Saturday, September 16, 2006


Abundant with affordably-priced cafes and restaurants, some friends in New York often equate my living in Manila with a daily indulgence in great meals that one would pay for handsomely like in Soho’s Filipino restaurant, Cendrillon.

There would be dead silence on the line whenever I’d mention my eating habits could be so bland at times that some well-heeled cousins had ascribed my sometimes austere gastronomical pleasure to some undisclosed life-threatening disease — followed by a whisper of, “Maybe that’s why he came back to Manila … to spend the end of his days.”

Truth be told, I sometimes wonder if my persona does tend to bring bad luck, for my favorite local eateries, which I could tirelessly go to on a daily basis, had disappeared — one is Juan Soy in Greenbelt, the other is Pinoy Don in Robinson’s Malate. I don’t even know if they have any branches anywhere else in the city.

Be that as it may, something I enjoy every morning is the pandesal. I call it the two-biter because its size nowadays only requires two bites to gobble up; average price is two pesos each at the neighborhood bakeries.

A couple of years ago, in my regular attempt to make sure my brain doesn’t go anywhere without my consent, I took a one-week baking class in Diliman, Quezon City. Now, here is what some bakers in my class told me (they were there for the certification required for overseas job applications): the texture of the morning pandesal differs from that of the afternoon which is more airy inside and toasted on the outside. How's that for trivia?

Chow King’s wanton noodle is another favorite of mine, which I would have for lunch whenever possible. It’s tasty and light — I don’t feel so bloated and lethargic afterwards. It costs about 68 pesos for the large bowl. It’s usually served very hot (the camera even caught the steam coming from it) so give it a few minutes before digging in.

I used to go to Ma Mon Luk in Quiapo for mami and siopao, but I noticed I felt sleepy afterwards. It wasn’t until another blogger had written about this restaurant that I found out about the true cause of this sleepiness — excessive MSG (monosodium glutamate). That was the end of that.

Now, some of you may be too young to remember Little Quiapo, but it was once very popular, especially among the students in the university belt area. Like Chow King, they were famous for their mami, siopao and halo-halo.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 11:17 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baking class, huh? So did you make the pandesal yourself? My sister does her own pandesal. Something I should also learn how to do. :)

That wanton noodle looks so good.

September 16, 2006 11:55 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh yes! The hardest part, Irene, is kneading the dough. This is the reason why some invest in those heavy duty mixers.

Realized through this class that baking is actually easy. Ensaymadas and various cakes we did also but the real bakers in the class you can usually point out -- they never wanted to have a piece of the baked goods. They're sick and tired of them :)

However, I never really got to practice it since I was never inspired to get one those ovens. It was a longtime dream for me to learn to bake, which I actualized here in Manila.

It was fun!

September 16, 2006 12:05 PM  

Blogger D@phneL@ur@ said...

There is a PinoyDon Rice bowl restaurant at The Podium but maybe it isn't the same one.
I'm not sure either it is still there, I haven't been to Podium in a while and you know how restaurants here pop up then close a few months later.

For my wanton noodles fix I go to Luk Yuen. :D

September 16, 2006 12:43 PM  

Blogger Iskoo said...

ah yun pala reason kung bakit nakakaantok kumain dail sa sobrang MSG, lahat order ko sa chowking lagi ring may kasamang wanton noodles (merienda size), hmm nakakaganang kumain.

September 16, 2006 12:55 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thnx sa trivia, magkaiba pala ang pansedal sa umaga at gabi.. hmmm.

ok din pandesal sa pugon de mla, malalaki yun lang mas mahal ng kaunti.

September 16, 2006 12:59 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

When do you start your own "Walking tours" ?
In fact, no need to walk since we can "experience" Manila life through your blog and that in the comfort of our own house.

"slepiness-excessive MSG (monosodium glutamate). That was the end of that."

I also tend to fall asleep after a good meal... so what can you do against it.

September 16, 2006 1:52 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Food! wow, pandesal and wanton mee. My weakness. I prefer chicken wanton and thin yellow noodles. This must be eaten piping hot. :)

So, pandesal has 2 varieties huh? Know what Eric, instead of MSG, you try using herbs. We have a lot and you can use the commercial ones too. There are different types of herbs good for fish, white and red meat. Food tastes better.

