Manam: The Best Introduction To Filipino Food
Seriously, Manila why you holding out on me? If I had eaten my first taste of Filipino food at Manam Comfort Filipino Food with Filipino friends it would have been a game changer. I probably would have been eating more Filipino food our whole time here as opposed to only the last year. I apparently needed someone to hold my hand and know my pallet to finally dig into Filipino cuisine. So, if you're just starting your journey with Filipino food like I am I'll share my experience of Manam with you. This is a great starting point and I hope to share some good options with ya so the next time you stare at the menu it won't seem so foreign to you. :)
Put on your big girl panties and let's dive into Manam's menu. Approach eating a new cuisine as you would any adventure, be open minded and let the fear take a back seat. You'll start to find common ground with the new cuisine and that of the foundation you already have.
Manam's menu alone is beautiful but also offers classics and twists to many dishes. For me as a beginner, I will start eating my way through the classics then gain enough courage to add some twists as my pallet fancies. Ok, hear me out. If you aren't used to eating much pork start with chicken options first. For the adobo you can ask for just chicken adobo and no flakes, that is a safe order. I HIGHLY recommend trying crispy or sizzling sisig. I absolutely was terrified of eating pig face but I did and it was surprisingly delicious! You need good friends who encourage you each bite of the way. :)
Accessories for your pallet to intensify the flavors. I like to dip my cripsy pata and beef tapa in the vinegar. Calamansi should pretty much be squeezed on everything but especially pancit and sisig.
This pomelo camias coconut cream shake was massive and so refreshing. I don't traditionally like the sago (is that the right word?) but the texture was just right with this one. Can we all for a minute mourn the loss of Chelsea's old greek salad? The one with panko crusted feta? Well move over and move on because Manam's spinach salad with panko crusted kesong puti and local cashews will rock your world! The citrus added the perfect zing. I love all kinds of sinigang, espcially shrimp. Manam's 'twisted' watermelon sinigang below. Holy cow, who knew watermelon in soup could be appetizing? It's just a more rich tomato flavor. ATTENTION: Us Westerners aren't used to eating the whole fish but I tell you what, start now! The fried tilapia was pure heaven. Don't be afraid to use your fingers. Seafood Kare Kare in all her glory. My photo doesn't do her colors justice. Alrighty, I think Kare Kare is on my top of Filipino dishes as it has a strong peanut base. If you like massaman curry or any peanut based curry this is the Filipino version. Sarap. Burp. Can't be a Filipino feast without garlic rice. In the background you will see a signature dish from Manam, sizzling sisig pancit, oh my! I give you, sisig, a pride of the Filipino people. Make sure it's crispy and make sure you eat at Manam. To be honest I am actually nervous to eat it any where else as it might ruin it for me. About to dive in. Let's talk about desserts. Desserts in South East Asia are quite different than desserts in The U.S. We like really heavy and sweet desserts. In SE Asia they tend to be colder and a bit lighter. But I will have you know, if there is a carbohydrate in a culture I will find it. I give you, Bibingka with ube, salted duck egg (not my favorite but still good) and the prize on top, fresh desiccated coconut. I need to make my way back for the dulce de leche stuffed palitaw. ***I did. Make my way back and it was divine!
If you don't have a barkada 'clique' to show you the ropes of Filipino food I strongly suggest you go find one. Stop reading, go make friends! I hope this post can help you as you endeavor on this new cultural journey.