So this is the restaurant everyone’s been dying to try. I’ve been hearing so much about Hey, Handsome! from those lucky enough to have eaten here, but haven’t gotten around to it since they opened last September. After taking my first bite, I finally understood why this place was so in-demand.
The first restaurant that popped into my mind when I tried the food at this place was Your Local. Only later on did I find out that Hey, Handsome! is the Peranakan cuisine brainchild of Your Local‘s Chef Nicco Santos and Hole in the Wall‘s Charles Paw. It definitely has the charm of both establishments and lives up to all the hype.
My first experience with Malay/Singaporean/Indonesian Cuisine came early in my life, when my grandmother moved to Singapore in the 90’s. I remember falling in love with the sights and smells of Lau Pa Sat and Newton Circus. Hey, Handsome! transported me back in time and took me back to those hawker centers and food courts.
First things first: reservations are strongly recommended. Hey, Handsome! is a couple months old, but this place can get pretty packed, especially on weekends. They have two seating times: 6 PM and 8:30 PM, so plan accordingly.
We went to Hey, Handsome! for my grandmother’s birthday, as my uncle Elbert Cuenca (Elbert’s Steak Room / Elbert’s Cheesesteak Sandwiches / Mendokoro Ramenba / Ramen Yushoken) was treating the family to dinner. It took me an hour from Makati on a Wednesday night so making an 8:30 PM reservation would be a safer bet.
They have a couple of low and high tables inside, but it might be a good idea to sit along the bar as well. The lighting is great for taking food photos and you can watch the staff prepare your meals, which always helps me work up an appetite. Next time I eat there, I’ll definitely try sitting at the bar because the white tiles look great on camera. Also, their staff is incredibly friendly and attentive and service is quick.
Hey, Handsome! has pretty minimalist interiors, which reflects their no-nonsense menu. The whole food list was casually written down on a chalkboard, making it (kind of?) easier to pick what to eat. (I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but everything is gooood anyways.) We ended up ordering one of everything from the mains (“big plates”) and appetizers (“small plates”).
The menu has changed since they opened last September. Some food blogs still use the old menu, but this post is based on the menu as of February 1, 2017. Some of the dish names used to be in Bahasa, but they’ve made it easier to understand for the common diner, especially if you’re not so acquainted with Southeast Asian dishes. Some of the ingredients on the menu might not look very familiar, but I’ll be translating some terms into English when I describe each dish.
The beef pancake (BBQ beef, corn, passionfruit, pappadum – Php 400) looks more like a lumpia than a pancake but the meat inside was really tasty. This was heavier than most, and felt like a meal in itself. The minced duck (laap phet, charred cabbage, galanga root – Php 400) was really soft and tangy, and the cabbage, although a bit thick, added an interesting texture. Surprisingly, out of the four appetizers, the fried egg (fried egg, herbs, bird’s eye chili, Vietnamese dipping sauce – Php 250) was my favorite. It seems to be the simplest of the four, but found it impressive that they were able to cook the egg to make it that delicate. It also tastes amazing, and would be my pick if you’re not looking for something too heavy. I took a bite of the soft tofu (kinu tofu, house soy, century egg, bonito – Php 310) and it was pretty good and light, too!
My top pick for the mains would have to be the PANEER (beetroot paneer, quinoa tabbouleh, house yogurt, pappadum – Php 560), which wasn’t a surprise considering how much of a cheese lover I am, especially when paired with something crunchy like the pappadum. The bright red color of the paneer, along with the pappadum standing on top of the quinoa, made it the most memorable out of all the mains.
The LAMB (lamb, buah keluak, nasi ulam, sambal matah, kerupuk belacan – Php 680) was my choice among the meat dishes. The buah keluak is actually a tree that bears poisonous fruit, which is made edible through fermentation. The meat was incredibly soft and the sambal gave it a nice kick. That big black thing covering the lamb is the kerupek, more familiar to us as kropek.
Although a bit similar to the lamb, the BEEF (BBQ beef shortribs, thai chicken rice, pickled papaya – Php 750) wins because of the pickled papaya. I actually really despise papaya so for me to enjoy this dish means it’s something really special. The spice of the papaya (their version of our atsara) balanced out the sweetness of the beef really well.
Although you may have already had duck as an appetizer earlier, this version is completely different! This time around, the crunchy DUCK (deep fried white pekin duck, duck egg, Malaysian herb rice, achar – Php 780) goes amazingly with the spicy sambal sauce while the duck egg adds a layer of creaminess to the dish. Eat with your hands for extra pleasure.
I love seafood but the FISH (seabass otah, nasi lemak, ikan bilis brittle, sambal, pickled egg – Php 780) was the dish that stood out the least for me. Maybe it’s because the other mains were superstars in their own right, but the brittle made it more memorable. Still a great dish!
Bonus round: their espresso martini is a must-try if you want to end your meal feeling buzzed. Their other drinks and desserts look great as well, but we ended up going somewhere else for dessert (which I will write about soon!).
I would definitely recommend Hey, Handsome! to families and couples who want to splurge a bit. Although a bit on the pricey side for me, the food is special enough to demand its cost. I liked how the dishes were incredibly flavorful but not overwhelming. Eating there was really different experience, especially because not very many places in the Metro offer this kind of cuisine. If you like Your Local (which I adore), and if you like rice, you’ll love this.
I got really hungry writing this entry at 2 AM. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea. I should make another reservation soon.
👫 Prescribed meal for two (with leftovers!)
Fried egg – Php 250
Minced duck – Php 400
Paneer – Php 560
Lamb – Php 680
= Php 1,890
G/F Net Park Building, 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila
Open Mondays to Saturdays 6 – 10pm (two seatings for reservation: 6:00pm, 8:30pm)
📞 +63 (2) 946-3815
💵 Around Php 1000/person
*This review was not paid for by the management of Hey, Handsome! All comments and opinions are completely my own.