First off, hellooooooooo! It’s been two months since I last published an entry and in my standard, that’s a really long time because I’m quite diligent when it comes to posting and am the only person in my clique who hasn’t “outgrown” blogging (and I probably never will so bear with me haha!). Why haven’t I updated? I’m not so sure myself. It’s not like something monumental happened in my life nor is it because of lack of time (oh boy, if only you know how much of it is
spent wasted on social media). What matters is, for the one or two readers that I have, I’m back! :]
Same old, same old. I still have nothing better to share so we’re still in the “photodumping” phase but this one’s close to my heart.
If I didn’t know better and you told me that Malate used to be the hangout place for the hip and elite of Manila, I would not have believed you. As I’ve said time and time again, when I called it my second home in 2008, it was already dead and the new generation has transferred to other places in the metro (mostly concrete slabs if you ask me *peace sign*). But it has character. Yes, it’s dirty and quite scary and outdated and has little to offer in comparison but if you look hard enough, you’ll find something, anything.
Since I’m not into bars (the ones where you’re required to dance) and I have no creative bone in my body, the only way to explore Malate is to eat through it and that’s exactly what I’m doing, if my allowance permits.
Let’s start with Robinson’s Manila which I fondly call “RobMan” because we can’t deny that Filipinos have an obsession with malls. Why not? It’s convenient and more importantly, air conditioned. Over the years, different restaurants have come and gone (Bistro Ravioli huhu) but this year saw a lot of promising openings in the place where me and my classmates used to complain about the lack of decent choices (in hindsight, we just wanted an excuse to go somewhere else hehe).
I’ve been hearing good reviews about Ramen Nagi. When I ate in Ippudo months ago, the girl on the table beside ours commented that Ippudo was great but Ramen Nagi is still better which was a revelation for me because Ippudo IS the best I’ve had at that time.
I refuse to rank the two but Ramen Nagi lives up to all the posts written about it. I especially like it when I have control over what goes into my bowl and can choose the hardness of the noodles. The three variations we had were all mouthwatering with the Original as my favorite. I have yet to try Black King. The only downside with dining here, same with almost every other ramen joint, is the price. A bowl, which can serve two light eaters if you really push it, is still more than the DAILY minimum wage of a worker.
Another newly opened place is Mr. Pizza, also a franchise (I have nothing against importing brands but I prefer it if Pinoy entrepreneurs come up with yummy ideas that we can patronize, para sa ekonomiya! #waley) from the land of Big Bang, South Korea! The spaghetti was decent, the pizza subpar. Maybe we just ordered the wrong things because Dai swore that their premium pizzas were the bomb. Will give this one another chance.Just beside Mr. Pizza is another Korean brand, Kyochon endorsed by non other than Lee Min Ho. They specialize in Korean-style fried chicken and I must say, the Original and Special Honey flavored wings we had were so delicious we immediately dove in and forgot to take a picture so here’s our faces instead. This is what you call a three-years-in-the-making lunch. Hi Trishia! :]
On the fourth floor of the mall is a restaurant that stood the test of competition, Aristocrat. I actually prefer the branch along Roxas Blvd but this one’s convenient for the times when you’re too lazy to walk the way. Pinoy-style fried chicken pride! Lelz. Plus some Kalderetang Baka which reminded me of home except it was expensive HAHA! Sorry, I just love carinderias so much.
Now listen here. This dessert is called Torta Delos Reyes, “crisp wafers with chocolate and butter icing, decorated with melted white chocolate“. A petite size which is really small costs 190 pesos. We were thinking twice about ordering it but the waiter said it was their bestseller and being easily swayed by the word, we had one. It was love at first bite and we immediately understood and accepted the steep price. Sometimes you just have to screw your budget because money is only as good as the pleasure you can derive from it. #damikongsinabi.
Now let’s go outside the mall and breathe some
fresh polluted air. Just outside Robinson’s Manila (when you take the Padre Faura exit) is Midtown Diner and Hotel. The mall has a Midtown Wing and I think it was named after Midtown Hotel which used to occupy the land where said wing is now erected. Anyway, there was nothing amazing about the items I had but there’s still a lot to try. I also like the ambiance with pink neon lights and the songs being played were nice.Walk along Padre Faura towards Roxas Blvd and then take a right and you’ll find Emerald Garden restaurant. Also, you’re now in Ermita! (correct me if I’m wrong but I heard or read somewhere that Padre Faura is the street that divides Malate and Ermita). My agenda in visiting this place is their jumbo siopao which only costs 110 pesos! Go before 3 PM because it sells out fast I was only able to taste it on my third try. Everything else we ordered was meh. I need to go back with a big group and try their Chinese dishes.
Walk towards Bocobo corner Arquiza street and you will chance upon one of the hidden gems on this side of Manila, Za’s restaurant and Hizon’s Cakes and Pastries. It is said that this was Dolphy’s favorite restaurant and there’s even a mug (or was it a table?) dedicated to him. Anyway, order their grilled ensaymada. And this pork chop which was divine. I’ve only been to the place once and I haven’t been back because they close pretty early at 8PM and I don’t have dinner till later (bad habit, I know). Also, no funds.Another downside is their special menus. Like this turkey with iforgotthenameofthemeatbeneath which is so good but it’s only offered during Thursdays. Sabagay, we can appreciate things more if they’re not always readily available. So it’s not a downside after all.Another gem along Padre Faura corner Adriatico is Tap Station. This used to be Centrale/Nero’s when I was in college but it’s good riddance with the latter. I love the interiors though it can get a little cramped especially when all the tables are filled because the place is small. But if you wanted space you wouldn’t go to a bar right? Thanks to this I don’t need to go far for a decent drink. Very conducive for general tambay. If you want to get drunk, don’t go here because it’s for people who only like to chill and have a shot and meal after a stressful day.
