ended with a really decadent chocolate cake that Sandee had sourced all the way from Pampanga.

This was certainly a wonderful way to start a really wonderful week.

X/0 46. Unit 101, Le Grand Condominium, 130 Valero St., Salcedo Village, Makati. Tel (02) 553-6632.


Travelife's Special Summer Issue
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Angel Aquino in Bora
for Travelife Magazine's April-May 2011 issue



  1. Would u still run your tours of India late this year?

  2. I'll be having dinner here tomorrow. I hope it doesn't disappoint.