Manang’s Chicken – Velvet Sundae Launch

Like This!

We were invited to attend the launch of Manang’s Chicken newest dessert – Velvet Sundae – at Tomas Morato, Quezon City.  It was sooo much fun and really worth the trip from Paranaque to Quezon City even with the many MMDA road re-blocking projects that created major traffic issues even on a weekend.  I always like to do a little research before I actually go to any planned trip to restaurant or an event and the history of Manang’s Chicken and their continued (and may I say) exponential growth upped my excitement! The Wandering Boots_39

About the Restaurant

Manang’s Chicken started as a concessionaire at Mercato Centrale back in 2010 and because of its unique and addicting sweet and spicy chicken sauce, it has become one of the favorite food stalls at Marcato (specially raved by famous designer, Rajo Laurel).  The success at Mercato then inspired Jil and their whole family to make their family recipe into a multiple store restaurant which is continuously opening new branches almost every month since its first store opened in 2011. The Wandering Boots_Manangs ChickenLocating the Tomas Morato branch was easy, especially since it had that big sign right at the arch of the building.  We arrived there at 1PM, which was at the end of the lunch service and since it was Saturday, offices are closed, and except for the surplus of bloggers, there were only a few patrons finishing up their lunches.  The restaurant was spacious, clean, and bright.  We only had 1 issue with one of the tables.  It was the most unstable, shaky table I’ve ever seen.  It wasn’t the leg of the table that was the problem, but the point where the legs and the actual table top joined was either not screwed tight or whatever was needed to be done.  Anyway, the quick fix was rest either Mario’s or my elbows on the table while eating to stop it from shaking.

The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
I also commend the crew for being super friendly, proactive, and helpful that day.
The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
Spacious aisles, comfy seats, and nice bright lights all contribute to a good dining experience. You can see the other food bloggers here in the photo.

About their Menu

Their food choices are simple, yet very unique.  While sometimes my eyes twinkle when I am presented with a lot of food options in a restaurant, I often prefer a simple menu that serves a few variations of the signature dish, and then a good enough number of options for people who would like to order outside the restaurant’s specialty.  Manang’s Chicken is a very good example of the simple yet complete menu, offering variations of its signature chicken recipe (wings, 1 or 2 pcs with rice, a barkada set, and chicken in a bun), and options for those who want to order something else (pasta/noodle options, beef, fish, pork, chips, salad, and dessert).  The price is also mid-range or same as most fast food chains in Metro Manila.

The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
Click on the image for a bigger photo.
The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
Click on the image for a bigger photo.

What We Ordered

Since we were an hour early and haven’t had our lunch yet, we decided to eat our lunch there so that we can have taste of the chicken recipe that made them famous.  Mario ordered Cheezy Spaghetti Meal (P69), Manang’s Chicken Wings – 4pc Wings Only (P99), Chicken Sandwich Solo (P49), and I ordered Garlic Pork Liempo w/Rice (P124).

Cheezy Spaghetti (Solo P49 / Meal P69) The Wandering Boots Rating 4 SMALL

Genius!  So far, this is the first restaurant I’ve ever seen that uses cheese sauce instead of the usual grated cheese!  I’ve done this several times at home, actually, but instead of cheese sauce I use Quickmelt cheese (try it!).  This makes a whole lot of difference in the spaghetti experience because it makes the sauce creamier than the usual, and you always have even amounts of cheese every fork full of spaghetti and sauce.

The Wandering Boots Manangs Chicken
Looks like egg on red sauce looking at the photo, doesn’t it? Well, don’t let that fool you! The moment you mix everything together, you get creamier and ‘cheezier’ spaghetti. Personally, I would have loved to add one more serving of cheese. I wonder if they’d allow that. I would really pay extra for it.
The Wandering Boots Manangs Chicken
I think the price and the serving size is fair. using the plate it was served on, the spaghetti serving looked small, but it was actually just the same as McDonald’s and Jollibee’s serving size. It’s just that the plate was too big and created an optical illusion that the spaghetti serving was small.

