They say you should not deprive yourself of food when you go on diet because you’ll just rebound after all the starving you’ve done for the past week or month and you’ll find yourself consuming more calories than ever (wow, that’s too many you’s). Hence, I am trying my best to be conscious of what I eat every single time except during my so-called cheat day (or days, depending on my feels. I’m an emotional eater you know). Today I woke up feeling blue and decided right away that it was my cheat day. Good thing I get to spend it with one of the best (if not the best) food trip buddy ever, my bebe Dai.
When I still lived within the vicinity of Malate and Ermita, I always wanted to try establishments NOT located in the area (for a change). Since my training started, I haven’t been to this part of Manila as often as before and suddenly, I had the urge to try the restaurants I failed to dine in on while I was still a student (preferably the ones outside Robinson’s Place Manila). Ah, human nature, we want to explore the other side of the fence without looking at our own yards first.
Thanks to Google, I found out that there are still a lot of places to try and explore and some of them have been up and running for decades! One example is Munchen Grill-Pub and Restaurant along A. Mabini street in front of Citystate Tower Hotel (near Padre Faura). The facade is composed of a wooden door without any sign whatsoever and two closed windows. Dai and I thought the place was closed at first for it seemed like it was void of any living souls but we decided to turn the knob anyway and voila, it opened.
The interior looked old and gloomy and I’m sure it has seen better days. We were seated in one of the only two tables occupied on a Monday afternoon but I don’t mind because I like ancient-looking places and I don’t like conversing within earshot of other people. The other table was occupied by four old foreigners which I assumed were German because they spoke gruffly and I kept on hearing “danke” and “und” (two of the only six German words I know, the other four being mit, meine, schwester, and fuhrer). No matter how much I want to appreciate it, blue and green and brown just don’t go together.
A story about the establishment could be read on the first page of their menu. After the success of Edelweiss (a Philippine-German Bistro Restaurant) which opened in 1979 along the tourist belt in Del Pilar st, Ermita, Manila, the management decided to open Munchen Pub-Grill in 1989. However, due to the “Great Purge” in 1993 instigated by the newly elected mayor of the time (none other than Alfred Lim) which hoped to rid the city of the seedy elements involved in “Night Life”, Edelweiss was relocated to Angeles City while Munchen defied this clean-up and up to date, still offers special Bavarian cuisine. History is always interesting. I wonder how Ermita-Malate looked like before 1993 or better yet, how it would’ve looked today if not for Lim’s efforts to kill the red district. Too bad I was still a baby during the glorious days of Malate, I wonder if it’s too late to revive the district…
Back to Munchen, the menu was printed bond papers placed in clear book folders, no pictures whatsoever so Dai and I had a hard time choosing because we didn’t know a thing about Bavarian or German cuisine except that the sausages are supposed to be good. Heck, we can’t even pronounce the items in the first place. Schweinebraten or salzkartoffelen or bauernkotlett, anyone? We gravitated towards the sausage and pork sections and sought help from the waitress who was neither helpful nor snob, maybe she was just as lost as we were. haha. We trusted our instinct, the waitress’ recommendation of their bestsellers and the English translation, placed our orders (thank God for the numbers before the items because we gave up hope of ever saying the words correctly) and kept our fingers crossed that whatever we’d have would hopefully be delicious.
Whenever Dai orders desserts, she always ask the waiter to serve it ASAP so we end up eating the sweets first before the main course. We shared in an order of Banana Split. Just two bananas cut in half, placed in a bowl with a couple of scoops of cookies and cream ice cream and splashed with strawberry syrup. It was noms but then again, you don’t mess up something as simple as Banana Split.
Ungarische Wurst, Brot (Spicy Hungarian sausage, bread). Dai fell in love with this one and I have to admit it was delicious even without dressing, not spicy at all. I especially love the tearing sound when you spike the thing with fork, the mark of a true wurst. The bread could have been warm though. Dai said she would be having cravings for this and I believe her. In fact, she was still raving about the thing 2 hours after we left the place. Oh, and the size of the sausage was adequate.
Their bestseller is no. 53, Paniertes Schnitzel (Wiener Art) Bratkartoffein, Salat (breaded pork-escalope [Vienna Style] home fried potatoes, salad). The salad that came with the meal composed of carrots, cucumber, tomatoes and something that looked like raw meat but is actually a fruit. According to Dai it was good but she says that to every salad she eats so I don’t really know.
The potatoes tasted exactly like potatoes. According to Wikipedia, escalopes “are pieces of boneless meat which have been thinned out using a mallet, rolling pin or beaten with the handle of a knife. The mallet breaks down the fibers in the meat, making it more tender, while the thinner meat cooks faster with less moisture loss, producing a dish that cooks faster and is moister and more tender” and it was tender, alright. So tender effort was not needed in chewing. However, the taste was common it felt like we’ve eaten less-tender versions of this one countless times in the past.
Munchner Bauernschmaus, it included roasted pork, smoked porkloin, bread/bacon dumpling, sausage and sauerkraut. I wasn’t a fan of the dumpling though Dai liked it, maybe when I think of dumpling I just immediately associate it with Chinese. The sausage was delicious but it pales in comparison with the Hungarian one. Let’s just say that the former is for regular days and the latter, for special occasions. The roast pork and porkloin were both juicy though I like porkloin better, it’s like bacon but less fatty. At first I thought sauerkraut was another kind of cured meat only to find out it’s fermented cabbage, a staple in Bavarian cuisine I guess. Anyway, the sour taste complimented the meatiness of the meal, I can’t imagine finishing the plate without sauerkraut to clean the palate.
Since Germany is known for sausages and beer (in terms of food because the country’s well known for many things), I wanted to try German beer because it would have been perfect with the dishes. Unfortunately, none was available and I wasn’t in the mood for San Miguel Beer so we settled for tap water. Overall, Munchen was a good choice and I know we will be back but we’re sticking with sausages next time.
When I said a while ago that Dai is the best food trip buddy, I mean it. She’s not afraid to taste something new (even the ones we couldn’t pronounce), she’s willing to commute for an hour just to try a restaurant, she knows that it’s common sense for us to order different dishes and share especially if it’s our first time trying out a place, she understands (or at least tries to) my need to take pictures of food before consumption, she never whines about the price even if sometimes it’s not worth it (in her words, “At least na-try ko na” or “At least next time, alam ko na kung ano yung oorderin/hindi oorderin“) and most of all, she eats like everything is sooooooo delicious which makes you appreciate the food more. :]
After Munchen, I was supposed to let her try the Ramen cart in front of Erra’s and then we’d eat again at Gumbo. Surprisingly, we were already full so we just bought ourselves Jamaican Patties (the small ones, mind you), frozen yogurt from Kenny Rogers, and white gummy bear with antioxidants and flax and fiber from Jamba Juice. Ah, comfort foods! She said on Facebook that she missed Jamaican Pattie and Jamba Juice but she missed me the most. Kinilig naman ako. Yay, thanks bebe!