Aug 14, 2019

Private dining is not a new concept, but there are always new players attempting the field. In fact, more and more private dining “establishments” have gone beyond the hard-lined walls of restaurants and hotels and moving into far more personal territory: the home. 

Is it because “private” and “personal” are synonymous? Maybe. 

One thing is for sure, though. Chefs and home cooks alike are taking the gastronomic experiences (complete with linen-lined tables and artfully folded napkins) to personal spaces, while at the same time elevating humble meals using innovative culinary techniques and 5-star platings.


31 Greenvale 2, Marcelo Green Village, Parañaque
Saturdays and Sundays
P1,700 per person

In case you need more proof that Filipino cuisine is thriving and definitely far from the bland and boring sort others have accused it of, here’s a good start: a 16-course tasting menu at Linamnam.

Though the menu changes weekly according to seasonality and market availability of ingredients, the dishes fall into four basic categories: appetizers, seafood, mains, and dessert.

linamnam restaurant, private dining, beef stew
Usually available streetside, the pares, a pairing of rice and braised beef stew, is elevated with the use of adlai and a tender slice of beef. On the side, the sauce is reduced to a light, gingery soup
linamnam, coffee and cookies, private dining
Coffee and cookies are infused with local flavors using ginger and anise. The chocolate chip cookies are topped with shredded coconut and caramel

The influences are clear the very moment the dishes come out of Don Baldosano’s open “kitchen” (actually located in his home garden). Having trained at chef Jordy Navarra’s Toyo Eatery and with Locavor’s chef Mikel Zaguirre, Baldosano’s creativity and playfulness in presenting Filipino flavors is evident in each of his 16 plates.

kabibi, linamnam restaurant, private dining, seaweed
The kabibi, meanwhile, is plated to mimic the sea–perched on rocks, with a chili leaf taking the role of “seaweed”

Take the Lupa, which is a take on the classic potato onion soup, but using ube and garlic, topped with bits of fermented mushroom and green onions. Or the Boodle—the main course served on a banana leaf as is custom—which has pork and ensaladang talong served over palapa (dark rice cooked with toasted shredded coconut as is staple in Maranao cuisine).

Even desserts get the same creative treatment. The Maja Blanca, for example, looks more like the street favorite turon. But once you bite through the crispy thin, mildly sweet lumpia wrapper, you get to the namesake coconut-based kakanin.

Lupa—an ube and garlic cold soup meant to be a local take on the potato-onion soup
maja blanca, linamnam, private dining
It looks like turon, but it’s actually maja blanca enveloped by lumpia wrapper

Although presented in small plates like your classic fine dining restaurant, it’s the literal homey vibe of Linamnam paired with the familiarity of its flavors that make this a more approachable private dining experience.

The Test Kitchen by Spoonsofmagic

Poblacion, Makati
Price varies

Opening a private dining room isn’t in Ana Asis’ plans. “I wasn’t ready for it,” says the 51-year-old homecook. But when the opportunity presented itself in the form of a vacant Poblacion unit owned by an acquaintance she knew from way back—with a little nudge from another friend—she realized, “If not now, when?” That was in November, a few days after she lodged a pop-up restaurant just for fun. This is how The Test Kitchen by Spoonsofmagic was born.

the test kitchen by spoonsofmagic, private dining, mediterranean salad
During our visit to The Test Kitchen by SpoonsofMagic, owner Ana Asis prepared a Mediterranean dinner for us. Here’s her traditional light Greek salad, a colorful bowl of olives, tomatoes, feta, onions, parsley, and lemon drizzled with olive oil

Against the steely open kitchen backdrop is an ornate table setting that rests on a century-old acacia. The flowers, curios, and tableware are cherry-picked according to clients’ preferences and theme for the evening.

Asis has always been entertaining guests at home and can whip up meals of almost any cuisine. But since she describes her kitchen, “a place for no pretensions,” she wouldn’t serve what she hasn’t tried and tested. She doesn’t weigh her plates either since she just really wants to serve the best dishes out of the best ingredients there are. The favorites among her guests are Italian and Thai.

simple watermelon salad, the test kitchen by spoonsofmagic, private dining
Another refreshing starter is her simple watermelon salad with olive oil and topped with feta and parsley

The Test Kitchen is basically an extension of Asis’ house and her clients’ extension of theirs. The space is limited, can only fit up to 14 people, but it surely makes up for the homey and cozy ambiance that completes an intimate gathering.


201 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City
Tuesday to Sunday
P250 to P600

Laing stones

Serving its own take on Filipino dishes, this restaurant in Quezon City aims to engage its diners with a refined and picturesque classic meal setting. Chefs Kevin Villarica, Thirdy Dolatre, and John Kevin Navoa thought of expanding their private catering businesses into a small restaurant that serves Filipino cuisine.

The Bicolano dish laing is deep-fried with squid ink, leaving the same creamy taste Filipinos are most familiar with. For appetizers, Hapag’s Oyster bonete has fresh Aklan oysters with adobo aioli and mulberry reduction.

Oyster bonete
Banana Heart Granola

Although their takes on classic Filipino dishes may be quite elaborate, Hapag still makes sure they retain the authentic taste of Filipino cuisine.

Apahap Mayonesa is an easy-to-eat dish composed of local sea bass, squid ink rice, malunggay, and calamansi mayonesa, and dulong okoy on top

“Our aim is to make Filipino food more inviting. We don’t want to change it, but just make it look nice,” said Navoa.

Hello Stranger Manila

Seventeen O’ Nine, Chino Roces Ave., Makati

This private dining restaurant in Manila is headed by San Francisco trained chef Ellie Estrada. Its cuisine is inspired by California “slow food” cuisine offering a taste of summer to its dishes.

This colorful salad is a mix of Sungold tomato, burrata mousse, kafir melon, melon vinegar, and squash blossoms.




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Banli, busa, sangkutsa, and other essential Filipino cooking terms you need to know

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TAGS: hapag manila hello strangers manila intimate dining linamnam makati Paranaque private dining quezon city restaurants the test kitchen by spoonsofmagic