NamNam is now called Manam as it expands to SM Mall of Asia. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA – The Filipino restaurant NamNam, which opened in Greenbelt 2 last year, is finally branching out to other malls in the metro – but with a new name.
Now called Manam, the modern Filipino restaurant from The Moment Group, the same company behind restaurants such as ‘Cue, Burger Bar and 8Cuts, first opened at the new Ayala Fairview in Quezon City, followed by its outlet at the SM Mall of Asia.
The MOA restaurant makes the original NamNam in Greenbelt look like a hole-in-a-wall eatery with its spacious dining area, stylized modern lines but with old Filipino design elements, a well-stocked bar and overall airy look.
The interiors of Manam at SM Mall of Asia. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
But its modern take on Pinoy cuisine that made NamNam a favorite among both locals and foreigners has been retained, as well as the strategy of offering the dishes in small (solo portion), medium (good for three) and large (good for six) plates.
“Diners, solo or a small group, who crave for a sampling of a variety of Filipino fare may opt to order dishes tapas-style in small sizes. Bigger groups may enjoy hefty servings of chosen dishes in large, for a more filling, party-style gathering,” it said.
Manam's menu is cleverly divided into two groups: Classics, which refer to well-loved Filipino favorites; and Twists, the restaurant’s clever spin on these popular Pinoy dishes.
Sinigang na Beef Short Rib & Watermelon. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Among the Twists popularized by the original NamNam is its unique take on the sinigang, which uses watermelon and beef short ribs. Other restaurants have played with this sour soup using other souring ingredients from strawberries to kamias but the use of watermelon added a totally different taste to this Pinoy classic because of its sweetness.
It’s definitely unusual but if you feel you’re not ready to be that adventurous, then stick with the classic sinigang na baboy soured with tamarind.
House Crispy Sisig. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Manam also took a radical tack with the sisig, using corned beef and fried egg, served on a sizzling plate, which is being touted as an “all-day breakfast for champions.”
But you can always revert to the traditional and Manam’s house crispy sisig can compete with the best in town.
(Clockwise from top left) Ensaladang NamNam, Squid Rings, Turon and Fried Pla-pla. Photos by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Other recommended dishes include the Ensaladang NamNam, which seems inspired by the Thai green mango salad but featuring Pinoy ingredients such as tinapa flakes, manga’t bagoong, pomelo, native tomatoes and peanuts; the cruncy salt-and-pepper squid rings with a sweet chilli sauce; and the butterflied fried pla-pla served with buro and mustasa, commonly associated with Pampanga cuisine.
Manam also tweaked classic Pinoy desserts, adding kesong puti and using mango instead of bananas for the traditional turon, as well as using gata to create a richer leche flan.
But this writer’s favorite among Manam’s “twisted” creations is the caramelized patis wings, its take on buffalo wings. The use of patis instantly gave this popular bar chow a Filipino flavor without being too gimmicky.
Caramelized Patis Wings. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
This is ideal for Manam’s Filipino-style cocktails such as the Margarita Slush flavored with tamarind or the Mojito Freeze using pineapple.