1. Chandelier-decorated dining space at Askal.
    Photograph: Supplied / Askal
  2. Sizzling pork jowl and black lip abalone sisig with fermented rice and salted chilli.
    Photograph: Supplied / Askal
  3. Orange cocktail in the process of being prepared.
    Photograph: Supplied / Askal
  4. Natural oysters with aged pinakurat and green chilli relish.
    Photograph: Supplied / Askal
  5. Filipino dish served on a banana leaf at Askal.
    Photograph: Supplied / Askal
  6. Chandelier-decorated dining space at Askal.
    Photograph: Supplied / Askal
  • Restaurants | Filipino
  • Melbourne
  • Recommended



4 out of 5 stars

It hasn’t been around for long, but this two-level eatery is already making waves for its contemporary take on traditional Filipino flavours


Time Out says

The co-founding team of John Rivera, Carlos Consunji, Ralph Libo, Michael Mabuti and Dhenvirg Ugot – proud Filipinos themselves – are also some of the names behind Kariton Sorbetes and Serai, ensuring bold and vibrant Filipino flavours are front and centre at Askal. 

Think sizzling pork jowl and abalone sisig, ox tail kare kare doughnuts and torched scallop adobo. The showstopper dish making the rounds on socials is the roasted bone marrow, sitting in a claypot of crispy confit garlic rice and caramel-braised wagyu oyster blade for the grand total of $100. But it’s by far the most expensive dish on an otherwise reasonably priced menu of ‘pulutan’ (snacks and bites), ‘meryenda’ (entrees), ‘ulam’ (mains and sides) and ‘matamis’ (dessert).

The moody yet otherwise nondescript space is a semi-industrial one with textured charcoal walls and simple shell chandeliers – sit by the bar to enjoy a peek into the bustling kitchen. Curate your own experience by ordering off the ala carte menu, or if you have choice paralysis as we did, opt for the $95 ‘feed me’ menu, that features a representative cross-section of the menu, though you may still want to add one or two must-order items. 

Askal’s inventiveness extends to its cocktails – the same Tanduay rum in the leche flan appears in the banana-reminiscent Pahanocoy Dream, the nostalgia of childhood is revisited with the Hard Sarsi, and pineapple rum coupled with blackstrap rum and Campari are natural counterparts in the Ibong Adarna, Askal’s stronger answer to the tropical Jungle Bird. 

Topped with an oily pesto-like concoction of blended jalapenos and macadamias, the smooth and herbaceous mung bean dip is a strong start, accompanied by the sharp crunch and verdant freshness of heirloom Dutch carrots, breakfast radishes and corn crudités.

Often termed Philippine ceviche, the kinilaw is less successful. Shot through with the acidity and fragrance of the guava aguachile, the brightness of the raw albacore tuna is nonetheless let down by its slight mushiness, with the tuna seemingly having cooked too much in the vinegaring. The strips of fried taro atop add some welcome textural contrast. 

Getting us back on track is Manong Al’s succulent barbecued pork skewers, marinated for 24 hours in Askal’s housemade iteration of the famed Filipino marinade banana ketchup. Cutting through the deep undertones of caramel in the pork’s marinade are pickled strips of atchara (grated unripe papaya). 

By the next dish, we’re seriously worried about stomach space. Pancit canton is a commonplace egg noodle dish served both in Filipino homes and restaurants. Askal’s version arrives with a runny egg yolk in the middle, which we mix in with the noodles, coating it in a velvety creaminess. The noodles have a beautiful tartness and a heat that radiates outwards after every bite, courtesy of the chilli calamansi used. Bits of blue swimmer crab interspersed throughout is a luxurious addition, though it barely registers in the melange. 

Mains arrive in quick succession – the Aurum Poultry young hen inasal, a vegetable side of winged beans and snow peas, and bowls of coconut rice. With its aromatics-packed marinade and the sublime char of the spit-roast lending it plenty of flavour, Askal’s glistening inasal is enlivened by the bright orange hues of annatto and tendrils of vinegary green chillies and pickled onions. 

Dotted with a black olive bubuk, almost reminiscent of pangrattato, the winged beans – a vegetable we don’t encounter often enough in Australia – and accompanying snow peas are more than a worthy side. 

One dish we absolutely recommend adding on to your ‘feed me’ menu if you go down that route is the absolute standout black garlic fried rice dish of ‘tutong silog’ – layered with salted duck egg and chunks of longganisa hamonado, a garlicky variance of Filipino pork sausage. The discernible crunchy grains of rice are coated in oodles of flavour and enveloped in a savouriness that’s hard to pass up. The fried yam strips atop are almost indistinguishable from the rice, but once again their presence is welcome. 

Finishing us off is the indulgent leche flan with a pleasing bitterness from a citrus peel and a thick syrupy glaze courtesy of the sugarcane-based Tanduay rum caramel.

Service is congenial but slightly haphazard, with plates too small for the sauciness and generous proportions of the food on offer, and bowls for the discarding of bones having to be requested. But these are issues that’ll be ironed out in time, no doubt. 

Askal’s current appeal with diners who have, until recently, been starved of Filipino fine diners is illustrated by the fact that it’s almost impossible to get a booking at your preferred time no matter what the day – reserve a table early to partake in the rich, bold flavours on offer or risk disappointment.  

Time Out Melbourne never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.

Looking for fantastic Filipino spots to add to your list? Here's our round-up of the best in town.


167 Exhibition Street
Opening hours:
Tue-Fri 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sat 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sun 11:30am-4pm
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