Make It Your Way: DIY Restaurants In Manila For Control Freaks

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Have you ever gone to a restaurant and thought, “If it were done my way…”?

Are you looking to apply your crafty and innovative skills to your food?

If so, then listen up: we’ve rounded up places where you can be in charge!

These following DIY restaurants have one great thing in common on their menus: FREEDOM.

Freedom to make it exactly the way you want it. Freedom to do it yourself.

But keep in mind the words of Uncle Ben: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” So choose wisely!

Find the best restaurants, cafes, hotels, and tourist attractions all over the Philippines with the looloo app! Available for both iOS and Android.

1. DIY Burgers

Burgers have evolved from humble beef patty sandwiches to designer towers of meat and toppings. They’ve been satisfying our meat cravings for decades, but burgeries around town have decided that they’re in need of a makeover– headed by YOU.

If you want to be in control of what goes in and on top of your burger, drop by 8Cuts Burger Blends. You can choose among 5 blends of their handmade beef patties. Each blend has its own unique flavor profile, from umami to gamey.

Besides the usual sesame burger bun, 8Cuts also offers the flaky brioche bun and the crusty kaiser bun to sandwich your chosen beef blend. Top your creation with their classic or swanky cheeses, or add a dash of their homemade sauce. If you’re feeling extra hungry, double up and add an extra patty. At the end of your burger creation story, don’t forget to give your burger a name!

Aspiring burger creators can also visit BRGR The Burger Project in the foodie street of Maginhawa. BRGR caters to both carnivores and herbivores with a selection of beef, lamb, tofu, and chicken patties. You can stick with the classic sesame seed bun (which comes free with your burger), or upgrade it to a potato, oatmeal, or brioche bun.

Dress your BRGR nice and simple with bleu, mozzarella, or cheddar cheese, or to the nines with feta cheese, Pepper Jack, or gruyere. Turn your burger into an artisanal creation by choosing from their selection of premium toppings which include bacon, chili con carne, caramelized onions, arugula, pineapple, and onion rings. Your BRGR is never fully dressed without a sauce, which range from BBQ to Sriracha Mayo.

2. DIY Salad

Salad lovers, don’t freak out. Just in-kale, and ex-kale.

Salads have been ignored on menus for far too long, but with the rise of health-conscious trends, they’re making a big comeback. And why not? They’re easy to make yet are also complete meals: mix lettuce and other ingredients, throw in a dressing and voila! You’ve got a healthy and on-the-go meal.

The Juju brand, known for their detoxifying juices, Juju Cleanse, brings you Juju Eats: a salad bar that puts you in control. Choose between a lettuce or a pasta base (carbs are friends and food) and up to 3 toppings. You have the vegetable world at your fingertips in Juju Eats, whose toppings range from carrots to sun dried tomatoes. Beef up your salad with protein like bacon, pork inasal, or crispy catfish, because who says salads have to be 100% healthy? Toss in a dressing and you’re good to go!

Juju Eats

Photo from Sheridan V.’s looloo review for Juju Eats

Fresh from the farm is Salad Stop! This Singapore-based salad and wrap shop offers 4 kinds of lettuce or greens and over 50 toppings to choose from. Add that 3-dimensional flavor by mixing in up to 2 dressings to your bowl or takeout container. Be sure to bestow a name on your salad creation!

Salad Stop Manila

Photo from Ruth S.’s looloo review for Salad Stop

3. DIY Pizza

Mad for Pizza will drive you mad with their wide variety of doughs and toppings. Your DIY pizza journey starts with choosing among 4 kinds of dough: classic, herb, garlic parmesan, and spinach. Next, spread on one of their unique sauces, which are their house pizza sauce, roasted garlic alfredo, spicy tomato cream sauce, and BBQ sauce. Each pizza yields 6 slices, perfect for sharing or for hoarding.

When the moon hits your eye like a big Project Pie, that’s amore! Pizza lovers will definitely fall in love with this customizable pizzeria. Customers have a choice of white (pizza brushed with olive oil only) or red sauce pizza. There are 7 kinds of meat toppings ranging from grilled chicken to prosciutto, and 5 cheesy options to decorate your pizza. Customers have the option to add some heat with a sprinkle of chilis or top their creation with greens before it’s sent to the oven.

Project Pie Manila

Photo from Eboy F.’s looloo review for Project Pie

4. DIY Ice Cream & Ice Cream Sandwiches

Ice cream was always there for you when others weren’t. They’re our companion during lonely nights, hungover mornings, and hot summer afternoons. While ice cream is perfection all on its own, a little upgrading once in a while won’t hurt. Simply add cookies or mix in your favorite candy bar, then ice cream becomes a frozen treat that’s great for any occasion.

