Tandem Makati, and My ‘Emotional’ 10-Course Dinner

It was an emotional Saturday evening that April day I went to eat at Tandem, a small fine dining restaurant along Legazpi Street, Makati. A cozy spot without the pretentiousness of white tablecloths, dim candlelit lighting, and unopened wine bottles as centerpieces, Tandem, helmed by chefs Mikee Lopez and Alex Tan, favored a more homey vibe with its wooden dining tables, cushioned chairs, and an open kitchen. There is no menu—only a card explaining the theme of their 10-course meal titled “EMOTIONS” and a photo album visually illustrating what each dish is without outright revealing what each dish actually is. All the while I sat there with rapt anticipation, playing my own little guessing game, as the chefs put their hearts on a plate.

tandem makati

tandem makati inside 2

tandem makati inside 1

With a menu revolving around EMOTIONS, it’s no surprise that excitement comes first—over the food, the presentation, and the overall experience. EXCITEMENT also came first, literally, in the form of a trio of appetizers: carrot tartare with miso vinaigrette, nori tapioca, and pickled carrots; charred kimchi made in-house with sweet potato tart and aioli; and borracho gougeres with truffle cream.

Funnily enough, EXCITEMENT quickly turned to DISGUST which came in the form of a faux moldy bread (freshly baked sourdough with spinach and red cabbage swirl) and a delicious dollop of blue cheese.

tandem makati emotions photo book

tandem makati appetizers

tandem makati disgust

ANGER was cod, stir-fried vermicelli, and burnt eggplant puree tart shell cups in spicy laksa sauce. ENVY, meanwhile, was a refreshing soy panna cotta with ginger and rice vinegar dressing topped with grated cucumber, chopped pistachio, cucumber granita, and cilantro oil.

tandem makati anger

tandem makati envy

Some dishes were created as a reflection of the Tandem chefs’ own experiences. FEAR represented their own fears of the dark and the vast open sea through a plate of squid ink garganelli. HOMESICKNESS was their take on adobo, a dish that Chef Alex often made while studying culinary in the USA.

tandem makati fear 1

tandem makati fear 2

tandem makati homesickness

What was most enjoyable about the whole experience, though, was guessing what sort of dish would be presented to us based on the emotion and then proceeding to share our own stories relating to the feeling. During the COMFORT course, in particular, which was a flavorful blend of arroz caldo and sinigang, I couldn’t stop raving to my partner about how it tasted almost exactly like my Lola’s cooking.

tandem makati comfort

As a dessert lover, the three sweet treats to end the 10-course meal were a delight to indulge in. CALM was a lemon pandan sorbet with a pear crisp. SADNESS was a chai ice cream with mixed berry coulis and oat streusel. Finally, JOY was a dark chocolate mousse with chocolate fennel crumble.

tandem makati dessert calm

tandem makati dessert sadness

tandem makati dessert joy

To have dined at Tandem is one memory I will cherish for a long time as it successfully ticked all the boxes for me in those three hours I stayed there. The warm and inviting atmosphere made me feel the most welcome instead of intimidated as I would often be at high-end establishments. The dishes were served promptly instead of having us wait long in between courses. I was likewise pleased with the portion size of each dish; they were far from being mere one-biters as typical tasting menus go and they were enough to satisfy me at the end of my meal without making me feel that my pants button was about to pop.

Each dish is also crafted with locally sourced ingredients direct from farmers in line with Tandem’s advocacy to showcase the diverse and rich resources readily available to us Filipinos.

On top of it all, I could taste the heart and soul of Chefs Alex and Mikee poured into and reflected by each exquisitely prepared course. And they didn’t just leave it there; they took us along for the ride, from beginning to end, and created this shared experience that transcended the boundaries of the kitchen.

tandem makati emotions menu

tandem makati open kitchen

I highly encourage everyone to come and partake in this unique EMOTIONS course menu at Tandem Makati. When you do, come with an open mind and your heart on your sleeve.

*Tandem also serves a Vegetarian-friendly EMOTIONS course menu. Reservations are required.


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G/F Greenbelt Hamilton, 151 Legazpi St. Legazpi Village, Makati
Open on Tuesday to Saturday, 6 pm – 11 pm
VIBER +63 906 003 6112