05 Jul2007

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I had only 50 hours in Boracay. Mrs. MM and The Kid got there a day earlier than I did. And we had way too many restaurants or snack shops to try in such a short period of time. So we decided to walk from one end of the beach to the other and in the process eat as much as our stomachs would allow… Overall, Boracay has some pretty good eating going on. Considering it is in such a remote location and not much seems to grow there, I was impressed with the variety of food on offer. I suspect foreigners who have settled there have something to do with the wonderful mix of cuisines, but it is also the critical mass of local and foreign tourists with money to burn that has resulted in such an interesting dining scene. I did, however, generally find the food to be somewhat overpriced, and thus our ratings are heavily influenced by the value for money trade-off. I admit that we didn’t really have enough time to try a lot of dishes but here are our personal views of many of the restaurants that Marketmanila readers wrote in to say we just HAD to try…

Friday’s Hotel Restaurant – MM Rating 9.0/10.0

We started our marathon eating adventure with a wonderful breakfast at Friday’s, which rated a solid 9.0/10.0 on the MM Scale. I will do a separate post on Friday’s food but suffice it to say, this was a very well executed breakfast of Filipino and Western favorites and the only thing they could have done better was to serve fresh rather than bottled or canned orange juice. The setting was gorgeous (best of all meals in Boracay), staff superb, food delicious and surprisingly rather reasonably priced. We ate there two mornings in a row. Nice tapa, very good Daing na Bangus, competent but slightly soggy pancakes and waffles and a nice Eggs Benedict.

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Jonah’s Shakes – MM Rating 6.5/10.0

We then strolled towards Station 2 and stopped in at Jonah’s Shakes, which several readers mentioned and frankly, we had high expectations. The first two shakes I asked for were “out of stock,” and we ended up ordering an avocado and milk shake and a papaya and mango shake. The fruit shakes definitely have some sort of milk in them (Wysgal thinks powdered milk) whether powdered or evaporated and they do not use fresh fruit for the most part…I think it is mostly frozen. I can see why some folks would like these shakes but I thought they were just so-so. Not as fruity as I would like and muddled by the addition of milk or other fillers. However, I must say ours were appropriately sweet, not overdone as is the tendency at many places that serve shakes. We didn’t try the food and its tough to rate based on two small shakes but they didn’t impress.

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Real Coffee’s Kalamansi Muffins – MM Rating 8.0/10.0

This isn’t a rating of Real Coffee as much as of their much ballyhooed Kalamansi muffins. We stopped in to buy a couple and also added a brownie into our bag. We didn’t stay to have coffee or tea and we sampled the muffin while walking down the beach. Based on this one sample, we really DID like the muffin. It had an intense kalamansi flavor hit and it was dense but not heavy. I liked this and kudos to them for tweaking a classic lemon muffin/cupcake by adding kalamansi instead. Our cupcakes had bizarre creamy white dots on the surface that make me wonder if they use freshly squeezed kalamansi or bottled stuff but at any rate, the end product was delicious. The brownie was not terrific and I wouldn’t go out of my way to get another one. We asked for the carrot muffin and other baked goodies but they didn’t have any in stock. At about PHP40 or 45, this was also a reasonable price to ask for the muffin.

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Zuzuni – MM Rating 8.5/10.0

As you might imagine, we were a bit stuffed by lunch time, but we were determined to continue with our eating marathon. We stopped in at Zuzuni for some very good Greek food. We had a lamb gyro, melitzanes tiganites with tzatsiki (fried eggplant with yogurt sauce) and a horiatiki salad that were nicely done. The setting was interesting (albeit shoebox small) and the waitstaff attentive. I wish we had more room to put the menu through its paces but based on the little that we ordered, we would definitely go back for more. The gyro was one of the better ones we have had anywhere in the Philippines (though there was no hot sauce provided) and the fried eggplant was superb. The salad featured some pretty lame over-the-hill cucumber but otherwise we were thrilled with this sampling…

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Streetside Doughnuts, D’Mall – MM Rating 8.5/10.0

What can I say? Fried fresh in front of your eyes and at only PHP3, these are terrific value. Eat 6 of these for the same price of a tonier doughnut in Manila. Just make sure they are fresh from the lard…that makes all the difference. Rates high primarily due to pleasure/cost trade-off.

