By now, readers of this blog should have noticed that my food philosophy really is not to spend my hard-earned peso on places that are too pretentious and fancy when I can get the same in other restos for so much less. Especially since I’ve seen how delectable food is much more affordable in other places in Asia, or out-of-town like Angeles City.. Good cuisine shouldn’t make one feel like there is some sort of highway robbery going on, even if some poor guy or publicist is footing the bill. Some restos in Manila are hyped so much when we should know better as wise consumers. it is not really our responsibility to subsidize somebody’s expensive studies in a culinary school, if you know what I mean. Besides if you’re even wiser, you can cook and embellish the same old pasta or seafood at home.
This is the reason why am always on the look-out for the best value-for-money eating places that Manila offers, unless you feel like giving yourself a treat and would like to partake of the newly-launched Diamond Hotel Indulgence Card :P.
Take for example Sakura Japanese Grocery and Restaurant, an old standby in Glorietta 4 which I only had the pleasure of discovering recently – thanks to my friend Jamie who treated moi. While Japanese food is generally viewed to be expensive, the dishes here are in the price range of less than P100 to below P300 (for the bento boxes). Owner Amelia Castillo proudly declares that prices have stayed the same since seven years ago.
Sakura is where Amelia’s son, composer Archie Castillo, showcases his kitchen prowess, like the spicy tuna sashimi I munched on that evening (P148), a tower of fresh fish cubes mixed in some mayonnaise dressing then sprinkled with hot sauce and chili powder. My friend, meanwhile ordered the scallops and asparagus teppanyaki and had a most heavenly langka and banana nut homemade ice cream for dessert (P115 for 2 scoops) which the resto consigns from a Japanese chef.
From my friends in the San Juan-Mandaluyong area came the advice to try Everything at Steak on
Wilson P. Guevarra St. It was truly dirt cheap! Think of the fastfood Sizzling and Steak Escape in a restaurant setting. The quality may not compare to hotel/fine dining outlets but this steak house should bring so much delight to the carnivorous masses. For this weekend, my best friend Cecil and I had a big luscious slab of T-Bone smothered with mushroom gravy and the baked pork spareribs – all with two scoops of mashed potatoes at P120/125 each. It seemed unbelievable that not a single item in the menu was priced above P150 – from the roast beef sandwich (P110) to the Monster Big Mouth (Double Patties) Burger (P120) to the assortment of pastas (P105 to P110).
Gram’s Diner food
Gram’s Diner at the SM Mall of Asia has been my kids’ favorite of late because of their chicken fingers and silver dollar (teenie-weenie) pancakes. It adopts the TGI Friday’s concept without the TGIF prices. Another reason to love this place more is their weekend breakfast buffet, available only at Gram’s MOA. At P120, it’s enough to fill you up for the morning without busting your budget. What’s on the menu: eggs in any way you choose, bacon, corned beef, fish (boneless bangus) rice, sausage and bread with jam or tuna dressing. Service is friendly because the waitstaff was encouraging me to get more instead of having a deadpan expression because you have all that food on your plate 😛
Fish & Chips @ Fish & Co.
Finally, I have to thank God for generous friends. After being am obedient shopping companion, 😛 Cathy treats me a no-rice, no-meat dinner at Fish & Co! As its name implies, the house specialty is their English-style fish and chips, sans the newspaper wrapping ( F&Cs in England are wrapped in newspapers) At first we thought we wouldn’t be able to finish the huge fillet of fish served in front of us in custom-made personalized pans but we did! It helps if you love to eat fish more than anything else. Fish & Co. at the Mall of Asia has a warm marine/nautical theme with fish/dolphin caricatures hanging by the ceiling etc. Meals can cost from P400-700 per person and I’ll gladly go back to this place…. only if somebody’s treating!
Sakura is at the 2nd floor of Glorietta 4, makati City
Everything at Steak is at #5 P. Guevarra St, San Juan, M.M.
and at 939 Banawe St., Quezon City
Gram’s Diner and Fish & Co. have branches at the Sm Mall of Asia (Bayside)