Chef Hiroyuki Meno’s food takes you on an adventure one dish at a time
Inside S Maison at Conrad Manila is a real gem— Epilogue, a JapaneseEuropean fine bistro. “It’s our first chef-driven restaurant,” said Alyanna Uy, president of Epilogue and one of the people behind Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, Katsu Sora, Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nono, Siam Thai and Camp Curry. “It brings together the sophistication of European flavors with Japanese discipline. There’s a Japanese principle called kodawari, it means the pursuit of perfection. Our food is actually more European but we pride ourselves on working with Japanese chefs because they’re really into details.”
At the helm of Epilogue’s kitchen is Hiroyuki Meno, a brilliant chef who has previously worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Japan including Domaine Les Haut Roches in Loire, L’Auberge De L’ill in Tokyo and Le Pont de Ciel in Osaka. Manila has been his home since 2017. “In a book, the epilogue is the culmination of a character’s journey and that’s what Epilogue is. We showcase the culmination of the chef’s culinary journey. He’s traveled around the world, he’s worked in different restaurants and he has perfected his skill and that’s what we serve,” said Uy. At Epilogue, Meno he takes you on an adventure, one dish at a time.
Our degustation started with chef Meno’s unique take on caprese: mozzarella buffala, stuffed tomato and pineapple sorbet, tomato clear jelly, basil pesto. It was refreshing—a delightful play on textures and temperature.
Next came Egg—hot-cold soft boiled egg, king crab meat and maple cream chanty in an actual egg shell. Meno encouraged us to mix it before eating it with our spoon or dipping the brioche in it. It was rich and creamy and sent our tastebuds singing.
The next dish was called Norway— cured salmon plated like it was swimming and served with poireaux vinaigrette, lump fish caviar, Moscato cube, yuzu. Course number four was so good we just had to close our eyes: foie gras with eggplant compote, balsamic reduce and arugula. It was decadent and flavorful, a real treat.
Next was a Hokkaido scallop sitting on a bed of clam creamy foam, vegetables and moringa risotto—a harmony of tastes and textures. One of the star’s of the degustation was the MB7 steak from Jack’s Creek, the Australian Wagyu producer who bagged the “Word’s Best Steak” award two years in a row. The steak, which was so tender, was served with celeriac apple, caramelized onion puree, green pepper and spring onion. The degustation was generous serving after generous serving of pure deliciousness and the truth is we wished we wouldn’t end.
But when it did, it did on a high note—with Epilogue’s Banana Tart: almond cream, caramelized banana, vanilla ice cream in a puff pastry bowl and a plate perfectly streaked with caramel sauce.
That’s an unforgettable meal I still think about regularly and one you can enjoy, too. But chef Hiroyuki Meno can also customize a degustation for you, depending on your dietary restrictions and budget. “It can be P3,000, P3,500, depending on the number of courses,” said Uy. You can have your degustation with wine pairing, too. There’s no minimum number of heads. Diners who want to enjoy the degustation (or have one customized for them) should book two days in advance. If that seems steep, they also have a six-course gastronomy menu for just P1,500.The regular menu is also a delight—and categorized under parts of a book: introduction (appetizer), preface (soups and salads), foreword (pizza), dedication (pasta), chapter and verse (mains).
Pasta and pizza
Meno’s pasta and pizzas are a big hit with diners. Uy suggests first timers to try their take on Caesar salad, Margherita pizza, Foie’s Gold (pan-seared Ernest Souland foie gras, mushroom risotto, rosemary-garlic Portobello, baby spinach, pink peppercorns), Granchio (deep-fried soft-shell crab, artisan chili tagliatelle, olives, zucchini, aubergine, creamy arrabiata) or the trofie pesto (Manila clams, shrimps, homemade trofie, pesto, fresh asparagus). For mains, her pick is the duck à l’orange (magret duck, orange sauce, potato Lyonnaise, sautéed haricot vert, arugula) or any of their steaks.
There’s another menu item that will be back soon and that you absolutely need to try: Meno’s Iberico pork tomahawk. He serves this tender grilled pork chop with grain mustard sauce, Lyonnaise potatoes, wild arugula and parmesan cheese. So good.
The crispy amadai (sweet sea bream in Japanese) with clam creamy foam and vegetables and moringa risotto is another excellent choice. Meno has enjoyed playing with Filipino ingredients. When he first arrived in Manila, he explored markets in Navotas, Cartimar and Tagaytay and incorporated finds like malunggay, hito, dalandan and amadai into his dishes. “He elevates ingredients and really makes them shine with very good technique,” said Uy. When you go to Epilogue, bring home bread. Chef Ono Tomohide makes some amazing ones including the rustic bread that reveals a generous smattering of olives and Gouda when you break it. People also go to Epilogue just to buy their massive cookies—the bestsellers are Chocolate Walnut and Valrhona Dulce. Epilogue serves some great cocktails, too. Try the Hazel Kro (Stolichnaya, Kro Ristretto, Kahlua, Frangelico, Cinnamon, Hazelnuts) or the Enigma (London Dry Gin, yuzu, creme de framboise, lemon, cotton candy).
Enjoy your food in interiors designed by Kazumasa Wakabayashi, the same architect who worked on Gonpachi in Tokyo, more famously known as the “Kill Bill” restaurant (it inspired the House of Blue Leaves where Uma Thurman’s character battled the Crazy 88s). Uy and Meno have even more goodness coming our way—they will be opening Prologue in Tomas Morato at the end of this month. In August, Epilogue will be flying in Yoshiaki Ito from Paris to do a collab dinner with Meno on Aug. 18-19. Epilogue is at G/F, S Maison at Conrad Manila, Pasay City; tel. 0917-8140180, 8167088.