Manang’s Chicken Wings (4pc Wings Only P99 / Solo with Rice P117 / Meal P135) The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL

You should remember in Manang’s Chicken, whenever you order their chicken (in any form or shape – burger, wings, cuts, etc), you will be asked if you want the chicken in its original sauce (not spicy), mildly spicy, or extra spicy.  Well, Mario did the ordering at the counter and he ordered everything ‘mildly spicy’.  It’s good, I have no complaints, but I would have wanted to try the other 2 versions of the sauce.  Yeah, well, I know I’d get a chance to sample the other levels of spice on a later date (now that their BF branch is open).  I’ll blog about it when I do. This is what made them famous in the foodie world and I totally understand why!  It’s different from the oily, basic, fried chicken in other similar fast food chains.  It’s sweet with a good kick and even with the sauce dripping all over the chicken, the skin was crunchy!  I think, that can only be possible if the chicken is served just a few minutes after it’s been fried.  Great!

The Wandering Boots Manang's Chicken Wings
Well, somehow, the presentation is always a little off for me. The plate was too big and too, ummm. flat?… So the wings just sat on the plate looking like something’s missing because they really didn’t fill-up the spaces on the plate. But I guess what’s more important is the taste, and they tasted great!

Garlic Pork Liempo w/ Rice (Solo P89 / Meal P109) The Wandering Boots Rating 3 SMALL

I love pork so my go-to dishes are liempo, sisig, bopis, etc…  And also, I love garlic so after reading this on the menu, I know I have to try it.  Well, I think I expected the usual grilled liempo, then again, I forgot I wasn’t in a grill restaurant…  There were lots of garlic bits, which I liked, but the pork itself was a little bit tough for me and really dry.  It was fried, but wasn’t crispy enough so I had to fight with my food a little bit.  Would I order it again?  Hmmmm… Probably not.  Clearly not their specialty.

The Wandering Boots Manang's Chicken Wings
Although the liempo was thin, and everything is chopped, the pieces are uneven in size. While some pieces are small enough that you don’t have to bite off a part, the others were big and because it was tough, it was a battle between teeth and pork.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich (Solo P49) The Wandering Boots Rating 4 SMALL

This is a perfect snack on-the-go!  Mario got that impression as he was eating it (before he even had the chance to read the description of the product on the little product folder we received when we entered the restaurant) and it was exactly how it was described in the folder!  Imagine that!  I think if the customer got the impression that the chef or the restaurant owner wanted to put across with just the food and pricing, then it’s a job well done for them.  The sandwich used pandesal baked in a real ‘pugon’, old-fashioned way.  It reminds me of the a small village bakery where we used to buy our pandesal from every morning and they are “pan-de-pugon” and have a distinct flavor and crunchy outer top shell, and when you take your first bite, the wonderful flavor just hits you like several hundred years of pugon pandesal history.  This is the same thing, only that the pandesal is bigger so that it could accommodate the chicken.  You still have to choose from original, mildly spicy, and spicy for the chicken sauce.  Mario chose mildly spicy.

The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
This was around as big as Mario’s fist, so that means bigger than the average Filipino fist because he has really big hands. My hands look like dwarf hands compared to his.
The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
They seem to be very fond of using coleslaw on their burgers, which I’m not a big fan of, but Mario surely is.

What We Were Served

During the event, we were treated to a couple more new products, one was of course the Velvet Sundae they were launching, and the other was the Ultimate Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and aside from that, we had unlimited Manang’s Chips which were sooooooooooooooooo good!

Manang’s Chips with dip choices:  Garlic Mayo (recommended) and Creamy Cheese dips (Small P30 / Large P49) The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL

The first bite was just wow!  I can’t believe how crispy the chips were and not oily at all!  I know these were deep fried in really hot oil so that they’d be crispy, but even hours after they were put in the bowl, they’re still crispy like they came out of the fryer just minutes ago!  Unbelievable!  You can also see that they’re real potatoes, skin and all!  Warning!  The chips are highly addictive especially that wonderful Garlic Mayo dip!  We didn’t really care too much for the Creamy Cheese dip.  We didn’t order these, so I don’t really know what their “small” and “large” sizes look like, but no matter, I think they’re worth it!  I just wish they had a BUCKET option!!!!!!!  Or a BAYONG version!  Do I need to start a signature campaign for this?

The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
Absolutely the best all-natural potato chips I’ve tasted! Really crispy, and even if the flavor is just salt, it’s sooooo addictive! Ahhhhhh! Just looking at the photo and writing about this makes me wish I have a bag of these right beside me now!
The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
The dip to the left is, of course, the Creamy Cheese Dip, and the one on the right is the crowd favorite Garlic Mayo Dip.

