Revisiting CAFÉ MEDITERRANEAN: Flavors of the Sun

LOCATION: Lower Ground Floor, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Drive corner Estrella Street, Makati, Metro Manila 1210

I had a sentimental lunch here with close family while at the Power Plant, remembering my sister-in-law who passed away because this was one of her favorite dining places in the metro.

Café Mediterranean is a cozy, casual Mediterranean1 restaurant that offers “the Mediterranean lifestyle … through fresh, healthy meals with family and friends, finding a balance between work, relaxation, and experiencing the pleasures of an active life.”2 It believes that “sharing meals with friends and family, pausing to taste, smell and enjoy, rather than simply refuel, is one of the most valued foundations of traditional Mediterranean culture!”2

1-dining                                Cafe Med Power Plant dining area, upon entry, to the right

1-dining-1                                 Cafe Med Power Plant, upon entry, to the left

1-fx rm                                            Cafe Med Power Plant function room

Here is a brief history of this restaurant before I share my recent senti-dining experience with you, dearest readers/followers. In 1994, siblings Gonzalo and Giovanna Mabanta, along with Gonzalo’s then sister-in-law Marla Moran, opened the first branch of this restaurant in Greenbelt Mall, and it became an instant hit among the corporate crowd in Makati. The name was derived from Caffe Mediterraneum, a long defunct early 1960’s beatnik hangout in Berkeley, California.2

Café Mediterranean features “fresh, light, yet flavorful, and slightly unusual and interesting menu offerings … the traditional cooking of the 14 or so countries located within the Mediterranean… keeping the key ingredients (olive oil, garlic and tomato) as unifying elements”2. Employees and loyal customers are treated as extended family, thereby exuding a sense of family tradition in the restaurant.2

The menu is customer-friendly, indicating if dishes are vegetarian/vegan, with appropriate descriptions.

Here is the menu:

  1. Appetizers and Little Plates
  2. Soups and Salads

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  1. Sandwiches
  2. Pastas
  3. Pizzas

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  1. Gyros3
  2. Gyro Plates
  3. Gyro Platters
  4. Döner Kebabs4

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  1. Large Plates
  2. Kebabs5
  3. Kebab Platters

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  1. Side Orders
  2. Desserts
  3. Beverages

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Prices are inclusive of government taxes, and subject to 10% service charge.

You can also ask your server about the creamy, low calorie, and genuine Gelato Italiano. Perhaps I will try it next time.

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Now here is my dining experience in this restaurant:

We were only four that lunchtime and we ordered the following: a Kebab5 Platter with Pita6, Tabbouleh7 (served with grilled chicken), and Roti8 (with dip). There were three in my group who had the Zomato9 Gold app but only opted for the 1+1 drink promo so we ordered the Mango Banana Lassi10 and the Lemon Cucumber Shake, with syrup/Splenda11 on the side (to minimize/avoid using sugar).

1-order-1-aThe Kebab5 Platter with Pita6 was very satisfying with a mix of chicken and beef kebabs, fish kebabs and kofta12, with small portions of hummus13, moutabal14, and tabbouleh7. The 5 large pitas6 were served warm and best savored dipped in these accompaniments/dips. We dipped the pieces of grilled chicken, beef, fish and kofta in our individual dipping ware with the sauce served in a bowl. The grilled onions and tomatoes were enjoyed with every bite of the grilled meat/fish and dips, along with the pita. Happy tummies! My favorites were the fish and chicken kebabs since they were very savory, tender and juicy. I found the beef kebab a bit tough and the kofta savory, but too strong for my taste.

We enjoyed dipping pita6 bread and rotiin the accompanying sauces/dips.

1-order-2The Tabbouleh7 (served with grilled chicken) was served chilled. We enjoyed this very refreshing vegetarian salad with the grilled items ordered.

The Mango Banana Lassi10and Lemon Cucumber Shake were both served well chilled and were refreshing. They were good combinations of the major ingredients used for each beverage, and were not too sweet.

1-fd-hummus-bowlsIt was late when I saw a separate menu for Hummus13 Bowls, which are served with two pieces of pita6 bread. I could have ordered one had I seen this menu earlier. I wanted to support Café Mediterranean which is partnering with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. All proceeds of these orders go to Syrians displaced by the Syrian War. So, what are you waiting for? You not only get to enjoy a freshly made, hearty and healthy hummus bowl, but you get to help displaced Syrians too.

