Monday, December 22, 2008

First 2 Meals in Manila

1. La Regalade, Arnaiz St. (former Pasay Road) in Makati.

- The night was cool so we had the soup of the day, Spinach Cream Soup, which I rate a B+.
- Upon the recommendation of a friend we ordered the Manila clams with chorizo which came steaming hot in a bowl with the heavenly scent of cream. I give it a B for Boo! The clams were NOT FRESH, in fact, they were going bad. Hubby, who eats spoiled food without noticing, commented on his first bite. Any self-respecting restaurant should serve sweet, fresh seafood. Of course I complained and expected not only an apology but at least an offer of another appetizer, for free. I only got the apology.
- To replace the clams we ordered the sable parmesan, a baked, thin parmesan tart topped with tomato slices and served with a bowl of tossed greens with vinaigrette on the side. I would have enjoyed this so much more were it not for the bad experience with the clams, and if only it were given to us for free as "consuelo".
- The waitress recommended the 7 hour lamb leg and hubby wanted to try the snapper with eggplant. I added the ratatouille as a side dish. The servings were huge, and I would give the lamb an A for Average (though very tender). The snapper was well-cooked, though not the freshest, but I did fall in love with the eggplant puree it was resting on and give it an E for excellent. The ratatouille did not elicit any feelings of childhood wonder (maybe because I never ate it as a child haha) but it wasn't anything special. The service was good, the servings generous and the prices reasonable but the question is...

Would I return? DEFINITELY NOT.

My friend, who has great taste in food, was quite impressed with La Regalade the first time he tried it. I read somewhere Chef Alan Raye plans to return only 4 times a year from his Vancouver home base to check the resto out because he feels the staff are all reliable and ready. I beg to differ. I think he needs to be around more. At the very least the kitchen staff should have known better than to serve bad clams. That spoiled the dinner for me. I couldn't enjoy the other dishes anymore after the heavenly- scented appetizer's fall from grace. Sayang.

2. Mamou in Serendra. Last year I tried to book at this famous place three times and got rejected. This year I was lucky, but was a bit apprehensive and wondering why is it suddenly easy to book? Hmmmm...

- With the refreshing, smooth and not-too-sweet dalandan shake, I was off to a good start.
- An appetizer of Melba chips and vegetable dip with truffle oil was only half-eaten, sad to say. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the best.
- My friend ordered the chicken noodle soup which had a fragrant, tangy, sweet Vietnamese soup base. She liked it. I thought it was a tad too sweet.
- The fish in beer batter with malt vinegar and a side of red rice was crunchy and tasty, but the fish was not the freshest.
- After trying (and loving!) the chorizo pasta in Chateau 1771, I decided to try the Batac Bolognese with fennel and tomatoes. It was bland. I had to sprinkle a lot of freshly shaved parmesan, some lemon juice and pepper flakes to liven it up. The pepper flakes were fantastically hot and I would love to take some home with me.
- To cleanse the palate we had the key lime pie but I thought my friend's version better.

So sue me for being so finicky but I had expectations. And I was (and still am) disappointed.

I would give Mamou another try though, and order the steak, steak rice and the pork and chicken with beans and cinnamon saba.

In the meantime I will stick to the tried and tested: the vendors at Salcedo Market, pork bbq from my favorite Capitol Medical Center vendor, Via Mare for simple Pinoy food, longganisa from my mom's suki at Kamuning Market, Dampa, Fook Yuen in Banawe.

Maybe, once I've recovered from my disappoinment, I will try Galileo, In Yo, Bistro Filipino, Cafe Juanita and Adarna.

Next Monday I'm eating at Terry's Selection at the Podium. I wasn't too happy when I fist ate there, several years ago, I hope it has only gotten better with age.

Have I tried anything interesting? Yes, definitely! Good friends from HK sent an enormous rhum cake that, a week later, is still soft and seeping with rhum and butter at every bite. I bought some of Kitchen's Best goodies like food for the gods, butterscotch bar, chocolate fudge and peanut butter bar. The peanut butter and butterscotch were the best. San Lo's Famous emapanadas (chicken pastel, jamon y queso and carne norte) were rich and filling as well. The jamon y queso and chicken pastel were my favorites. In my mom's fridge now is a bottle of Joyce Aragon's queso de bola spread which I will try tomorrow.