Where to find the best Australian beef dishes in Manila restaurants

Discovery Primea’s Salpicao.
Papa Diddi’s Burger.
Chef Jessie’s Oyster Blade.

(PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - What do you do when premium Australian grass-fed beef go on tour? You follow them, of course.

Cows from Down Under have the liberty to graze on limitless pastures, almost eliminating the need for grain feeds. They are grass-fed, not grain-fed - so they do not accumulate fat that they would otherwise get from eating corn. The beef retains its natural meaty flavour. Premium Australian grass-fed beef is organic, tastes great even without much seasoning. It has less saturated fat and cholesterol and offers high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids that lower blood pressure and reduces cancer risk. Grass-fed beef is therefore the healthier, tastier alternative. And there is a lot from where the meat comes from - almost 60 per cent of agricultural farms in Australia contribute to cattle production and 97 per cent of cattle are grass-fed.

An impressive roster of Metro Manila’s finest restaurants played host to a culinary trail that features a variety of sumptuous, specially crafted dishes that makes use of Australian grass-fed beef. Super took part in this culinary adventure and would like to share the gems that our bellies found, and where we found them.

1. Smith Butcher and Grill Room

For the traditional carnivore who prefers to consume beef in its purest form, ordering the Porterhouse or the Sirloin Steak from Smith Butcher and Grill Room should be quite an unforgettable experience. Both are approximately 2.5cm thick. The Porterhouse has two sides; one portion is sirloin and the other is tenderloin. If you want just the sirloin, you can opt for a single or double portion. There is also a serving that is good for four hungry people.

You can even go to the butcher room and pick the size and cut you want before ordering. 

Chef Steve Scudder recommends having the steak cooked medium-rare to enjoy its deep red, juicy goodness. The steak is good on its own, but the sauce tops up the natural beef flavour with a peppery taste. “Medium-rare, that’s the best. It’s really a shame to order good steak like that and overcook it,” he said.

Due to the Philippines’ proximity to Australia, the chef said it is a must for them to have and serve top quality Australian beef at Smith Butcher.
We love salpicao for its garlic-laced stir-fried seasoned goodness and bolognese as a tomato sauce pasta staple for our weekly menu or for special occasions. Oftentimes, we appreciate these dishes for how the spices all combine together to please our tastebuds.

2. Discovery Primea

Discovery Primea’s Beef Salpicao and Spaghetti Bolognese stand out because, apart from the distinct taste that we normally look forward to, the robust flavour of lean, organic, grass-fed beef reminds us that the centrepiece of these dishes should be the meat. Aside from salpicao and bolognese, Mulwarra cube roll steak in choice cuts was also served.

3. Papa Diddi

Papa Diddi’s conscious effort to use local produce, promote home-grown flavours and serve heritage dishes make one’s dining experience extraordinary. The uncommon ingredients make the dishes unique, and even more so with the inclusion of top-tier grass-fed Aussie beef.

The Pancit Batil Patung might seem overwhelming with its smorgasbord of ingredients. This traditional dish is normally prepared using egg noodles, but Papa Diddi’s is slightly different and more cosmopolitan. Linguini noodles are topped with ground beef, fried pork, vegetables and, yes, poached egg. The clincher is the beef broth that you pour over everything else right before the fiesta starts in your mouth.

Papa Diddi’s burgers deviate from the cheesy mushroom fare available in fast-food joints. The sandwich favours kesong puti over cheddar and cheese sauce, honey mustard over mayonnaise and banana blossoms over mushrooms. Then there is the pineapple ring, egg and pickle relish that boosts its tropical flavour. And the buns are not coloured for mere aesthetic - you can opt to have your burger with pandan, ube or malunggay buns. The uniquely flavoured ice cream variants are a must-try. Tarragon, taro and sili ice cream, among others, hit the sweet spot.

4. Chef Jessie

Chef Jessie’s pleasant and hospitable demeanor might have been one of the reasons we comfortably sat in her restaurant, but it certainly was not the only reason we almost did not want to leave. For the Chef Jessie’s The Grove leg of the food trail, we were served striploin and oyster-blade steaks, as well as the softest beef cheeks we have ever tasted.

The oyster blade and striploin are practically thrown in the charcoal-fired oven, but the intense heat ensures that the meat is properly cooked. The tendon in the oyster blade softens so you can enjoy the entire cut. It is served with french fries and grilled greens. The striploin, on the other hand, goes well with grilled potatoes and salad.

The beef cheeks are cooked differently. The meat is boiled until tender and absorbs the flavour of the sauce it is cooked in. It is similar to beef stew and served with spinach and poutine.

5. Epicurious 

Epicurious at Shangri-La Plaza presented a selection of primarily continental dishes: Roast Beef with Mushroom Sauce and Beef Stroganoff. While these dishes are comfortingly familiar, however, the odd one out - Beef Fajitas - took home the prize as crowd favourite. It had fresh natural ingredients, the zesty flavour well-balanced with the soft and warm tortilla. Tip: Choose from the various flavours of fruit juices to go with your meal.