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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Memoirs of a Foodie: The Makan Makan Asian Food Village Experience

Exploring the many interesting sights and features of the Manila Ocean Park (see link here), has no doubt left us entertained yet quite famished.
tarnation! this ole map here doesn't
show them restaurants!
Taking a break at around 2 pm for lunch, Phil and MAX were willing to settle for the snacks sold near the fish spa area. I on the other hand remembered reading online about the hawker-style restaurant somewhere in the area. Happily, we were easily able to find the Makan Makan Asian Food Village.

Located at the 2nd floor of the Manila Ocean Park, Makan Makan Asian Food Village serves a variety of Western and Asian dishes like Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Filipino and Singaporean cuisine. Suffice it to say, the menu is quite extensive.

Reading online mixed reviews (either extremely good or quite the opposite) I decided that experience ought to be the best teacher. We were not disappointed.

the menu
 The Price: 
The cost of the food was, surprisingly reasonable. Given the well lit, tastefully furnished room, great ambiance and fantastic view of the Manila Bay, added to the fact that it's in a tourist" spot, I was expecting a much pricier menu. The items that were slightly pricey than the average food court viand was justified by the possible cost of it's ingredients (this I ought to know). A decent meal could set you back by 200 php. Drinks are around 40php - 100php. Not bad for restaurant food.
after the lunch hour
should've taken a picture of the view from the restaurant
before we asked them to bring down the blinds on our side

a minute into the restaurant, a waiter attended us
 and brought us to our table
The Service:
The staff that attended to us were both efficient, courteous and quite knowledgeable about the menu.
food is prepared right at the center of the restaurant
The Food:
As hungry as we were, we exerted restraint and did not order everything on the 16 paged menu that covered everything from soup, appetizers, the main dish, desserts, drinks and those that do not fall into any category, but exist just for good eats.

As much as I wanted to try a lot of things, we narrowed it down to the following:

Bagoong Rice (160 php):
How does one consume bagoong (either fermented anchovies or baby shrimps) in the Philippines? One can make it as a condiment to the famous oxtail and tripe in peanut sauce dish known as Karekare, use it to season an assortment of meat and veggies or top it on some unripe mangoes, tomatoes and onions for a refreshing ensalada (salad) and you're all set. The bagoong rice at Makan Makan managed to combine the two latter choices.

Think one cup of garlic/bagoong seasoned rice in the middle of your plate, topped with siling labuyo. Surround it with chopped binagoongan (cooked in bagoong) pork, julienned unripe carabao  mangoes, onion leeks, sliced red onions, blanched unpeeled shrimps, cucumber slices, more chopped tomatoes and I think sliced scrambled eggs, and you've got a fully loaded cup of rice. Mix it all up any way you want, and enjoy. I kinda prefer this type of bagoong rice over the ones with just baby shrimps sauteed into the fried rice. The textures and flavors were quite enjoyable.

Stuffed Crabs (300 php):
Seasoned crab meat and minced pork stuffed into crab shells and fried with sweet and sour chili dipping sauce on the side. I love crab meat. I can eat it all day with or without my anti allergy pills (as long as it's fresh) so this dish was an obvious choice. MAX ate it with gusto, I, however felt it was meh. Not bad, just meh.

For starters, I wanted more of the crab meat flavor but got more pork instead. The pork is often a good way to enhance the flavor of a dish and retain moisture due to it's fat content, but somehow the dish was slightly dry. Too much extenders in the mix perhaps? The crabs were small too, probably to ensure that the cost be kept to a minimum. (I remember my 1300php single crab meal at The Red Crab Resorts World...good, but sooo not practical).

Hakaw (105php for 4 pieces):
As long as the shrimps are fresh, this dim sum variety is our fave. Whole shrimps and chopped mushrooms, wrapped in a light rice dim sum wrappers and steamed, it's a staple dish whenever we go out to eat Chinese food.

Drinks: Tehtarik (50 php) and Bandung with Chin Chow (90 php):
I'm normally such a miser when it comes to ordering drinks in a restaurant. Aside from the fact that water is perfectly OK (mineral water in dispensers being the normal source in the Philippines AND NOT tap water), sometimes the cost of drinks for a group is the price of 2 or more dishes off the menu. But being in the foodie mode, we went ahead and got some.
Tehtarik served cold is Makan Makan's version of the Singaporean milk tea (big fan of this). It had the authentic frothiness and bittersweet taste of black tea and sweetened milk. 
MAX gulping a lot before we took pictures of his
Bandung with Chin Chow
Bandung with Chin Chow is like our very sago't gulaman (caramel syrup soaked crushed ice with tapioca pearls and black jello (normally tea or grass flavored), the difference being that instead of caramel, it was flavored with rosewater and milk. MAX is our sagot gulaman connoisseur and despite it's pink colouring, he had no qualms in sipping his drink. 
our gulaman connoisseur
The Verdict:
Overall, the dining experience was pleasant. The restaurant could've been a bit cooler though as the kitchen in the middle of restaurant did tend to warm the place up. Maybe the items in the menu are a "hit and miss" thing as far as taste goes, but overall, I couldn't hate on the place. Given the chance, I probably will be back. It wasn't like we were a captive audience as the Manila Ocean Park has several food establishments on its premises. As far as Makan Makan Asian Food Village, we give it a 4 out 5 stars :)

happy bellies despite the  heat in the restaurant
From TMW, may your wanderings be better than ours!

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