It’s been a few hours since I got back from Manila, again. More pleasure than business this time, though I managed to squeeze in a day of productive school and accommodations inquiry. But I won’t go into the details, because nothing’s set in stone. But I am hoping, with fingers crossed, that the words ‘career shift’ will make 2012, my year.
first stop: Congo Grill at SM Mall of Asia. A nice family resto that serves reasonably priced and portioned food. Don’t forget to try their SISIG – laced with chicharon/pork skin cracklings, drizzled with a light and creamy white sauce that’s still, but also not quite, mayo.
The next day: Cafe Via Mare at The Landmark. A restaurant inside a department store is ingenious. A plus considering it shares the same floor with the ladies’ dep. Dad and I were perfectly comfortable perusing the menu while Mom was busy enjoying the chaotic ambiance of sales and shoes.
Noteworthy: Adobo flakes. Crispy and full of that salty-sour adobo flavor, this “all day breakfast” fare tasted pretty good; perfect for a hungry shopper. Ambiance was great. Basically any resto that serves great Filipino food is a winner in my book.
The Ensaladang Bagnet/Bagnet salad was also great. Bagnet is deep fried pork belly, and the salad is a mix of mustasa/mustard greens, tomatoes and onions. Normally with a distinct bitter taste, the mustasa was pleasantly mellowed by the dressing and went really well with the other ingredients. I need to replicate this.
Not to be outdone is their bibingka topped with salted egg. For some strange reason I needed to have my bibingka fix. Served hot, this heavy ‘dessert’ is perfect as it is.
Also ingenious: Chatime sharing the same floor with Via Mare. I ordered the Original Roasted blend, Taro and Matcha Red Bean. Though I still think Gong Cha and Zensonita are amazing, Chatime’s Taro was a surprise. It was rich, dense and definitely starchy, like a heavy smoothie. All of these had half the amount of sugar. I think I should have ordered the full.
The next day dad and I were left to our own devices. After checking out a school in Makati, we went to Lutong Macau, a Chinese restaurant that caters to Jupiter Street’s busy professional strip. It was a good thing we went there before lunch, because we were told that place becomes packed pretty fast when the clock strikes 12.
Noteworthy: Pancit Canton and Lechon Macau. Though I’ve tasted my fair share of pancit canton, I can’t really say that theirs was a dish I’ve already tried (that’s a good thing). I like my pancit canton dry, but I made an exception for their ‘soupy’ variety. They served it with kwek-kwek/breaded, deep friend quail eggs, which was definitely Chinese.
The lechon macau, pork belly with a crispy skin, with just a hint of five spice, was deliciously sinful. I couldn’t finish the rice that came with it. It’s funny that I only had lechon macau here in the Philippines and not in Macau, where it’s supposedly from.
On our last full day in Manila, we found ourselves stranded at Bonifacio Global because of the heavy rain. And I couldn’t think of a better way to while away the time than to spend it at Fully Booked’s Starbucks outlet.
What made it even more comforting was their crew, particularly the barista who took our orders. I’ve officially met the friendliest barista in the world. The way she carried herself with ease, and showered with attention everyone who came in really made the place better. And here I am gushing.
That night, in another location that can’t be disclosed, I finally took a picture of a friend that took to me pretty well. I was sitting down as he approached me, rested his head on my lap, and looked at me with those big doe eyes. He doesn’t take too kindly to strangers, I was told. I think the massage I gave him helped quite a bit.
A few hours later we were boarding the plane that would take us home, and here I am a few hours later still sleepy but with enough gumption to post this. If I waited longer the memories might go stale and it wouldn’t have been as ‘freshly pressed’.
I think I wrote enough for one day. I need to give my brain enough time to catch up. To reach this point and not click on ‘save draft’, is a tiny miracle.
Oh, the smudge you see here was supposed to be a plane. It just goes to show that my skill at capturing the moment is also extremely noteworthy (haha).