The Ultimate Crispy Chicken Sandwich (Solo P109 / Meal w/ Chips P135) The Wandering Boots Rating 4 SMALL

This is the leveled-up version of the Crispy Chicken Sandwich that we ordered.  I think it competes with the Zinger except that it’s a lot more saucy, and it has coleslaw.  Definitely not a snack order…  It’s a lunch type of meal.  Very filling.  Has the same sauce that made Manang’s Chicken famous and of course an option of either the original sauce, mildly spicy sauce, or the spicy sauce.

The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
Post-card chicken sandwich anyone? ^_^
The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
You couldn’t see it from this angle but there’s a decorative toothpick that keeps the chicken and the top half of the bun in place, but my chicken wasn’t centered. In anycase, the chicken was indeed crispy, and coated generously with their famous sauce. Again, I’m not a fan of the slaw but I don’t dislike it, but Mario really liked it so I guess you can’t please everyone? ^_^; As long as Mario’s happy, I’m happy. (oooooh, so cheesy!)

Velvet Sundae (P45) The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL

Heard of chocolate lava cake (which is my dream to make one so that I can have that anytime I want)?  Well, Velvet Sundae was Manang’s Chicken’s version of it without the steep price, and the fancy restaurant vibe.  I personally call it potted lava cake ^_^ but that’s just me.  The verdict?  Oh wow!  At the surprise price of P45 which was then revealed when everyone started digging into their own sundaes, I think it’s a steal!  The cake was super moist (not at all packed and pounded or heavy).  It was also very warm!  As in warm to the touch, and the ice cream was melting really fast because of that.  The chocolate chips were crispy (if that is ever a correct word to describe the chips but you get the idea).  The chocolate chips were really just that, crispy, and everytime you bite on one, your teeth don’t sink into the chocolate chips because they don’t seem to melt as quickly as the ice cream does.  Ah, so difficult to explain but if you try it, you’ll say, “Aha!  Now I know what she was trying to say!”  ^_^;  And the texture of the whole thing is so interesting as long as you get a little of each ingredient in one spoonful – moist warm cake, crispy chocolate chips, cold vanilla ice cream, and sweet fudge.

The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
Photo sample of Chocolate Lava Cake taken from kingarthurflour.com.
The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
Well, of course they’re not normally served on top of a yummy decorated plate, but the cup serving is real. As you can see, the divisions of the swirls are not visible anymore because the ice cream has started to melt, but somehow the chips remained solid and are nice good bites (swimming in a mini-pool of fudge).
The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
This shot lets you see the layers…

Overall

I’m just so happy to have gotten to know this wonderful restaurant and their wonderful chicken and POTATO CHIPS, plus be there when this “potted-lava-cake”, I mean, Velvet Sundae was launched!  Would I go to their newly opened BF Homes branch?  Absolutely!  Not a doubt in my mind, we’ll be back in one of their branches!  They also do deliveries but I think they have different numbers for every branch.  The good thing is that they don’t have a minimum amount to order delivery, they just charge you P40 for each order no matter how much you order.

More Photos:

The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken

The Wandering Boots Manangs Chicken
Here’s me, Mario, and Jill Borja, the president and CEO of Giabella Foods Corp. She really knows her chicken… She practically grew up eating the now growing in popularity Manang’s Chicken!
The Wandering Boots_Manangs Chicken
As Manang’s Chicken says, “Thank you!” on their last presentation slide during the launch, I would like to say “Thank you!” to Manang’s Chicken for adding spice to the fast food industry in the Philippines and introducing their family recipe to the rest of the people in Metro Manila, and for making an effort to think up of new food ideas and doing them really well!