The American franchise Cold Stone Creamery offers a gazillion possibilities when it comes to customized ice cream combinations. Besides the familiar chocolate, strawberry, coffee, and vanilla ice creams, they also have interesting flavors like cake batter, sweet cream, and mint. The crew members mix in gummy bears, candy, or fruits of your choice on a cold stone. If you’re confident in your hand-eye coordination, a crew member can throw your ice cream for you to catch!

From the same people who brought you Wildflour, Farmacy Ice Cream and Soda Fountain opens its doors for all dessert lovers. Farmacy prides itself on making their ice cream fresh and in-store. Their creamy creations have no preservatives and additives and have less fat than competing ice cream brands. They offer toppings and the option to turn your ice cream sundae into a float or ice cream sandwich. Customize your ice cream sandwich by first choosing among their chocolate chip, oatmeal, or chewy chocolate cookies. Add a scoop of their signature ice cream, whose flavors include the tart calamansi and the all-time favorite salted caramel.

Another DIY ice cream sandwich place to visit is Cookie Dream, located in SM Mall of Asia. Choose among their regular, premium, gluten-free, or vegan cookies. Cookie flavors range from red velvet to oreo cheesecake. Sandwich in a scoop of their ice cream, which some looloo reviewers noted are not too sweet. Flavors include the traditional vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, as well as green tea, cream cheese, and the seasonal coffee almond fudge. You can also line the sides of your ice cream sandwich with toppings like sprinkles, marshmallows, or shredded coconut.

Cookie Dream

Photo from Jialing H.’s looloo review for Cookie Dream

5. DIY Drinks/Smoothies and Milkshakes

Quench your DIY thirst with a cool, refreshing smoothie, or with a thick dessert-like milkshake. These blended concoctions are a nice break from your usual frappe, and still give you the flavor and energy boost you’re looking for.

Jamba Juice uses all-natural fruits, juices, and veggies when mixing up their smoothies. Their menu offers all-fruit smoothies, frozen-yogurt based drinks, and fruit-and-veg combinations. They’ll also gladly blend up an item from their secret menu (hello gummy bear lovers), or any smoothie that suits your mood. Add some power to your drink with one of their boosts: Antioxidant, Daily Vitamin, Energy, Soy Protein, and Whey Protein.

Jamba Juice Manila

Photo from Jayne Marie W.’s looloo review for Jamba Juice

Indulge in the milkshakes of A Taste of Heaven Milkshake Hub, which uses low-fat and soft-serve ice cream as their milkshake base. Add in your favorite candies or chocolates for A Taste of Heaven that’s like no other.

6. DIY Pancakes

Parks and Rec’s Ron Swanson wisely said, “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.” Nothing sounds better than digging into pancakes, bacon, and sunny side up eggs at any time of day, what more if you have the power to customize your meal? The following pancake places that give you the reins will make you flip.

Ally’s All Day Breakfast Place will definitely get a Ron Swanson seal of approval. Start your personalized breakfast food journey by choosing between a pancake or a waffle. Their batter flavors include classic (original pancake batter), chocolate, cinnamon, and whole grain. Top your pancake or waffle with cream cheese, whipped cream, Nutella, fruits, nuts, or chocolate chips. For a heartier and meatier breakfast, add sides like bacon, sausage, eggs, or hash browns. Finally, drizzle on some classic, maple, chocolate, or strawberry syrup. Don’t forget to give your breakfast creation a unique name!

Slappy Cakes goes the extra step and lets you actually cook your own pancake on a griddle in the middle of the table. Their batters, whose flavors include buttermilk, peanut butter, whole grain, vegan, red velvet, and chocolate, come in squeeze bottles for easy pouring and pancake designing. Add fixings like fruits, nuts, Nutella, or meats, and toppings like maple syrup, honey, or whipped cream. If you don’t know how to flip a pancake, don’t worry! Slappy Cakes’ servers will get you flipping pancakes like an expert.

Slappy Cakes

Photo from Karyl Hannah V.’s looloo review for Slappy Cakes

7. DIY Noodle Soup

Cozying up with a bowl of hot noodle soup on a rainy day is made even better with the option to design your bowl just the way you like it.

Ramen Nagi piques one’s interest with their clipboard menu and cute red pencil, which marks the beginning of your DIY ramen adventure. Choose your soup base, which you can make light and flavorful or hot and spicy. You can also add slices of pork shoulder or pork belly to your bowl. Every aspect of their noodles is customizable: choose the thickness (or thinness) of your noodle, as well as the texture (soft, medium, or hard). Top your ramen bowl with egg, seaweed, or veggies and you’ve got yourself Ramen Nagi ala You.

