DINING IN MANILA, PHILIPPINES GUIDE
In both, the tourist belt of Manila and in Makati, there is a wide variety of different cuisines of the world. There is a selection of food from neighboring countries such as China, Japan and Korea; there is Middle Eastern food; and there is regional European cuisine including Italian, German and French. Our Dining Guide describes some characteris-tics of all these different cuisines as they are found in the Philippine capital. Some comments on Philippine beverages and Philippine fruits follow this general introduction.
The cosmopolitan variety of restaurants in Metro Manila is a result of the attractive-ness of the Philippine capital to people from all different corners of the earth; many of the cuisines originally alien to the Philippines have been brought to Metro Manila by for-eigners who have settled here. And the flair of Metro Manila as a world city has been aided very strongly by these foreign res-taurateurs.
To have attracted foreigners and to have taken steps to turn Metro Manila into a true world city certainly was a merit of the former government. On the contrary, the current government does not see it as one of its major concerns to make Manila a really cosmopolitan city; it's not even con-cerned with maintaining the level Manila reached in the 70's and the beginning of the 80's. It's not the point that the current government has other priorities for spending.
Whether a city is cosmopolitan or not doesn't depend so much on government spending. It just simply depends on how wel-come foreigners are in a city, and whether they are allowed to become active in fields like the restaurant business. But regulations have been implemented to restrict the num-ber of foreigners employed in or managing restaurants.
The classiest restaurants of Metro Manila are found in five star hotels (Peninsula, Silahis, Holiday Inn) and in Makati at the edge of Greenbelt Park which has been very nicely remodeled during the past few years. The "Greenbelt row of restaurants" houses such excellent places as the German Schwarzwaelder, the Italian La Primavera, the Spanish Gasparelli, the international La Tasca, the Nandau seafood restaurant, and a few more. Most of these leading restaurants of the metropolis are comparatively large.
Pasay Road, also in Makati, has a strip containing large first class restaurants as well. Along Amorsolo St in Makati, in four large buildings, the Sunvar Plaza, the Gallery Bldg, the Creekside Bldg, and the Mile Long Bldg (which is much shorter than a mile), in the midst of many small boutiques and speciality stores, are a number of small res-taurants with a distinctive cuisine: Thai, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, Vegetarian, etc.
While they abound in the capital, luxurious restaurants are not common in the provinces. Simple Western food, however, is not only available in the cities but in small towns as well. The upper strata of places for dining out in provincial cities is generally provided by Chinese restaurateurs.
Although Philippine cuisine at first sight, does not seem as exotic as other East Asian cuisines, there is no basis for the complaint that there are not enough truly native dishes.
However, there is a tendency that the foreigner who stays only in a tourist environment in Manila or the provinces, will not encounter Philippine cuisine because cooking is more Westernized in public places than in Filipino homes, especially if the public places are regularly frequented by foreigners from the West.
In Manila, the Western impact is noticeable even in small restaurants. These often do not serve dishes that Filipinos would regularly eat at home (rice, vegetables and fish), but rather hamburgers and fast foods. Recently a columnist in Manila wrote: "When Chinese go out in style they eat Chinese food, when Indonesians go out in style they eat Indonesian, but when Filipinos go out in style they eat Western."
Native food includes a salty tasting fish or shrimp paste (bagoong in Tagalog) which is also found in Thailand and Indonesia, and dried fish (tuyo) which is fried and malodorous. Philippine noodle dishes resemble Chinese noodle dishes. There are also unique dishes like boiled duck embryos, named balut. For details see the food dictionary below. Three meats are commonly available: beef (baka), pork (baboy), and chicken (manok). Many recipes use the intestines or other internal organs.
There are a number of words which describe the manner of cooking: pasingaw (steaming), adobo (stewed in vinegar and garlic), sinigang (sour soup using sour vegetables or fruits), nilaga (boiled), paksiw (stewed in sour fruit or ginger), estofado (with burnt sugar sauce), ginataan or gata (cooked in coconut milk), pesa (sauted and boiled), pangat (simmered with tomatoes), bulanglang (vegetables boiled together), dinuguan (cooked in blood), kilawin (raw).
