Living in a country which welcomes anything has its perks. We have myriad of choices to eat and experience.
On the flip side though, since we get to experience much of the world, we tend to forget to go back to our own roots. This is especially true when it comes to food since there are a lot of different restaurants you get to try. We usually then don’t pay attention to our very own Filipino restaurants.
I am guilty of this, as I always gravitate myself to Mexican burritos and Japanese sushi whenever my tummy starts to rumble. I am happy that I got invited to Mangan restaurant as it reminds me of how delicious Filipino food is.
Mangan is actually a Kapampangan (region in the Philippines) dialect which directly translates to, “let’s eat”. I actually thought Mangan is an Ilocano (another region in the Philippines) restaurant because the word mangan has the same meaning as the Kapampangan one.
It offers Filipino dishes that are very popular in Philippines’ culinary capital.
The restaurant depicts many facets of our Filipino heritage so it doesn’t have the usual ancestral Filipno house look to it.
Saturated hues of mixed blue and green are all over the place which represents open communication and clarity of thought.
Mangan truly encourages conversatons as they have long tables that will please groups. One can also think of closeness with the narrow gaps in seating.
Meanwhile, unique pendant lights and chairs can also be a starting point for a conversation. It’s a nicely decorated casual restaurant that can foster rich conversations.
During the time when we visited, they were celebrating the “Pista ng Pata”(Feast of the Crispy Pork) for the whole month.
As such, there are different versions of the classic crispy pork that we got to try out. Since this is a Kapampangan restaurant, most of the dishes are meat based, which the region is also known for.
Just as it is named, it has absence of color save for the roasted garlic, spring onions, and steamed chicken that make the glass noodles come alive. It looks like a very plain dish no matter how I look at it.
However, when I tasted it, my perception of it completely changed. I don’t usually like this kind of pancit because it’s usually dry. It’s not the case for that. In fact, it has sauce that’s hidden inside the noodles making it savory.
BULALONG BAKA WITH MAIS, PHP 380 (or USD 7.8)
It is the classic tender and soft beef soup dish which consists of a beef shank, cabbage, potato and string beans. The nice tasting broth is made up of boiled bone marrow, salt, and pepper. They didn’t do anything crazy here as they just tried to stay true to the original formula.
Make sure you don’t eat the insides of bone marrow if you have a high blood pressure.
KARE KARE BUNTOT NG BAKA, PHP 360 (or USD 7.2)
This is a peanut-based stew consisting of eggplant, anchovies, string beans, and meat.
In Kare Kare, ox stripe is the popular choice when it comes to meat, but they chose cow’s tail in this case which I must say is an unusual choice.
Whenever I eat Kare Kare, there is only one thing I judge in it for me to call it a success and that is how they cooked their peanut sauce. I say they nailed it. The peanut sauce is thick and nutty and the cow’s tail, though not exactly my favorite part since it’s fatty, works well here.
This wouldn’t be a feast of the cripsy pork if we didn’t try any of their crispy pork offerings. For that, we tried out three of them.
SISIG NI MELY, PHP 260 (or USD 5.2)
One of Pampanga’s most popular dish, sisig in Mangan’s version is a sizzling dish made up of pig’s face and ears, diced onions, green pepper and is finished with soy sauce and lime. It’s not as crispy as I would like, but it is very well seasoned that I didn’t mind as much.
CRISPY PATA, PHP 100/ 100 grams (or USD 2/100 grams)
It is basically a slab of pork trotters or knuckles marinated with pork, and then deep fried to crispy golden goodness and comes with either gravy or a soy sauce mix. I really like it’s crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.
As an extra oily spicy variant of it, it will not only give you high cholesterol levels, but it will also make you sweat a lot as well.
It’s up to you if you want to dig in.
PUTO BUMBONG WITH GRATED COCONUT AND MASCUVADO, PHP 95 (or USD 1.95)
This is a purple colored sticky rice delicacy that is usually cylindrical in shape and comes with sugar and grated coconut.
It’s a dish often served during the Christmas season, but Mangan offers it all year round. Because why wait for Christmas, when you’re badly craving for it or your visit in the Philippines is just short, right?
Their puto bumbong is slightly sweet and very sticky, something I always look for in rice cakes. Adding that coconut and Mascuvado sugar adds a new layer to the dish which is always very welcoming.
Mangan is Reasonable
Overall, I find Mangan to be reasonable. It offers classic Filipino dishes and tries to stay true to the original recipe. I may have been avoiding Filipino restaurants recently, but Mangan has allowed me to reunite with my first true love, the pata. (Sorry Me-An.)
Second Floor, Glorietta 2, Ayala Center, Glorietta Complex, Makati City.
Operating Hours: 10AM to 9PM from Mon. to Fri. and 10AM to 10PM on Sat. and Sun.