I’ve always been curious about the hawker style restaurant at Manila Ocean Park that has been well talked about by foodies and those who have experienced the real hawker style scene and food experience at Singapore. While there were mix reviews, I decided to experience it for myself to finally put an end to my curiosity. ^_^ We headed to Makan Makan – Asian Food Village at Manila Ocean Park one hot Saturday afternoon.
Manila Ocean Park located literally behind Quirino Grand Stand. As I’m a firm believer of visual aids, here are maps to the place:
About Manila Ocean Park Mall
We weren’t there to check out the park itself but we plan to, someday, perhaps after all the construction work is done. With that said, we still had a glimpse of the park activities and the chaos that we should prepare for once we bring the whole family over. There were a lot of structures that were unfinished, the Manila Ocean Park Mall air-conditioning couldn’t beat the heat that day and contributing to it are the hundreds of people crowding inside, service crews are busy keeping up with the trash that people inconsiderately throw just about everywhere! Inside the mall, you’ll see stalls of various items for sale that you’ll often see in Divisoria (knock-off shades, sparkling accessories, wallets, and a lot more. The mall is like a cross between Divisoria, Star City, and a regular mall. It’s so strange that Manila Ocean Park Mall didn’t go with their Aquatic theme when choosing tenants. It would have put the park on a whole different level if they featured souvenir shops that sell sea animal plushies, or books about marine life, or even photo booths where you can have your photo taken while wearing a sealion costume or something. I mean, seriously, if I want to have a child vaccinated, I would go to a clinic and not Manila Ocean Park. And no, I don’t need people giving out flyers about condominiums in Manila Ocean Park. That’s just weird to me. After 3 years of opening its doors, I thought it would be a lot less chaotic. Oh well, we were there for the food anyway, and perhaps we’ll visit the park after a couple more years, by then I hope that all structures are in place and fully functional, and when there are more specialty shops.
The spacious restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of the mall. You have to find your way through the crowd and the mini-tiangge to get to the escalators going up. Along the way you’ll pass by these:
About the Restaurant
And finally, after the “elbowing”(^_^); you’ll get to the 2nd floor and the entrance to Makan Makan. It’s a very spacious restaurant, and very well lit… Very well, and that particular afternoon (around 1:30PM), the light from the sun coming in from the glass windows is too glaring that we really have to choose our table well, and even then, eat at an angle facing away from the sun. There were blinds to screen the light of the sun but it can’t be helped if it’s still finding ways to get in.
The entrance hall is big, and fairly empty except for a shelf of lamps as decor, and cool hanging lights (I love light fixtures, both hanging and standing ones). I know I’ve seen these round native looking ones before… Was it at North Park Macapagal? And I’m sure I’ve taken a photo of those too… Anyway… I like that the place is super spacious and that there’s an awesome view of the ocean if you don’t mind sitting next to huge windows with the punishing afternoon sunlight on that very sunny and hot afternoon. The tables were all arranged around the kitchen and what separates us from the actually cooking place are pseudo street-food booths or carts, I guess the ones that mimic the hawker or street food scene in Singapore. It was hot that day and the aircon wasn’t helping much, and I imagine, if there were more people and more dishes being cooked/prepared, it would be unbearably hot on a sunny lunch. Is that so people would get a feel of eating outside when they’re actually eating inside? I don’t think so. Less talk… more pictures…
The staff, with the exception of higher ranking supervisors, was a bit too relaxed and acted a bit too familiar with the customers. There were a group of male waiters who were very casually discussing something about their shift schedules right behind where I was sitting. They didn’t even bother to keep their voices down. Well, there weren’t a lot of customers that day, I counted 4 people in front, and maybe a family or 2 behind me. Regardless, I really think those kinds of discussions should have been made in a different room. And also, some of the wait staff were very casual in addressing customers and the way the food, plates, and even the flower décor were placed on our table, it was like we were better off dining in a competitively priced, hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant, that served better priced items and fairly tasty dishes. I did like the waiter in the black/gray vest. He was much more accommodating and respectful. I couldn’t complain about how fast the food arrived to our table though. Food came out fast, and water glasses were always full.