Roxas Blvd cor Lourdes St, Pasay City
Tel 521-80-07; 10:00-23:00
first class Fil. food, served in a traditional way
Pistang Pilipino, Pedro Gil cor Mabini Sts
Malate, Tel 521-22-09; 9:00-24:00
cultural shows 12:30-13:30, 21:30-23:30
lunch and dinner buffet
523 Padre Faura St, Ermita, Tel 521-94-90
11:00-24:00; eating with hands is
Barrio Fiesta (18)
Bocobo St, Ermita, Tel 59-91-78
1207 Orosa St, Ermita, Tel 59-58-97
Bulwagang Pilipino (20)
Orosa cor Arkansas St, Ermita
Tel 521-74-74; 7:00-24:00
Patio Mequeni (73)
536 Remedios St, Malate, Tel 521-53-89
11:00-15:00, 18:00-24:00; small
closed on Sun
The Aristocrat (81)
Roxas Blvd, near Silahis; Tel 50-76-71;
Tito Rey (134)
Sunvar Plaza, Pasay Rd cor Amor-solo St
Tel 816-44-61; 11:00-1:00
Probably the most original and at the same time most trend setting Pilipino restaurant in the metropolis; it is very much iden-tified with its founder and moving force, Rey Bautista - Tito Rey to friends, the Christian Dior of Filipino cuisine. He invented for example the most lasting Philip-pine dining fad of the 80's which is merely eating with bare hands. For this simple but entertaining idea he earned the title "Ama ng Kamayan" (father of eating with the hands). Tito Rey is a typical example of a restaurateur as an artist, creating unique dishes, such as steamed milkfish bellies wrapped in banana leaves. The menu encompasses more than 100 dishes, but because Tito Rey is so anxious not to bore his guests he changes his menu at least twice a year, with his new creations awaited by Filipino gourmets just as much as French high society awaits the new designs of Christian Dior.
Aling Asiang (147)
Plaza Bldg, Greenbelt Ctr, Tel 819-00-06
Kusina ni Maria (122)
108 Jupiter St, Tel 817-07-54
11:00-14:30, 18:00-22:00; closed on Sun
Known for traditional cuisine of the Southern Philippines. Par-ticularly represented is the way food is prepared in Zamboanga. They serve a number of Zamboanga specialities such as the meaty curacha, a deep-sea crab which is very common in the Sulu Sea, grilled Blue Marlin, and special kare-kare in pure peanut sauce. The ambiance at Kusina ni Maria is cozily rustic Filipiniana.
Greenbelt Park, Legazpi St, Tel 816-06-21
7:00-22:00; 1st class Philippine food, served in a traditional way on banana leaves; many seafood dishes; very nice park surrounding
822 Pasay Rd, Tel 816-79-35 to 36
11:00-15:00, 18:00-24:30; closed on Sun, except by special arrangement
An international restaurant where East and West meet; among the European dishes the Spanish prevail; among the Asian dishes, Filipino traditional favorites abound.
Sulu House (156)
Makati Commercial Center, Tel 818-50-11
7:00-22:00, cultural shows 19:00-21:00
Masa's of Makati (132)
Gallery Bldg, Amorsolo St, Tel 87-46-05
10:00-21:00; closed on Sun
many Filipino specialties such as kare-kare, rellenong alimasag, pinakbet (Ilocano dish); also serves international dishes; the management puts an emphasis on making the guest feel at home; caters to special wishes of guests
810 Pasay Rd, Tel 85-27-82; 11:30-24:00
Cebu Grill (112)
8098 Kalayaan St, Tel 88-00-28, 815-94-71
11:00-14:00, 17;00-24:00; popular grill restaurant; speciality char-coal broiled tuna; upstairs "The Top" with dance music; live music in the evening; upstairs closed on Sun
Pasay Rd cor Pasong Tamo, Tel 88-36-04
802 Pasay Rd, Tel 85-82-24; 10:00-23:00
Bakahan at Manukan (113)
Imelda Ave cor Burgos St, Tel 818-48-88
Barrio Fiesta (101)
Makati Ave cor Valdez St, Tel 818-70-94