Contact Information:

Website:  http://www.manangschicken.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/manangschicken

Branches:

ORTIGAS
AIC Gold Tower, Garnet Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City (near Emerald/former NU107)
Monday-Saturday – 9:00 am to 10:00 pm
Sunday – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Delivery: 584-8848, 871-5037, 0922-8427759

KATIPUNAN
G/F One Burgundy Plaza, Katipunan QC
Monday-Sunday – 9:00am to 10:00pm
Delivery: 921-5907, 0922-8164271

TAFT AVE
One Archers, Taft Ave.
Monday-Friday – 9:00 am to 10:00 pm
Saturday – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Sunday – closed
Delivery: 254-0842, 0922-8164272

MAKATI
Glorietta 4 Food Choices
Delivery: 400-4673, 0932-8626742

MEGAMALL
SM Megamall Food Court
Bldg. A, Lower Ground Floor

SM NORTH EDSA
Upper Ground Floor, The Annex

TOMAS MORATO
Unit 2&3, Lansbergh Place
Monday-Thursday – 10 am – 10 pm
Friday-Saturday – 10 am – 11 pm
Sunday – 10 am – 6 pm
Delivery: 376-5058, 0932-8627350

BF Homes Paranque
President Ave

WEEKEND MARKETS:
Mercato Centrale/Midnight Mercato @ BGC
Fridays: 10:00pm to 3:00 am, Saturdays: 7:30 am to 2:00 pm, 10:00 pm to 3:00 am, Sundays: 7:30 am to 2:00 pm

Soderno in Molito Alabang
Fridays and Saturdays 6:00pm-3:00am

The Wandering Boots

Advertisements

Hap Chan – Great Flavors, Good Eatin’

Like This!

We were in Market! Market! and we decided to eat at a Chinese restaurant since it was almost Chinese New Year the time we were there.  We chose from the restaurant directory right at the entrance of the mall, near the car park, and we spotted Hap Chan!  I’ve never been disappointed eating at a Chinese Restaurant anywhere so I knew it was going to be a good lunch, and I was right!

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 08

About the Restaurant

Hap Chan in Market! Market! is located right outside the mall.  I’m not familiar with Market! Market! mall so I can’t describe accurately where it was but it’s in the ground floor, near one of the exits of the mall with the cool rock water fixture.

Somehow, the outside of the restaurant looked so inviting.  I don’t know if it’s because it looked so festive with all the lanterns and lights, or if it’s because of the 2 huge round tables outside the restaurant that were just waiting for people to occupy them.

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 27
And here's how the outside of the restaurant looked. By the way, if you haven't figured it out yet, my favorite color is red. So their color scheme is perfect for me. That's why I love Chinese and Japanese restaurants! :)

We were welcomed at the door (everybody was so polite) and we were seated immediately (that was around 2PM).  We chose to be seated on the couch type seats, instead of the huge round tables which were for big families.  It was just me and Mario that time.  Although the seats were comfortable, there wasn’t a lot of space between the seats and the table.  Mario’s big tummy chest had little wiggle room but we didn’t switch places.  He was too lazy and too hungry to do that.

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 05
I don't know if you could tell in the photo that the table was too close to his chest but it really was. The technique is not to take deep breaths. ^_^; Maybe were just too big for the table... Yeah, maybe that's it...

Other than distance to the table issue, everything else was perfect.  I love the solid furniture (tables and chairs).  They’re just like the ones I see on TV at Chinese Restaurants in New York!  The chairs, especially, are the same things I’ve seen a couple of nights before we visited in one of the food shows at TLC.  Because of the bulky-looking furniture, it made the place look small and cramped, but it wasn’t like that at all.  There was enough room to stand, go to other tables, socialize, or share some stories with folks at the other end of the table.  It’s almost old-style looking that gave me a feeling that Jackie Chan was going to jump into one of the tables and do his moves, just like in his movies that involve restaurants.

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 10
Cool red and yellow lanterns!
Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 13
Looks packed and small but it's actually fairly spacious. It felt like I was eating in a really busy restaurant in China (although I really don't know what that's like).
Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 14
One wall was adorned with figurines, statues of saints and angels. Our first Filipino saint, St. Lorenzo Ruiz, was a Filipino-Chinese, and so is Venerable Ignacia del Espíritu Santo who we are praying to be our first Filipina saint.
Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 25
This was the chair I was telling you about earlier. Nice! The same one I saw on TV being used in Chinese Restaurant in New York.

What We Ordered

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 22
You can also get an idea of their serving size through this photo. Yang Chow Fried Rice was plenty enough for both of us without really stuffing is full. Just enough. Mario ordered an additional plain rice but that's just because we really eat a lot of rice. And the viand, good enough for 2-3 people.