Honestly, I was expecting the prices to be… umm… higher than streetfood but not a whole lot of difference from foodcourt. I don’t know why but that was what I expected from the impression that these are streetfood brought indoors. I was sadly mistaken. Also, because it said it was an “Asian Food Village”, I expected a much more extensive menu. But I guess, any more on the list would just overwhelm the diners on what to order.
What We Ordered
Mario, being Mario, he wanted to order something he knows he’s going to enjoy eating, thus, Chopsuey (P200), Yang Chow Fried Rice (P275), and Iced tea (P60) (no bottomless options). Then, I ordered Hainanese Chicken Rice (P160) and Chocolate Dinosaur (P95). A pricey lunch. We hoped they would deliver.
Mario’s verdict, a little bit salty but still good eatin’. For me, it was just right. It was the type of dish where there’s no need to add any more salt or anything. The vegetables tasted fresh, they had a crunch to them, and actually, there were more squid in this chopsuey than veggies so that’s a good thing for me. I guess that’s one of the perks for being close to the ocean. Restaurants can get fresh seafood for a bargain. And the squid was perfectly cooked too! It wasn’t tough to eat. Serving says good for 2-3 people… Hmm.. Yeah, I guess so… If 2 of those people weren’t me and Mario… ^_^;
This, I think, was priced way too high for what they served. The peas and the carrots were mushy inside which hints “frozen mixed vegetables”. The kind that you would buy in the grocery. I’m not saying that those are bad, but I would like to feel like I’m eating fresh veggies that were cut and cooked just on that day. Apart from that, this tasted ordinary. I actually said, while eating their Makan Makan’s Yang Chow Fried Rice, that I missed North Park’s Yang Chow Fried Rice. :-/
The chicken was moist, cooked really well, the veggies on the side were divine, for me. Mario doesn’t like spicy stuff and those veggies were pickled and spiced up (kimchi cucumber!). Normally, I would splurge on the sauce (some restaurants either charge for additional hoisin sauce, or don’t serve any additional), but Makan Makan’s Hoisin sauce was just too salty even for me! So just a drop here and there, but no more. Too bad because I would have gotten more sauce if I requested, but I didn’t even use half of what was served to me. Oh, and I’m sure it wasn’t soy sauce, because it was much too thick, and it was a little sweet. I also noticed (just now as I’m typing this article) that the menu said this dish was served with soup and rice… I didn’t get any soup, my bad for not noticing it earlier.
This was just regular powdered chocolate drink, nothing to get excited about. Anyone can make it at home. I wish I had tried the other drinks instead. Well, I kind of knew what I was going to get based on the photo on the menu, but I ordered it anyway (hoping I was wrong), but that’s my mistake, I guess.
I don’t think we’ll be coming back but I’m glad we tried it once to satisfy my curiosity. That’s the sort of experience we got out of it. The price, for the food quality and quantity we got, was a mismatch. Perhaps we’re also paying for comfort and space? Maybe, but we might have been better off dining at North Park right at the 1st floor (entrance) of the mall. Our lunch cost P800 at Makan Makan. Hmm… I don’t think we’ll be coming back any time soon but I might give it another go after 2 years or so, just to compare the experience then, from our experience that Saturday afternoon. I guess, it’s not enough that you have good food if you serve P275 Yang Chow Fried Rice while others sell the same quantity and quality for P180 (North Park’s current price). You have to have great food the price they’re selling.
Here are the rest of the photos:
What about you? Did you have a different experience at Makan Maka Asian Food Village? Tell me all about it in the comments section!
Ah! And sorry if I loaded this one with lots of photos! Let me know if loading time is longer than usual so that I can do something about it on future posts! ^_^