Words by Margarita Buenaventura
It’s hard not to be enamored by Gab Bustos and Thea De Rivera’s story: a young couple works together as budding restaurateurs. It’s like a chick flick come to life. And now, we can enjoy the sequel: tucked away on Makati’s Guijo Street is 12/10, the duo’s newest restaurant baby.
You may have heard of this culinary couple when they opened up their first restaurant The Girl + The Bull in Parañaque, fresh out of school. Plus, with Thea’s vivid green hair and Gab’s galaxy of tattoos, this handsome pair is pretty hard to miss.
These days, they’re busy building up 12/10—the Izakaya-inspired dining experience that offers small plates that go big on flavor. Over cocktails and bar chow, BENCH gets to know the couple behind one of Manila’s new favorite restaurants to talk comfort food, high roller customers, and some booze to end the summer with a bang.
Hey, guys! I’m sure you get asked this a lot, but why is it called 12/10?
Thea: (Laughs) It’s our anniversary! I feel so awkward when customers ask, like, “Why is it called 12/10?” I just say, “Anniversary ng owners!” I wouldn’t tell them nalang that I’m one of the owners.
How long have you guys been open again? And your other restaurant, The Girl + The Bull?
Thea: Since October. The Girl + The Bull, I think, around a year and a half.
Gab: Yeah, about a year and seven months.
What kind of experience would diners get from 12/10 versus The Girl + The Bull?
Gab: Technically at The Girl + The Bull, the flavors are more comforting. They’re more hearty, the environment is a lot brighter. The music is alternative.
Thea: We always tell people that The Girl + The Bull is our introduction. Who’s the girl, who’s the bull… what do we serve, how did we get here, and then like, 12/10 is like taking on a bigger responsibility. It’s more mature.
Gab: I guess that’s why it’s our anniversary. Like this is it, this is where we take on something bigger. You’re still doing the same, you’re still reckless, you’re starting to learn more important things in life, so you do it with more control.
What have you noticed about your diners here in 12/10?
Thea: For some reason, we get a lot of high rollers here.
Gab: With the whole walk-ins only thing, you’ll never know who’ll pop up.
Thea: I think people who like a sense of seclusion like it here. Because you know how in other restaurants, people are like, “O, picture naman, post namin sa Instagram.” Here, we try as much as possible to let them enjoy their meal.
What’s it like to be in Guijo? It’s in Makati but it still feels a little different.
Thea: I feel like the people who come here really just want to escape from the usual.
Gab: What we really like about this area is that kami, we don’t really want to be out there, but it’s still in the city. Like in the outskirts. Growing up, I used to play in a band, so Saguijo was a thing.
So with living together and working together, how do you unwind?
Gab: We just enjoy life, ’cause our schedule is super weird.
Thea: And we always have access to all of this alcohol (Points at the bar) so why not make use of it? (Laughs)
HE SHAKES, SHE SHAKES
The Flamingo by Thea
“I’m making somewhat a take on a sour, a foamy drink. We use lychee liqueur and it’s sort of pink in color.”
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz almond syrup – Orgeat
1 oz gin – Tanqueray
0.7 oz lychee liqueur – Kwai Feh
1 oz egg whites
Lemon peel to garnish
“It’s basically four dashes of bitters, we’re using Peychaud’s. And then an ounce of lemon juice, preferably freshly squeezed. Then an ounce of Orgeat. It’s basically almond syrup. We make the almond milk and then make the syrup out of amaretto, then we add brandy and rosewater. And then an ounce of gin, for this one we’re using Tanqueray. And then 0.75 ounces of Kwai Fei, it’s lychee liqueur. And then the last would be an ounce of egg whites. For sours, we usually have two shakes – one is dry, which is without ice and one with ice, to break the foam. Finish it off with a lemon peel.”
Black Manhattan by Gab
“I personally enjoy classic cocktails and one of my personal favorites is the Manhattan, which is basically rye whisky and fortified wine or vermute. This is another version of it, it’s called the Black Manhattan. Instead of vermute, you substitute it with amaro, which is like an herbal bitter liqueur. Usually Thea enjoys the sunnier, brighter drinks and I like my drinks really dark.”
4 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Orange bitters
1 oz aged amaro – Amaro Nonino
2 oz Rittenhouse Rye