I’m glad that although they had an extensive choice of food on their menu, the way they presented it wasn’t overwhelming.  I wanted to order sea cucumber but I’m sure Mario would be scared to try and it might just be wasted, so we stuck to safer choices – Minced Pork w/ Eggplant (I almost always order this in a Chinese Restaurant if they serve this), Braised Taufu w/ Asado, Yang Chow Fried Rice, and Hong Kong Iced Lemon Tea.

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 01
The Braised Beef Taufu w/ Asado and Minced Pork w/ Eggplant came from this page of the menu.
Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 03
One thing I can comment about the menu, well, the photos don't really give an accurate representation of the actual dishes.
Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 04
And the menu for drinks. I'd say the prices are average for most dishes, and a little over the average for some, compared with restaurants offering the same level of service and almost the same selection of dishes.

Minced Pork w/ Eggplant (230php)

You can never go wrong with ordering Minced Pork w/ Eggplant!  Hap Chan’s version is skinless eggplant!  The eggplant was perfectly cooked and it’s still a mystery to me how they were able to peel off the skin without subjecting the eggplant meat to a lot of stress and end up mushy, because their eggplant had the perfect texture and firmness.  They probably used a blowtorch and ice cold water to peel of the torched skins…. ^_^  Or maybe not blowtorch…  I wanted it to be little more spicy but the mild heat was good enough for Mario.  It was a tad salty for Mario, but it was perfect for me.  ^_^;  Serving size wasn’t bad either (good for 2-3 people).

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 19
It was served with a really hot pot (the dish was hot the whole time we were eating), so they had a pot stand where they can place the pot. I bet the little circle at the bottom was made to hold tea light candles to keep the pot hot if you would want so.
Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 18
Look! No skins!

Braised Taufu w/ Asado (210php)

Ah, yet another hit!  Although we both agreed we liked the Minced Meat w/ Eggplant more, this dish wasn’t trailing far behind.  I love how the Chinese put so much flavor into everything!  The winning ingredient for me in this dish was the Taufu!  It was still moist and soft at the center, by which you can tell that they used quality tofu, and the outside was firm and properly browned.  Oh I love when a restaurant pays attention to these little details.  I hope they read this so they know that people appreciate the good value they put out on the table, but being in the business for a long time, they probably already know.  As for the rest of the dish, the sauce was mildly sweet (which is ok), the Asado was a little tough (which is a minus), and the mushrooms are juicy (a definite plus)!

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 23

Yang Chow Fried Rice (195php)

This one was just ok.  I don’t remember anything special about it, but what I do remember is how it looked so plain compared to the photo on the menu.  In hindsight, it would have probably been better if we had ordered plain rice for P30 each.

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 20
I posted the rice menu above and on the right side of the menu is a photo of the Yang Chow Fried Rice which looked colorful and yummy. The actual Yang Chow Fried Rice wasn't exciting at all. Yeah, I would order plain rice next time.

Hong Kong Iced Lemon Tea (70php)

I don’t usually include “normal” drink selections and Iced Tea is quite normal in a restaurant but I really liked this one.  Mario ordered it, but I, of course, get a sip (or 2) before he takes a sip.  ^_^  He lets me take a sip first so that we can discuss the taste…  Ah, yes, we are a match made in heaven.  Anyway, this is more tea than sugar, plus hints of lemon.  I can still taste the bitterness of the tea and it wasn’t drowned out in sugar which I liked very much.  Next time I’ll order that for myself.  I just wished they had bottomless options.

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 12
Orange? Nope! Iced Lemon Tea! The color of the tea almost blended into his shirt!

FREE HOT TEA!

Hap Chan_The Wandering Boots 07
It tasted like brown rice tea, mild and smooth. We finished the pot!

Overall

We love the whole experience.  We enjoyed the hustle and bustle ambiance (every once in a while it’s a welcomed environment), we loved the old China town feel with some modern fixture, we love how quick our orders arrived and how polite the crew were, we love a couple of our orders and even the humdrum Yang Chow Fried Rice couldn’t dampen our mood.  The serving size was also good!  We’d love to go back and try the rest of the dishes on the menu!  Especially the sea cucumber dish!

More pictures!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Wandering Boots


Malcom’s Burger – 1st Year Anniversary Promo (Sneak Peek)

I just want to share something exciting that will happen on January 13, 2012 at Malcom’s Burger!

