dishesandplaces

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.

 

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