Craving for chicken satay, char kway teow, or chili pepper crabs after your nth viewing of the year’s most decadent movie, Crazy Rich Asians? It’s the collective reaction among most cinema-goers who all want to dash out of the movie house even before the closing credits roll (don’t—please, finish the movie!) and have a fill of Singapore’s fiery flavors. This comes as no surprise, what with all the scenes adorned with the best hawker fares, succulent dumplings, and the most luxurious seafood.
While you’re still waiting for seat sales to fly out and have all that in the Lion City, the next best thing to do is head out to Manila’s own set of dining spots that dish out food that promise as-close-to-authentic flavors and textures. Here’s a list of options around the metro:
With multiple branches in Quezon City, San Juan, and Manila, Bugis is an easy choice if you want to satisfy your cravings fast. They take pride in a no-frills, affordable approach to serving spot-on regional favorites, including chunky chicken satay, steamboat laksa, and bah kut the. Don’t want to eat out? You can conveniently order from their menu via Grab Food.
Craving for authentic? Michelin-starred Hawker Chan promises nothing less. Imagine a plate of Soya Sauce Chicken Rice, Char Siew Noodle, or Roasted Pork Hor Fun, which you can score for less than P200! Or you can also grab a whole soya sauce chicken for a little less than P600 and bring it to your next crazy rich party.
The good ol’ reliable Kopi Roti never disappoints. Their freshly baked coffee buns (and even the Milo Toast or the Kaya Cheese Toast!) always promise a delightful experience. But did you know that their siew mai, Hainanese chicken rice, and laksa hold as much promise? Their lengthy list of hot and cold beverages is also a big plus. Milo Dinosaur, anyone?
Hailing all the way from their famed original spot at Macpherson Road, Singapore, Ming Kee has an existing branch along Makati Ave. that is popular for only the freshest and most decadent seafood dishes. Their specialty? Crab Beehon that is stir-fried, steamed, and braised to perfection. There’s black pepper crab, too, that requires mantou buns for mopping up all the sauce, and stir-fried cereal prawns that even kids will enjoy.
Want the whole sensorial experience of Singapore’s hawker centers? The closest you can get is a visit to Shiok Shiok in Banawe. The humble hawker house purveys Singaporean comfort food—from kaya toast sets with perfectly soft-boiled eggs to a decked out nasi lemak. They also offer a wide array of traditional desserts, like penang chendol, red bean frenzy, and watermelon sago, that are not to be missed.
Have your fill of succulent dumplings, bursting pork buns, and moist roast meats at Thomson Road, an unassuming Asian diner in Alabang. Bring along the whole gang (post CRA movie session, of course) and enjoy their generous offerings, including The Butcher’s Claypot that’s filled with pork, ginger chicken, and chorizo or their pungent Seafood Coconut Soup. There’s also Ah Bu’s Chinese Garden Bun, which they promise to remind you of Su Yi’s tan huas in Tyersall Park.
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Writer: IDGE D. MENDIOLA