I gave a short introduction to Manam Comfort Filipino in my previous entry. I dined there to celebrate my 31st birthday almost two weeks after the actual date. This is my last year in the calendar, so I might as well enjoy it!
Manam‘s location at SM Fairview is easy to spot, as it is just near the entrance. It’s situated on the same row as Fitness First, Royaltime, and Booksale – for those familiar with the mall. Manam‘s design is consistent no matter what branch you visit. Warm pin lights dot the place, providing a bright yet rather muted atmosphere that showcases every plate. Wooden dining chairs and tables, staples of Philippine homes, take center stage here.
Likewise, the restaurant has adhered to government protocols to curb COVID-19 transmission. Only fully vaccinated diners can eat inside and markers inform diners that some seats cannot be occupied. Contact tracing via an app is mandatory, with staff members verifying details.
I managed to get a seat there early, as it was the first day of malls in Manila opening at 11:00 am. I was the first customer, so I did not experience any hitches in service. Now that I’m done elaborating on the experience, let me proceed with the food.
As usual, I ordered the House Crispy Sisig Silog – the dish that put Manam on the list of must-try Filipino restaurants. Manam elevated the traditional sisig (pronounced see-sig) and combined it with fried rice and sunny-side-up egg to make it more appealing. Made from chopped pork jowl and served on a sizzling plate, some diners are often turned off by sisig due to its oiliness.
What Manam did was replace the oily quality of sisig with another quality – crunchiness. To achieve this, it made use of pork belly as a main ingredient and topped it off with bits of chicharon (pork rinds, akin to the Spanish chicharrones). Even though it was already tossed with mayonnaise, eating this one was a challenge due to the crunchy textures that gave my TMJ some exercise.
The fried garlic rice went well with the sisig, while the well-cooked fried egg served as a good accompaniment to the dish. No wonder this particular dish was voted the best sisig rice platter for two years in a row!
Of course, any Filipino meal will never be complete without vegetables. I ordered a small platter of Manam‘s Gising-Gising (pronounced geese-sing). The dish’s name literally means “to wake up.” Gising-gising is often made using either sliced winged beans or yard-long beans sautéed in coconut milk. Some recipes call for dried shrimp, while some call for ground pork or chicken. Other versions take it a step further by adding chili for that rousing effect.
My late mom’s version, on the other hand, used either yard-long beans or French beans sliced into small pieces. She typically added dried fish and a dollop of shrimp paste for a stronger umami flavor.
Manam‘s version does not differ much from how gising-gising is traditionally prepared. It made use of winged beans and lean ground pork both cooked in coconut milk. It came topped with bits of fried garlic for extra texture, countering the tender winged beans. While Manam‘s take is noteworthy, I found it to be rather lacking in coconut milk.
The Christmas season is near, and it would never be complete without puto bumbong (pronounced poot-toe boom-bong). This glutinous rice snack prepared during the Yuletide season is prepared by soaking rice in purple food coloring and putting the colored rice in bamboo tubes (bumbong). The tubes are then steamed – just like the Indonesian putu bambu – until the rice cooks. The resulting cake is served with shredded coconut, butter, and sugar.
Manam‘s Puto Bumbong with Muscovado Butter attempts to make that Christmas treat available 365 days of the year. The purple-colored rice came not just with shredded coconut and raw muscovado. It also came with grated cheese for a salty twist and compound butter made of muscovado.
Unfortunately, this one failed to evoke the Christmas spirit. For one, it was served rather cold and the servings were rather small for the price. While the rest of the toppings meshed well with the puto bumbong, the muscovado butter did not. Puto bumbong is best served with hot chocolate – which Manam did not have in stock when I visited. I’m better off buying from that stall right across the church near me.
Last but not the least is Manam‘s Turon of Mango and Kesong Puti with Vanilla Ice Cream. This is one pick is meant for dessert – and a unique one at that. This take on the traditional Filipino snack turon (pronounced two-run) used two regional products, namely mangoes and carabao milk curd cheese, in place of bananas and jackfruit.
As the name states, this dessert came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A drizzle of caramel and some sesame seeds closed off everything for a sweet finish. Nothing beats a sweet denouement to the savory feast I began with.
Taste-wise, I found this one to be an explosion of sweetness. The mango filling dominated all the others, followed by the vanilla ice cream. Meanwhile, the curd cheese’s texture served as a vehicle for the sweet items due to its subdued flavor. Turon is often deep-fried, which isn’t the healthiest pick for a snack. Oddly enough, I did not taste any oil on the dish whatsoever.
All in all, I would definitely recommend my orders – save for the Puto Bumbong with Muscovado Butter. I asked for my bill once I finished my meal, with the expectation that the entire spread would cost more than P1,000 (US$20, pegging $1=P50).
Once I got my bill, I was pleasantly surprised that it only hit about P600 (US$12). Three out of four recommendations at that amount? Not bad. My birthday lunch at Manam Comfort Filipino is one I don’t regret having. If given the chance, I would surely return to try out its other specialties.
That ends this two-part post. And before I go, let me wish everyone who’s celebrating their birthday this November a fantastic birthday! 🎊🎂🎊
Until the next food-related entry, bon appetit!
Manam Comfort Filipino
LGF, The Parkway, SM City Fairview,
Brgy. Pasong Putik, Novaliches,
Quezon City 1118