There’s something special about restaurants that instantly make you feel at home. It could remind you of your own home, your lola’s house, or the provincial, ancestral home your family returns to every summer.
Manam has opened a flagship store in celebration of its 10th anniversary in 2023. The fan-favorite modern Filipino restaurant’s latest outlet at Ayala Triangle Gardens manages to evoke that same feeling: homey—but of course—with a bit of a twist.
When dining at Manam, there are some things you can always expect: long lines, quick services, and reliably tasty dishes. There’s a homey feeling in all of its branches, but there’s also a buzz and rush to it.
“We built Manam at the Triangle because we wanted to create a Manam dining room where you would not feel rushed, no matter the time of day,” said The Moment Group founder and restaurateur Abba Napa.
Manam’s new location still evokes the same feeling of cozy familiarity, but elevates it to “your rich tita’s house you go to for the holidays” levels.
Newness and familiarity
There’s an element of familiar grandeur when you step into Manam at the Triangle. A large wooden door greets you by the entrance and leads you into a large dining room. The space is decked out with the familiar teals and pinks of the Manam brand, but with a more refined air.
The Manam team enlisted the help of Hong Kong-based designer Sean Dix, who “envisioned a space that evoked the feeling of ‘walking into a new memory’—or finding yourself somewhere familiar but seeing it as though for the first time.”
While the space decidedly doesn’t resemble a traditional Filipino dining room, there are details everywhere that evoke a nostalgic sensation. High ceilings, warm tones, and contemporary Filipino details are present in every corner of the restaurant.
There are archival images of Filipinos from the 19th century adorning the walls, while light fixtures resembling fishing nets hang from the ceiling. Ceramic artist and Zambales-native Mia Casal’s handmade stoneware serve as the vessels for the dishes served to hungry diners.
There are two major focal points in the dining room: sulok and the bibingka bar. Sulok is the restaurant’s more private dining space, which seats up to ten. There’s artwork depicting an almost pop-art like version of the harana on its main wall. The floor is adorned with a carpet made to look like a banig.
The bar is the center (and heart) of the restaurant. It’s where the bibingka, puto bumbong, and other sweet treats are made fresh. The base of the bar is made of wooden components constructed to resemble a woven basket.
It’s a feast for the eyes, which already bodes well for their dishes.
Aside from the aesthetics, there are also many positive changes at Manam at the Triangle. The most exciting one, arguably, has to be that this is the only branch that accepts reservations. Expecting to dine at a Manam on a weekend or for a special occasion can be a long endeavor, but the ability to reserve a table online in advance is a game changer.
“Throughout the years, our patrons have asked us to consider taking reservations so they can celebrate their milestones with us. We are truly happy that with Manam at the Triangle we are able to finally do this for them,” said Napa.
Aside from the reservations, something different about this specific branch is its menu. While favorites like the crispy sisig, crispy palabok, and the watermelon sinigang stay on its pages, there are a whole host of potential new favorites available exclusively at this location.
“All the new dishes we’ve created follow that same Manam DNA and style of cooking and approach to flavors—definitive classics but with a slight poetic license to re-imagine,” explained Napa.
Some of the new items on the menu like the lechon manok and tutong longganisa rice and house lechon de leche (yes, it’s a whole pig) require some patience.
These special menu items require at least 24-hours advance preparation. You can either call ahead when you reserve a table, or add it to your reservation on the website. Other menu items, like the piniritong dapa and the tutong sa kawali rice need at least 45 minutes to prepare.
Some of our favorite items that are exclusive to the branch are the whole spatchcock chicken inasal, sunog na chopsuey, dulog tutong sa kawali rice (which also comes in adobo), sinigang na kurobuta pork belly with piña, and beef cheeks tagalog.
Dining at Manam at the Traingle is an impressive experience—to say the least. The dishes are carefully prepared with excellent tableside service and an attentive staff. There’s a relaxed air you can enjoy while dining; a welcome difference from its faster-paced other branches.
Some of the showstoppers on the new menu include the spatchock chicken, sunog na chopsuey, sinigang na kurobuta pork belly with piña, and my hands-down favorite, the dulong tutong sa kawali rice.
I’m unfortunately allergic to chicken, so our photographer Samantha Ong had to take one for the team (so to speak). She described the chicken as a tender, moist, well-seasoned affair. The chicken is presented to the table whole, and then carved tableside. So yes, your meal comes with a bit of a show.
Two of the most interesting things we tried on the menu were the sunog na chopsuey and the kurobuta pork sinigang with pineapple.
This chopsuey is definitively not like other chopsueys. Cabbage (both red and white), baby corn, carrots, and other fresh produce are roasted to a delicious golden crisp and bathed in a rich, savory brown butter sauce.
I’m a vegetable fan, but there are some vegetables (like carrot) that I don’t necessarily love. This dish may have just changed my mind about it. The exterior is charred which adds a smokier flavor to all of the vegetables while keeping the interior perfectly tender—but not overly soft.
It’s a dish I can confidently say can convert even the staunchest meat eaters to proud omnivores.
Manam has a history of taking favorite Filipino dishes and giving it a little twist. They’ve done this before with the beef short rib sinigang with watermelon, and they’ve managed to do it again with their sinigang na kurobuta pork belly with piña.
For sinigang purists, you might want to look away. I understand that some people may only enjoy the traditional sinigang with tamarind, but using pineapple as one of the souring agents for the beloved soup is an undeniable stroke of creativity. Using kurobuta pork is an out of the box, yet genius idea. The pork is insanely tender and absorbs flavors like no one’s business
It’s a savory, refreshing, and somewhat sweet dish. While it’s not for everyone, I can confidently say that everyone should try it at least once. If you try it with an open mind, you’ll likely find delight when it hits your taste buds.
In a perfect world, rice would always be fluffy on top and crispy on the bottom. It’s hard to find tutong na kanin outside your own rice cooker, but Manam has managed to make my rice dreams come true.
The tutong na kawali rice comes in two varieties: dulong or adobo. As someone who grew up in Cebu (one of the tuyo capitals of the country), the dulong was an easy choice to make. It’s a savory, salty dish that comes with an immaculately crispy bottom that you have to scrape off with all your might. I could have an entire serving to myself and probably even ask for more.
But as usual, make sure to leave room for dessert.
Tamis! (only in the best way)
Being a sweet tooth is a cultural trait in the Philippines, and Manam makes sure to satisfy. Their bibingka bar makes it easy to get carried away by the sights and smells of indulging in our favorite sweet treats like a freshly made puto bumbong or bibingka.
The restaurant’s puto bumbong has always been a winner, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it being steamed, made, and prepared in front of you.
Their other desserts also get the Manam treatment, like the tres leches bibingka. It’s a dense yet fluffy cake bathed in whipped cream, three types of milks, and candied calamansi. The candied calamansi gives it a much appreciated tartness to counter the rich sweetness. It’s a crowd pleaser if there ever was one, and it’s best enjoyed with some coffee or hot tsokolate.
Manam’s latest iteration is their best one to date. It’s a place frequented for celebrations, milestone events, and whenever the craving hits—but this version has taken it up a notch. From an adventurous new menu to a space worthy of taking your time, the restaurant has done a more than fantastic job celebrating ten years in the business. We’re excited for what the next ten years have in store.