Contact details: Tel Nos.: (02) 898-1301 or (02) 765-5010; Mario Gutierez (Manager); mario.gutierez@thecafemediterranean.com;    website: https://thecafemediterranean.com/

If you cannot go to Power Plant Mall, here are the other branches of Café Mediterranean in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Davao:

  1. 3rd Floor, 1 Bonifacio High Street (Phil.Stock Exchange), 5th and 28th Streets, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (coming soon)
  2. 2nd Floor, Corte de las Palmas, Alabang Town Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
  3. Unit 45 & 46, Basement 1, Estancia Mail, Capitol Commons, Pasig City
  4. 1st Level, Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Paseo de Roxas corner Legaspi Street, Makati City,
  5. Ground Floor, Entertainment Center, SM Mall of Asia, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
  6. 5th Floor, The Podium, Ortigas Center, ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City
  7. GFF-8 Ground Floor, Solenand 3, Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna
  8. Chimes Mall, Davao City

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your dining experience in this restaurant. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by these key ingredients – olive oil, garlic, fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich legumes, fish, chicken, whole unprocessed grains, seeds and nuts, with moderate amounts of dairy, wine and red meat15, prepared by people of the Mediterranean region16. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mediterranean cuisine”.17

2www.thecafemediterranean.com

3Gyro, or gyros, is a Greek dish made from meat (pork, chicken, ground beef, mutton, or veal), cooked on a vertical rotisserie, similar to shawarma18 (of the Middle East19). The roasted meat is sliced vertically in thin, crisp shavings when done. It is generally served wrapped or stuffed in a lightly grilled flatbread (like pita6), and rolled up with sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, tzatziki20 sauce, and sometimes, French fries. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Gyro (food)”.21

4Döner Kebab is a type of Turkish kebab5 made of seasoned meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The outer layer is sliced into thin shavings as it cooks. The sliced meat may be served on a plate with various accompaniments, stuffed into a pita6 or other type of bread as a sandwich, or wrapped in a thin flatbread such as lavash22 or yufka23. It inspired similar dishes like the Arab shawarma18, Greek gyros3, and the Mexican al pastor24. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Döner Kebab”.25

5Kebabs are various cooked, skewered or not skewered, (cut up or ground) meat (or seafood) dishes, sometimes with fruits and vegetables, with origins in Middle Eastern19 cuisine, with variants throughout Asia and even worldwide. In the Muslim world, a kebab is any of a wide variety of grilled (cooked on a skewer over fire) meat dishes. It can also be grilled, baked in a pan in an oven, or as a stew, and served with various accompaniments. It is traditionally made of mutton, but regional variations use beef, goat, chicken, or fish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kebab”.26

6Pita is a Middle Eastern19 family of yeast-leavened round flatbreads baked from wheat flour, also common in neighboring areas. It is used to scoop sauces or dips, such as hummus13, or to wrap kebabs5, gyros3, or falafel27, in the manner of sandwiches. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Pita”.28

7Tabbouleh is a Lebanese and Syrian vegetarian salad made mostly of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, onion, mint, (soaked, not cooked) bulgur29, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Some variations add garlic or lettuce, or use couscous30, instead of bulgur. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tabbouleh”.31

8Roti, or chapatti, is a round, unleavened, flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent32, made from stoneground wholemeal flour, traditionally called atta, and water that is combined into a dough. It is also consumed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and parts of Africa, Fiji, Mauritius and the Caribbean. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Roti”.33

9Zomato is an Indian restaurant search and discovery service, founded in 2008 by Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah, and now operating in 24 countries, including the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Zomato”.34 

10Lassi, lacchi, chaas, or taak, is a popular, traditional dahi (yogurt)-based drink that originated in the Indian subcontinent32. It is a blend of yogurt, water, spices, and sometimes, fruit. It is traditionally a sweet, savory drink, sometimes flavored with ground and roasted cumin, and served chilled. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lassi”.35

