Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

champetre: when even countryside food is elevated

In eating in manila on August 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm

one of the restaurants we wished we could’ve visited more often was je suis gourmand at the fort. so it was with great dismay we found out it was closing. it’s a good thing it didn’t stay closed for long and reincarnated as champetre in the same location. the menu retains a lot of favorites. we started with escargot bourguignonne (P490)

the secret, people say, is in the butter used. and after tasting this, we believe it. the butter was flavorful but not overpowering, allowing the fresh parsley to burst through. the meat, very succulent.

camille’s main course was a chicken stewed in tomatoes and fresh vegetables (i’m afraid i don’t remember the name of the dish)

this dish was hefty. two quarter chickens and for under P400, great value. and it was very hearty. the restaurant is themed after country-style food and this dish is a great example of that. i can imagine this being done in french farm kitchens using whatever vegetables happen to be in season.

my main was the butter-seared beef onglet – butcher’s cut steak (P690)

this is one of the restaurant best sellers and it’s easy to see why. the meat is done perfectly – thick and tender. buttery and gamey at the same time. loved it. and those fries? perfection.

although quite full, we were still in the mood for dessert – and it’s a good thing we went for it. when we saw the menu, we noticed a number of ice cream flavors and decided to try the grand marnier with candied orange. the ice creams were priced at P120 and we thought we’d be getting a nice, dainty scoop. but no, we got a glassful.

and this ice cream was dee-licous! the find of the night. tip: unless you’re an ice cream monster, share this. it’s a lot.

we’re already figuring out when we can go back. we actually already know what to order. but whatever it is we’re having, we’re certainly having that ice cream again.

ma mon luk: surely you all have been

In eating in manila on August 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm

around 100 years ago, a struggling chinese vendor tried hawking noodle soup in chinatown. it was the first time such a dish was made commercially available in manila. his business model was a good one – he didn’t really have fixed quantities and prices – instead, he’d sell you as much as your money could buy. and so the business grew.

today, the restaurant built by that man still stands along quezon avenue near sto. domingo church. and if you haven’t been to ma mon luk, or at least tried their stuff, then it’s totally your loss. not that the food is spectacular, that’s not the point really. ma mon luk is history, starting with its interiors

the walls of ma mon luk contain its history and pretty much a history of manila as well. there are photos and clippings of major events and people and it becomes easy to appreciate what this place does in fact stand for. but don’t expect anything fancy. the ambience is that of a big carinderia and it’s not airconditioned.

the waiters will approach without a menu, but you’ll come here to order only two things: mami (somewhere between P60 and P80, i forget)

and siopao (P50 for the jumbo special)

again, not that these are necessarily the best mami and siopao in town. but think about it, this is the original mami to come to the philippines. yes, the broth is a bit grayish and i’m not exactly sure (nor can i guess really) what goes into it, but it’s tasty. mix it with patis, calamansi, and scallions and it bursts with warmth and goodness.

the siopao is quite hefty and together with the mami is a full lunch, not just a snack.

wherever you are in manila, you have to make it a point to try this place. manila is only made better by its presence.