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Where Manhattanites go for good, cheap Filipino food
Source: Inquirer
Author: Ronnie Alejandro
Date: 1999-05-28
NEW York


need not cross rivers to

Queens and Jersey City

to sample home-cooked

Filipino dishes. Right on

14th Street alone in

Lower Manhattan, there

are five eateries to savor

delicious authentic

Filipino cuisine the way our mothers used to cook them.

From upscale dining at reasonable prices where you can bring

your boss to sample traditional Filipino food to the turo-turo

where you can pig out to your heart's delight--14th Street is the

area to sample various culinary delights of your childhood days.

Try Del Siopongco's Toppings (133 West 14th Street between

6th and 7th Avenue, tel. 645-9249, fax 352-3389) on weekends.

This bright, clean and spacious restaurant offers a buffet of

more than 15 delectable homecooked viands. Its all-you-can-eat

buffet is priced at $6.39. How can you go wrong with that? On

weekdays, it serves an international buffet at $3.69 a pound.

The husband-and-wife team of Lorenzo and Carmelita Montano

cook kare-kare, lechon kawali, beef caldereta, sinigang na

baboy, estofado, pork binagoongan, bopiz, ampalaya con

kare, among others. Its ginataang mais, though too sweet for

my taste, is heavenly. Toppings (the name came about when Del

opted originally to have a noodle shop with various toppings)

opens 7 a.m.-8 p.m. It has both American and Filipino breakfasts

to serve their multinational diners.

Best-kept secret

The 16-seat turo-turo at New Manila Food Mart (351 East 14th

Street, tel. 420-8182) behind the Filipino and Asian grocery is

14th Street's best-kept secret.

Lina Dryer and Aling Luming Guevara share their culinary

expertise in concocting dishes such as dinuguan, nilaga,

paksiw na bangus, humba, longaniza, inihaw na baboy at

pusit, among others.

The piece de resistance is the ginataan dishes which Lina has

mastered, she being from Bicol. Her ginataang manok is a

favorite of Sister Camille (Fe Madarang) of Our Lady of Good

Shepherd. The missionary house is just a few blocks away, and

this is the place where she goes when she is nostalgic of

authentic Filipino food.

Another outstanding dish is its ginataang bilo-bilo.

Two-dish combination with rice is $5.45 and one dish is $3.95.

Managed by the Fabilas of Zambales, New Manila Food Mart is

also a one-stop shop for Asian delicacies as well as Filipino

videos, newspapers and fresh tropical vegetables such as sitaw,

ampalaya, talong. It also has cassava cake, bibingka,

ensaymada and itlog na maalat.

A little upscale

If you want to bring a non-Filipino friend or client to sample

traditional homecooked dishes a little upscale from the humble

turo-turo, the place to be is Manila Garden Restaurant (325 East

14th Street, tel. 777-6314). Open for lunch and dinner everyday,

a la carte delicacies are priced from $7.50-12.50.

On Tuesday nights, it has an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring 10

main dishes, including rice, appetizers, soup and dessert for

$13.95. This is where Philippine Tourism Attach? Emma Ruth

Yulo entertains her foreign guests for Filipino fiesta food.

Diners also include doctors and nurses from nearby hospitals.

The resto has an unpretentious d?cor and a piano where Filipino

airs are played during Tuesday buffets. The chicharong

bulaklak, crispy pata, lumpiang sariwa and laing are excellent.

Service is cordial and sometimes oversolicitous.

Media's favorite

Media's favorite is Elvie's (named after its founder Elvie Singco

from Samar). Framed features and reviews are visible in the walls

of this ''consistent-tasting'' joint, including the review of New

York Times food critic Eric Asimov.

Quite busy during lunch hours, the place has been visited by

former First Lady Ming Ramos. Manila socialites Maria Cristina

Valdes and Marla Yotoko Chorengel are regulars.

Here the sinigang na baboy and barbecue are to die for. Two

dishes in this turo-turo joint cost $5.75; one dish is $4.

With a name like Mandarin Grill & Coffee House (188 First

Avenue, tel. 673-3665), how would one know that it serves

Filipino dishes? It has morphed several times through the years.

It was impressive when it was known as Metro. The spacious

restaurant serves breakfast. Among the fare are tapsilog,

longsilog and tosilog as well as traditional Filipino dishes such

as pork sinigang, bulalo and kaldereta. It also features a

Karaoke sing-along.

If your palate is itching for authentic Pinoy food, try these

cheap eats at 14th Street. Some caveats: make it a point to eat an

early lunch so the food is still fresh and the place is not too

crowded. Bon Appetit!

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