The two restaurants this diner visited over the last two weekends both offer Filipino food. One we would tag as an “oldie but goodie,” the other we would call a new discovery. Both have their own interpretations of traditional dishes that satisfy our palate.
Saisaki at Dads
2/L Glorietta 1, Makati City
Because the Ayala Center has undergone so much improvement with Gloriettas 4 and 5 now added to the massive complex, it is better for diners to alight by the old entrance facing the Makati Shangri-La. Go up the escalator to the second level and there is Saisaki a few steps away.
The dining area: A long winding table combines food from Dad’s, Kamayan and Saisaki. Note that as one goes from table to table, the price range changes. Not to worry, you can sit anywhere and the color of the plate you choose will indicate the price of your meal. Diners must come early, because the place gets full everyday.
Service: Because this is a buffet, nobody gets served. One goes straight to the station chosen.
Staff: Quick to provide water and get orders for drinks. They can be asked to get an extra serving of a favored dish. Coffee must be ordered; it does not come with the meal.
Suggested orders: One needs to scour the area, so to speak, for favorite fare. Is it sushi and sashimi? Lechon or roast lamb? The latter is what this diner took. It was served with brown gravy instead of the traditional mint jelly. The tempura of shrimps and fake crab was very crispy. Halo-halo plus other sweets are also available. Big eaters enjoy this type of offering, which means one gets value for money.
Service and government charges are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.
Rating – 2 Spoons
Mesa at SM Aura
5/L Bonifacio Global City; tel. 4787476 or 0927-6504661
Those of weak knees must ask the guard down on street level which of the elevators is nearest Mesa. Otherwise, prepare to walk a long winding path to the restaurant, which is located among those in a new area at the mall. A wheelchair is graciously offered by the staff as one leaves the lift—a very welcome service unique to the place.
The dining area: Has a sophisticated ambiance done in black with banquettes separated by dividers in native weave. The banquettes each have a mirror, but who wants to see oneself taking small or big bites? The place is spacious, but it gets full, so come early.
Service: Kitchen staff is fast. Orders do not take much waiting time.
Staff: Courteous and efficient.
Suggested orders: On the menu are mostly comfort food. The restaurant’s name typifies the fact that most Filipino families hold their bonding around a table while eating. Start with the much recommended Sinigang na Baboy sa Bayabas (guavas) with two pieces of soft bone pork and vegetables. This soothes the nerves that have been challenged by a long drive marked by traffic jams. If you order Sisig (two versions, dried and saucy), be sure to get an ample bowl of fried rice with duck and basil. The hito (catfish), quite rare nowadays, is served with strips of green mangoes.
With that you are ready for dessert. Move next door and have Magnum ice cream. Brave the long line, and be careful that you don’t get the chili topping.
Mesa adds government and service charges, and honors senior cards.
Rating – 2 Spoons