11Splenda is the commercial name and registered trademark of a sucralose-based artificial sweetener, owned by the American company Heartland Food Products Group, and manufactured by the British company, Tate & Lyle. It is available in both granular and dissolvable tablet forms. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Splenda”.36

12Kofta is a family of savory meatball or meatloaf dishes found in the Indian subcontinent32, South Caucasian37, Middle Eastern19, Balkan38, and Central Asian39 cuisines. It is made of minced or ground meat, usually beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fish or shrimps, mixed with spices and/or onions. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kofta”.40

13Hummus is the classic Middle Eastern19 chickpea and sesame dip or spread. Cooked or mashed chickpeas or other beans are blended with tahini41, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is also popular in the Mediterranean16. It is rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and minerals like manganese. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Hummus”.42

14Moutabal is a smoked eggplant and tahini41 dip, and sometimes has cumin.43 It is similar to baba ghanoush14, a Levantine44 appetizer of mashed, baked or broiled eggplant, mixed with tahini, olive oil, and various seasonings. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Baba ganoush”.45

15www.eatingwell.com

16The Mediterranean countries are those that surround the Mediterranean Sea. Southern Europe46, the Levant47 and North Africa48 regions border the Mediterranean, in addition to two island nations – Cyprus and Malta. Here are the countries and territories bordering the Mediterranean Sea: (1) Southern European coast: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey; (2) Levantine coast: Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine (Gaza Strip), and Syria; (3) Northern African coast: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of Mediterranean countries”.49

17 “Mediterranean cuisine,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_cuisine

18 Shawarma is a Middle Eastern19 meat preparation based on the Turkish döner kebab4, originally made of seasoned mutton. Modern versions are also made of beef, chicken, turkey or veal, cut into thin slices, and stacked in a cone-like shape on a vertical rotisserie. Thin slices are shaved off the cooked surface as it continuously rotates. Spices added include cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, paprika and turmeric. It is commonly served as a sandwich or wrap, in a flatbread such as pita6 or laffa50, often garnished with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions, pickled vegetables, and tahini41 sauce or amba51 mango sauce. Some restaurants may offer additional toppings like grilled peppers, eggplant, or French fries. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Shawarma”.52

19Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia53, Turkey and Egypt. It consists of the following countries: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Middle East”.54

20Tzatziki, cacik, or tarator, is a dip, soup, or sauce found in the cuisines of Southeast Europe46 and the Middle East19. It is made of salted strained yogurt or diluted yogurt, mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, sometimes with vinegar or lemon juice, and herbs such as dill, mint, parsley and thyme. It is generally served as a cold appetizer (meze55) or a side dish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tzatziki”.56

21“Gyro (food),” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyro_(food)

22Lavash is a soft, thin, Armenian unleavened flatbread made in a tandoor (a cylindrical metal oven) and also eaten all over Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. It is made with flour, water and salt. The thickness of the bread varies, depending on how thin it was rolled out. Toasted sesame seeds and poppy seeds are sometimes sprinkled before baking. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lavash”.57

23Yufka is a thin, round and unleavened flatbread in Turkish cuisine, similar to lavash22, usually made from wheat flour, water and salt. It is about 18 inches (40-50 cm) in diameter. The sheets of yufka dough are baked on a heated iron plate called a sac for about 2-3 minutes, turned over once to brown the other side. Before consumption, dry yufka bread is sprayed with warm water. The moistened bread is covered with a cotton cloth and is rested for 10-12 minutes before serving. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Yufka”.58

24Al pastor, or tacos al pastor, is the Mexican version of Turkish döner kebab4 and the Greek gyros3. It is a pork dish developed in central Mexico that is based on shawarma18 spit-grilled meat, brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Al pastor literally means “shepherd style” in Spanish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Al pastor”.59

25“Döner Kebab,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Döner_kebab

26“Kebab,”accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kebab

27Falafel is a Levantine44 and Egyptian deep-fried ball, or a flat or doughnut-shaped patty, made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both, commonly eaten inWestern Asia53, most likely originated in Egypt. Herbs, spices, and onion relatives are commonly added to the dough of this vegetarian dish, considered a street food. The balls are commonly served in a pita6, laid over a bed of salad or pickled vegetables, and drizzled with hot sauce or a tahini41-based sauce. It can also be wrapped in a flatbread called a taboon. It can be eaten alone as a snack, or served as part of an assortment of appetizers called meze55. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Falafel”.60

