10 Good Places To Eat In Manila, Philippines
Filipino food may not be as famous as its neighbouring countries, but they definitely intrigued your tastebuds. You just have to know where to find them and how to eat them. This country, made of over 7000 islands with a vast heritage of world cultures and flavours has so much more to offer besides the mind-boggling balut (duck embryo) and lechon.
I was invited by Makansutra to Manila for a 15 Hours Food Frenzy Safari, a lead up to World Street Food Congress 2016 which will be held from the 20th-24th of April in the stunning Bonifacio Global City. During this short gastronomic adventure, we visited 10 eateries and were introduced to more than 30 dishes in Manila. Here’s a list of eateries that you should check out the next time you visit Philippines. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Address: 31st Street Corner Rizal Drive, BGC Stopover Pavilion, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Our first stop is Recovery Food at Bonifacio Global City, a new food concept from the Mamou Group. The menu offers comfort food that you turn to when you’re recovering from stress or hangover. One of the dishes we had was Tapa de Morning (in the picture) featuring chunks of freshly made tapa (cured beef) topped with an egg over organic garlic rice (red or white rice). It’s a perfect combo of salty and sweet, enough to refuel and prepare me for a long day ahead. My favourite is Amadoblo. Old fashioned adobo is marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic, browned in oil and simmered in the marinade. It’s like tau you bak! Other options is Hey Jude’s Paksig featuring shredded Sarangani Bangus belly cooked in native vinegar broth and organic rice; and S.S.T which is translated to spicy sweet tuyo and served with fried egg and organic garlic rice.
Address: Del Pilar, McArthur Highway, San Fernando, Pampanga
We took a 2 hours drive to Pampanga, which is known to serve some of the most delicious and ingenious dishes in Philippines. You can’t be a foodie if you haven’t been to Everybody’s Cafe. It’s one of the oldest institution in the province where home-cooked Pampangan dishes are served in turu-turo style. It was first opened in Sun Fernando Market in 1952 and in 1967, it branched out to its present site on MacArthur Highway.
Like our version of chap chye peng, we had a whole table of Pampangan dishes such as suman tamales (square suman made of ground glutinous rice topped with slices of egg, ham and chicken), pindang damulag (cured carabao’s meat that melts in your mouth), sarsyadong itlog (traditional capampangan omelette with ripe tomatoes n onions), tidtad or diniguan (pork innards cooked with pig’s blood and vinegar) and more.
My favourite is Morcon. A popular dish in Everybody’s Cafe, it is made with ground pork, spanish chorizo, quezo de bola cooked for 6 hours. For the adventurous, the exotic Camaru may suit your palette. They are mole crickets with hands and wings removed, sauteed in garlic and onion, then roasted to a crunch. We also had this awesome Tsokolate Batirol, an old fashioned chocolate drink made our of cocoa and peanut paste that is made using a century old stone grinder. It tasted just like our sesame paste.
Address: Glaciano Valdez St, Angeles, Pampanga
Aling Lucing, is known to be the birthplace of sizzling Sisig. The owner Lucia Cunanan served a concoction of boiled and chopped pig ears and cheeks seasoned with vinegar, calamansijuice, chopped onions and chicken liver and served in hot plates. I was told that the founder of the iconic dish, Lucia Cunanan, was murdered by her husband over money issue in 2008. She was 80 years old then. But she left us a great legacy.
Address: 463B Miranda St, Angeles, 2009 Pampanga
Our last stop in Pampanga is at Cafe Fleur sited in a restored conserved old house Pampanga. According to many of our Filippino friends, Chef Sau Del Rosario’s Kare-Kare is one of the best! His crispy pork belly with macadamia truffle kare-kare sauce is sooooo good, so sinful! Adding a little modern touch to his dishes, the tamales are served in a glass cup. It is made with rice flour, annatto oil, coconut, chicken, edible flowers crispy bits of various toppings.
Our table of local foodies like the Relyenong Bangus – a milkfish deboned, flaked, stuffed and fried until golden and crisp. Sinigang Na Ulang is tamarind broth is served with huge and juicy prawns. Desserts include Halo Halo – a popular Filipino dessert with mixtures of shaved ice and evaporated milk to which are added various boiled sweet beans, jello and fruits.
Address: Carvajal St, Binondo, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines
We went on a food tour by The Big Binondo Food Wok! Binondo is a district in Manila and is referred to as the city’s Chinatown and is the world’s oldest Chinatown. It is largely migrant Hokkiens from the Fujian province and they had preserve many of their food ways. At Quik Snack eatery (which is located in a narrow alley), we had the fresh version of Lumpia (ok got to pronounce it correctly if not it means otherwise). Just like our version of popiah (spring roll), it’s fat and filled with meat, lettuce, carrots, peanuts, and eaten with garlic in vinegar sauce. It’s pretty awesome.
