Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Sample of Food in Manila

During my short stay in Manila, I had a bit of a challenge when it comes to food. You see, two of my colleagues are Muslims, and the fact that there are very few shops which sells halal food. So I'll leave it to them to go to whichever place they are most comfortable in.

Makati City

On our first night at Greenbelt 5, we were famished and wanted to have dinner at a nice restaurant, preferably some Filipino food. We were very lucky and excited (finally, food!) to come across one called Sentro at Greenbelt 3.

The restaurant had a very pleasant yet casual ambiance. The deco reminded me a bit of some peranakan restaurants. Inside Sentro, it was buzzing with activity, which probably means the food is good. We sat nearer to the kitchen, and I was observing their recommendations on the board.

The food menu was interesting and we had a hard time to decide what to eat. After a while, we settled for tofu, fried catfish, mango salad and their specialty called Sinigang Na Corned Beef.

Also known as Corn Beef in Tamarind broth, this is a corned beef short ribs and boneless shanks in tamarind (a type of local spice) broth with native vegetables such as kangkung, white radish and ladyfingers . They even let you taste the broth first, for you to judge if it has just the right sour taste. We decided it to be a little more sour.

When the actual dish is served over a small fire, we quickly took photos of it before serving it in small bowls. My first impression of this was that it was a non-spicy version of Tom Yam. The taste of the soup was surely an appertiser, and the chunks of beef complemented the soup very well. I think I took a few bowls with my rice!

We ordered desserts as well - I think was mango custard or ice-cream - but found it a tad too sweet for my liking.

The price was around RM130 after conversion. It's similar to dining in a local restaurant but to me, this was worth it.

Eastwood City

While in Eastwood City, there were many choices when it comes to food. There was even a location map for us that provided an overview what the complex has to offer. However, as most of these restaurants serve pork, we had to make a pass. The only 'mamak' restaurant Princess Jaipur was closed for renovations, much to the dismay of Faizul. In the end, we settled for fast food - KFC and McDonalds.

KFC has this signboard that states its bacon is fried in a separate broiler so to accomodate Muslim patrons. I ordered the KFC Famous Bowl.

It's actually a bowl of mash potato, topped with slices of fried chicken strips, corn and cheese. Not sure why they call this famous bowl though. In the beginning it was all right, but towards the end I felt a little jilak eating so much mash potato at one given time.

I noticed KFC here supplies extra brown sauce to its patrons for free. They would put a thermos full of brown sauce, and the patrons would help themselves by pouring it over their fried chicken. I guess this is how the locals eat KFC.

Two interesting observations with fast food restaurants in Manila (I'm referring to KFC, McDonalds and local chain Jollibee). One is that they serve rice dishes, as well as spaghetti. I guess rice is common because KFC serves rice dishes in Malaysia as well. However, the spaghetti bit was an eye-opener. Fried chicken and spaghetti anyone?

The second one is relating to the serving size. I'm not sure if we Malaysians are so kiasu and always get the large sized meals, or just that Filipinos don't eat that much. The burgers and drinks for a regular meal is almost similar to that of a kid's Happy Meal. While some may feel a little short changed, I think it's good to serve in smaller portions, unlike those in supersized America.

Other Pinoy Favourites

The one and only exports that I know Philippines is famous for is the dried mangoes. Particularly 7D Dried Mangoes. I had so many orders for mangoes that I actually had a separate bag to bring those back! Two colleagues whom I met there were gracious enough to buy the mangoes for me as I just didn't have the time to do so.

These mangoes are very addictive. Once you open and start eating one piece, chances are that you cannot stop. Within the next 1 hour (if you are lucky it last that long), the packet will be empty and you wondered where in the world those mangoes gone.

While in Manila, I was introduced to this bakery called Goldilocks Bakeshop. It's a very well known bakery and one of its star products are spongecakes known locally as Mamon.

I was lucky to try two flavours - Choco Slice and Special Mamon. I simply love, love Choco Slice! Totally delicious!

I also bought back a few boxes of their famous Polvoron. Polvoron is some sort of sweet local cookie. To me it tastes something like kueh bang kek, while some said it tastes like Sugi biscuit, or some kuih Raya. Apparently Filipinos abroad tend to crave for Polvoron. I guess it's something closest that reminds them of home.

That's about all the foodstuff I've tried within such a short period. I asked my staff to buy me another box of Polvoron, this time cashew flavour. Looking forward to that!


LMF said...

y go thru all the trouble to bring the 7D Mangoes on your trip while there are being sold in all major super market like isetan, jusco, cold storage.

n i l e e y said...

hiya - Some of my colleagues claim that the mangoes taste nice if from Philippines think it's just a reason for free mangoes :D

LMF said...

haa haa.. true true.. free stuff always taste nicer... anyway.. i heard that there will be some price discount for the 7D Mangoes later this months in Cold Storage and Mercato Hartamas