28“Pita,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pita

29Bulgur is a cereal food made from the cracked parboiled groats of several different wheat species, most often with durum wheat, with a light, nutty flavor. It originated in Middle Eastern19 cuisine. It is a common ingredient in cuisines of many countries of the Middle East and Mediterranean16. It does not require cooking, although it can be included in cooked dishes; soaking in water is all that is needed. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Bulgur”.61

30Couscous is a Maghrebi62 dish made of (3 mm or 0.12 in.) small steamed balls from crushed durum wheat semonila, traditionally served with a stew spooned on top. It is a staple food throughout the North African48 cuisines of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Couscous”.63

31“Tabbouleh,”accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabbouleh

32The Indian subcontinent is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush64 in the west, and the Arakanese65 in the east. Politically, it includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Indian subcontinent”.66

33“Roti,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roti

34“Zomato,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zomato

35“Lassi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lassi

36“Splenda,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splenda

37The South Caucasus is a geographical region in the southern Caucasus Mountains on the border of Eastern Europe67 and Western Asia53. It roughly corresponds to modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “South Causasus”.68

38The Balkans is a term used more generally for the region, including states in the region, which may extend beyond the peninsula, and is not defined by the geography of the peninsula itself. The Balkans are usually said to comprise Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Balkans”.69

39Central Asia is a region which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east, and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. It consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is also colloquially referred to as “The Stans” as the countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix “-stan”, meaning “land of”. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Central Asia”.70

40“Kofta,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kofta

41 Tahini is a condiment made from toasted, ground, hulled sesame seeds. It is served by itself as a dip, or as a major ingredient in baba ghanoush14, halva71, and hummus13. Tahini-based sauces are common in Middle Eastern19 restaurants as a side dish or as a garnish, usually including lemon juice, salt and garlic, and thinned with water. The sauce is also a popular topping for meat and vegetables in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is used in cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean72, the South Caucasus68, as well as parts of North Africa48. It is also used in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tahini”.73

42“Hummus,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummus

43https://maninio.com/2017/11/the-original-arabic-moutabal-baba-ganoush-middle-east-vegan/

44 Levantine cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Levant47 which covers a large area of the Eastern Mediterranean72. The most distinctive aspect of Levantine cuisine is meze55, including baba ghanoush14, hummus13 and tabblouleh7. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Levantine cuisine”.74

45“Baba ganoush,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_ganoush

46Southern Europe, or Mediterranean Europe, is the southern region of the European continent, consisting of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Corsica, Croatia, Cyprus, Gibraltar, the East Thrace of European Turkey, Greece, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Spain. Andorra, North Macedonia, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, and the Vatican City are also often included, despite not having a coast in the Mediterranean. It can also include mainland Southern France and Monaco, which are otherwise considered parts of Western Europe. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Southern Europe”.75

47The Levant refers to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean72, primarily in Western Asia53. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Levant”.76

48North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, but the most commonly accepted coverage includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “North Africa”.77

49 “List of Mediterranean countries,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mediterranean_countries

50Laffa, or taboon bread, is a Middle Eastern19 flatbread, traditionally baked in a taboon oven or a tannur, and is similar to the various tandoor breads in many parts of Asia. It is of medium thickness, slightly chewy, and does not tear easily. It is used as a base or wrap in many cuisines, and eaten with different accompaniments. It is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine worldwide. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Taboon bread”.78

51Amba, or anba, is a tangy mango pickle condiment popular in Indian and Middle Eastern19 cuisine, particularly Iraqi, Israeli and Saudi cuisines. It is typically made of mangoes, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, chilli and fenugreek, similar to mango chutney. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Amba (condiment)”.79

52“Shawarma,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawarma

53Western Asia includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Western Asia”.80

54“Middle East,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East

55A meze, or mezza, is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in parts of the Middle East19 (as a multi-course meal), the Balkans38 and Greece (as snacks while drinking or talking), and North Africa48. It is generally accompanied by distilled drinks like arak, mastika, ouzo, raki, rakia, or tsipouro. It may also be consumed with beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Meze”.81

