Tuloy kayo Sir! (Come in!) – An old waiter welcomed us as we enter the restaurant. It all started here, this restaurant shaped the Manila Culinary Scene – I told myself while sitting inside the restaurant and rediscovering one of Manila’s best kept secret.
Ambos Mundos means “both worlds” according to Carlos Celdran – Manila’s most admired tour guide. I first learned about this restaurant from a fellow tourist while I’m discovering Sagada’s Food landscape. Together with a fellow foodie, we decided to brave this challenging streets of Manila to tryout this restaurant who started it all.
The restaurant combines the best Filipino and Classic Spanish recipes on their Menu, some of which has been part the restaurants offerings since the restaurant opened in 1888. The original location of the restaurant is in Carlos Palanca street but was transferred to its new location near LRT Line 2 and Recto – probably one of the few places in Manila you want to avoid. The restaurant doesn’t have antique ornaments but by just looking at their wooden chairs, menu, porcelain wares and old paintings – you can feel its colorful and grandiose past.
Browsing their Menu was rather more interesting, Picture Paella, Bibingka, Morcon and Pinakbet – Interesting mix Isnt it? If no one will dispute these food is the the restaurants claim to fame, I would like to add that this small restaurant is also the Philippines first “Fusion Restaurant”.
I ordered Paksiw na Pata, Morcon, Leche Flan and Pinoy’s favorite Bibingka. The house specialty is called Ambos Paella, too bad I just cooked paella that day so I decided to order other Spanish inspired dishes.
While waiting for the food I ordered, I can hear and see Kalesa’s passing by and as turn my head in the restaurants interior, I saw an old Spanish bull fighting poster which made me feel I was transported back in the old world where everyone surrounds me wears a “Terno” and “Barong”.
It was more than ten seconds of pure imagination, thanks to birds and monkey displayed outside the restaurant for making noise – I finally realized that this is my own world and I am just fascinated with anything that is old.
Kamusta po ang pagkain? (Hows the food?) – the waiter asked. Being a food critique wannabe myself, I immediately said – It could have been better if the Pata (Pork Knuckles) was tender. The Morcon looks delicious but the beef was not cooked well and it reminded me of mass produced food usually served by food caterers. The polite waiter just replied – “Yaan nyo po, sasabihin ko po sa Cook” (Don’t worry I’ll tell it to the Chef).
If the main course was bit disappointing, I was totally satisfied with the dessert I had. The round shaped tiny Leche Flan was creamy and pretty much has everything you want to taste in a Leche Flan. My Favorite? The freshly cooked Bibingka – probably one of the best tasting Bibingka in the Metro cooked the old fashion way.
While enjoying the Bibingka, I saw another waiter wrapping a pre-ordered Ambos Paella. The Paella looks good, I saw clams, pork, chicken, mussels, shrimps and a huge crab on top.
Would I go back? Definitely for the Ambos Paella. My first visit may not be as pleasant as we always want it. But I must agree, Visiting this restaurant is not just about the food… Its all about the experience.
750 Florentino Torres
Sta, Cruz, Manila
Telephone: (02) 734 1160