There are little known establishments, sometimes in nooks and back roads, that you might never have heard of. Let me tell you about three which offer such great fare that they have earned loyal patrons.
MMLDC’s Areva Pavilion
Along Sumulong Highway in Antipolo is the conference venue known as the MMLDC. When you enter the gate, you won’t find anything ostentatious that screams five-star status. It isn’t that kind of place. It is more like a resort cum activity center set in hectares and hectares of what used to be a farm. So you’ll find lots of old trees and wide expanse of lawns.
A few meters from the gate is a sprawling structure that looks like an oversized Balinese hut. This is the Areva Pavilion where they have been serving good food for years (that’s how long we’ve been going there). Try the kani salad with the dried smoked eel.
Then, burgers served on split focaccia with egg, onion rings, lettuce and cheese “? with French fries on the side.
If you feel you want something less complicated, have a plate of sisig.
Whatever you order, enjoy eating leisurely amid trees in a very rustic setting. And if you’re one of those people who has to be online all the time, Areva Pavilion has free Wifi “? a surprising amenity considering the almost provincial setting. Finally, before leaving, walk the few meters to the aviary where you’ll find lots of exotic tropical birds “? a treat that the young ones in your group will surely enjoy.
Genia’s in Marikina
Residents of Marikina know Genia’s as an eatery that is synonymous with the most comforting home-cooked meals. Even the daytime population of Marikina “? the employees of the fast-multiplying businesses in the city “? know the place. It’s packed during lunch hours, cars line the street in a long queue, and those who know better than to wait for a table often opt for take-out.
Genia’s is a carinderia. Humble, unassuming and with that kind of ambience that often makes it go unnoticed by strangers looking for air-conditioned restaurants with the usual frills. But what Genia’s does not offer in terms of ambience, it more than makes up for with delicious food. Hearty food. Soul food. No plating, no nothing. Just the purity of flavor, aroma and texture.
Genia’s is probably best known for the lechon kawali with skin that stays crisp even hours after cooking. How that is possible, I have no idea. The lechon kawali is everyday fare but other dishes vary depending on what day of the week it is. Wednesday, for instance, is bachoy day and my, oh my, it is bachoy that will make you slurp even if you didn’t before.
Genia’s is at No. 19, Kapitan Miyong Street, Marikina City. Orders are accepted.
(Read a related story about the last time we ate at Genia’s.)
Happy cream puffs
Driving to and from Manila via Makati, we pass by Malugay street and, for months, had been casually noticing a small establishment with the sign “Happy Cream Puffs” out front. We had been promising ourselves we’d try it but didn’t until about three weeks ago. I must say we should have bought a large box of Happy Cream Puffs much, much earlier.
Happy cream puffs are small. Larger than profiteroles but still small enough to be popped in the mouth and eaten in one go. Because that’s the way to really enjoy it so that you can experience that melt-in-the mouth texture. Unlike cream puffs in highly commercialized establishments, the crusts are neither hard nor chewy. Instead, they’re lightly crisp and flaky.
Best thing? You won’t find gaping empty spaces inside the pastry where the filling should be. Each cream puff bursts with filling. But the pastry has none of that soaked feel on the tongue because the filling is piped into it only after you order which kind you like. Yes, Happy cream puffs come with different toppings “? some topped with nuts, others with white or dark chocolate or you can go traditional with caramelized sugar glaze.
Happy Cream Puffs is at No. 7224 Malugay Street corner Buendia, Bel Air, Makati City.