56“Tzatziki,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzatziki

57“Lavash,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavash

58“Yufka,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yufka

59“Al pastor,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_pastor

60“Falafel,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falafel

61“Bulgur,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgur

62The Maghrebi is a major region of North Africa48 that consists primarily of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. It is also called Northwest Africa, Northern Africa, Greater Arab Maghreb, Arab Maghreb, Greater Maghreb, the Berber world, Barbary, or Berberry. It additionally includes the disputed territories of Western Sahara (mostly controlled by Morocco), and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla (both controlled by Spain and claimed by Morocco). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Maghrebi”.82

63“Couscous,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couscous

64Hindu Kush is an 800-km-long mountain range that stretches near the Afghan-Pakistan border, from central Afghanistan to northern Pakistan, according to the Wikipedia page “Hindu Kush”.83

65The Arakan Mountains, or the Rakhine Mountains, are a mountain range in western Myanmar, according to the Wikipedia page “Arakan Mountains”.84

66“Indian subcontinent,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_subcontinent

67Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent, and although there is no common definition of its coverage, the United Nations’ Statistics Division included the following countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, and Slovakia, as well as the republics of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine.85

68“South Caucasus,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Caucasus

69“Balkans,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkans

70“Central Asia,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Asia

71Halva, halvah, or halwa, is any of various dense, sweet confections, mostly made in the Middle East19, Central Asia39, and the Indian subcontinent32. It could be flour-based, made by frying flour (such as semolina, cornstarch, and rice flour) on oil (like clarified butter or ghee), mixing it into a roux, and cooking it with a sugary syrup, very popular in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Greece, India, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia, and Turkey. It could also be crumbly and nut butter-based, usually made from tahini41 or other nut butters such as sesame and sunflower, and sugar. Halva can also be based on other ingredients like beans, lentils and vegetables, like carrots, pumpkins, squashes, and yams. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Halva”.86

72Eastern Mediterranean countries are geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea, and includes Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Eastern Mediterranean”.87

73“Tahini,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahini

74“Levantine cuisine,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levantine_cuisine

75“Southern Europe,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southen_Europe

76“Levant,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levant

77“North Africa,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Africa

78“Taboon bread,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taboon_bread

79“Amba (condiment),” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amba_(condiment)

80http://worldpopulationreview.com/continents/western-asia-population/

81“Mezze,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezze

82“Maghrebi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maghrebi

83“Hindu Kush,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_Kush

84“Arakan Mountains,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arakan_Mountains

85http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Eastern_Europe

86“Halva,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halva

87“Eastern Mediterranean,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Mediterranean

KOREAN VILLAGE YAKINIKU RESTAURANT: Still a Knockout!

Location: 566 J. Nakpil Street, Malate, City of Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

Hey, Baby Boomers who frequented the Malate area in the ‘70s-90s, do you remember this restaurant? This Korean-Asian restaurant started in 1977 and was originally located in Adriatico Street. It moved to its current address in 2007. One can tell that this is a favorite dining place because it fills up fast, and, based on the rapport among the waitstaff and guests, that it has a sizeable number of “repeat” customers.

2-Koreanfacade, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

I had a delightful workout with blissful stretching and my companions had an enjoyable tennis match in a nearby country club one Sunday afternoon in April 2018. We were so hungry and thought of going to this restaurant for an early dinner, even though it was only 5:30PM. It was a wise decision since the limited parking space for 4 vehicles was soon full.

3-Koreanground floor dining area, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

This restaurant is closed on Mondays but is open the rest of the week from 11:30AM-2:30PM and again from 5:30PM-10:30PM. It has two floors, for about 60 persons per floor, ideal for families and groups.

5-KoreanEach table has its own grill since this is a yakiniku1 restaurant.

This 41-year old restaurant offers: appetizers, Korean barbecue, fried and grilled dishes, hot pots, noodles, rice, soup, stews, and desserts. Beverages include: hot and cold drinks, beer and wine.