Magtanim ng tanglad(lemon grass) which is used mainly in Thai and other SE Asian cuisine. When I was young I remember we have these in our back garden.

1. lemon grass (tanglad)- for fish, beef
2. mint (herba buena) - beef, pork
3. marjoram <-am not sure if that's the English name (we call it garabo)- beef, pork,monggo with pork
4. lemon (fruit)
5. turmeric (I call it the orange colour ginger)
6. ginger

This is what I remember. Here, with the Chinese community, I've learned a lot of herbs which is available commercially and it's good. If you want fresh herbs, try the supermarket for parsley, basil leaves,corriander, etc. No MSG. Try.

September 16, 2006 2:35 PM  

Blogger ladybug said...

Hmmm...I also love to go to Chow King every now and then. I prefer their beef wanton noodles. Aw shucks! I'm craving for one right now. Anyway, happy weekend! :-)

September 16, 2006 3:08 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is inside the pandesal? It looks good to me!

Wanton noodles! It has been ages since I last had a bowl of those. Yummy. Hehe.

September 16, 2006 3:44 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That is probably one and the same, PinoyDon, Daphne. They serve Filipino-Japanese food (like Filipino fillings in their sushi).

I should check out if they're still at the Podium. Thanks?

Luk Yuen? Hmmm ... where is that?

Ayon ang sabi nila, Iskoo -- sobra sa vetsin daw: I usually order the large size since it's for lunch :)

Yes, Cruise ... masarap talaga and pandesal ng Pugon at malalaki pa. Five pesos each was the cost then, don't know now. But they do have smaller ones for like P2.50 each.

I'm barely getting reacquainted to the city, Sidney, so I don't think I'm in the position to take anyone on a tour :)

But I think what happens to you -- falling asleep after a meal -- is due more for having a hearty meal :)

The sleepiness felt with MSG is different.

We don't use any vetsin at home, Ipanema -- only pepper and hardly any salt. What I'm more concerned about is the use of MSG at most local eateries.

This is quite a tip -- many thanks for sharing. I will definitely try them :)

Lol ... I prefer Chow King over Jolibee's because the food at Chow King are prepared as ordered, Ladybug :)

Pandesal is just bread, but it's up to you to fill it with anything you desire, Kyels -- butter, jam, fruit jelly, corned beef, and etc. :)

September 16, 2006 6:49 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naabot ko yung Little Quiapo parang mas kilala siya sa halo-halo kaysa noodles?, Suki din kami ng Ma mon Luk (Cubao Branch nga lang) noong bata ako... meaow hehehe.

Since di na ako masyado kumakain ng meat ngayon sa chowking ako mas madalas kumain dahil mas madaming non-meat choices, pero pag gusto ko ng noodles, mas prefer ko yung vietnamese rice noodles lalagyan ko ng madaming fresh basil at togue at pipigaan ko ng lemon siguradong tutulo ang pawis ko! :-)

September 16, 2006 9:49 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Saan ka kumakain ng Vietnamese noodles, Beth?

Ang favorite ko ay yung maliliit, Vermicelli or angel's hair tawag sa NY, which is served cold with various toppings of veggies and shrimp or meat.

September 17, 2006 6:23 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

I, too, remember Little Quiapo. Along Espana, right?

Anybody care for fortified Ramen noodles? Fortified with fresh eggs added, and with a little steamed rice and spicy sardines mixed in, too. Coming out like mami, or maybe, stew.

I like it immensely and its cost here is about a dollar only for all the ingredients thrown in.

As you can see I, too, have very spartan, or maybe weird, taste when it comes to food.

BTW, I just recalled that one popular food blogger from Luzon (Sassy L) remarked that pandesal in Metro Manila has an overriding sweet taste. Got my attention because the pandesal in Mindanao as I recall it has like its name, a salty taste. Which is which?

September 17, 2006 7:21 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Little Quiapo. that's where we ate halo-halo. iT was my mom who told me about the place when I studied in UP. Now that my daughter is in UP, I am relaying the same tip. Ah Ma Mon Luk...the daughter of the owner used to be classmate in Food Tech but I heard that they all moved to the states.