What a way to start 2012, right?  Food promos!  Check back for more details on this food promo on the 1st week of January, 2012!

Malcoms Anniversary Promo

 

Malcoms Anniversary Promo

 

 

Contact Information:

Malcolm’s Burger PDCP:
#311 G/F PDCP Building San Agustin St. cor V.A. Rufino St.,
Salcedo Village Makati City
Telephone:  8364384
The Wandering Boots

Tribu Express – A New Chicken is in Town

Like This!

Mario and I, together with other food bloggers, have been invited to have dinner at Tribu Express (Commonwealth branch).  The restaurant is located conveniently near the supermarket inside Ever Gotesco.  Incase you haven’t been to Ever Gotesco, it’s the structure/mall that looks like a castle from outside.  ^_^  Yes, just like Chocolate Lover in Cubao.  Mario and I don’t always take the trail north of Metro Manila so we don’t always discover new foodie finds that I know I’m missing that’s why when we were invited to this dinner, we both made an effort to attend.

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 05

SIDE STORY:  “My rush hour Friday MRT experience (the gruesome and detailed account of that sorry Friday)”

Introduction:  We live in Paranaque, and because of a shortcut we know to Makati, I planned to meet Mario there (after his errand) 3 hours before the  event thinking that was enough time to make it to Commonwealth, QC at 7PM (so that means we were at Makati around 4PM).  After a quick errand in Makati, we got stuck in traffic.  Because we value time and appointments, we decided to ditch the car (park it at Park Square 1) and take the MRT to Q. Ave.  Smart, right?  Well, I don’t know…

At AYALA MRT Station:  We arrived at AYALA MRT station (via the connecting “bridge” or hallway from SM Makati) and we positioned ourselves, along with 20 or so men, at one of the expected places where one of MRT’s door should be when it stops at the station.  The idea was to push the people in front so that they would get inside the train, and that would have at least gotten some people off the cluster and then we, the people at the back, could have gotten nearer the door for the next train.  But every one of the 4-5 trains that stopped at our station was jam packed!  I can’t go to the women’s cart because I didn’t want to leave Mario behind.  And, even in the women’s cart, ladies were pushing and shoving each other just to get in, but there’s always several more who are left behind because the train just couldn’t take even 1 more passenger.  After 30 minutes of that, we decided to go to the opposite side and head to the last station south (Taft Station) and we’ll just hitch a ride to North from there (thinking there are fewer people there being the very first station before a train leaves for the north route.

At TAFT MRT Station:  We were very wrong in thinking we have finally escaped the sardine can situation of Ayala Station.  Apparently, 3/4 of the passengers going to Taft were also just hitching a ride so that they’d be sure to get a seat or at least be in the train when it leaves to take the route to north.  And as luck would have it, we had to transfer trains twice because one of the trains’ doors couldn’t close anymore (tech issue) and on the other train, we were at the women’s cart – I was with Mario (we didn’t know because there weren’t any signs).  The moment we got out of the women’s cart, the rest of the other carts are full.  To make this very long story short, we were an hour and 5 or 10 minutes late for our appointment.  But the owner, Steffi, PerCX’s Bless, and the other bloggers, were sooo kind to wait for us for a quick chat before the mall closed.

About the Restaurant

While our dinner was at Ever Gotesco, Commonwealth, QC, the  first branch of Tribu Express  (Tribu Grill) is actually in California, USA and it was a hit there that they decided to put up branches here in the Philippines.  The concept is community or family dining that’s why the very name of the restaurant is a play on the term “Tribo” (tribe) which is a group of people, or also same as a clan.  The term “tribo” is usually used to define ethnic communities that’s probably why their logo is like a hut where most of the Philippine ethnic groups live.  I actually think it’s a very good name for a restaurant especially if we consider that tribes have very strong family/community bonds and Tribu Express would like to focus on being a type of restaurant where families, friends, and groups can bond over good food.  The place didn’t feel “finish” to me but it was clean and, for some reason, made me felt like I was eating at home, perhaps because it had a very casual vibe to it.

