When visiting Manila, if fine dining with a side of elegance is your thing, look no further. There is this restaurant tucked away in the middle of the Enderun college campus known as Restaurant 101. It is run by students from Enderun College, which offers the finest culinary program in Asia.
Prominently located on McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City (about ten minutes from Makati), this impressive business management campus boasts sprawling grounds that remind you of Ivy League counterparts in the USA.
Restaurant 101’s standards are set by the Ducasse Institute of the Philippines, known for its premier culinary education programs. Enderun College has the only Ducasse Institute outside of the corporate headquarters in France, clearly a testament to world renowned Chef Alain Ducasse’s confidence in Filipino talent.
Restaurant 101 relies on a network of students and world renowned chefs to keep the place humming. The elegant restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, serving contemporary French dishes, with a menu that reflects the best of the season’s local harvest offerings.
At the campus main entrance is the impressive lobby. Service is prompt and courteous as you are led to the dining room. The air of comfort and ease envelopes you as you walk in. There are elegant tables framed with lush linen tablecloths, heirloom-looking silver flatware, delicate dinner plates and graceful stemware. The service is impeccable. With precise timing and flawless movements your beverage is poured to your specifications.
The open kitchen provides an intimate glimpse of the chefs at work. You know immediately that only fresh ingredients will go in the dishes you ordered. Restaurant 101’s modern French menu is inspired by the Philippine’s indigenous produce and abundance of local purveyors. The chef and the students who work on site deliver a dazzling array of flavors and textures in every entrée.
We were there for lunch. We ordered the three courses from the Market Menu, a lovely way for first timers at Restaurant 101 to sample the students’ culinary talents, plus a good deal for the fixed price of three superb dishes. It was even more memorable with the selection of wines offered.
Chef Julian Koberl put his own marvelous spin on these: for starters the asparagus salad with cured cold cuts; an entrée of slow boiled beef with pan roasted potatoes; creamy spinach; cold chive sauce and the superb dessert of sacher chocolate cake with whipped cream.
Undeniably the piece de resistance was the famous dessert: the Louis XV. This is a delectable chocolate torte, with layers of chocolate mousse and hazelnut praline all encased in decadent chocolate ganache. It was like a dream. This is the only restaurant in the Philippines that serves this coveted dessert, outside of the Ducasse restaurants in France. Best of all, every culinary student on campus gets to learn how to make it.
What sets Restaurant 101 at Enderun College apart from other culinary programs or management schools?
“We look beyond local shores to expand. Thunderbird has helped in our curriculum development. Our faculty consists of the best practitioners in their fields, with extensive international experience,” said Tricia Tensuan, VP for admissions and external relations.
“We do not have a cookie cutter curriculum. Enderun’s vision is to fill the need of every successful establishment. We go beyond what is minimum,” she added.
Restaurant 101 is a chef’s place. It is the quintessential student restaurant for those who insist on the best. In every entrée, you will find the students’ desire to hone their formidable skills and the chef’s respect for everything that comes out of the kitchen. This is what makes Restaurant 101 a distinct destination.
Restaurant 101 is a superb venue for a romantic night out, special family occasion, business meal, or just because one feels like indulging. The finely prepared evolving menu is the draw. The pleasingly affordable prices are attractive. The Louis XV dessert is unrivaled. Most of all, it feels good to support students who are just starting out. One can only imagine how much these students will someday change the culinary world. So there, Restaurant 101 at Enderun College is no longer a “little known secret.”
Price range: (Philippine pesos) 2-4 Market Menu courses start P580 ($13) to P980 ($22) from Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; a la carte items from P280 ($6) to P1,080 ($25) from lunch to dinner. Additional P140 ($3) for wine by the glass.
1100 Campus Avenue, McKinley Hill
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1634 Philippines
Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey, is a journalist, food writer and member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She blogs about Filipino home cooking and culinary travels to the Philippines on her site AsianInAmericamag.com.