It’s a weekday evening in Mall of Asia (MOA), where I find myself with my parents, my brother, my sister and her colleague. I’m not sure whether we’re celebrating the Independence Day belatedly or Fathers’ Day in advance, or if we’re celebrating anything at all. At any rate, we soon duck into Manam for our dinner. The restaurant, which was originally christened as Namnam in Greenbelt 2, represents traditional and innovative Filipino cuisine, and has since become one of the most popular for the Moment Group.
Manam is tucked snugly among a row of restaurants on the south wing of MOA, just a few dozen meters away from Manila Bay. It’s an intimate space, with brick walls similar to the Greenbelt branch, but with lights a bit brighter. In one table, a battalion of presumably family members and relatives argues and laughs. At another table, a small of young women are simply enjoying the food. Guests continue to flock to the restaurant for a taste of its fares. Such is the regular case for Manam – crowds of diners eager for the restaurant’s versions of the food they grew up eating.
The restaurant recognizes the dilemma of choosing what to order when having to dine with a group and presents an innovative solution – have the customer choose the serving size. Virtually all items can be ordered small (for one person), medium (for two or three people), or large (for six to eight people). When diners are undecided what to order, it’s possible to order small servings of dishes and cover as much of the lengthy menu as your appetites will allow.
The restaurant’s other unique feature is the way its dishes are presented; sharing the menu with classic rendition of popular Filipino fares are inventive takes on such. This way the restaurant avoids falling into the trap of dull predictability. For example, one night you can order sisig as it is (that is, made with pork jowl, cheek and ears) and make up for that dietary sin the following evening with its relatively less fatty incarnation, the Corned Beef Sisig.
Manam’s calling card is the Sinigang na Beef Short Rib & Watermelon. This playful take on the classic sour broth arrives in a bowl of piping-hot red sabaw, with the green string beans providing a beautiful color contrast. Its sweet taste appeals to the Filipino palate. (By the way, its traditional version, the Sinigang na Baboy sa Sampaloc, is available, too.)
Honestly it’s hard to go wrong here. Virtually every dish is flavorful, designed to bring familiar comfort. I’ve always emerged a happy customer every time I dine here and this evening is no exception.
Manam (Mall of Asia branch)
G/F South Wing, Mall of Asia Complex,