Ramen Nagi Manila

Photo from Adiel M.’s looloo review for Ramen Nagi

The Mogu Tree Noodle House caters to noodle lovers with a hunger for choice. Choose between their plain broth or a spicy laksa soup as your base. You’re allowed to choose 2 to 3 toppings. Their toppings suit all tastes, whether you’re in the mood for pork asado or fried cheese balls.

Mogu Tree Noodle House

Photo from Cheska Mhey D.’s looloo review for Mogu Tree Noodle House

Take your spice limit to new heights at Caution Hot! Spicy Noodle House. Start by choosing your toppings, which are pork, beef, seafood, or all-veggie. They have 3 kinds of broth to choose from: the first is Szechuan, a spicy soup made with chili paste and Sichuan peppercorn, the second is the spicy and sour Asam Laksa, and the third is the Classic pork bone broth. Next, decide between egg or wheat noodles. Finally, add extra spice by choosing one of their burn levels. For moderate spice, try the 1st Degree Burn, while real hotheads can go for their Ultimate Burn level.

Caution Hot Spicy Noodle House

Photo from April Anne L.’s looloo review for Caution Hot

8. DIY Frozen Yogurt

In the Philippines, we’re always looking for ways to beat the heat. Besides the perfect go-to solution of ice cream, we have been blessed with a healthier but just-as-tasty option: frozen yogurt!

To get your fro-yo and DIY fix, head to Pinkberry, an international frozen yogurt brand from Los Angeles, California. Their tart, sweet, or decadent yogurt flavors are seasonal and include grapefruit, pomegranate, chocolate hazelnut, salted caramel, and peanut butter. Their fruit toppings are fresh, hand-cut, and never frozen or canned, which makes for a perfect cherry on top of your yogurt. Other toppings are chocolate or caramel sauces, candies, nuts, cookies, and waffles.

Pinkberry

Photo from Charlene N.’s looloo review for Pinkberry

Another US frozen yogurt brand that made its way to Philippine shores is Red Mango. Their yogurt flavors are original, green tea, or a swirl of both flavors. Top your yogurt with up to 3 toppings like fruits, candies, and nuts. Stick a red spoon into your Red Mango and you’ve got yourself a tart treat!

Red Mango Frozen Yogurt

Photo from Grace I.’s looloo review for Red Mango

For frozen yogurt whose taste is close to that of ice cream, make your way to Golden Spoon. This yogurt shop boasts yogurt that is still creamy and rich, but with zero fat and less calories. Their seasonal flavors include salted caramel, cake batter, peanut butter, and cookies and cream. Add toppings like nuts, fruit, candies, or chocolate, and your Golden Spoon creation is complete!

Golden Spoon

Photo from Cayla R.’s looloo review for Golden Spoon

9. DIY Cookies

The word “cookie” is derived from the Dutch term “koekje,” which means “little cake.” These small, sweet, round discs of goodness may not seem very DIY outside of your home, but thankfully chefs like Miko Aspiras of Scout’s Honor realized that customizable cookie cravings cannot be tamed.

Scout's Honor

Photo from Nicole V.’s looloo review for Scout’s Honor

Scout’s Honor, located in Century City’s Hole in the Wall, allows you to choose from 6 mother doughs: the Basic Chewy cookie, Double Chocolate Fudge, Molasses Oatmeal cookie, Vegan cookie, Peanut Butter cookie (with no sugar added), and Herbed Shortbread cookie. You can choose up to 3 toppings for your cookie, which include chocolate chunks and chips, fruits, nuts, dried mangoes, cream cheese, and pastillas. Your cookie creation is baked until soft and chewy, and you have the option to enjoy it straight from the oven or a la mode.

10. DIY Crepes

Crepes, the classier, sexier, and thinner sisters of pancakes, can be eaten at any time of day. These pocketfuls of sunshine can be either the main course, or sweet ending, to any meal.

Cafe Breton

Photo from Theodore A.’s looloo review for Cafe Breton

Bring out the crepe connoisseur in you in Cafe Breton, where you can create your own savory or dessert crepe. Start by choosing between a classic crepe or a buckwheat galette. If you’re looking for a hearty meal, fill your crepe with meats, cheeses or dairy, vegetables, or seafood. For a scrumptious dessert, fill your crepe with fruits, preserves, sauces or syrups, whipped cream, liqueur, or nuts, and then top with French vanilla ice cream.

SEE ALSO: Board Game Cafes In Manila Where You Can Get Off Your Phone And Have Fun IRL

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About Author

Margarita Olivares

Margarita loves spreading ideas, laughter, and Nutella on everything. She hates small talk, prefers medium talk, and believes that all formal gowns should have pockets.