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Café del Sol – MM Rating 5.5-6.0/10.0

This place looked promising. Across the walkway from Aria, we stopped here for an afternoon merienda and ordered a cassava cake that was rather disappointing. An unusual thickness at say 2-3 inches, the pieces of grated cassava were huge and frankly, almost tasteless. The mixture lacked cream, eggs and sugar and what you got was sort of a bland cassava cake rather than the denser, richer confection one hopes for. We also ordered a mango cheesecake that was incredibly dependent on gelatin and this dessert was downright awful. Their tiramisu was a bit stylized but tasted better than the other sweets we ordered. Drinks were competently prepared including several cappuccinos, coffees and teas. Eating here was like snacking in the middle of Grand Central Station and folks seated at tables nearby puffing away on cigarettes did not help. Mediocre food, priced richly.

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Banza – MM Rating 8.0/10.0

I wish we found this restaurant earlier in the evening. We just had to keep walking and walking and walking to get there. They got great points for uniqueness and quality of dishes served. But they fell flat on SLOW service, staff who turned off the music and lights at about 10p.m. clearly wanting us to leave before we were ready. We had seafood kebabs, seafood rice (I liked this a lot except for broken crab shells that could break teeth), steaks, bacalao soup and were thrilled with most of the food. Portions were small and we found this restaurant extremely pricey (plus they wanted to tack on 6.5% for a credit card, ridiculous…). For a really good meal, count on PHP1,000 per person! With bigger portions or lower prices and more service conscious staff, this could have easily rated a 9.0. I wish there were a Portuguese restaurant in Manila that served similar food…

Not bad for a day’s walk down the beach, huh? While we didn’t do the following restaurants on the same day, I add them here so you can compare and contrast most of our meals in Boracay on the whirlwind trip…

Aria – Mrs. MM and The Kid Rating 8.0/10.0

Mrs. MM and The Kid arrived for dinner at this busy location early at 6pm and ordered a Spaghetti Bolognese and a Pasta Putanesca. The pastas arrived hot and freshly cooked, al dente, not overly salted. But The Kid felt her Bolognese lacked flavor. The dishes were moderately priced and the dinner for two with drinks was roughly PHP900. Service was good but there was no one else in the restaurant at the time. They sat outdoors by the beach to try and catch a bit of a breeze. They would go back for more.

Sands Restaurant, Discovery Shores – Mrs. MM and The Kid Rating 6.5-7.0/10.0

Mrs. MM and The Kid had lunch at this new restaurant (hotel review in a separate post) in the partially completed Discovery Shores Hotel. Service was good and attentive in a near empty restaurant but the food was left seriously wanting. They ordered a pizza and a salad and the portions were somewhat small and taste unremarkable. They felt the need to add Tabasco on the pizza to give it a little flavor. The Kid had a mango shake that said was incredibly watery and devoid of mango flavor. Overall, the bill was quite expensive. It didn’t help that construction workers were still around working on a nearby water feature and thus unappetizing sweaty smells were a distraction at best. Food at this much touted hotel needs to go up a few notches before you can really consider it to be a serious contender on an island with a lot of alternative food choices.

MANY, MANY THANKS to all of Marketmanila’s readers who sent suggestions of where to eat. We were thrilled to have such a comprehensive list to cover in such a brief visit. We could never have done this without your help! I completely agree that it is a bit dangerous to give “ratings” when we have only had a chance to sample a few dishes at each of the places, so take these personal views with some skepticism and realize they are mostly our first and only impressions…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Maddie says:

    Gone are the days when you could just go to the Talipapa and buy the fresh catch of the day then go to “Thursdays”, that’s what we’d call the sari-sari store beside Fridays, and have the Manang there cook whatever we want as long as it is familiar to her and Pinoy style. For a total of a 50 pesos max per meal per person for say a group of 4 to 6, you get fresh sinigang, bangus, inihaw na liempo, a vegetable dish and rice!

    Jul 5, 2007 | 4:44 am

     
  2. Jade186 says:

    I miss those days – we just had some of our meals cooked by the the local banquero’s wife. However, this is still possible in Palawan.

    Jul 5, 2007 | 5:03 am

     
  3. paolo says:

    Comment on elegant table settings in the Philippines.

    Why are the bottles of CATSUP and VINEGAR as ubiquitous setup as the white linen and flower vase?

