I am quite surprised to learn that Manila’s famous Whistlestop Restaurant has been open since 1977. Oh well, I was still a child then, innocent of all the beguiling ways of food. By the 1980s, it was already an institution, and roaring well into the 90s, until it met an untimely death in 2005, for the reason that its original owners chose to migrate to other shores.
But as most legends go, some nostalgic fellas are bound to save it because they still believe in the name. And so it goes: there’s no stopping Whistlestop. The new owners, young entrepreneurs Lex Ledesma and Dennis Gan, have retained the well-loved dishes in the old menu, and even hired the cook who worked for Whistlestop for decades. They’ve pieced it all together into a restaurant evoking a sentimental feel. Its dark corners are filled with eyecatching conversational pieces like old luggages, an antique manual typewriter, a jar of Chocnut and a giant poster of the Central Station plastered on its wall, to name just a few. Of course, the 80s baby-boomers can’t help but dine in a place they grew up with, and then some.
The resto’s Hainanese Chicken Rice (P250 for boneless) is their classic bestseller, and is a must-try. The rice isn’t as exquisite as the one I tasted in Tao Yuan recently, but there was something in it that was addicting. Maybe it was the tender chicken meat which melted in my mouth, or the teriyaki glaze that went with it. There are not too many places offering Hainanese Chicken Rice in the metro, and Whistlestop should be a reasonable alternative, if you’re hankering for one.
The Morning Lightweight (P165) shouts “comfort foood!” Simply put, it’s a medium-sized tasty corned beef hash (or tortang corned beef, if you may) with a piece of egg, a cup of rice and tomato garnish. For a bigger version, you’d be glad to know there’s also a Morning Heavyweight.
Because Whistlestop is a 24-hour restaurant, it is frequented by revellers from nearby bars who want something hot after a night of partying and drinking. And that is how the house’s Steamboat Soup (P250, good for two) has become a popular choice. This one reminds me of the Chinese dish hototay, actually. A savory soup with bits of meat, squid balls, liver, lettuce and some other veggies.
Their Buffalo Chicken Wings (P175) doesn’t disappoint, and the blue cheese dressing is simply irresistible.
Their open-faced mini tacos called Whistle-izzas is their tribute to the in-demand Angelizzas of the defunct Angelino’s Restaurant. Flavored ground meat with diced onions, tomatoes and cheese, over crunchy tacos. Yum!
Am not really a big fan of crispy noodles because some of them prove to be messy when handled. Whistlestop’s crispy pancit (P190) mixes well with the chopsuey-like sauce for a quite delectable pairing.
Nothing like a great dessert to end a sumptuous meal. And the Chocolate Truffle Cake (P120) is it! Chocolate-y goodness like what our mamas used to make.
28 Jupiter St. Makati
(beside Starbucks and Fiamma)
Tel. No. 896-1989