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14-Koreanmenu, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

Immediately after being seated, menu cards were handed over to us. Favorites were ordered and complimentary banchansoon followed – kimchi3, kongnamul4 (bean sprouts in sesame oil), myulchibokkeum5 (stir-fried anchovies), seasoned tofu, marble potatoes, and seasoned spring onions-leeks. Now that’s fast service, perhaps because we came early LOL!

4-Koreancomplimentary banchan, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

The miso soup was disappointing but was served hot so that much was appreciated.

The steamed rice was served hot in individual metal bowls with covers. The quality of the rice was good.

6-KoreanBeef Bulgogi, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

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15-KoreanWrap pa more at Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant!

The meat orders were cooked in a smokeless tabletop grill. The Beef Bulgogiwas very flavorful. We enjoyed the lettuce wrap using whatever we had on the table – the different pastes, banchan, rice, etc. Definitely, we had to request for extra lettuce.

16-KoreanTeresa cooking Chicken Fillet, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

17-KoreanTeresa preparing Beef Short Ribs, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

The Chicken Fillet and Beef Short Ribs were cooked one after the other. Our favorite is the delicious Chicken Fillet, with the accompanying dips. My taste buds were very happy! I also enjoyed the tasty and tender Beef Short Ribs.

9-KoreanThe Shrimp Tempura was good but I personally prefer a crispier batter.

18-Koreanpineapple slices and Melona ice bar, Korean Village Yakiniku Restaurant

Free, fresh, sweet, and pre-sliced pineapple was served along with our order of Melona, the melon-flavored ice bar as dessert! Happy tummies indeed! Burp!

This restaurant is old but has a simple, homey, and cozy ambiance. I commend the fast, courteous and cheerful service of the waitstaff. For the ultimate dining experience, look for Teresa, the very efficient and friendly server. Yes, dear Seniors, she has been there for 36 years! All the waitstaff were very attentive to our needs. Orders arrived quickly, and empty dishes were bussed promptly. Food and drinks were served at the right temperature. A pitcher of cold water was also given for our table. I consider the price reasonable too.

So, the next time you are in the Malate area, have a craving for Korean food, and are not particular about fancy ambiance, why not drive early to this restaurant (since parking is a problem), order your old Korean-Japanese favorite dishes and I am sure memories will rush to your minds while waiting for your orders. However, you have to be quick in reminiscing because the service is really fast! LOL

The night was still young and we could have gone to nearby bars but we were so tired after a good workout/game so we decided to just go home early. That visit to Malate bars will be a future post.

I will definitely come back and will try other items like Beef Spareribs, Beef Stew, Bibimbap Stoneware, Fried Rice Special, Spicy Cold Noodles, Shrimp Korean Barbecue, and different popsicle flavors. Another cheat meal to plan LOL!

Table booking is recommended if you cannot come early. Plan where to park or find a driver to drop you off and pick you up. Cash and cards are accepted. Contact details: Telephone (02) 524-4958

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For those who are not that familiar with Korean cuisine, I hope these footnotes will be helpful:

1Yakiniku is the Japanese term for “grilled meat”. It is simply Japanese barbecue.

2Banchan refers to a group of Korean side dishes. It is served as a selection of appetizers or accompaniments to grilled dishes in this restaurant.

3Kimchi is Korean fermented vegetable, usually made of Napa cabbage.

4Kongnamul is a banchan2 which is made of lightly seasoned bean sprouts with sesame oil.

5Myeolchi-bokkeum is a banchan2 made of stir-fried dried anchovies.

6Beef Bulgogi is a Korean beef dish where thin slices of beef are marinated and traditionally grilled.

BINONDO: REVISITING 3 FAVORITE QUICK TREATS

We arrived around 8 in the morning yesterday in Binondo, a destination my husband and I have not gone to for more than 2 decades so this short trip was surely a sentimental one. Click a related post – BINONDO: A QUICK VISIT.

For the benefit of foreigners, Binondo* is considered the Chinatown of the Philippines, considered the oldest in the world, established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese. It is a district in Manila, Philippines, and a hub of Chinese commerce.

We finally found a parking space and made our way to Ling Nam Noodle House at 616 T. Alonzo Street. Even this early, the restaurant was almost full.

