Manila Food Trip: Wildflour, Din Tai Fung and Ooma Japanese Bar
My brief weekend in Metro Manila a few weeks ago was very memorable for at least three reasons: a very delayed return flight, watching Les Miserables and a food trip around the city.
I will not of course rant again about my all-nighter at the NAIA. I will talk instead about the new restaurants that my friends and I tried over that fateful weekend. Aside from catching up with them, Manila’s exciting food scene is also one of the remaining reasons why I’d spend an evening or two here.
Wildflour Cafe + Bakery
4th ave cor 26th st. Fort Bonifacio Global City Taguig, Metro Manila
From the airport, I headed straight to BGC to meet up with my former colleagues Jess and JR. We then had a very heavy breakfast at Wildflour Cafe + Bakery, one of the upscale joints in these parts.
I’d say that we had superb yet quite pricey meals there. We also had perfectly runny poached eggs, which in my unimportant culinary opinion, may end all arguments in the universe.
My only complaint was that my latte was served way too late that morning. Of course I didn’t mind taking it out, but boy I wished I had it during my first bite off my lusciously creamy croque madame.
Din Tai Fung
G/F Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong
After enjoying the afternoon Les Miserable show, we went to SM Megamall to try a much-hyped dimsum restaurant. Getting there from Solaire Resort took us almost as long as Act 1 of the musical. Traffic was bad that evening or actually in most, if not all, evenings in this part of the Philippines.
Thankfully, Din Tai Fung’s various dimsums and popular xiao long baos more than made up for the long drive. My favorite among the few we ordered was the crab roe xiao long bao. Each of these carefully and beautifully created ‘soup dumpling’ is packed with the right amount of brine and loads of umami goodness.
The other best part is that service at this newly opened restaurant was also surprisingly quick. We were seated in 15 mins or so, a far-cry from my experience at the dimsum place right beside them.
Ooma Japanese Rice Bar
3F Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong
Our second dinner was at Bruce Rickett’s Ooma Japanese Rice Bar. The restaurant was named as ‘Ooma’ as a play on the Japanese word umai which means ‘good.’ It’s also more affordable compared to the talented chef’s Mecha Uma but the flavors here are just as bold and refreshingly modern.
From the interesting menu, we chose platters of uni sushi, gyoza and buta kakuni (slow-roasted pork belly). The latter was so absurdly tender we can slice each porcine portion with a pair of chopsticks, and on only one hand as well.
However, Ooma is certainly not the place for Japanese cuisine purists as Ricketts introduces subtleties and welcome spins in each dish. The resulting experience is both gustatory and cerebral. You somehow think after each satisfactory bite.
I badly needed a strong cup of joe to tie all our meals together. But after a rather long day, my weary body wanted to catch some form of sleep. Traffic has also already eased at EDSA at that point, but the city was still very much alive with commuters waiting for the last bus or jeepney or trike that would take them home.
I may have dozed off along the way with the thought that my Saturday in the metropolis, like everyone else’s, has just wrapped up.