In early April I left for the Philippines to visit my ailing 94-year old grandmother (who has since sadly, passed away) and spent several days in Manila with my sisters having a taste of home. As we were all jet lagged and awake at dawn, we were all dressed and ready to go for breakfast very early in the morning. Most days we just crossed the street to One Rockwell where we usually ate either at UCC Cafe Terrace, Apartment 1B (more on that later) or our old favorite Pancake House.
is a Japanese coffee franchise that uses the siphon method to make their specialty coffees. The place isn’t fancy but the coffee is very good and the Filipino breakfasts are fine. We tried most of the “si-log
” combinations (meaning SInangag, Filipino for garlic fried rice and itLOG, Filipino for egg) with tapa
(marinated beef), longanisa
(local pork sausage), bangus
(milk fish) and tocino
(marinated pork). I liked the longanisang hubad
(naked longanisa) best – when they split open the pork sausage skin and take out all the sausage meat, fry it till it’s nice and crisp like corned beef hash, then place it on top of the garlic fried rice and serve it with a sunny side up egg – a Filipino breakfast of champions.
On another evening, after a log day spent at the hospital, we decided to have some Filipino food to go from my friend Malu’s Milky Way Cafe on Pasay Road. We ordered the usual classics: kare-kare (oxtail stew made with peanut-flavored sauce), inihaw na liempo (char-grilled pork belly), adobong sugpo (prawns cooked adobo-style in crab roe) and a crispy pata lechon de leche (deep-fried suckling pig knuckle) with a home-made vegetable dish of pinakbet (long beans, bitter melon, okra and eggplant cooked in shrimp paste). The food came with rice, appropriate sauces (spicy vinegar, bagoong – shrimp paste and chili soy sauce) plus banana leaves that we used to line the serving plates. Fantastic Filipino food that we enjoyed at home.
When my Lola (grandmother) was brought back home for her last days, we all gathered around the table once more for our traditional lunch which we spent at my Lola’s house every weekend when we were growing up. On this occasion, we had two versions of crab – sauteed in garlic and deep-fried in butter – both of which I hadn’t eaten in a long time and probably last enjoyed at one of my lola’s weekend lunches.
We also had the traditional summer heat quencher – halo-halo (literally meaning mix-mix of sweetened fruit and beans topped with leche flan, and ube ice cream with milk and lots and lots of finely shaved ice). We did the classic Via Mare version and the superior Milky Way version which was better because it was filled with more goodies and the ice was so finely shaved that it never made our halo-halo watery.
Last but not least was my dinner with J and N who very nicely picked me up at home and drove me to get my Filipino food craving and took me to Greenbelt’s Mesa Filipino Moderne where we had a delicious dinner of deep-fried inside out tilapia where the crispy fish was prepared in bite-sized chunks ready for dipping into the four sauces – spicy, sweet, salty or sour, a prawn and pomelo salad with crispy shredded coconut, grilled pork belly, mixed vegetables in garlic sauce and something I had never tried before: sauteed sigarilyas (wing beans) in coconut milk with chili and shrimp. For dessert, we shared the leche flan turron (a flan-stuffed spring roll) and the refreshing pandan and coconut jelly. As you can imagine, it was a Filipino food fiesta.
Ground Floor, One Rockwell West Tower, Makati
Telephone: +63 2 896 3951
Milky Way Cafe
2nd Floor, 900 A. Arnaiz Avenue (formerly Pasay Road), Makati
Telephone: +63 2 843 4124
Cafe Via Mare
Ground floor, Rockwell Center, Makati
Telephone: +63 2 898 1305
Mesa Filipino Moderne
Greenbelt 5, Makati
Telephone: +63 2 728 0886