We went to Cafe Juanita for a family lunch to sample their famous Filipino buffet. It was our during our first weekend in Manila and was the best way to be thrown back into the cuisine of the homeland, our favorite dishes filling voids we’ve accumulated over many years.
Part of the spread includes kare-kare, beef mechado, and adobo
While Cafe Juanita’s selection is your standard issue festive buffet food, they did not skimp on quality and quantity the way a lot of buffets do. It was simply an unlimited array of our favorite dishes, so good that we had to be careful with our precious belly real estate and not fill up on items not deserving of the space.
Lumpiang shanghai, lechon kawali, fried tilapia.
“Good eats, big smiles” is Chelsea Market Cafe‘s tagline. If this is also their objective, then they have succeeded.
I first visited Chelsea during a trip to Manila in 2009 and fell in love with their duck confit and chorizo pizza. As sinful as it sounds, as a first-time balikbayan then it was a mix of New York and Manila. So I had it twice!
Roasted Portobello Mushroom Pizza
Unfortunately they were out of both chorizo and duck confit during my recent visit, but I still visited Chelsea three times this past trip. Another Raintree innovation, this joint that’s reportedly patterned after the American cafe bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien is the first in the Philippines to adopt an infamous tradition in New York of combining a cafe within a food market, as is done in Dean & Deluca or at Balthazar, or my neighborhood favorite Brooklyn Larder. Chelsea is more like a full restaurant with a few food items on the side for the ambience. The color scheme definitely reminds of Le Pain and other small French cafes in New York. Chelsea’s Serendra branch does a good job in providing a bright and airy atmosphere conducive to long meals and good laughs. Continue reading
I don’t think we have any friends who don’t like to eat. What would we do with them? Our social life revolves around meals and drinks, and if you don’t appreciate either, I’m not sure conversation would be enough Haha!
Of course we let our dear friends drag us to their favorite Japanese restaurant. Nihonbashi Tei in Pasay Road is famous for its relatively inexpensive Japanese fare, so accessible that our friends go through week-long binges at this place.
Pakibalot Panciteria‘s pancit canton was recently ranked #2 by Spot.ph so I knew it was a place I wanted to visit the next time I was in Manila. Of course the pancit never made it to my photos because I got too excited again, but I did manage to capture some of their other specialties.
Tokwa’t Baboy (Fried Tofu and Fried Pork Belly)
I always enjoy a good Tokwa’t Baboy. To me the quality of fried tofu is a testament to the skill of the chef as it’s very easy to over- and undercook firm tofu and end up with either a soggy mess that could use a little more browning, or tough squares that have long lost their touch. Pakibalot hit the spot right here with a perfect crunch while remaining tender inside to soak in the delicious sauce.
Chop suey with lechon
They do offer vegetables on the menu but with a Filipino touch of fatty meat stirred along with it. Of course! Continue reading
I made sure Mr. Jones was on my list of restaurants to visit during a recent trip to Manila. Friends raved about their beef tapa, burgers, and milkshakes. They sang praises for the truffled mac n’cheese and challah french toast and I would drool every time someone posted a photo online. I knew I had to go.
Fortunately we had friends who were fanatics and knew the menu well. Unfortunately, we each only had one digestive system so we couldn’t order everything I wanted to try.
The evening began with a Banana Cream Pie Milkshake which reminded me of a liquified Magnolia Banana Pudding. Not too sweet and made with love. I was too eager to consume it that it didn’t live long enough for a photo, but there was more in Mr. Jones’ arsenal to cover.
Tapa and Garlic Overload
The main reason I made sure to go to Mr. Jones was for their famous Tapa and Garlic overload, a fancy take on the Filipino breakfast tapsilog, a combination of air-dried beef, fried rice, and sunny-side eggs. Usually considered a budget meal, Mr. Jones’ take on it is 2-4 times more costly than its fast food counterpart, and not because of the restaurant’s venue and ambiance. Mr. Jones makes their tapa from Yakiniku cut US Ribcap Beef, and the result is the most generous serving of beef you’ll ever have on a breakfast plate, and could quite possibly be the most tender pieces of meat you’ll ever have in the Philippines. You get what you pay for. Continue reading