As restaurants go, the Milky Way Café in Power Plant Mall has always been in a class by itself. Not a sit-down restaurant nor a fast-food joint like the other dining places surrounding it, Milky Way is a cross between a turo-turo and a carinderia, but with a classy ambiance. It’s the place many mallgoers gravitate to whenever they want a taste of home cooking.
Various dishes are on display behind a glass counter, and you point to the one you like, whereupon a server will scoop you a generous helping of the dish while you find yourself a table.
Among the mainstays are kare-kare, sinigang, paksiw na lechon and fresh lumpia—simple dishes you would cook at home, if you weren’t gallivanting in the mall. Not only are the dishes reasonably priced (an order of pork sinigang costs P365), but the servings are also generous (enough for two people). Almost without exception, the dishes are delicious, with well-balanced flavors, as though someone has spent years crafting the perfect recipe.
After undergoing renovation, Milky Way reopened its doors last May.
“I’ve always wanted to update it,” says executive chef J Gamboa, who, together with sister Malu G. Lindo, runs this heritage restaurant established by their mother, Julie Araullo Gamboa. The update, he says, is part of revitalizing the outlet and the brand.
Conceptualized by Hurray Interior Design Group, Milky Way now has a contemporary look. It is more brightly lit—with mouthwatering hot dishes such as beef kaldereta, bistek Tagalog, callos, chicken and pork adobo, pochero and dinuguan on display behind luminous glass counters.
“It’s comfort food for the typical Filipino and always a treat for balikbayan,” says Gamboa. Certainly a perennial favorite is the paksiw na lechon, which is made from freshly roasted lechon bought daily at a famous lechonan in La Loma, Quezon City, and then cooked with vinegar and spices. It has plenty of the prized balat (skin) and has just the right amount of tang and sweetness.
Another counter showcases the cold dishes such as fruit salad, buko salad and macaroni, as well as the sandwiches Milky Way has come to be known for: chicken asparagus, ham, adobo cucumber and club sandwich.
A digital screen in front of the cashier proudly lists all the items available.
Wooden shelves displaying bottled delicacies such as bagoong, achara and pickled mangoes add a homey feel while a mural of the original Milky Way on Aguado Street conveys a touch of nostalgia.
For the younger set, there are shakes, floats and sundaes. But the all-time favorite is halo-halo, a mélange of 20 ingredients including pinipig, leche flan, macapuno, sweet beans, garbanzos, saba bananas, gulaman and ube, in a tall glass of frothy evaporated milk and finely shaved ice, topped with a scoop of ube ice cream. Each spoonful delivers a different texture and flavor: crunchy, smooth, creamy, fruity.
For those who’d rather feast at home, there are party platters available. A favorite for office parties is the sandwich platter (P1,095 for a tray of 28 dainty sandwich triangles). Also available are lasagna, pancit, mini pork barbecue and chicken galantina.
Here’s Milky Way’s recipe for adobong pusit, one of its most popular dishes.
1 kg squid
Reserved ink from squid
1 tsp sugar
1 c white vinegar
1 small onion, sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 piece long green chili
Clean the squid well. Remove the heads and squeeze out the ink. Reserve the ink.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, onion, garlic, pepper and salt.
Add the squid, the reserved ink from the squid and the green chili.
Bring to a simmer. Simmer slowly for 20 minutes. Serve hot.