If it’s your first time you can ask for a sampler to help you decide. They serve food as well. Tords and I settled for sausages on buns with fries and mashed potato but Gi said the sausage platter is a must while Chabs wants to try Swiss meatballs. I’ll try those next time because there will definitely be a next time, preferably on a weekday because this place has been popular lately around the area thanks to word of mouth. Also, the very friendly waiters give out privilege cards which let you get not one but two free drinks after buying 10 glasses!All this time I thought I was a beer-kind of drinker (I even sought out to try every available brand I could get my hands on and planned on brewing my own in the future) only to realize I prefer gin. Or maybe it was just Tap Station’s Gin juice?
After getting your alcohol fix (don’t be too drunk, NOT COOL), Lau Chan along Mabini street is the perfect spot for you. It’s a hotpot! I’ve walked Mabini countless times but this place was so nondescript during daylight that I was surprised it was a functioning restaurant when the sun goes down! No frills, I like.
Dai and I had a bad memory with shabu-shabu (read here) but it’s been what? 3? 4 years? Time to glaze over that unfortunate event with a good memory! Anyway, hotpot is encouraged for groups of more than four. Since there’s only two of us, we weren’t able to try a lot of items. In fact, we settled for safe orders. Not even a hint of green! HAHA talk about carnivores. We had corn, fish cake, squid, shrimp, beef, and cheese balls in sate soup. Cheese balls were so good next time we’re only ordering broth and plates of these. CHEESE IS LYF.Next stop (DISCLAIMER: I did not eat all of these in one day but in a span of months) is good old Erra’s. RamenXButtered Chicken. I miss the days when it wasn’t so popular we can easily get a table on a weekend night. Now it’s so mainstream I passed by last night and saw hoards of people standing while waiting on the streets! But I’m still happy for its success. I hope others follow suit.Studying at our favorite CBTL which is unfortunately under renovation (the second floor) as of this writing.
Hello to Pagsy who once brought me mouthwatering foods from Sandwicheese and Banapple! Perfect with my cup of coffee and enough calories to force my brain to digest whatever I was studying at that time!
Long before the Ramen craze began, there already was Ukokkei Ramen Ron. I was excited to try their Tantanmen in the branch along Mabini only to be disappointed. According to the servers, it was no longer called Ukokkei because it was sold to a new owner (probably because of bad sales due to bad location). This bowl was too salty. I guess I have to go all the way to Makati for the original. 😦
Special mention to these two souls (yuck, souls talaga?) who introduced me to most of the places on the post so I dedicate this photodump to them (naks)!!! They’re such loyal customers the servers at Hizon’s, CBTL and Cafe Adriatico know them by name (and even give them special perks).
Dear Tords and Chabs, though Barrio Fiesta closed down years ago, you found new “homes” in a couple of places and I thank you for bringing me to them! Also for proving that relativity is true as evidenced by taxi rides at unholy hours because we talked and exposed and ate too much.Bistro sa Remedios which has been around since 1984 and is under the LJC group of restaurants. If you want to dine in peace, go here. The food is a bit expensive but the ambiance makes up for it.Cafe Adriatico’s (under the same companu) version of gambas, is better. This lacks garlic. Bulalo which wasn’t as shiny as others (that’s a good thing). And their bestseller, Binukadkad na Pla Pla. You have to give it to us, we don’t like to take our dish names seriously. Not sure if this is Tilapia but if it is, then I haven’t tasted one so tender. I was tempted to use my hands to remove all fish and leave nothing for the cats but I was shy.My favorite part of our Remedios meal though, is the dessert. This is called Sikreto ni Maria Clara composed of Suman, Mangoes and Ice cream. It’s like Thailand’s Mango Sticky Rice, but better. Every bite was worth all the calories I was ingesting!
Last but not the least is Cafe Adriatico. I’ve been here before because it was where I decided to do one item from my bucket list (dine alone) but I’ve only been to the first floor. Tords and Chabs brought me to the second floor which was another world.
May go-to order here has always been Chicken ala Kiev but one night I was introduced to one of the best gambas ever. Not particularly fond of the adobo flakes but Tords said Lola Ising’s Adobo is another story so I’ll have to order that next time. Also, I didn’t like Tsokolate Eh! when I first had it but Chabs recommended Tsokolate Ah! (the thinner version). It was decent but still nothing compared with the Tsokolate de Batirol I had in Ilo Ilo. Now that really raised up the bar for chocolate drinks haha!
My favorite part of eating ala Kiev is cutting through the chicken and seeing the butter ooze out. Happy place, happy face.Also, Cafe Adriatico offers one of the best views of Malate. Not from a high rise and not from the ground. Sakto lang.I once overheard Carlos Celdran say that the old Malate is dead and we can’t bring it back. All we can do is gather what’s left and reinvent it from there. I couldn’t agree more. Places, like people, need the fudge to move on.
Whether it gets reinvented or not, I know I’ll keep coming back. :]