Food, Philippines

Date 413/365 Aristocrat Restaurant and Manila Bay Sunset

August 21, 2015
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To know and understand Filipino food is to understand what its dishes are and aren’t influenced by American, Spanish, and/or Chinese. However, the evolving culinary scene with mom and pop restaurants turning up left and right has led to a fusion and confusion of Filipino and non-Filipino dishes. These days it’s truly difficult to find restaurants that truly understand the creation of Filipino cuisine. A visit to one of the Philippines quintessential restaurants, Aristocrat  gave us insight to pure traditional dishes including caldo arroz, dinuguan, and pancit. Of course among those at the table, being millennials, we were unable to grasp the true significance of The Aristocrat Restaurant and its impact to Filipino culture. We thought this was simply a place full of nostalgia for our parents and their generation. Fortunately, for us our host Mary Jo gave us insight to this nostalgia and a brief history of Aristocrat, the history of its food and people.

Photo Gallery by Mae Ilagan 
We originally went for the merienda ordering BBQ sticks and rice but ended up getting pulled into the rest of the menu. Given the value for the BBQ merienda meals it’s easy to pop in for a quick snack. However, we couldn’t resist the temptation to try out some of the appetizers including the lumpiang Shanghai and the cheese rolls. Of course since we’re already beyond merienda we might as well go full on and make it a full meal until the sunsets over Manila Bay. We ended up trying the dinuguan which is different than most as it’s cooked with beef. The pancit is always a nice addition to an already full plate. And, since there’s a few of us at the table and enough of us to share more plates why not try the chicken. If I had started with the chicken I would have been content with that and a little bit of rice. It’s cooked without any of the dryness you find at other frequented chicken joints, this is an easy order and great share. Of course now that you’ve stuffed yourself you might as well have some coffee. Some cheese rolls or a Torta de los Reyes round out your merienda, turned lunch, turned early dinner.  After our coffee we went out to Manila Bay  surrounded by other photographers, fisherman, calesa drivers, and mix of street children and tourists watching the sun go down. Another day in Manila this time with a feel of what it was like back in the day just as our parents use to tell us.
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