My first authentic Filipino food experience

So, as I said in my previous post about Manila, it’s not exactly known for its food, and as a mostly-vegetarian, I was told it was going to be quite difficult for me to find options (not to mention anything remotely healthy).  I’ve certainly enjoyed what I’ve been eating here, but it’s mostly been glamorous hotel buffets or purposely getting Thai or other Asian food.  So when one of my lovely client contacts offered to take me and the team out to lunch for authentic Filipino food, I of course accepted (albeit with a bit of hesitation).

Max’s is an institution in Manila and is most famous for their fried chicken.  As someone who generally tries to avoid fried things, this restaurant would obviously not be a staple in my diet, but I had to admit their chicken was absolutely delicious.

They serve it with sweet potato fries and I have to admit it was not nearly as “fried” as I thought it would be – definitely not like American fried chicken.  The skin was just very crispy and the meat was quite tender.  I could certainly eat a lot of that.

Another speciality is milkfish, which is a thin white fish that is (of course) fried and served with a vinegar-esque dipping sauce.  Not as good as the fried chicken, but still quite delicious.

This delightful little stew pot is full of kare kare, which is a traditional Filipino stew made with a peanut sauce, a few vegetables (yay!), oxtail (oh no), beef, and some tripe (double oh no).  It’s served with a super salty shrimp paste and then you of course put it over tons of rice.  Goodbye, my health.  I actually really enjoyed the sauce and the veggies…the meat, not so much my thing… although I did bravely try some oxtail.

Dessert sampler!  On the far right, we have a traditional American brownie which of course the Filipinos didn’t really want to eat (but I did).  Then there was a leche flan (which was like creme caramel), a pandan jellies liquid type thing (the green one), and a panna cotta with ube.  I have to wax poetic on this ube (pronounced ooh-bay) deal for a minute.  It is purple yam and has this interesting texture, and they like to put it in a lot of desserts.  This panna cotta had crumbled ube on top and a cool gelatinous ube center.  Does not sound awesome, I know, but I seriously loved the taste – not too sweet and a fascinating change from my typical dessert fare.  Since then, I have been trying ube cakes and other ube desserts as much as possible…if it is purple, I am going to try it.  They apparently have ube ice cream here which I can’t wait to try.

I really enjoyed this traditional Filipino meal and although it’s not like I would eat this kind of stuff every day, it did make me feel like I was having a more authentic experience here. 🙂

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