September 17, 2006 8:00 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Our fellow blogger, Aurea, who attends MIT in Cambridge will love your fortified Ramen, Amadeo. It happens to be among her favorite comfort foods. While in NYC I ate them often, especially during winter.

Yes, sugar is added in the pandesal mix common here in Manila, but haven't tasted the salty version.

September 17, 2006 8:20 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I think there is still one remaining Little Quiapo somewhere in Quezon City. The one I used to go to when I was young was somewhere in Recto near University of the East. I think :)

The Ma Mon Luk in Quiapo and along Quezon Blvd near Banawe look and feel exactly as when I was a little kid, Noemi.

They should be regarded as landmarks :)

September 17, 2006 8:24 AM  

Blogger D@phneL@ur@ said...

According to the ClicktheCity website, the other PinoyDon branches are at Eastwood (Libis) and Maga Centre Paseo de Magallanes.

The original Luk Yuen is located at Greenhills. They also have branches at Mega Mall and Glorietta 2.

September 17, 2006 12:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, alrighty. Thanks for the explanation Eric.


September 17, 2006 1:54 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'll check out those two locations for PinoyDon, Daphne ... thanks!

I think I remember Luk Yuen now. Is that the upscale Chinese restaurant on the second floor across the street from entrance to Landmark supermarket? I had lunch there once; our table was next to Dolphy and she must be with his little granddaughter -- only the two of them.

September 17, 2006 8:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good old pandesal is available from Pinoy stores here. There's one Pinoy bakery here selling the healthy version - wheat pandesal with a slightly brown color. Non-Pinoys think pandesal is sweet
(I kinda sensed that too!). It's great for stuffing anything in it - cream cheese, peanut butter, cheddar cheese, omelette, chili con carne, etc..( anything goes LOL). My favorite is making tuna sandwiches with it.. Gosh, I can gobble up a bunch in one sitting.

September 18, 2006 12:35 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

pandesal is definitely my most favorite anytime fare and i especially love eating it with either butter or cheese and dunking it in coffee. ;-)

wanton noodle soup for me is best eaten with a large bola bola siopao.. yummmm!

there's a pinoydon in podium, 5th floor.

September 18, 2006 9:36 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ahhh, you and me both with pandesal, BW. I turn it into sandwiches of all kinds also ... lol ... including adobo sandwich!

September 18, 2006 11:33 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

NOw I have got to go to Podium. Haven't been there, though. Where is it, Carla?

Yes, a large special bola-bola siopao with wanton noodle, of course :)

September 18, 2006 11:35 AM  

Blogger Rey said...

wow.. i missed pandesal. And so with the asado sio pao and Mami.

Here they have all kinds of noodle soup an paos but they're not like the ones in the phils. The taste is just different.
I guess it's because Filipino chinese cuisine has gained its distinctive kind of taste through the years. Pinoy style na rin, ika nga.

September 18, 2006 12:19 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

podium is in ortigas center, just behind sm megamall and st. francis square. pinoy don is at the 5th floor. so far i've only tried their breaded pork chop, pork bbq, banana surprise and this batchoy type ramen. all their food is a fusion of filipino and japanese. :-)

September 18, 2006 12:35 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Rey, Ivan had taken us to a food shop in Chinatown where they sell fried siopao -- delicious! I'll blog about it and give exact directions :)

September 18, 2006 4:40 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Carla!

I will definitely make a trip over there even if just to once again enjoy PinoyDon's Pinoy/Japanese fusion food :)

I love their Filipino-style sushi! They also have the adobo rice topping which was excellent!

September 18, 2006 4:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Austere as that food may seem, to me it would be gourmet food. I just don't see pandesal every day in Boston. And that wanton soup has got me craving.

September 19, 2006 12:21 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You will love this wanton noddle soup, Aurea. I'm sure of it :)

September 19, 2006 6:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paborito ko ang pandesal, kape at kesong puti sa umaga. :D

My grandma's home-made wanton noodles tastes far better than Chowking's. hehehe

Your're tagged! lol

September 24, 2006 12:07 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I believe it, Jhay! However good Chow King's is ... nothing beats home cooking :)

I'm tagged? Okay, will check out your site. Thanks!

September 24, 2006 7:55 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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