Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Favorite Places to Eat in Manila

If there's one thing that all Pilipinos have in common, its that they love to eat and socialize. And if its your first visit to Manila, most Pilipinos will probably take you out to the local Jollibee joint. It didn't take me long to discover that many Filipinos in Manila love food that is high in sodium and high in saturated fats - yup thats how they like it! Pilipinos will proudly tell you that Jollibee represents the taste bud and innovative spirit of the Pinoys. In terms of sales, Jollibee owns over 50% of the fastfood market and consistently outperforms McDonalds or McDo (pronounced McDough). While I agree that Jollibee represents the Pinoy innovative spirit; I disagree that it represents the taste bud of its people. Period. Don't be fooled though, into believing that Jollibee resembles true Filipino food (thank God)! True filipino food, if prepared well, tastes quite good.
I'm not a culinary expert, but one thing is for sure I do like to eat! And I've sampled some really great Filipino dishes beyond Jollibee. Although
many dampa (food stalls) are relatively safe to eat
in. There are also many good, inexpensive restaurants, such as Gerry’s Grill, that serves authentic Filipino dishes.
In this guide, I'll share my favorite restaurants as well as some sarap (tasty) stuff to try. Check out these places:

1. Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel
Although, not the cheapest eats in town at 1000 pesos (US$20.00) per head, the Pool Side Barbeque at the Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel is a great treat, especially if you're a seafood and barbeque grill lover like me. And for the harbour views, great cultural shows and a great night out, its really money will worth spending. There is a great selection of mixed steak, seafood and a wide variety of Pilipino dishes and desserts. Try the tuna belly or tenderloin steak, they’re two of my favorites. There is also an accompanying folk dance from the Cordillera region, the lowland barrios, Muslim Mindanao as well as dances with mixed Spanish influence. This is the spot where I proposed to my wife, spent our honeymoon and occassionally have special dates.
Location: CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard Pasay 1099, Manila

2. Floating Chinese Restaurant
I’ve been told that originally, this floating restaurant was intended to be built as a luxurious casino during President Estrada’s administration. The boat was seriously damaged in a typhoon, and was later converted into a floating restaurant. Nice ambience and harbour views.
Location: Just look for the floating four-storey Chinese boat near the ferry docks at Luneta Park.

3. North Park Restaurant
If you’re hungry for real Chinese food, head down to North Park. Meals usually range from 100-150 pesos (between US$2-3.00) and the servings are quite large. It can get pretty crowded during lunch and dinner, and you might find yourself queuing up. To avoid this, its best to call and reserve a table in advance.
Makati: 896 3475, 896 3482
Banawe: 711 7648, 413 7063
Green Hills: 725 9439/8653
Alabang: 850 8632, 772-5819
Glorietta 2: 893 5357, 893 5378
Macapagal: 0917-886 8111
Email: customer_care@northpark.com.ph

4. Singing Cooks and Waiters
This is an unusual, but highly enjoyable place to dine. The cooks, waiters and staff will sing for you while you’re eating your meal. You can even request your favorite songs.
Location: Roxas Blvd,
Cnr Gil Puyat Ave (Buendia), Pasay City
Tel (02) 832 0658, 831 595
JP Rizal cnr
Makati Ave, Makati
Tel (02) 899 7528

5. The Aristocrat
Another nice and cheap place to eat along the broadwalk area. Serves a nice variety of Filipino dishes and grills. Try the excellent BBQ Manok (chicken). Opens 24 hours.
432 San Andres St., Cnr Roxas Blvd Malate
Tel (02) 524 7671-80

6. Andoks Lechon Manok
Andoks is a popular local grill specializing in roasted chicken (Manok) and roasted pig (Lechon), and is located in and outside of Manila. Manok was my staple diet for a couple of weeks when I first arrived in Manila. The food is served wrapped in banana leaves and goes down well with a San Miguel beer.

7. Gerry’s Grill
Gerry’s grill is an excellent place to eat out with friends or family. Gerry’s Grill has a nice, natural seaside like ambiance. They have a great selection of Filipino dishes, as well as a wide variety of fresh, grilled or cooked meals.
Some of my favorite dish includes Steamed Pla-Pla (steamed fish), Adobong Puso (rice, chicken and pork meal) and Pinakbet (a healthy stir fried vegetable dish). If you’re really adventurous try the Kuho (snail cooked in coconut milk). There’s at least sixteen different Gerry’s Grill locations around the
Philippines when I last checked (and they’re still expanding). Check their website: http://www.gerrysgrill.com/index.php for a location near you.

8. Glorietta 4 Food Choices
If you’re shopping in Glorietta or Greenbelt, don’t forget to checkout Glorietta 4’s Food Choices. There is a great selection of food stalls, coffee shops and dessert bars inside and out. You can pretty much get anything from local Filipino food, vegetarian dishes to pizza and pasta dishes. One of my favorites is the stuffed breadsticks and natural lemon citrus ice green tea at The Tea Square. Absolutely delicious! You can get a full meal for around 100 pesos (US$2.00).
Location: Glorietta 4, Food Choices,
Ayala Center, Makati.

LEFT: Lunch with Smith & Aileen on Sunday. As I've said before, Pilipino's can really eat - right Smith?
We watched went to watch a really great movie at the upstairs movie theatre afterwards (Fearless staring Jet Li). I really enjoyed the movie! Highly recommended.