This is one of the restaurants that I wish I had the opportunity to visit as often as I could. I’ve always loved this restaurant. It was one of the first ones we ever covered in the first year of publication of this magazine. Everything was new back in 2013, you see. “Let’s Eat” was brand new, and Chef Nicco Santos, now one of Manila’s finest, was the bright new kid on the scene.
His menu at Your Local was a matrix of unique modern Asian interpretations combined with a classy, cosmopolitan touch; housed in a space with interiors that were straight out of the hip restaurant districts of New York. I recall how cool I thought their gleaming white subway tiles were —making it the hottest new restaurant of that year.
Wildflour had opened just a year earlier in 2012, and it turned out to be one of the two most influential restaurants of this decade. The other? Your Local.
Drop by again, if you haven’t in a while, and you’ll smile when you realize how many restaurants have been inspired by its specials, copied its open kitchen and its lighting, and yes, its subway tiles. Your Local still looks exactly the same. And that’s a good thing. It was ahead of its time in 2013, and the years have given it a sheen of maturity; the interiors seem burnished somehow. Cozier; entering it feels like being enveloped in a warm embrace.The bestsellers, the dramatic black buns are still around, along with the superstar dish that made Your Local famous: the Torched Salmon Donburi. Nothing much has changed, and nothing really needed to. The place is still packed during lunch with its core audience of Advertising Agency types and Expats who regard the restaurant as their alternate home kitchen.
Oh, and did I tell you? There’s a new chef in the kitchen, and she’s one of the most talented ladies in the industry: Natalia Moran, famous for her work in Boracay’s best restaurants: Spice Bird and the Sunny Side Café. She’s come up with a new breakfast menu for the new, earlier opening hours of Your Local: doors now open at 8:00am, every day of the week.
Chef Nat’s every dish is different, and each is simply irresistible. I recommend going with a group, or if you prefer flying solo, visit every morning until you get to try all six: Coconut Gula Melaka Pancakes with Kaya Jam; the Nasi Lemak with Glazed Pork Belly and deep fried eggs; the decadent Beef Rendang Eggs Benedict; the Black Bun Smoked Salmon and Egg Sandwich; and my two favorites: the Pandan Waffles doused with Palm Sugar syrup, served with Your Local’s bestselling Shrimp Paste “Feel Good” Fried Chicken (a South East Asian twist on Chicken & Waffles); and the Salmon Otak Otak: tender salmon cakes in banana leaves, a soft omelet, and ginger rice. Almost a ‘Silog, but much sexier in its presentation and profile.
I’m not a morning person at all. But the siren song of Your Local, specially on an easy Sunday morning, when parking is easy and the tree-lined street is breezy? It’s certainly one of the best brunch destinations anywhere. Allow me to invite you back to the restaurant you probably didn’t realize that you’ve missed so much. It’s high time you fall in love again, with Your Local.