The Savage wizardry of Manila fine dining

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Bonifacio Global City exemplifies modern city living in the Philippines’ metropolitan city of Manila.   The playground of the finance district,  sees a once military site owned by the United States of America flourish into a haven of high rise office towers, high end retail which they describe as “the perfect marriage of form and function”.

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Opening Message in the menu sets the tone for a culinary journey unlike no other: “Welcome to SAVAGE. Within these walls, cracked floors and the burnt oak scented air you will find a cuisine that is not defined by a culture and neither by an ingredient, but a philosophy. To limit the use of gas and electric to create sustenance without the luxury of technology, this is what we call pre-industrial cuisine. We have searched high and low for the best quality of wood in which would contribute a light sweetness and heavenly aroma and act as a major ingredient to our dishes, we sourced the perfect charcoal for optimum heat and most importantly nurtured a team that would become the heart and soul of save. This is SAVAGE in its most primal form, enjoy. “ – Chef Josh Boutwood / Helm, Savage, The Test Kitchen

Downstairs is Helm, the exclusive restaurant of Chef Josh Boutwood’s 10 seating degustation.  Tickets close within days of your reservation and it’s for that reason we end up in its sister venue, Savage.  The Test Kitchen completes a trilogy of venues which is used to experiment new dishes, ideas and innovation.  The menu is typically improvised.

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A casual looking dining hall stretches from one end to the other with the chef station on the edges providing a show of smoke and flame for diners seated at the bar.   Essentially this at the core of this menu – smoke, ash and grill.   It’s a salute to the Filipino past of culinary simplicity while while reconstituting dishes by teasing the modern globalised palette with familiar Asian and European flavours.

“I try to keep the integrity and identity of the ingredients intact and pull out the most via technique “ says Chef Boutwood.

The table configurations are predominantly set for couples.  Groups of four to six would most likely need to make arrangements before hand as the boots that could hold bigger groups are limited to the wall by the entrance.


The ancient Roman deviled eggs are dusted with dried ox heart, onion ash offset by sesame emulsion.  The colouring of fresh herbs adds a modern chic to a now stylish dish.


Classic french japanese fusion with the Filipino Chef’s articulation.  It’s freshness, accompanying wasabi mayonaise and brioche makes sense, suiting the tropical climate of the humid typhoon season of the city.   Using tuna instead of beef, this dish steers away of the heaviness of butter and cream typical in french cuisine.

The history of Japan to the Philippines can be traced back to 1100 A.D. when the country began trading with them, 400 years later, remnants of Italian and French would have been brought by the ruling Spanish.   More so, in the grilling and smoking of meats.


The Korean kim chi is made in house.  Chef Boutwood lightly glazes the beef rib with pear.






It’s minimalist yet stylish,  with all heroes in each dish (ie. egg, tuna and beef) lightly accented without diluting their natural flavour.  There’s a light tease in each bite with the soft hues from the smoking, fruit notes and grains and ash.

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Savage in all honesty was the second choice but surprisingly satisfying experience which surpassed all expectations of the evening.

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Savage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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HAPAG KAINAN (means ‘Dining Tables’ in English) and has been taken over by next door’s KASALO (which means one who shares) takeaway hot food bar which is also a Filipino grocery stores with many of our cuisine’s secret herbs and spice mixes. Located in Granville right near the station. . . . Geographically, the archipelago of the Philippines are South East Asian, however the imprint of Euro-American rule through the centuries shapes the culinary delicacies that are always enjoyed to share or as a snack. From the building of churches by the Spanish to the educational system established by the Americans, and adding to that, the family oriented nature of the culture, the relationship with food is an emotional one and for many expats, one of nostalgia. The choice of ingredients at the base of soups, sauces and batters, binding agents in desserts very much influenced by its Tropical climate and the effect on how long food keeps out in the open. It’s a third world country, so refrigeration and even electricity can sometimes be a luxury for some. .

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