Well it would be Satwa (if you really want to have a glimpse of what Manila is like, here in Dubai), but in this case there’s a newly opened restaurant in Murraqabat, Deira that is called Little Manila. It’s not really a restaurant. When we went there, it looks like a mini food court. At Little Manila, you’ll see six of Philippine’s famous food brands like Binalot, Jay-J’s, Fruitas, Zagu, FifTea, Mochi Crème along with their in house brand Bread Shop and Kwekie Bites.
Like a normal newly opened Filipino food joint here in Dubai (e.g Jollibee, Max’s), it was expected that it will be flocked with dozens of fellow Pinoy so it really wasn’t advisable to visit this place while the hype is still on but since it was EID and it’s a holiday and we’re so stubborn, we still gave it a go.
The moment you enter inside Little Manila, you will hear staff saying order numbers using a microphone. We thought there was a Bingo game happening :D. As expected, there were so many people queuing on the food stalls and there weren’t any available table for me and my friends to sit in but we’ve expected that so it’s alright.
Isn’t it weird that the Toilet signage was placed aboved the Binalot signage?
I grew up eating at Binalot as a kid (or Binalot sa Dahon) so when we went there and saw Binalot, I immediately ordered at Jay-J’s lol. I haven’t really heard much about the food from Jay-J’s so I thought although I miss Binalot, why not give Jay-J’s a try. While waiting for our turn to order, I’ve noticed there weren’t so much queue at Fruitas so I immediately went there and ordered their famous Mango shake. I didn’t even bother to try Zagu because the queue was quite long.
The staff of Jay-J’s advised us that order will take about 50 minutes minimum. I know, that’s a long wait but whatever we’re hoping for good food so it should be worth the wait. And because we already knew we’re going to wait long, we’ve decided to grab some mini bites because we’re a bit hungry as well. We tried to queue at Kwekie Bites but unfortunately their cash register isn’t working so they had to stop taking orders. Meh. We went to Bake Shop instead and good thing their Ensaymada didn’t disappoint.
If you’re going to Little Manila, I suggest bring something to kill time. In our case we brought sketchbooks. 50 minutes was over and they still haven’t called our queue number. We were starving, even if we ate Ensaymada. After a whopping 2 hours, we finally got our food but wait there’s more, well the order wasn’t complete as our whole chicken wasn’t really whole and our ensaladang mangga didn’t include alamang or shrimp paste but oh well we were so starving we have no time to complain. We’ve ordered Ensaladang Mangga, Chicken Inasal, Inihaw na Pusit and Chicken Sisig. We wanted to order their Bulalo but unfortunately it isn’t available yet.
Their Ensaladang Mangga tastes like… well it tastes like Ensaladang Mangga. hehe but their alamang (shrimp paste) was really good. It tastes really fresh.
Their inihaw na pusit tastes so sweet which is a bit weird but it was ok.
The chicken inasal wasn’t bad but it was just ok. I didn’t find it mind blowing but it’s good enough for the starved ones.
Their Chicken Sisig is a must try. It definitely was the star of the show. It was so good. You can really taste the mayonnaise (well im not sure but seems like it) but it’s not too overpowering. It was perfectly cooked although it wasn’t sizzling enough when it was delivered to us.
We paid a total of 158 dirhams for 4 pax. To be honest, I find it a bit pricey considering the service, taste of food and how the food was presented. I personally think that they can do better with the plates like maybe instead of using styro plates they can use bamboo plate holders – you know the ones we use during fiestas? and then maybe they can place banana leaves on it to have a more Filipino feel.
Overall, I can say that the food is good though not overwhelming. If you forget the long wait and queue, it was a good experience. Somehow, they gave us a chance to satisfy our Filipino food cravings. I highly suggest visiting them after the hype is over.
Little Manila is located in K6 Building on Al Muraqqabat Street, Deira, Dubai (opposite Coral Hotel). You can visit their Facebook page here.