Malaysian food is as rich as its history. In between our exploration of the heritage sites in Malacca, we got a chance to experience Peranakan Cuisine where it originated — Malacca. Recipes dating as far back as the 15th century still exist, evolving to what is now known as Nyonya Cuisine. In a restaurant tucked beside the hidden side street of Taman Melaka Raya, we found Seroni Nyonya Cuisine Restaurant. The establishment is owned by one of the last descendants of the Baba-Nyonya family, so we’re expecting to taste authentic Nyonya Cuisine.
When in Malaysia, mention Chicken Rice and locals would definitely say Nam Heong as its equivalent. It’s an institution known for cooking Chicken Rice using an age-old recipe which dates back to more than 70 years when the establishment started. Now, it has a number of franchises in Kuala Lumpur. But is the quality still the same? We trooped to one of their branches in Sungai Wang Mall to try out its famous Chicken Rice as well as some of its other offerings.
It’s been quite a while since we last stepped into Amici in Don Bosco in Makati City. Oh, we’ve always considered this restaurant that boasts of affordable, home-cooked Italian-style cuisine as a comforting constant in a constantly changing foodscape. But ever since its takeover by a new management team two years ago, we had our apprehensions. And there’s also the expansion to include a branch in SM Megamall. Did the move to professionalize the operations alter the relaxed eating experience? Or worse, change the great-tasting food we’ve always come to love?
To find out, we dropped by on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch – something that was not possible when Amici was still run by the Salesians of Don Bosco. Obviously, this is one of the benefits of the new management as Sunday is a very nice time to avoid the big weekday office crowds and take your sweet time to savor each and every bite. The verdict: still as lip-smacking good as ever.
Right from the start, Italianni’s was among the casual dining restaurants that have become synonymous with big servings. Not to say that the food isn’t good because it really is; it’s just that people with bigger than usual appetites have always been drawn to it because of the very generous servings. The price point is okay for the kind of food and service; however, it is a bit pricey for regular dining. Italianni’s makes amends with five new menu additions just for this summer. The formula is simple: filling weekday lunch entrees and big servings (fit for sharing) complete with pasta and veggies at more affordable prices – how can you go wrong?
With the globalization of the Filipino palate, is it still viable to set up a Pinoy restaurant nowadays? Ponder this: on one hand, you have to market to a younger generation of diners reared on a steady diet of pizzas, burgers and pastas. On the other hand, you have to appeal to an older generation who may have grown tired of the old favorites and are gravitating to international fare. Following the suggestion of a friend, we ventured to Mandaluyong to look for 1521 in the hope of finding a more definitive answer to our question. We’re happy to say that we walked in hungry for food and answers and walked out with a positive outlook and contented tummies.
1521 has an interesting story to go along with the great food. The name stands for the year in Philippine history when the Spaniards landed in the Philippines, marking the start of the Spanish colonial period. The restaurant’s mission is very noble: to rediscover Filipino cuisine. Simply put, 1521 is all about Filipino food with interesting twists and turns; fusion cuisine that pays homage to our roots but given fresh tweaks to provide both the young and older diners something interesting to discover. We’ve seen our fair share of Filipino fusion cuisine that strays far off the mark and happily, this isn’t the case with 1521. As its owner, advertising maven, Tanke Tankeko points out, it is food that’s faithful to the fare she (and us from the older generation) grew up on.
I’ve always had a penchant for Thai food ever since I’ve encountered it a long time ago way back when Flavors and Spices, one of the pioneers of Thai cuisine in the country, was around. Then, there was also the more mainstream but nonetheless delicious offerings of Sukhothai. I had this notion that it’s pretty hard not to like Thai food because for all the differences it had with local fare, there are some striking similarities – the use of a shrimp paste, nam pla, for example bears strong resemblance to our bagoong and patis. Some of the flavors are also familiar – the liberal use of lemongrass or tanglad, lime juice, chilis and coconut milk.
It’s not everyday that I hanker for Thai food but I somehow lament the fact that it’s not as commonly available as before. Until I found out that there’s a Thai restaurant along Pasong Tamo that serves great Thai food – Thai Sticks ‘n Steaks. The blurb outside says its cuisine is inspired by Sukhothai. Don’t let the funky name fool you, the food is really very good. So come inside and let’s taste what it has to offer.