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The Best Food in Manila You Can’t Imagine Eating Without its Pair

August 22, 2017

Sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions

Let’s face it: Filipinos love strong flavors. Salty, sour, spicy, sweet—whatever flavor you’re highlighting, locals like a lot of it. They have come to associate these intense flavors with the instant gratification of eating out. Offering dishes that are indivisibly paired with dips, chefs have the option of letting their customers play around with the dish to add as much or as little dip as their palate craves. Dips are interactive and often for sharable dishes, making them even more ideal for the local market used to eating “family-style.”

Let’s check out some of Manila’s favorite dish and dip pairings:

Banana Leaf–Roti with Curry Dip

Many Filipino mall-goers have been to Banana Leaf, and a large number haven’t tried anything else but the roti with curry dip. Their buttery roti is so buttery and deliciously chewy that it can be eaten by itself, but when paired with the curry, it makes the appetizer whole.

Café Lidia–Spicy Buffalo Wings with Garlic Ranch Dip

One of the most iconic restaurants in Marikina, Café Lidia is a place of familiarity for city locals, serving comfort food that brings the groups of friends and family closer together. Their Spicy Buffalo Wings served with their signature garlic ranch dip is a well-loved classic, with the creamy ranch made punchy with its garlic elements that opens up the tastebuds to enjoy the full flavor of the wings. The ranch also tempers the spice of the wings so you can keep on munching even if you have a low spice tolerance.

NYFD-Fries and Dip of Your Choice

NYFD has become a favorite among mall-goers for the variety of flavors that appeal to varying palates. Some might argue that the dip is meant to enhance the dish, but NYFD has proven that the opposite can be true, with the fries being a vessel to deliver their tasty dips.

Ping Gu–Mushroom Fries

Ping Gu is a stall at the Legaspi Sunday Market, and has become known for their freshly fried mushrooms served with vinegar. Though simple in thought, the mushroom fries’ execution has created a buzz around the singularly focused stall. The vinegar cuts the oil to highlight the mushroom flavor.

High Grounds Café–Rock Shrimp Tempura with Spicy Masago Mayo Dip

A familiar hangout spot up north for those looking for high-speed Internet or a place to play online games with friends, High Grounds also serves the kind of food ideal for sharing. They take Japanese favorite tempura and replace its typical soy-ginger dipping sauce with with a spicy masago mayo dip that is peppy and addicting. Their version uses rock shrimp so each piece is perfectly bite-sized. Served this way, tempura becomes fun, shareable and can be eaten cold, so you can keep it on the table and consume at your own pace.

Kenny Rogers Roasters–OMG Strips and Dips

Clearly, Pinoys can’t get enough of fried chicken. Cut it into strips and make it easier to eat, and Pinoys will be completely sold on it. Kenny Rogers makes their latest dish more interesting by offering 3 types of dip—honey, barbecue, or garlic yoghurt—to entice diners to keep coming for more.

Duck and Buvette–French Dip Sandwich

The French Dip Sandwich is essentially a roast beef sandwich with the beef’s natural gravy drippings served in a bowl. After dipping your French bread sandwich in gravy for every bite, restaurant-goers will wonder why roast beef sandwiches are served any other way.

Lusso–Demi-Pound Burger with Cambozola Bath

Semantically speaking, the cambozola isn’t a dip since the burger isn’t dipped into it, but the dish and sauce pairing works the same. Lusso gets creative by making the creation of the final product interactive for restaurant-goers, as they pour the cheesy bath over their burger meat.

Rub–Fried Beef Ribs with Sriracha Ranch Dip

Rub Ribs takes one of their flagship dishes and spins it by tossing it into a deep-fryer, and serving their fried ribs with a spicy sriracha ranch dip. Fried coating serves as the perfect vessel for soaking up a richly flavored dip, allowing the dip to give the dish a full embrace.

Ganso Shabuway–Shabu Shabu with Ponzu and Peanut Sauce

Boiled dishes, while homey and hearty, can often lack that malinamnam oomph that Filipinos expect when they eat out, but bring in a dip and you’ve got a party. Their homemade dipping sauces are a highlight of the restaurant that allow it to stand out against shabu-shabu competitors.

Bea Osmeña SEE AUTHOR Bea Osmeña

Bea Osmeña is a healthy-ish eater who is just as likely to take you to a vegan joint as she is to consume a whole cheese pie to herself. A former picky eater, Bea has discovered the joys of savory fruit dishes, but still refuses to accept pineapples on her pizza. On the rare occasion you catch her without food in her mouth, you are likely to find her looking at books she can't afford, hugging trees, or talking to strange animals on the street.

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