Discovering and experiencing new and good food every time we go out has been my regular bonding activity with my then boyfriend, now husband—who also fittingly works as a chef. Yay!
Our movie dates and random activities for the day are usually followed by a (self-imposed) quest to locate a new and unique restaurant. If we are in a mall, we will go to all the floor levels just to find the perfect food for our fuming-grumbling tummy (we only eat a little prior to going to a restaurant, because we are, well, sort of getting ready for a battle).
Our favorite, tickling our palates by going on food trips around the world without leaving the sweet confines of (beautiful, hot, traffic-infested) Manila.
Oody’s Bar and Restaurant—Thai Food
Being a Bicolano, my husband is a fan of spicy food, so we decided to try this Thai restaurant at Greenbelt 3—Oody’s Bar and Restaurant.
I was personally enticed by its relaxing ambience, and the lighted candles on the dining tables. First off, we tried their Pandan Iced Tea. Its taste was a mixture of herbal tea touched by pandan, and it was a great way to start our dinner (we are avid tea drinkers!). Then, we ordered Bagoong Thai Rice and Thai Curry for our main dishes—also the restaurant’s best sellers.
Bagoong Thai Rice is sprinkled with a variety of vegetables and itlog na maalat (salty egg), a fusion of Thai and Filipino cuisines and good for sharing. Though almost full after our first dish, we attacked our our second dish with equivalent fervor—Thai Curry. It is really spicy, but is satisfying to the palate.
We thought we were done, but our tummy echoed that we still want a dessert (yes), so we had our final order—Thai Halo-Halo, which is served in a bowl of crushed ice with cream, with beans, nata de coco, and 2 fruit flavors, all separated in 4 small cups.
Unlike the Pinoy Halo-Halo, it is not so sweet, but is like drinking sweet tea with flavored sliced fruits.
Gumbo, A Taste of New Orleans
My husband told me that this restaurant is “a fusion of West African, French, Spanish, German, and Choctaw culinary cultures.”
After only a couple of visits, Gumbo has been one of our favorite restaurants. I personally find their recipes as “definitely tasteful”. One of the restaurant’s main attractions is also its crews wearing entertaining headdresses. (customers can also wear the headdresses and have their pictures taken).
Your visit to Gumbo would not be complete if you don’t experience their classic Seafood Jambalaya. It contains mussels, clams, squids and shrimps. The seafoods blend well with the Cajun spices. It really has strong flavors! I can really say that the rice itself is as good as one full meal.
If you are a meat lover, you will like their Pizza Meat Extravaganza. But it is hefty, and heavy, I don’t think you can still squeeze in one more full meal after finishing it.
Seoul Garden Hotpot—Korean Food
After hearing good reviews from friends and foodies, saying that it offers authentic but affordable Korean cuisine, we opted to try Seoul Garden HotPot. Seoul Garden Hotpot offers an array of authentic Korean dishes like Bibimbaps, Hot Pot and Jjigae sets, among others.
Quoting Korean foodies, “An authentic Korean restaurant not only offers Kimchi (a traditional fermented side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings).”
They serve carrot, cucumber and radish as free appetizers. What we ordered: one beef and one chicken bulgogi bap with gochujang on the side, which is good for sharing, and Korean coleslaw salad.
Lightness—this may be the fitting term upon finishing our Korean food. The flavors and sauces blended just well. Anyone who wants to munch on a healthy but delicious meal will surely enjoy Seoul Garden Hotpot offerings.
Kimono Ken—Japanese Food
Kimono Ken may be one of the most affordable Japanese restaurants in Manila. Having dined at other Japanese restaurants on special occasions, we could probably say that the taste of Kimono Ken resembles that of other authentic Japanese restaurants.
Our personal favorites include California Maki, tuna sashimi platter and beef teriyaki.
It was a refreshing sight to behold a Filipino restaurant amidst foreign restaurants at the SM Mall of Asia. Craving for “lutong bahay” (home-cooked dishes), we entered Mangan—which is the Kapampangan word for eat.
Some of the menu are also categorized in Kapampangan: Ispesyal Ning Bale, Ispesyal na handa at Mula Dagat (House Specialty, Special Offering, and From the Sea).
Their best sellers include Queso de bola and salted egg, Puto Bumbong with grated coconut and mascuvado, tofu sisig, sisig ni Mely, Pritong manok (fried chicken), Lechon Kawali (deep fried pork liempo), garlic pugo (quail), Pritong tilapia (fried St. Peter’s fish), Pritong biya at sari-saring sawsawan ( variety of condiments).
Here are some tips to make your food trips more satisfying:
- Research ahead. Restaurant review sites such as Zomato,Yelp, Open Table, Urban Spoon, Menu Pages, Restaurantica and Yahoo! Local are just some websites you can visit to locate the restaurant that would satisty your palate.
- Be an Inquirer. Do not think twice about asking the origin and best sellers of the restaurant. By doing so, you will appreciate the food better. The best person to ask is the restaurant manager. Don’t be hesitant, I am sure he/she will be glad to answer your questions.
- Be adventurous. Frog legs, deep fried crickets, ant eggs, or spicy food for that matter, may not be as unsavory as you think. You might even enjoy it. And well, we only live once. Bon appetit!