#FoodTrip: Oriental fare, Filipino flair

In the mood for something Oriental? You won't run out of choices in TriNoma.

HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE. Served with soup and rice at Wee Nam Kee and is best enjoyed with their condiments. All photos by Kai Magsanoc

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino cuisine is rich and diverse, and Filipinos being big foodies means we are always open to try new, even exotic, food. We love a lot of different kinds of cuisine, not just our own.

When this writer was in Glasgow, Scotland in 2009 for several months and craved Asian food, I went to a Chinese buffet restaurant to try to get a feeling of home. The Chinese dishes never failed to make me feel like I was back in Manila, but I safely concluded that even when it came to preparing Asian cuisine, Filipinos were definitely at the top of the list.

TriNoma mall in north Quezon City is a place not just for shopping and entertainment but also for gastronomic delights. At a recent visit, I discovered 3 places that can satisfy a craving for Asian food, however which way you like it.

SINGAPOREAN: Wee Nam Kee

LIKE SINGAPORE. Come in to authentic Singaporean dishes in Wee (pronounced 'ee') Nam Kee

Wee Nam Kee is at the 4th level of TriNoma, flanked by a gaming area and a buffet restaurant. It stands out because it is quiet and calm, and looks warm and welcoming from the outside.

Wee Nam Kee is a hawker place in Singapore. In the Philippines, it takes on the form of a restaurant. But the hawker elements are there: minimal, clean, no-nonsense interiors, and kitchen windows that show you what goes on inside, how your food is prepared.

TriNoma is one of 7 branches; others are at the Ayala Triangle, Serendra, Alabang Town Center, Glorietta, The District Cavite and the new East Wing of Shangri-La Mall.

“It’s not about being new; it’s about being authentic,” says Geneve Gutierrez, assistant operations manager, to Rappler. She acknowledges that while they are a new player in the Singaporean food scene in the country (they opened their first branch in November 2010), they are all about giving clients the authentic Singaporean food experience.

ORGANIC FEEL. Wee Nam Kee's atmosphere does not intimidate and, according to Geneve, is 'not elitist'

YELLOW CHICKEN. It gets its name from the fact that it is, literally, yellow. It is the version of wagyu in beef: premium, fatter, tastier, juicier and bigger. Wee Nam Kee just concluded their Yellow Chicken Festival, but it won't hurt to watch out for the next one!

MARMITE PORK. According to Geneve, Wee Nam Kee is the only restaurant that serves this dish in the Philippines. It is made from the softest part of pork, in honey garlic and teriyaki sauce. Mmmm, savory!

CUCUMBER LIME FIZZ AND FRESH MANGO SMOOTHIE. Wee Nam Kee's premium drinks are perfect for the health- and diet-conscious. They use fresh ingredients and melted sugar (sugar + water). This writer's favorite: Cucumber Lime Fizz. Perfect for the hot and humid weather, truly refreshing.

WARM ROTI WITH MILK TEA SAUCE. Our merienda suggestion. The sweetness will wake you up from a sleepy afternoon.

MANGO SANGO PUDDING. Fruity and sweet fix, perfect for dessert

THREE-FLAVORED CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE BUCHI. Juicy, crunchy and chocolatey all at the same time. Great to share with the family, or to give as gift for special occasions.

According to Geneve, another must-try is their barley drink, made fresh everyday. “It is sweet but not overpowering,” she says.

Business hours: 11:00am to 9:00pm, Monday to Sunday

Phone: (02) 576-6318 / 0917-828-5017

Facebook: Wee Nam Kee Philippines

Twitter: @WeeNamKeePH

JAPANESE: Ramen X

RAMEN PIONEER IN THE PH. Ramen X was at the cusp of the trend when it was just about to explode in the Pinoy palate

Ramen became a pop culture sensation in the food category in 2012. Foodies either experimented with their own concoctions or went on the hunt for the best ramen place in town.

Husband and wife owners Charles and Anna Paw were two such foodies. The couple — also travel buddies — considered themselves part of Generation X, hence the name Ramen X.

“Ramen is now a kind of comfort food for Filipinos,” says Windy Tiongson, Ramen X’s training manager. “We have embraced the noodle culture because it’s an all-in-one meal: sabaw (soup), ulam (viand), noodles as rice and vegetables.”

Ramen X is at the second floor of TriNoma, right beside Recipes. They also have branches in Eton Centris and Alabang Town Center. They offer original ramen recipes based on Charles and Anna’s trips to Japan and use only homemade noodles. 

PLAYFUL INTERIORS. Students and yuppies frequent the place and appreciate the modern and minimalist set-up

YOSHI'S RAMEN. A Ramen X-clusive, is named after one of the owners and has all his favorite toppings

X RAMEN. A signature ramen dish that Windy recommends to all first-time visitors

SX2. Spicy ramen perfect for hot food lovers like this writer. It has a non-spicy version, SX1.

FRIED GYOZA. The all-time Japanese favorite is great as a light snack or ramen accompaniment

Windy says their Ramen X milk teas perfectly go with their hot dishes. Non-meat eaters will find options here, too, like the Spicy Chikuwa 7 Ramen.

Business hours: 11:00am to 9:00pm, Monday to Sunday

Phone: (02) 628-1603

Facebook: Ramen X

CHINESE: Peking Garden

COME RIGHT IN. Peking Garden's TriNoma branch entrance may seem intimidating, but it's the exact opposite once you get inside

Peking Garden reminded this writer of the Chinese restaurants of ’80s Manila: expansive, minimal, full of round dining tables with a Lazy Susan in the middle. I felt at home upon entering the place, considering it was my first time to visit. 

Peking Garden is an affiliate of Maxim’s Caterers Ltd HK, a company that has 600 restaurants all over the world. The franchise opened in the Philippines in 1995. Their chefs are from Maxim’s, as well the restaurant manager who has been with them for 15 years.

“Peking Garden serves Northern Chinese cuisine, which is different from Cantonese food,” says Mario Tan, the restaurant’s marketing consultant and publicist. “It is the only fine dining restaurant in TriNoma.”

They only have two branches in Metro Manila: their flagship restaurant in Greenbelt 5, and their TriNoma branch (3rd level, garden area) that opened in 2008. Peking Garden is perfect for families when celebrating special occasions (even if the occasion is as simple as a weekend family lunch).

REMEMBER YESTERDAY...  Peking Garden is laid out like the good ol' Chinese restaurants '80s babies like this writer grew up going to, minus the ceiling fans

SWEET AND SPICY PRAWNS. Peking Garden's super savory best-seller. Once you've had a piece, you have to reach for one more, seriously!

CRISPY VEGETABLE CONPOY WITH BAMBOO SHOOTS AND WALNUTS. This is Peking Garden's signature dish. Don't let its simple appearance fool you: it bursts with flavor and is unforgettable. Trust us!

SCRAMBLED EGG WHITE WITH MINCED FISH AND DRIED SCALLOP. The specialty of Peking Garden HK, this is a sour dish with lots of texture. A must-try!

Business hours: Lunch (11:00am to 2:00pm) and dinner (6:00pm to 10:00pm last order), Monday to Sunday

Phone: (02) 729-0567 / 729-0719

Facebook: Peking Garden

– Rappler.com


Do you like going on a #FoodTrip? Tell us about it! Email desk@rappler.com, use the subject heading FOOD TRIP. 

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