Saturday, October 16, 2010

Manila Bay - Philadelphia, PA

When Zelda mentioned today that she had a craving for Manila Bay today, I can’t even tell you how excited I got!  You don't have to tell me twice to go to "The Bay!"  For me, going to Manila Bay is the next best thing to going to my Mom’s house in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, and having an awesome Filipino inspired meal!  Well, being 850 miles from Mom’s, Manila Bay fills the void, and is just a bit over a ½ hour drive!

Manila Bay is located on Castor Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia.  For us, it is actually very easy to get to, as we just take the 295 to Route 73, then take the Tacony Bridge across the Delaware, and then hang a left onto Route 1.  In all actuality, we could take Route 1 all the way up, but that takes a bit longer in my opinion because of all of the stoplights.

So when Zelda mentioned Manila Bay, I Blackberry Messaged our friend and owner Bob Coll, to let him know we’d be coming in tonight.  He let Cherrie, his wife know, and she reserved a table for us at 8PM with a good view of the big screen to watch the Phillies play the San Francisco Giants tonight in the National League playoffs.

We ended up getting to Manila Bay about 25 minutes early, and our table was all ready for us.  We were greeted with hugs and kisses from Cherrie, as well as Caroline who was our server this evening.  It really is amazing how family oriented they are here, and Cherrie and Bob really do make you feel like family in their restaurant.  Unfortunately, Bob was serving the city of Philadelphia tonight where he is a paramedic, so we didn’t have the chance to see him.  But thanks Bob for all that you do for the city!

So we sat and ordered a few drinks.  Zelda went for her standard Tanqueray and Tonic,  and I went the Filipino route and ordered a San Miguel, which is a Filipino beer (  In the meantime, Caroline had put in an order for us for some appetizers.  Zelda went for the Manila Spring Rolls, while I went for the Lumpia Shanghai, which absolutely cannot be missed!  These came out a few minutes later, and were steaming hot, fresh from the fryer!  Both were magnificent, and I was in absolute lumpia heaven!  These are every bit as good as my mom's, and definitely better than the lumpia that I make at home!  WOW these are delicious!

In the meantime, we chatted with Cherrie, and she introduced us to many of their friends who were at the restaurant.  Sitting at a table in front of us were two of her friends, and at the bar was her brother and sister in law.  She just makes everyone feel at home, and it is just a cozy place to visit, with the Filipino décor all around the restaurant.  One piece of décor however that is not Filipino inspired, is a massive Phillies flag hanging on the left wall opposite the bar.  This is actually a flag that was flying over Veteran's Stadium way back when, that was taken down, signed by all the players, then sent to Bob when he was in Iraq, serving in the United States Air Force before he retired.  How awesome is that?

For dinner tonight, Zelda opted for the BBQ salmon, served with a black bean sauce, with steamed veggies and rice.  This was a gorgeous dish, and a massive helping that Zelda was definitely not going to finish.  The flavors from the grill on the salmon were absolutely amazing, and it goes to show how good a seasoned grill can make food taste!

As usual, I ordered the chicken adobo tonight, as it is one of my favorites.  Moments later, Cherrie came over and asked while I always order the adobo, so I gave her my honest answer:  "I order it because it's like sitting in my mom's kitchen and eating hers."  Nothing wrong with that at all, but she ended up talking me out of it, and I changed my order to the Pork Inihaw.  All I can say to this is WOW!  This is very thinly sliced, pork that is marinated in garlic and a bunch of different spices.  I have no idea how long this is marinated for, but the flavors here are absolutely incredible!  Again, the flavors from the gill here are what really makes this dish so good.  I have no idea how old their grill is, but Cherrie mentioned that it was old.  In my opinion, this is what gives this dish so much character.  The taste on the char is something that takes time, and the time only comes from a seasoned grill.  So Cherrie, if you are reading, do not ever get rid of this grill!  It is so good!

At this point we were stuffed, and hung out to finish our drinks, and just to talk with Cherrie and their friends.  I couldn't eat another bite, but Cherrie made it a point to bring us out a dessert.  For the life of me, I can't remember what it was, but it had a gorgeous green gelatin like product in it, with a nice creamy sauce, and it was delicious.  We split it between the two of us, and at that point, Cherrie wanted to bring out another dessert.  If only we had room, but we'll be back soon to try it, amongst other things on the menu.

One of the best things about Manila Bay is their pricing, and if this were my restaurant, the prices would be a lot higher!  Well, maybe not a lot higher, but perhaps a little higher!  The lumpia at $4 could be the bargain of the century!  The spring rolls are just $3, and my pork inihaw was just $9.  The salmon was by far the most expensive entrée at $16, but given the size of the fish, this too was a steal.  We've paid anywhere from $20-$30 for salmon dishes that didn't have 1/2 as much fish as this did.  Again, at these prices, it is such a no brainer to eat here.  You can't eat this good anywhere else for the pricing, and on average, I would guess that most of these entrees would be at least $5 more, and the appetizers $3-$4 more!  Great quality at great prices!

All in all, what a great night, with people that might as well be family, eating Filipino cuisine that is every bit as good as Mom's.  Sorry Mom, but it's true!  When Mom comes to visit, we'll be bringing her to Manila Bay so she can see for herself!  That said, if you are ever in this area, check it out for yourself, as I know you won't be disappointed!  Be sure to tell them that we sent you!  Cheers!

Manila Bay
6724 Castor Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19149
Phone:  (215)722-7877

Tuesday to Thursday - 5PM to 10PM
Friday to Saturday - Noon to 2AM
Sunday - Noon to 9PM
Monday - Closed

1 comment:

Frank Nerney said...

F Scott & Zelda

Great review. I haven't had a San Miguel and Lumpia since I was in Baguio City over 40 years ago!!

Salamat Po !!