Last Saturday we came across Manila Cafe at lunchtime. We were presented with a vertiable feast of what appeared to be authentic, homemade Phillipino food served buffet-style. Now, I've never had it before so that's a wild-assed guess on my part, but everyone there appeared to be Phillipino and the food just looked and tasted like someones mother was in the kitchen cooking.
The best offering was a whole roast suckling pig that was excellently prepared. I then went on to try more than a dozen more dishes, most of which I sampled without the benefit of name tags, which were affixed to a few of the offerings. I didn't like everything I tried, but the stews were generally very good if a bit greasy. I really liked some bean of the dishes and garlic rice. There was beef, pork, chicken, whole fried fishes, tripe, and other tidbits cooked in a variety of ways. One dish I tried I liked but knew it was something I would never have ordered turned out to be sliced pigs ear. I have no idea what it is actually called on the menu.
I took a carryout menu to see if it could help me after the fact, but there is no explanation for the names of the food, which other than Pork and Chicken Adobo and a few other items I've never heard of: Crispy pata, dinuguan, sizzling bangus, tokawa and baboy, etc.
Anyway, if you are in the area and looking for a real chow experience, this is a place to try. It is located at 7020 Commerce Street in a strip mall behind the shopping mall with the Trader Joes. Your best bet would probably be to try the buffet on a Saturday. It's worth the $12.50. I don't know if it's served the rest of the week. Oh, and don't wait to be seated. Just grab a table and serve yourself. Someone will come around for your drink order or you can grab a soda or San Miguel beer out of the cooler. Service is probably more organized when you order from the menu than when there is a buffet.
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