Your Inner Cheapskate Will Rejoice at the Manila Bulletin Cafeteria’s Incredibly Affordable Japanese FoodApril 3, 2020
Cafeteria food seldom reads as a good dining experience. You think of meat bathed in grease and a murky gray substance that passes as gravy, or a flaccid piece of chicken with little to no seasoning, served with heaping mounds of glutinous sauce. That was not what we found in Manila Bulletin’s cafeteria in Intramuros. Expecting something based on the rich history upon which the building was built, I was surprised to find a bounty of fresh and well-executed plates of—guess what—cheap Japanese food.
The Gomoku Ramen that was served was not, in any way, reminiscent of the typical fat-filled breed you’d find in ramen bars dotted throughout the Metro. Expecting a heady bowl of soup flavored by an array of seasoning, the Gomoku Ramen was, instead, rather subtle. The humble bowl of vegetables in a simple broth bursting with pork and shrimp flavors can easily cast away the guilt brought about by that tapsilog you had for breakfast. The soup is clear and every slurp does not come with that oily slick. Exploding in freshness and softened by gratuitous simplicity, the ramen seems to almost sparkle for an equally humble price of PHP 100.
Soft, flavorful, and sprinkled with a hint of what I think is Magic Sarap for good measure, their fried rice mixed with curry powder came with a heap of mixed vegetables, meat, and a single, unshelled shrimp crowning the golden hill. There is something alluring about the pale yellow hue of the rice, with the subtlety of the curry providing hints of umami on your palate. The pork and vegetables were properly cooked and were proportionate to the amount of rice served. After five heaping spoonfuls, though, your mind seems to tell you to stop; but of course, you don’t. Ignore that voice in your head, please, and just keep those spoonfuls of perfectly spiced rice coming. Their gyudon is more than just thinly-sliced slivers of beef adorning a bowl of egg-topped rice. Their bowl contains huge chunks of marinated beef, simmered and softened until tender, then placed over a bed of glass noodles and rice. One would easily assume that this is worth a hefty PHP 200, but would you be surprised if I told you that it only cost 90 bucks? The chunks are generous in size, and there’s a slight dusting of chili powder on the beef. Perfect in its being, the red powder is the perfect kick to make a beautiful bowl of bovine perfection.
Like the gyudon, their teppanyaki boasts of large beef chunks, but instead of being marinated and boiled, they are seared and slashed with an amber soy sauce and topped on a mound of freshly stir-fried vegetables. Beaming with dark decadence, the dish seems like it doesn’t belong in the confinements of the tiled cafeteria. Finished with another dusting of chili powder, the dish ends with punchy and pungent notes. Priced at only PHP 90 per serving, the inner cheapskate in you might now be tabulating all the expenses needed to go to Intramuros everyday just to eat this quality food that’s easy on the pocket. Or maybe, that’s just me.
Have you been to the Manila Bulletin cafeteria? Tell us about the dishes you’ve tried with a comment below!
Manila Bulletin Cafeteria
Address: Muralla cor Recolletos Sts., Intramuros, Manila