Z-2-wall menuwall menu – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Ling Nam still has a limited, yet time-tested, menu consisting of: noodles (asado, beef, chicken, wanton, or combinations of 2 or 3 thereof), lugao (congee or hot rice porridge, with the following variants: bola-bola, chicken, fish, fish-bola, halo-halo, liver, kidney, or plain), siopao (steamed bun, in the following variants: asado, bola-bola, lotus, mongo and taipao – the 4-inch or largest meatball-chorizo siopao) and siomai (steamed Chinese dumpling, with or without soup).

Unfortunately, only siopao, siomai and different kinds of lugao (congee) were available that early (noodles are only available starting 9:30 am). So, we settled for CHICKEN LUGAO (175 pesos), HALO-HALO LUGAO (165 pesos), SIOMAI (2 pieces for 80 pesos) and ASADO SIOPAO (75 pesos).

Lingnam-2
Complimentary Hot Tea – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Complimentary hot tea was served first, followed by our orders.

BeFunky CollageChicken Lugao and Halo Halo Lugao – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Both lugaos were served hot, accompanied by fresh calamansi (small, round citrus fruit also known as Calamondin). We squeezed the juice from the calamansi directly to the bowl and seasoned the lugao with patis (fish sauce) and a bit of pepper. This dish hit the spot and is definitely a comfort food for us.

 

Z-3-siomai-siopao2 pieces of siomai and asado siopao – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Siomai and siopao were then served. Toyo (soy sauce) and freshly squeezed calamansi juice were mixed as dipping sauce for the two pieces of siomai (per order) to be enjoyed in between spoonfuls of lugao. The siopao did not need any sauce because the tasty filling, along with the soft dough, was just right.

We asked for the bill and gave our senior citizen cards. An employee simply looked at our empty plates on the table and orally enumerated the quantity of the exact items we ate to the cashier who prepared the bill. Now I call that going paperless! So amusing!

Z-4-shanghai fried siopaoShanghai Fried Siopao – Binondo, Manila

We shopped for a while and found ourselves in the corner of Ongpin Street and Bahama Street, the location of (80 year old) Shanghai Fried Siopao. We ordered PORK ASADO fried siopaos, each costing 20 pesos. This hole-in-the-wall stall only has a simple store sign “Shanghai Fried Siopao” and offers takeout dumplings, kikiam (or quekiam, a steamed-deep-fried pork/seafood Chinese delicacy wrapped in bean curd skin), machang (the Filipino version of the pyramid-shaped Chinese steamed sticky rice-meat dish called “zongzi”), siomai and other cooked-food items, displayed on a small counter along the street.

Z-5-fried siopaoFried Siopao – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Binondo, Manila

The fried siopao displayed on the counter were not kept warm but you can observe that they were easily gone through the purchases of loyal and curious customers and the stock needed to be replenished regularly. The buns were still hot when it was handed to me. Amazing!

Z-6-fryer (2)Fryers used to make Fried Siopao – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Binondo, Manila

Just to be clear, we ordered FRIED SIOPAO which is steamed then pan-fried so that it has a toasted crispy bottom but still looks like a steamed siopao on top. It is definitely different from Toasted Siopao which is a baked “monay-looking” Bicolano specialty variation of siopao.

Z-7-manosaWe walked a bit more and could not resist to go to (30 year old) Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant.

Z-8-manosa-2

We ordered yummy maki (a Chinese soup with a brown, thick, starchy broth, and chunks of tender pork) which was served in a large bowl and can be shared by two seniors. We were still full so we did not order side dishes like kikiam and siomai.

Z-9-manosa-3Maki – Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant, Binondo, Manila

The maki was served hot and its thick, starchy and tasty broth was so satisfying, along with the tender chunks of pork.

Z-10-siopao-bitepoor fried siopao after I have eaten it halfway

We needed to leave Binondo, anticipating traffic going to our next destination. Sure enough, we were caught in traffic and decided to eat the Pork Asado siopaos we got from Shanghai Fried Siopao. They were no longer hot but we still ate them. When I bit into the siopao, I got a bit of a crunchy texture from the bottom, along with the usual soft siopao dough and tasty filling (of pork and leeks, among other ingredients; no need for sauce). We enjoyed the siopaos and I am sure that these would have been more satisfying when eaten hot. Anyway, we didn’t get stressed with the traffic! LOL

Next time, we need to stay longer and eat lunch or dinner in the famous restaurants in Binondo. Dear Seniors, do you have any recommendations?