    Jul 5, 2007 | 5:59 am

     
  4. Marketman says:

    paolo, good point. Perhaps most Filipinos like a bottled condiment with their meal… the whole sawsawan thing? Actually, I think the ketchup in a bottle along with the tabasco and knorr or lea & Perrins is a practical economical way to serve these…you know they are original, relatively hygeinic and little is wasted compared to serving each in a little dish. As for the vinegar, they brought that out in little dishes with chilli…

    Jul 5, 2007 | 6:30 am

     
  5. paolo says:

    Thanks Marketman. Sorry, I was sidetracked by your first photo.

    Anyway, your food presentation looks marvelous. I was in Boracay many years ago and there was hardly anything good to eat. Most everything was basic and if I go back there now, I probably won’t recognize the place… certainly the food choices are first world.

    What I remembered were the pump boats marooned everywhere blocking the scenery of a beautiful beach.

    Jul 5, 2007 | 7:15 am

     
  6. Apicio says:

    Any kitchen that can pull off a good eggs Benedict is an accomplished one to me. But of course my heart will vacillate between this and the daing na bangus with sinangag as shown.

    Jul 5, 2007 | 7:26 am

     
  7. wysgal says:

    Service is generally quite horrid in Boracay restaurants (especially if you’re there during peak seasons like we often are) … once you make peace with that and accept it as a fact of Boracay, things become easier to enjoy though. Good to know you got a lot of eating done. =)

    Jul 5, 2007 | 8:18 am

     
  8. Candygirl says:

    Ahhh Boracay…..great beach, dining, and nightlife. I also like Bohol for the great beach and diving but no nightlife.

    Jul 5, 2007 | 8:31 am

     
  9. Katrina says:

    Wow, that’s quite a lot for 50 hours! I agree with Wysgal — I generally don’t expect great service anywhere in the Phils. outside Manila (and even here, we all know it’s usually bad). When I’m outside the city, I just accept that life is slower. ;-) I think your reviews are spot-on. And I’m relieved to see that you liked Banza’s food. The fact that you walked all the way there from Friday’s (How long did that take you?! It takes at least 15 minutes from Station 2!), yet still found it worth it is a big deal.

    So, apart from the food, did you enjoy Boracay? Did it live up to the hype?

    Jul 5, 2007 | 1:14 pm

     
  10. Fabian Mangahas says:

    Hi Marketman,

    It’s nice to read that someone else found Boracay food expensive; and I don’t consider myself the type who wouldn’t pay extra for a good meal. Greenbelt prices on the beach.

    thanks for the post! was glad to read the rating of Mrs. Marketman and the Kid’s ratings as well.

    Jul 5, 2007 | 2:03 pm

     
  11. goodtimer says:

    I missed the good ole days when a plate of 3 huge grilled butterflied prawns with lemon-butter sauce, garlic rice and mixed veggies, brought to our table by the beach, cost P75!

    Jul 5, 2007 | 9:48 pm

     
  12. Maria Clara says:

    Thanks for the recap of your Boracay food journey!

    Jul 6, 2007 | 1:17 am

     
  13. acidboy says:

    You’re too kind with Discovery Shores, MM. They have an item in their menu called something like “The Island’s best burgers” or something like that at over P400.00 And the patty was pre-packed frozen grocery burger patty!

    I should have walked all the way to Station 2 and bought Choriburgers.

    Jul 10, 2007 | 10:21 am

     
  14. acidboy says:

    Oh, and that didn’t include fries, which were soggy, few and costs over P300.

    Jul 10, 2007 | 10:24 am

     
  15. Sheena says:

    I’ve been hearing a lot of good reviews with Sands (Discovery Shores’ buffet) but I have yet to try it for myself first to give a better judgement.

    You should try eating at Talipapa next time you go there. It’s a pig out session for me and my bf everytime we eat here. Good food yet cheap. We usually buy crabs (cooked as chili crab), prawns (for garlic butter shrimp), green mango and other greens for salad/veggie dish complete with drinks and rich and we only shell out around Php500++ most of the time. Cebu’s sutukil is nothing compared to Boracay’s talipapa IMO =)

    I suddenly miss Aria’s gravlax served with salad greens!

    Jul 27, 2007 | 1:28 am

     
  16. Sheena says:

    Speaking of, I just want to share this: I have a contact in Boracay who is a freelance travel agent and gives cheap rates for as low as 1k/night. Even her ATV rates are cheap, Php500/hr =) Those who might want her service can just leave their email at my blog’s tagboard for her contact number.

    Jul 30, 2007 | 1:52 am

     
 

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