Sustainably sourced ingredients to induce your happiest food coma yet
A journalist turned chef telling stories through food
In Ignacia Place, there sits a restaurant with a dark, industrial interior—a refreshing contrast from the typical bright, kitschy designs that populate the north. But don’t let the austere impression intimidate you. The place is actually quite cozy, and the food is warm and comforting.
We are greeted by Christine Roque, one of the owners and founders of Half Saints. She sits with us as we wait for the food, telling us the story of how the restaurant came to be. It plays out almost like a forbidden romance (with a happy ending). Roque grew up with an affinity for food and cooking. Despite her interest, her parents encouraged her to pursue a more “traditional” career. So her culinary dreams were put aside—at least, for a couple of years.
During her time as a student and broadcast professional, Roque was able to travel around the globe and experience a variety of cultures along the way—which, in retrospect, became vital in developing the restaurant’s international cuisine. Just browse through the menu and you can pinpoint the places she’s traveled to.
An itch she could not scratch, her love of food ultimately resurfaced. But this time, everything seemed to fall into place: She developed her palate, refined her cooking, made connections, and most importantly, knew her purpose.
She and her partners (an all-female founding team, FYI) merged their passion for food and advocacy, thus creating Half Saints.
Perhaps an indication of the owners’ background in journalism and advocacies,
the name “Half Saints” isn’t just arbitrary wordplay: One of the restaurant’s main values is promoting sustainability by sourcing their ingredients responsibly, whenever possible. This means supporting local startups and farmers—even if it means paying a premium. It’s a humble act of service to our countrymen, offset by the richness of the restaurant’s food. Just try ordering some of the crowd favorites and you’ll understand why they call themselves half saints.
For starters, there’s the Chicharron Teriyaki, a plate of crisp strips of pork glazed with teriyaki sauce and cooked in the style of Camiling bagnet (an ode to the hometown of Roque’s mother). The Tarlac-meets-Tokyo dish is meant to be eaten like a DIY taco: smear a generous spoonful of cheese on the nori, top it with a glistening slice of pork, and devour it in a single bite.
Fans of Middle Eastern cuisine will want to try the Humshuka: a combination of hummus and shakshouka (also known as eggs in hell). Served with a bowl of nacho chips, this is your weekend comfort food taken up a notch.
For a taste of Latin American flavors, the Arroz Con Pollo—chicken cooked in an aromatic sofrito base combined with rice braised in coconut milk—might satisfy your cravings. Alternatively, you can try the Gallo Pinto, a bed of dirty rice topped with shredded beef, bits of bacon, and a fried egg and served with a beautiful chunk of bone marrow on the side.
As for dessert? The owners of Half Saints may not be fans of overly sweet tastes, but that doesn’t make theirs any less satisfying.
A playful twist on the Italian recipe, the Tiramisu cheesecake is two desserts in one, with distinct layers of espressosoaked ladyfingers, chocolate, and oldfashioned cheesecake. If you’re in the mood for something a little more sophisticated, try the 64 percent dark chocolate tart. It’s sprinkled with pink Himalayan salt, which brings out the flavors of the locally sourced Davao chocolate. Both desserts pair nicely with a cup of coffee, which you’ll be happy to know is ethically sourced.
Arroz Con Pollo and Humshuka, a combination of hummus and shakshouka
Geometric art installation designed by Arts Serrano; Gallo Pinto with dirty rice, shredded beef, fried egg, and roasted bone marrow