Thursday, February 09, 2017

Manila: Lunch at Mesa Filipino Moderne in Greenbelt, Makati City

Because we were staying at the Makati Diamond Residences, Greenbelt across it was obviously the best place to eat for lunch. Greenbelt is the oldest commercial centre in this area of Makati. I have literally witnessed the transformation of this place, having worked and lived nearby for years. From a previously humble outdated shopping complex with a huge parking lot in front of it into a vast premier shopping, entertainment and lifestyle mall with 5 complexes. It is unrecognisable.

For some reason, I found Greenbelt a bit dark and cramped. The garden area is brimming with plants and trees, which is a good thing by the way, but the low hanging pergolas make the whole place dark and stuffy. I much prefer a spacious and bright garden like 7 years ago.


The hanging cylinder lamps at Mesa were gorgeous. If in Europe we have olive oil and balsamic vinegar as staple condiments on the table, in Asia we have soy sauce and vinegar plus a lot more.

I can’t remember why we chose Mesa Filipino Moderne, a restaurant with a contemporary take on Filipino cuisine, but it was one of the restaurants that spoke to us that day. I have eaten here many years ago and would have preferred to pick some place else that I haven’t been to yet. I even managed to create a short list of restaurants, but I quickly realised this is going to be an uphill battle for my mobility-challenged mother. Helaas, practical reasons prevailed. Perhaps it was the proximity of the restaurant as it was located beside the gates and around the corner from a row of restaurants. It was too warm outside so I was, as usual, unanimously outvoted. We took our seats inside the restaurant instead.

When I am in Asia, I tend to follow the Asian routine and habit of eating 3 warm meals a day. It’s too much for my system to adopt really but I have a lame excuse. I am on holiday. It is also quite difficult to say no when family around you eat 3 warm meals a day. My mum will nag the heck out of me if I do not eat 3 times because, to her, I am still a helpless little girl who needs her correct dosage of vitamins and minerals.

There is a saying that goes, ‘If you can’t beat em, join em’. Such profound wisdom.

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We ordered a few dishes, the usual suspects really. Fried Garlic Chicken glazed with honey that everyone loves. Baked scallops dripping in butter and slathered with cheese on top as requested by the sister. My mum wanted to try the Laing, a coconut-infused vegetable dish based on dried taro greens. While dad and I were eyeing with gusto the stunningly presented deep-fried Boneless Tilapia. Of course, we need another vegetable dish so we picked the easy one on the menu, mixed vegetables.

I actually saw a couple with their Boneless Tilapia order and this is where the inspiration and craving came from. The whole presentation was quite captivating. They carved out the meat from the Tilapia in squares, and then deep fried both the meat and the skeletal carcass of the fish, after which they served them both on a plate. We found, however, the fish to be a bit bland. That is a shame because Filipino food is, almost always, too salty for my liking. The fish was deep fried as well but it wasn’t that crunchy at all? That’s major minus points. This was a bad judgment on our part. We picked this dish based on aesthetics and curiosity.

The Laing dish my mum picked was good but nothing spectacular to rave about. We did not finish it. That says enough I guess. The mixed vegetable dish though was a seller but it did not surprise me because what could actually go wrong with sautéed mixed vegetables in delicious spices and oriental sauce? Nothing, unless you overcook the veggies which did not happen.

The winner in this lunch feast round went to the Fried Garlic Chicken glazed with honey which was super finger-licking good. This must have been one of their best and popular dishes. The runner up was the Baked Scallops, although I felt the cholesterol shoot up the roof with the combination of butter and cheese in it. We made sure the parents had a little portion only, otherwise sister and I may end up nursing them both for bodily complaints later in the day. We do not want that, don’t we?

If there is anything I noticed in particular about the restaurant, that would have to be their hanging cylinder wicker lamps. Gorgeous lamps are they not? With the design and the indigenous material, they have made the ambience of the contemporary designed restaurant a bit more cushy and Filipino.

This was a good lunch nonetheless.

Mesa Filipino Moderne Restaurant in Greenbelt 5, Makati. They do have an outdoor eating area but my family wants to sit in the air-conditioned restaurant and not sweat while eating. #tropicalcountryproblems 

The parents, and my sister and moi.

Lunch Mesa

Our lunch spread, looking delicious. Asian people always share the food on the table with each other.

Baked scallops

Baked scallops (also mussels) with butter and cheese is a typical dish found in the menus of many Filipino restaurants.

Boneless tilapia

This is the Boneless Tilapia with the dramatic presentation of the bone carcass of the fish. It came with 4 types of sauces.

Garlic Fried Chicken

The winner: Garlic Fried Chicken glazed with honey.


The Laing vegetable (taro leaves) dish infused with coconut juice. This is a regional dish in the eastern part of the Philippines, in the Bicol area.

Mixed Vegetables

The mixed vegetables topped with fried garlic bits.

Who's paying the bill?

Travel Period: December 2016
Destination: Makati City (Metro Manila - Luzon), Philippines

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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