MANILA – Planning to go on a food trip in Metro Manila? Instead of the usual Makati, Taguig or Quezon City, head to Malabon and check out its growing restaurant scene.
Known mainly for its pancit (stir-fried noodles) and kakanin (rice cakes), Malabon is slowly catching up to its foodie neighbors, with a number of promising restaurants opening here since last year.
And the best part about these new dining destinations, said Malabon mayor Antolin “Len-Len” Oreta, is that they do not leave a hole in the pocket.
Sapin-sapin at Dolor’s Kakanin. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
“Malabon kasi is an old city. It’s like a province but it’s a city, so ibang-iba. So if you come here, it’s very different. You feel like you’re in a restaurant or café in Makati or Quezon City but you only pay one-third of the price,” Oreta told ABS-CBNnews.com.
“Gusto naming makilala ‘yung mga establishments dito, hindi lang ng mga tao rito sa Malabon but from other cities as well,” he added.
Despite this development, Oreta assured that efforts are in place to preserve Malabon’s old charm and support “food institutions” such as his personal favorite restaurant Jamicos, which is home to the Judy Ann Crispy Pata.
The deep-fried pork leg, named after the owner’s youngest daughter, is a must-try for its light, crispy skin and fork-tender meat.
Judy Ann Crispy Pata at Jamicos. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
“Ang Judy Ann institusyon na siya rito sa Malabon… Ang nangyayari ngayon mayroong contrasting culture, there’s the modern culture and the old Malabon culture. Pinagsasama namin siya ngayon pero nandoon pa rin ‘yung culinary prowess ng mga tao,” Oreta explained.
Here are three new restaurants in Malabon that are worth a look, as recommended by the city government during a food tour for selected members of the media.
Cocina Luna along General Luna Street. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
With its industrial-inspired design and tasty, comforting food at reasonable prices, Cocina Luna along General Luna Street can easily fit in Maginhawa, Quezon City’s culinary-slash-art haven.
Owned by 26-year-old Anna Alcala, Cocina Luna has a short menu consisting of breakfast favorites, sliders, bar chow, beers and cocktails. Nothing here goes above the P150 mark, making the restaurant a hit among students and young professionals who want to unwind after a long day.
Oreta shared that he often drops by Cocina Luna for the Pulled Pork Burgers, which is described on the menu as “three-piece dinner roll buns filled with pulled pork in Cocina Luna’s original barbecue sauce, topped with bacon, cheese and fried onion rings.”
Pulled Pork Burgers. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
The Pulled Pork Burgers, which is served with a bucket of fries, is a steal at P150. It was filling but not too heavy, with the bite-size sandwiches having the right balance of sweet and savory. The onion rings and bacon add a crunchy texture to the already flavorful dish.
Another must-try item on the menu is the Tapa (P120), which is served with rice, fried egg and vinegar. The tender strips of meat absorbed Cocina Luna’s sweet and salty sauce like a sponge, resulting in a very flavorful interpretation of the popular Filipino breakfast dish.
Cocina Luna’s Tapa. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
“Yung iba kasing usually matigas, eto mafee-feel mo talagang malambot. May iba siyang timpla. ‘Yung iba kasi usually either matamis lang o maalat. Eto nag-aagaw,” Alcala said of her Tapa.
Cocina Luna is located at 144 General Luna Street, Brgy. Ibaba, Malabon. For reservations, call (02) 373-1420.
While it is technically a sit-down restaurant, Palmeras at the Paseo de San Antonio Complex is often referred to by locals as a “fine dining” destination for its nicely plated home-cooked specialties.
One of the owners of the restaurant, Jay Robles, said the idea is to add new twists to otherwise humble dishes such as Tokwa’t Baboy (P195), with the bean curd made to look like a small tower of Jenga blocks.
Tokwa’t Baboy. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
Palmeras serves mostly appetizers, from oyster shooters and nachos to croquettes with bacon and cheese. For main course, the restaurant is known for its Shrimp Salpicao (P235), Deconstructed Pla-Pla (P195) and Creamy Tomato Pasta (P200).
Shrimp Salpicao with Rice. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com.
The Shrimp Salpicao was particularly tasty, with the garlic lending strong flavors to the fresh shrimps, which Malabon is known for.
With its dim interiors and paintings of Malabon sights, Palmeras is ideal for a quiet afternoon or dinner date.
Palmeras is located at Paseo de San Antonio Commercial Complex, Gov. Pascual Ave., Brgy. Catmon. For reservations, call (02) 441-4332.
Cups and Cones
Located along General Luna Street, Cups and Cones is a great place to catch up with friends for its cheerful interiors and welcoming atmosphere.
The café is popular among locals for its freshly made cakes – from Blueberry Cheesecake (P140) to Triple Chocolate Cake (P110) and S’mores Cake (P120) – which are sweet but not overpowering.
S’mores Cake. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
A must-try here is the Brownie ala Mode (P130), a heavenly combo of moist, fudgy brownie, vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. This dessert has the stamp of approval of no less than the city mayor, who admitted that it is his favorite item on the menu.
Brownie ala Mode. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
Desserts get the spotlight at Cups and Cones, but savory dishes are worth trying as well. The café offers different types of pasta, sandwiches and breakfast fare such as Horse Tapa (P110), which is somewhat sweet, slightly gamey and quite addictive.
Drinks here are quite cheap, too, with iced tea or juice priced between P25 and P30 per glass. An Illy iced latte or caramel macchiato only costs P105 to P110, with flavored hot coffees not going beyond the P120 mark.
Cups and Cones is located at 247 General Luna Street in Concepcion, Malabon. For reservations, call (02) 294-2194.