Only In The Awesome Philippines

It’s true what they say that you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Dramz? Hellz no, I’m talking about nomz. Living in a foreign land for an extended period of time, there are just so many nomz from home that I have come to miss (and long for). Normal, regular, everyday yummies that can be got in many corners of Manila are nowhere to be found here (boohoo).

Like taho, for instance. Hot, fresh, sweet soy drink best served on Saturday mornings. I’d usually wake up to the very fine voice of the village magtataho calling out to the neighborhood like a local pied piper attracting kids of all ages to come follow him. I wish I could follow him and his taho here.

Besides taho, a typical back-home breakfast would include a silog. My favorite being the tosilog.

GoodAh!!!'s Tosilog.

For non Pinoys, a silog is a meal consisting of a viand (usually tapa, tocino, or longganisa), a steaming cup of garlic fried rice (sinangag), and a fried egg or two (itlog). The word ‘tosilog’ is derived from the ‘to’ in tocino, ‘si’ in sinigang, and ‘log’ in itlog. It would be lovely to go the nearest GoodAh!!! to grab a quick (and cheap) Pinoy breakfast.

..and then head over to the nearest Tapa King for some of their awesome champorado.

Tapa King serves the best commercial champorado in town (Manila, I mean). Just thinking about the warm, gooey, chocolate rice porridge sliding down my throat on a cool rainy day makes me want to grab a flight back home for tomorrow’s breakfast.

I haven’t even started on the main dishes yet. I involuntarily start salivating at the thought of good sisig.

Sisig is a sizzling plateful of crunchy, soy sauce-y chopped up bits of a pig’s head deep fried in oil and topped with an egg. After typing all that up, I’m now craving for sisig. But I can’t have sisig. Because I’m not in Manila. Oh well, it’s probably for the best because sisig is sinful and unhealthy YUMMY GOODNESS. Sadface.

No sisig makes me sad. Then I start thinking of Manila chickens. And make myself sadder.

Lechon manok is usually the go to meal for most Pinoys. No one cooked anything for dinner at home? Get a whole roasted chicken from Andok’s! The chicken a tad too salty but who cares? It’s oh-so-juicy and goes perfectly with soft, steaming white rice. It’s my favorite lechon manok in the world.

I even miss their familiar bright yellow sign with red text and a chicken head mascot. But not as much as I miss Manila KFC.

Only in the Philippines do they serve KFC chicken with a side of white rice and unlimited gravy. UNLIMITED CHICKEN DRIPPINGS, YO! You guys got it good, you just don’t know it. Also, the heart attack masked as a sandwich called KFC Double Down? Nothing comes close in this side of the world.

Speaking of not coming close, because I missed it too much, I tried copying Manang’s Chicken chicken.

I thought soy sauce and sugar would do the trick. It didn’t. I ended up with something resembling Manang’s Chicken, but not quite. I’d still pick theirs over mine any day, if I had a choice. (Already made summady promise to place an order for Manang’s Chicken for when I get back. Not kidding.)

Another thing that I can’t get here (and desperately want to) is fishballs.

Sure, I might be able to buy a pack of frozen fishballs in the Asian grocery and fry it at home. But I’m not gonna be able to make manong fishball’s authentic sauce. You know, that sweet and spicy gravy-like gelatinous sauce in huge jars that no one really knows what’s made of. It’s what makes Pinoy fishballs special. (No one make any comment about its cleanliness.)

When I get back, I’d set aside a full day for Pinoy food tripping to get me the nomz on this list, including this-

What I love about Mango-ong’s manggang hilaw with bagoong dip is that you can choose what kind of bagoong to get and how much of it you want to get. I know it’s unhealthy, but I really like putting a whole lot of very spicy shrimp paste on my green mangoes.

After manggang hilaw, we’ll end a meal with a chunk of chocolate cake.

You might scoff because you think this is just a chocolate cake. But let me tell you stop you mid-scoff and tell you that this is no regular chocolate cake, this is Polly’s Chocolate cake, otherwise known as the Best Damned Chocolate Cake Ever! No really, it’s the best damned chocolate cake ever. That’s why I miss it, along with all the others in this list.

Although French nomz aren’t bad, the Pinoy nomz in this list are much missed because they can be had only in the awesome Philippines.


Serye – A Filipino Coffeeshop and Restaurant
Although a third world country, there is no scarcity of swanky restaurants in the Philippines. Peppering major areas of different cities across the country are hundreds of restaurants that boast of a variety of foreign cuisines. What I find slightly disconcerting is that there seems to be a preference for foreign nomz when eating out. 

Even with something as simple as coffee, we patronize foreign flavors and franchises. In a country where Starbucks is mainstream and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is the alternative, it’s not very often do you find a local, Filipino-themed cafe like Serye.

From the same family that brought us local favorites Aristocrat and Reyes Barbecue, Serye Cafe Filipino is a coffeeshop doubling as a restaurant that caters to Filipinos’ love for good food and good coffee. 

They have a branch at Santana Grove, one of my favorite hangouts in the South, and it’s become one of those restaurants that I go back to time and again. My family was there just last week for a simple Filipino lunch.

Hototai Soup (p235, good for sharing)
To start the meal, we got an order of the Hototai soup for sharing. They also have this at Aristocrat (a sister company) and it has always been a family favorite. The tasty soup is a slightly thick broth with shrimps, dumplings, and cabbage in the mix. It’s a classic.
Sisig (p245)
Sisig has become a staple in most Filipino restaurants and it isn’t any different at Serye. Served in a circular sizzling plate, Serye’s sisig is topped with onions and crunchy chicharon bits with a side of chili sauce.
Boneless Chicken Barbecue (p320, half chicken)
The specialty of the house is the Boneless Chicken Barbecue. The half chicken order consists of two juicy slabs of boneless chicken marinated in their signature peanut sauce, served with java rice and a side of atchara. Serye’s sister companies, Aristocrat and Reyes Barbecue, are also famous for the same nutty barbecue sauce. 

Too bad, I didn’t order coffee during my last visit. The Serye coffeeshop deserves another post all on its own. They’re famous for their siphon-brewed coffee that’s freshly prepared each time you order. The cafe has a menu of traditional Filipino drinks that you don’t see in a lot of coffeeshops like the salabat, kapeng barako, tanglad tea, pito-pito, tsokolate as well as a wide array of classic coffee drinks.

With its homey couches, classy interior, good service, and local food, Serye is a coffeeshop and restaurant that you’ll surely appreciate.

Serye Cafe Filipino
Location: Santana Grove, Dr. A. Santos Avenue, Sucat, Paranaque
Contact Info: 826-9317
Other Details: Serye Cafe Filipino Facebook page