Did you find this post informative? Do you also go to these places for a quick treat? Do you have your other favorite places to dine in Chinatown for a quick bite?  I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Don’t forgollow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

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*“Binondo,” accessed December 12, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo.

 

A SENTIMENTAL PINOY MERIENDA AT VIA MARE

Location: G/F, Greenbelt 1, Greenbelt Drive, Ayala Center, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

My husband and I were accompanied by three relatives when we were in the Greenbelt area for early Christmas shopping. It was the middle of the afternoon when we all became hungry and they agreed to join me in a sentimental Pinoy merienda (snack) at Via Mare in Greenbelt 1 which was one of my favorite casual dining Filipino restaurants when I was single.

Z-1-VMfacade – Via Mare, Greenbelt 1, Makati City

Now, dearest Senior Citizens (SCs), you might ask, why there, Tita S? There is one at Greenbelt 3 and it is newer. I know that, SCs, but this Greenbelt 1 branch is so memorable for me before I got married. Anyway, indulge me, please, ok?

This outlet is open from 8 am till 9:30 pm (M-F), 9 am till 9:30 pm (Sat.-Sun.), and 10 am till 10 pm (during holidays). It is located at the ground floor of Greenbelt 1, opposite National Book Store, my favorite bookstore. Via Mare’s facade and interiors still looked the same and the diners were mostly families or seniors, alone or with a companion.

I can’t help but think that the other seniors also eat there not only for the yummy dishes but recall delightful memories of dining there for years/decades as well. For me, it was way back 1990s.

This outlet offers breakfast, a wide selection of Filipino merienda treats and kakanin (native Filipino rice cakes served mostly for snacks), as well as different soups, main dishes, oyster specialties, vegetables and rice for lunch/dinner.

I was feeling nostalgic when I got hold of the menu and I wanted to order lots of native merienda (snack) treats but stopped myself because of eating out too much when I go to Metro Manila.

Z-Via Mare-2We ordered only four kinds of merienda items First was BIBINGKA VSP (175 pesos), meaning this traditional Filipino rice cake was very special because it had all the toppings possible. It was served warm and soft and its flavor was enhanced by the yummy toppings (butter, cheese and salted egg), accompanied by freshly grated coconut and sugar.

Z-Via-Mare-3PUTO BUMBONG, with two pieces per order, served with muscavado sugar (partially refined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavor), quezo de bola (Edam cheese) and freshly grated coconut (106 pesos), was also ordered. It looked so delicious and we even ordered additional queso de bola for a more delightful combination.

Z-Via-Mare-4The PALITAW (a traditional, sweet, sticky Filipino rice cake), with three pieces per (55 peso) order and a generous topping of freshly grated coconut, sugar and linga (sesame seeds), was served next. It is definitely a MUST TRY, dearest Seniors! This boiled, flattened, small, rectangular, Filipino rice cake was so delicately soft, contrasted by the texture of the freshly grated coconut mixed with sugar and linga. We had to ask for an additional order because we couldn’t have enough of this native delicacy.

Z-Via-Mare-5DINUGUAN AT PUTO (205 pesos), another Filipino favorite, was a satisfying, thick, savory pork-blood stew with pork offals and meat, complemented by the small white putos (traditional, round, soft, Filipino steamed rice cakes).

Bottomline, we enjoyed all our orders but rave about the palitaw! My younger companions learned to appreciate these Filipino treats while I reminisced good times in this restaurant with every bite I took. Happy tummies! Happy memories! Happy meee! Happy weee! We will surely go back for more, perhaps for lunch or dinner!

Prices stated were based on charges when we dined in this outlet; they may change. Visit its official website: www.viamare.com.ph for outlets, catering services, updates, etc. You can also call (02) 815-1918. For a quick look at the menu of this outlet: (1) simply type “via mare greenbelt 1 menu” and click on the www.munchpunch.com option, or (2) type www.zomato.com and type café via mare greenbelt 1. View the menu at the bottom of the page.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in this restaurant or in any of its other branches? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!