MANILA - Araneta Center in Cubao was once the choice dining and shopping destination of city dwellers in Metro Manila in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
But in recent years, it has been overshadowed by more modern and hip commercial areas like Ayala Center in Makati, Ortigas Center in Pasig, and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
Araneta Center has been trying to keep up, building offices, a hotel, and condominiums, and renovating an old theater. To draw a larger crowd, it recently reintroduced Manhattan Row as a new hangout for people looking for good food and some clean fun.
Consisting of two rows of commercial establishments, Manhattan Row is located along Malvar Avenue, between the Manhattan Parkview and Manhattan Parkway residential buildings.
Here are five things you could do at Araneta Center’s new happening spot:
1. Sing your heart out
If there’s one thing Filipinos love to do, it’s singing. Karaoke Pop is the newest family KTV to open in the market, with 22 rooms featuring state-of- the-art karaoke systems.
“We call this the new generation KTV because we introduced here the first, tablet-operated KTV system. In the tablet, the song list is there, you can make your own playlist, you can shoot and upload your videos, and the food menu,” explained Karaoke Pop’s KTV consultant, Alexander Benedict Cruz.
Karaoke Pop has small rooms good for five people, and big ones good for 40 people. It serves a variety of food, too, from Filipino to Italian, Chinese, and Japanese. Of course, a KTV session is not complete with booze – local and imported drinks are also available here.
Karaoke Pop charges P80 per person, per hour, non-consumable. Packages range from P2,200 to P5,500.
2. Eat batchoy and napoleones with your coffee
Cab Cafe opened its first Manila branch in Pasig City’s food hub, barangay Kapitoyo, in 2010. Then in 2014, it set up shop at Araneta Center.
Named after owners Cynthia and Bobby Magalona, Cab Cafe is originally from Bacolod and is famous for its batchoy and desserts like mango pavlova, blueberry cheesecake, and napoleones.
“Our cakes are all homemade and original recipes. We also have an exclusive blend of coffee and we use local beans. Our bestseller is our mango pavlova, but my favorite is the blueberry cheesecake because we make our cheesecake very cheesy. It’s kind of heavy, but not too sweet,” said Mark Gabriel Magalona, who is in charge of the Manila operations.
3. Bond with cats and dogs
Bengal Brew/Wolf & Bear is a cafe for cat and dog lovers. It has a total of 30 cats, including two huge African Servals, and 18 different dogs.
According to cafe staff Denzil Joshua Tan, all animals are vaccinated and customers will be assisted at all times. Starting at P199, one can interact with the animals and have a drink.
4. Read, play, and eat
Books and Borders is now open at Manhattan Row. Here, diners can read books, play board games, and eat at the same time. This is the restaurant’s fourth branch and it continues to attract a young market, particularly students.
Rice meals, pasta, sandwiches, and various drinks and desserts are available here. Make sure to try Books and Borders’ bestseller, Fried Tuyo with Kesong Puti Pasta.
5. Enjoy music in the streets
Recently, Araneta Center kicked off its first Pop-up Night at Manhattan Row, putting up a food market and setting up a stage for free live performances by local bands.
Araneta Center plans to hold Pop-up Nights regularly.