On the last day of our stay in the city, we thought of looking for a place to eat before heading on a 250 kilometer drive back home, my husband mentioned a newly opened gastronomic place in Abu Dhabi called Little Manila and I hurriedly search for the direction online to check out their offering.
Little Manila is located in Bldg. 642, Fatima Bint Mubarak st. (formerly Al Najdah st.)
in front of Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi. It’s the first Filipino themed food concept, under Al Ahli Group of Companies under Food and Beverage division. The idea is to bring together different Filipino food franchise in one roof to target and satisfy every Filipino’s insatiable craving of authentic native food.
There are plenty of parking spaces available, however it may depend on peak timings like holidays or weekends.
The interior is a reminiscent of the native Filipino decor. The use of wooden tables and chairs takes you back into reliving the authentic dining experience of Filipinos in their own kitchen or dining room. It has an upper floor for dining as the lobby serves as waiting area for the take aways. Upon entering, we were greeted with a jeepney front design as a focal point, capiz window panels and the classic wooden chair placed side by side the jeepney along with a planter in terracotta jar called “Banga” in Philippines.
Eyes are wide on excitement.
Here you’ll find Binalot, Jay-Js, Fruitas, Zagu, Mochi Crème, FiFtea and their in-house brands, The Little Manila Bakery and Kwekie Bites.
The menu sounds sumptuous especially the Lechon macau in the House of Lechon Manok. Their whole Chicken is priced at 45 Dhs. I bet they have a nodding reason on its taste compared to Andok’s whole chicken which you can get at half their price. But that’s not what we came here for, It’s lechon macau really!
We are excited to have a taste of it, imagining the little taste of heaven in our mouth. But to our dismay, it wasn’t available. I just wonder, why on earth, you’ll open your restaurant only to say to the customers that few of the listed items aren’t available? I wish they were ready for the demands and if not, they may have cancelled it on the list for the time being, so the customers won’t feel disappointed
I then hover at the menu of Bread Shop and found the All-Day-Breakfast. for the moment, my dismay turned into a well of hope. The price by the way is unbelievably just a few dirham which make it more interesting for me to see how is the serving size goes. Well as lucky as we can get that day, Bread Shop replied it with ” NOT-AVAILABLE” . Once again Imagine the frustrations.
Not the best day or not the best place?
We then tried our luck to look for anything just to have a sample of food Little Manila is boasting. It then brought us to Kwekie Bites. The varieties in the menu isn’t much for choices but the usual and ordinary street food finds are available.. at least, better than the latter. It’s reasonably priced too. We ordered Kwek-Kwek on take away, it’s sold at 10 dhs per 3 pc, it’s good enough to keep the whaling tummy calmed for a bit. It’s served with their vinegar dipping. Taste wise, it failed our expectations. We had tasted kwek- kwek homemade or from other places so we know that this one is low on the level of our taste buds to get happy about. The batter is bland, obviously lacked in seasoning. The vinegar dipping is the same as well.
There’s always a first on everything.
To wrap things up, we didn’t have a good experience to share about the place or food enough to encourage a friend to try. I hope that when they opened the place they made their food menu listed available as it is so disheartening for the people whom were captivated by their advertisement to savor a particular dish listed on their offering. And as for the Kwekie Bites, an improvement on the batter seasoning makes a lot of difference on the taste even without the dipping. It may also help to highlight our street food with foreign friends who wish to have a taste of Filipino food. As for the vinegar, a balance is missing. It’s sourness should have a bit of saltiness and a faint hint of sweetness may somehow enhance the dipping game.
Will I go back to the place again? I don’t know, maybe for the Lechon Macau. But I guess not a priority anymore, for Zagu and Binalot, maybe I will. But I hope by that time all the food on the menu is already available.