Other snacks we tried include Empanada which is like a meat pie filled with pork, kuchay, carrots, and sauce in a crisp, pie-like crust. Even though its name is “Quik Snack”, they are not a fast food joint. It’s just that they serve out food pretty fast. My favourite is the Fried Tofu with their special sauce topped with cucumber, juansoy, peanuts, and chili sauce.It’s deep fried till perfection and the sweet sauce pairs so well with the soft tofu. If you would like to have carbs, Amah Pillar’s Sate Noodles with pancit, beef, sate sauce, and kangkong is an option.
Address: 497 E.T. Yuchengco (Formerly Nueva) St., Binondo
In 1956, Uy Mo Koan and Uy Lim Bee had a vision of opening a restaurant serving Amoy dishes. With the help of fellow vendors and a small start up fee of 600 pesos, they opened a small mami house. Business grew and now, they have three outlets and managed by 3rd generation.
To many locals, they serve one of the best fried chicken. It’s crunchy, juicy and really addictive! In addition, order their oyster omelette with thick pancake full of oysters, beansprouts and assorted vegetables. I really like their Kikiam, which is a Chinese sausage wrapped in tofu skin (aka ngoh hiang).
Dong Bei Dumplings
Address: 642 Yuchengco St, Binondo
Walking down the street, our next stop was a little hole in the wall that’s been around for nearly 10 years. This dong bei dumpling shop run by a native Chinese man and they specialize in dumplings. Honestly, it looks unassuming. But when we popped the pork chives dumplings into our mouths, it tastes good! Wrapped in thick skin, these dumplings are wrapped with really tasty pork and chives and boiled till cooked. They also sell Chinese pancake, same fillings except that it’s pan fried till golden brown.
Eng Bee Tin
650 Ongpin Street, Binondo
Born in 1912, Mr. Chua Chiu Hong established Eng Bee Tin in a simple stall in the heart of Ongpin, Manila. The stall became well known for its traditional Chinese delicacies, such as hopia, tikoy and glutinous balls. We made a quick stop at its Binondo outlet to sample hopia–ube, coconut pandan, and custard.
Address: Unit 1-7 Forum South Global, Federacion Dr cor 7th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
Sarsa serves authentic Negrense food using high-quality ingredients by Chef Jayp Anglo. Its flavours are bold and its portions are hearty. We were served with an authentic boodle fight, a style of Filipino dining that encourages sharing and invented by the Philippine Army. A huge portion of garlic rice is topped with chicken skewers such as Chicken Inasal, Isaw (chicken intestines), bishop’s nose, tender chicken tail and Tortang Talong (eggplant pancake). The Kinilaw which accompanied the skewers is good. Just like our yu sheng, it is a cold salad made with raw tuna cooked in vinegar and lime.
Other than that, we also had the Sizzling Kansi, a hot plate filled with chunks of beef in batwan gravy sauce and bulalo bone marrow. Another must-try is Batchoy. Also known as Pinoy Ramen, it’s a bowl of noodles in pork and beef stock, egg, pork, liver, and topped with chicharon.
Mercato Centrale Night Market
Address: Corner of 34th street and 8th avenue (across MC Home Depot), 34th St, Taguig, Metro Manila
Mercato Centrale is the biggest night food market in the Philippines where Manila foodies can enjoy home-based food goodness. Saving the best for the last, we were treated to Dedet’s truffle rice Lechon, which was the runway best seller at last years WSFC15 in Singapore.
A Filipino Food Tour is not complete without the Balut Challenge for first time foodies in the Philippines – which is me. Filipinos eat balut for its aphrodisiac benefits. Honestly, I was adamant about not having it until the girls (Rozz and Yuki) said to do it together. So Rozz back out while Yuki and I continued one. We had the 16-day duck embryo with the egg yolk, I don’t think there’s eyes nor beak. Whatever it is, I have done it once and I won’t do it again.
The 15-hour food frenzy concluded with a bang. Thank you Makansutra for organizing this delicious food tour where we get to learn a slice of Filipino food culture on our platters.
I am very excited about coming back to Manila to eat my heart’s out at the World Street Food Congress. The world street food congress dialogue is happening on 20 & 21 April 2016. Simultaneously, there would be a 5-day street food feasting party at the world street food jamboree (20 to 24 April 2016) in Manila, where 24 of the world’s best street food vendors and hawker would dazzle you with their iconic heritage street food fare! Our Singapore hawkers (Keng Eng Kee, Jin Ji Duck Rice and Chey Sua Carrot Cake) will be coming to the Philippines to showcase our local street food too. Hope to see you there!