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 03
The restaurant entrance (which is really near the mall's supermarket), is very open and inviting. The bright orange sign stands out among the other restaurants in the area.
The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 04
I really love restaurants with lots of space where you don't have to hear what the other patrons are talking about in the other table, or if Mario's long legs aren't cramped up in the small space under the table. In Tribu Express, we didn't have any problem with that. The tables were properly spaced apart, there's more than enough space for people to move around and get water or condiments from the dedicated condiment table.
The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 16
They also had a separate room at the back of the restaurant that you can reserve for a group or family lunch/dinner. I'm not sure if that closes completely for a more private room feel, or if that door at the center stays open.

The Menu

Mario, being an iced-tea person, the first thing he noticed was how affordable their bottomless iced tea was!  At P35, it’s a steal!  And yes, if the drinks are affordable, then expect that everything else on the menu is priced good enough so that not one, not two, but a whole “tribu” can enjoy.  (Cheesy moment!  I’ve probably watched way too much Home Shopping Network shows.)

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 15

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 14

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 20
The star of the show, their fried chicken with 10 dips to choose from!
The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 12
Community size is good for 3 - 4 people. In my world, that means good enough for Me and/or Mario. ^_^

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 13

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 18

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 19
I actually like this ad... ^_^

What We Were Served

We were served 2pcs TFC (Tribu Fried Chicken) and UNLI Rice for P99, Bagoong Rice for P135, and something that didn’t look like anything on the menu, but was probably the XL Liempo BBQ/Orig with UNLI Rice for P99.  We were also served a couple of glasses of iced tea which Mario really liked.

2pcs TFC and UNLI Rice (P99) The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL

The chicken skin was unbelievably crunchy!  It reminded Mario of chicharon.  The meat was not as salty as the Mini-Stop chicken I love (because I really like salty food), but I guess for other folks, it was flavorful enough.  It was a pleasure sampling this dish.

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 09
Huge chicken parts with unlimited rice! Imagine that! We were served 3pcs probably because we were guests. But even with only 2, for 99PHP it would be super worth every peso together with the unlimited rice.

Bagoong Rice (P135) The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL

I’ve never had bagoong rice served with pork, mangoes and tomatoes (ensalada style but the bagoong is mixed in with the rice), and scrambled egg.  Although anything with preceded or followed by the word “bagoong” to me is delicious, this was exceptional.  It’s like a full meal on its own!  You could just order this and you’re done with your lunch or dinner!  It’s definitely meant to share between 2 or 3 people (depending on how hungry you are).  In my best day, I can probably take on the whole thing, and a TFC on the side.  ^_^

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 06
Sorry dear readers... If you notice, the lower left part is out of shape... Well, I actually almost helped myself to this dish, then I remember to take a picture! It was a perfect square with toppings of mango, tomato, pork, and scrambled egg. You know how I love salty stuff so this was like a magnet to me!

XL Liempo BBQ/Orig with UNLI Rice (P99) The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL

That’s what it tasted exactly, a BBQ Liempo.  The sweet marinate caramelized in the burnt edges are my favorite but really, I couldn’t play favorites in any of its parts because the whole thing tasted great!  The diet deity must be carefully guarding me from these temptation (unli rice with delicious barbecued pork in sweet marinate) because if Tribu Express had a branch near Paranaque, my hopes of losing a few lbs would be done for!

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 11

Bottomless Iced Tea (P35) The Wandering Boots Rating 4 SMALL

I needed to include this in the review just because Mario kept talking about how good it tasted and how affordable it was compared to other similar restaurants.  I don’t have a picture though, but I’m sure you know how iced tea looks like.  ^_^;  But between Mario’s fave iced tea from Wendy’s and Tribu Express’, he still likes Wendy’s more.  Still, for affordability, this earns a high score in his card.

Overall

The effort (going through all that MRT drama) was well worth it.  If I lived in QC and happen to be doing my weekly grocery at Ever Gotesco Commonwealth, I would definitely eat at Tribu Express.  But if you’re the person who only eats half orders of rice in all meal times, then you may not be able to get the most of your peso here or you can order from their FISH & CHIX menu which has solo priced orders.  Next time, I would probably try their inasal as it’s one of the restaurant’s specialties aside from the Tribu Fried Chicken, and the vanilla sundae cone for P10 because I’m a sucker for vanilla ice cream.

The Wandering Boots _ Tribu Express 21

Contact Information:

Stef Santana
Tel no. : 990-1302

The Wandering Boots

The meal was provided by Tribu Express for blogging purposes.
The contents of this review is 100% my honest opinion.

