My favorite coffee in Manila is not Starbucks or Seattle’s but this small & obscure fastfood stall at the basement of Juan Luna Shopping Mall in Binondo called Everyday Cafe.The resident barista Tony expertly brews his coffee from a Japan-made siphon machine which is similar to the one found in Ongpin’s Panciteria Lido (understandably so, the owners used to be business partners). The fastfood center is also popular among shoppers and Fil-Chinese denizens for its $1 heaping plates of pancit and equally-cheap chicken cordon bleu rolls.
Sharing equal honors is Kopi Roti’s one-of-a-kind Singaporean coffee. If the trek to Quezon City is too far for you, they have just opened a branch at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s arrival extension area. Am still waiting for the one in Manila though.
mitzie’s lechon macau
Second Best Reason To Go To 168 Mall. When you’re tired of shopping in Manila’s currently most famous bargain destination, head off to the fastfood center on the fourth floor and look for the stall with the longest line of customers.In all probability, the line belongs to Mitzie’s Chinese Cuisine which offers all these healthy and not -so-healthy yummy delicacies from roast pork to tofu at friendly Divisoria prices. The house bestseller is the lechon macau, slices of roasted pork belly with just the right sinful combination of lean meat, pork fat and crackling skin. As one old TV commercial goes: it’s worth the trip!
There are not many of them around but my favorite Vietnamese resto has got to be Cha Gio, a quaint hole-in-the-wall on E. Quintos St. near Malate’s Land Bank Plaza. I just can’t get enough of Cha Gio’s homemade sardines with French bread and their beef noodles. It was here where I also learned how to properly eat Vietnamese spring rolls: first lay out a lettuce leaf then put in a few basil leaves and slices of cucumber, top with spring roll and then ROLL! Eating lumpia will never be the same again.
My Cuisine Discovery of the Year: Korean. 2005 will go down in my history as the year when I learned to love the seemingly odious kimchi for all it’s worth. I also love the fact that whenever I go to a Korean restaurant, they give you all these appetizers and if you chat up with the friendly owner some more, she might even give you the bouillabaisse soup and dessert for free.Thankfully a Korean invasion is in full throttle in the country, hence it shouldn’t be hard to satisfy your kimchi craving in major cities of the archipelago. This Manila Girl prefers the Nolboo House along Roxas Boulevard which now occupies what used to be a raunchy nightclub called Visions.
The best value-for-money breakfast buffet on my list is at Le Jardin Restaurant on the second floor of the City Garden Hotel in Makati. Their daily fare is only P295 which is cheap enough considering that you will gorge on eight main courses, an array of appetizers including salmon sashimi, an egg station for your favorite omelettes, a loadful of desserts and drinks to boot. For a hotel offering, the price is not only reasonable but yummy too!
My favorite popcorn to munch on is none other than Holy Kettle. It is as addicting as Pringles but has zero calories so.. bring it on!
My favorite mass-based chocolate cake unpredictably belongs to Tapa King. I love its moist texture and sweet caramel center which is just perfect if you’ve wolfed down their delectable serving of greasy tapsilog.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post belong to a thirty-something lady food-tripping at four thirty in the morning. The places stated herein are the Greater Manila Area so please don’t look for them in Luang Prabang or Johor Bahru. My choices may not be in accordance with your budget and tastes; therefore, you are well-advised to try them at your own risk.)