manila: lunch at little asia.

little asia resto 2

guam is not that far away from manila, so we hit the ground running and pretty much went shopping immediately at the greenhills shopping complex when we arrived. although we shopped at the cheap and chaotic bazaar, we decided to have lunch at the adjoining promenade arcade, at a restaurant i believe is called little asia a symphony of flavours but i'll just call it little asia.

i don't really know all that much about the restaurant itself, but it is the second outlet (the first is in quezon city) and it is partially owned by fabulously named siblings charlemagne, charlson and charlyn lim. the interior is contemporary, upscale, and comfortable but weirdly gave me an italian café vibe (i think it was the mural). the menu is ginormous, with dishes from all over southeast asia. unfortunately, i was with some non-adventurous cousins so i couldn't try the vietnamese crispy frogs' legs, sizzling balut (fertilized, incubated duck eggs) in a savoury onion sauce, and deep-fried fish bones, but what we did order was good overall, with a couple of outstanding dishes.

gabi cake
sorry for the blurry photos!

we ordered steamed lapu-lapu (grouper, garoupa) fish fillets with tofu in a black bean sauce, kangkong (water spinach) sautéed with garlic, fried gabi (taro root) cake (pictured above), and honey fried shrimp. the gabi dish was excellent, although the gabi was unlike any taro cake i'd previously had. usually taro cake is made with boiled and mashed taro root, then steamed and fried, but this was taro mixed with glutinous rice flour, so it was a bit stickier, and the thin slices were deep-fried. more like tikoy, but not sweet. the pieces were further sautéed with small shrimp, whole cloves of pan-roasted garlic, green onions, and spanish peanuts. this dish was understandably a little oily, but not unpleasantly so.

shrimp puffs 2

the shrimp was not what i imagined either. i had thought it would be something like that walnut shrimp dish with mayonnaise everyone seems to like but me, but these were whole prawns in a flour, egg white, and green onion batter served with a honey-chili-garlic sauce that was downright jammy, but very, very good. the puffs were exceptionally light and crispy, with a perfectly seasoned and cooked prawn within. the puffs were so well cooked that there wasn't a trace of grease on them when they arrived at the table piping hot, and they stayed perfectly crispy the next day when i ate the leftovers for breakfast. :) now *that's* a breakfast of champions i tell you.

portions are generous (each dish fed four of us adequately) and the prices ridiculously reasonable to just reasonable, depending on what country you live in (mostly from P165 to P325--as of today the exchange rate is P56=US$1, so that's about US$2.94 to US$5.80). service is excellent, the clientele mostly family groups, and the food seems uniformly good overall.

simply asia
1: 195-B tomas morato ave, quezon city
2: promenade, greenhills shopping center, ortigas ave, san juan, metro manila


For some reason I remember eating some of these but I don't know if it was in Little Asia. Hmmm...

That taro cake has a sweet version, our calame gandus. I haven't had any for a long time now!

Good for yuo that you enjoyed your Little Asia experience! I've only eaten there once, in the Tomas Morato branch. I wasn't quite happy. Maybe the one at Greenhills is much better!

hi karen! a family friend here makes calame gandus every christmas, so i guess the next time i have some is just around the corner :)

hi toni! i think it helped that it wasn't very crowded at all, and the most complicated dish was the gabi. what did you order? so i'll know what to avoid :D

welcome back santos, can i be that adventurous cousin?
i was so smitten by your description of the shrimp puffs that i made some last night (or a version anyway..)

hi stel! any day :D how did the puffs turn out? please post the recipe because i'm craving them right now!