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A Weekend Spent in Manila Part II

Okay this part II took a while but man's gotta work so just to recap, we spent an entire weekend in Manila at the cozy H2O Hotel and checked out some of the recommended go-to places there. We still did not want to set foot in the general Quiapo and Divisoria areas (no Lucky Chinatown Mall for us either because parking was packed) but we did go to Baywalk and that restaurant area by the bay near CCP where the air was still a little smelly but mostly tolerable. We also dropped by Star City because their night display looked nice but decided to leave right away because the crowd was off-ish and we thought that it was probably the kind of place  that caters more to children.

Photos, unless otherwise attributed, are taken and owned by and are protected under copyright laws (low resolution iPhone photos included).

The Roxas Boulevard Skyline by day

Taken off one of the restaurant cruise boats that offer affordable buffet lunch and dinner. The food is meh but the night cruise gives you a nice view of the Manila skyline and the famous Manila Bay sunset

Generally though, Manila has left an impression mostly (and honestly) because we thought that it would suck and it didn't. Well, not all of it. There's just a lot of places especially in the Roxas Boulevard area that looked great and would probably be even better if the local government would spend a little money in restoring old buildings rather than approving the creation of newer ones that have no character.

Rizal Park/Luneta

Anyway, now we come to the most important part of the feature. FOOD! See, I always equate how nice a place is on the food and restaurants that we go to when we are there. I remember going to this one province that had beautiful landscapes, caves and all that nature crap but they did not have one decent restaurant! Even the hotel food (and we tried a couple) was bad! That place is the worst in my book! Manila, on the other hand, has these old restaurants that serve terrific food; are rich in history and character. Most of the ones that we tried have around the same rate as the restos you see in Greenbelt or Shangri La but you get a lot more in terms of experience. 

We went to Cafe Adriatico in Malate that is always consistent in terms of food quality and has a nice, classic interior. We also tried out Ilustrado in Intramuros which is, by the way, an easier fix if you want to see old Spanish architecture rather than going all the way to Ilocos.

While these restaurants were pretty commendable in their own right, the one place that we went to that really stood out and served as the perfect ending to our stay in Manila was La Cocina de Tita Moning.

Located near Malacañang Palace at #315 San Rafael St, San Miguel, Manila, La Cocina de Tita Moning is an old restored mansion built in 1937 and owned by Dona Filomena Roces vda Legarda. It is a place that used to host lavish parties in what was once known as Manila’s most elegant district.

The La Cocina de Tita Moning experience is complete with a tour and a brief history of the accessible rooms in the mansion. The dining area has blue Meissen plates on display. These are unique, hand-painted china that are lined with gold; custom-made and ordered for dinners that were once attended by the likes of William Howard Taft.

The dinner is served in courses that are pre-ordered upon reservation. You may also order a la carte but the menu is limited based on what was initially prepared by the kitchen staff. While there are set menus available on their website, customers may also request to mix and match, again with prior reservation.

La Cocina de Tita Moning is now officially one of the best and most commendable restaurants that I tried in the Metro. More than just the dining experience, the place transports you to an era of utter sophistication that is now hardly visible in most streets of Manila. Maintaining more than just the architecture of the place, this restaurant maintained in its walls a piece of history that is there to experience when you dine with them.

Dale Bacar
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