Makan Makan (Asian Food Village) – Manila Style Hawker

Like This!

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.

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 29

Location

Manila Ocean Park located literally behind Quirino Grand Stand.  As I’m a firm believer of visual aids, here are maps to the place:

Manila Ocean Park _ Map 1
Buses park right outside the park, in front of the Quirino Grandstand, and the rest can park inside. There are 2 parking spaces, both don't have covers and are relatively near the entrance.
Manila Ocean Park _ Map 2
The internet and its many uses.. Thank goodness for online maps! ^_^ I rely on these, probably too much.

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 Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 01
This is the main entrance to everything - ticket counter, mall, the shows, etc.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 05
That's the mall entrance. Yep! Still a lot of construction work going on.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 04
Ticket counter on the right, and also the entrance to Marine Habitat.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 12
Looks just like any other mall, right?

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 13

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 14
It looks like I'm stalking the lady in green... ^_^; She's in 2 of the photos already...

Restaurant Location

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:

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 07
This is the view right after you enter the mall. At the end on the left (just before the big open space at the center) is the H2O Hotel, and on the right is North Park.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 08
Entrance to the hotel.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 09
Now we're at the open space at the center. Left side...
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 10
Center
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 11
Right.

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 16

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 15
Still the 4D ride and there different TV screens showing a video of the people taking the ride inside.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 17
Ah... Guess what? Jellyfish show! Weee! This will be for next time! Oh, and yes, this is where you'll find the escalator to the 2nd floor.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 18
Nice sunny day and ocean view right on the 2nd floor after a quick escalator ride. ^_^ I don't know if they used double glass windows or specially treated ones to prevent too much heat from entering the building, and help save electricity cost by having to maintain less airconditioning units, but we were sweating a bit inside the mall and the sun's light hurts even indoors so I guess they didn't do that. I hope we could have more ECO friendly buildings and houses in the Philippines.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 20
This one's a HUGE playland for kids!

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 Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 21
Nice big hallway and a good sign that means lots of space! Yeah! Just the way I want it.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 22
Yes, here are the ball of lights... And I do remember seeing them somewhere and photographing them too...
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 25
There's an interesting wall that features China town photos from way way back.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 24
You can see how bright the sun was that day. We were at the restaurant around 1:30pm so that should be expected. But the blinds were already down yet it's still too bright ei? The kitchen is built right at the center of all these pseudo-booths that were made to look like streetfood booths. Somehow, when I saw photos of this online, I thought you'd go around each booth to order... Well, there's a wait staff and a menu and all you need to do place your order once you're seated.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 26
Kitchen was that busy... It was a few minutes after lunch on a Saturday. Not a lot of customers so everything's really neat, tucked away, and pretty peaceful for a restaurant kitchen.
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 27
A little too quite for half an hour after lunch service? Or maybe because it's a Saturday, there's much less office patrons or none at all. Considering the prices, kids on a field trip wouldn't really consider eating here. Plus the location is a bit far from the hustle bustle of the 1st floor, which is good for me. Nice and quiet is the way I want to go if I'm on a date with my husband. ^_^
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 28
They also have a bar. ^_^ Wouldn't be complete without one.

The Service

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.

The Menu

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.

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 30

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 32

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 33

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 36

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 37

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 38

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 39

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 40

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 41

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 42

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 46

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 47

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 48

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 49

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 50

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.

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 52
Food was served in boat-shaped bowls.

Chopsuey (P200) The Wandering Boots Rating 4 SMALL  good for 2-3 people

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… ^_^;

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 55
Yummy! Lots of squid meat!
The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 54
I wish I knew how to cut veggies for garnish like that.

Yang Chow Fried Rice (P275) The Wandering Boots Rating 3 SMALL good for 2-3 people 

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 Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 53

 

Hainanese Chicken Rice (P160) The Wandering Boots Rating 5 SMALL plated with rice, good for 1

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.

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 57
Ah... The chicken was so tender and moist. The veggies were oh so yummy! Those 2 were a perfect match.

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 56

Chocolate Dinosaur (P95) The Wandering Boots Rating 3 SMALL

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.

The Wandering Boots_Makan Makan 45
Drink with the straw then scoop up the powdered chocolate with your spoon. Or, mix everything up for a "chocolatier" drink!

Overall

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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! ^_^