Little Asia: Flavors of the Region

20 May 2012 – Sunday Lunch

Mom, Dad and my sister just came from Iloilo (a great foodie destination BTW), and I was the one who fetched them from the airport. I told Mom that because they had two weeks of gastronomic fiesta in the province, she should share her satisfaction. Hehehe We decided to go to McKinley Hills as it’s the nearest commercial area from our house.

It was already 1PM when we came, there wasn’t a lot of people probably because it’s a weekend and all the workers in the surrounding offices were with their respective families. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon, as they say, so we went in and looked around. We’ve been to some of the restaurants at Venice Piazza and wanted to try something new. Right from where we parked, there was Little Asia.

The inside of the restaurant was quite beautiful, we loved the floating paper lamps. It had a quaint and dainty Asian vibe to the interiors. It wasn’t overwhelmingly Asian, just the right mix of modern and traditional aspects that made the place lovely.

 

One thing I noticed was that the place was a bit cramped and stuffy, the tables and chairs were placed so close to each other. I imagine that during Friday dinners or weekday lunches, the place would be jam packed but it would have been nice if there was more room for the eyes to roam.

The menu was quite familiar as there were several trademark Asian cuisines like the Vietnamese Spring Rolls, the Japanese Tofu and other Asian dishes that a foodie would have encountered one way or another. This was an interesting mix and we easily chose what we wanted to try.

The waiting time was not that long and the service was efficient. They even had high chairs for my daughter to use; this is something that I am always on the look-out for — child-friendly restaurants. The waiters were very friendly, one even played with my daughter and the gesture was highly appreciated.

First stop, the Appetizer Sampler.

Prawns wrapped in bacon, Vietnamese spring rolls, shrimp curls, Indian minced meat, samosas and golden pouches.

This was really good. My best friend owns an Indian restaurant and the samosas here were at par with the original Indian taste. The mango chutney was the perfect sauce for the perfectly cooked Indian empanada. The Spring Rolls were good but a bit greasy, and was more flavorful than some of the rolls I’ve tried at Vietnamese restaurants here in Manila. The shrimp curls were a revelation; perfect mix of breading and shrimp, goes well with the vinegar, I think. The bacon wrapped prawns was extremely sinful! Whoever thought of the recipe must be punished by the aortic gods, as it may cause heart congestion, but it was so worth it. I was surprised that Mom and Dad ate so much of the sampler that before the main dishes came, we already finished the plate in just a few minutes.

The Main Dishes: Mixed Seafood in Yakiniku Sauce

Sauteed fish fillet, squid and shrimp mixed with mushrooms, red and green peppers in yakiniku sauce.

Ang sarap nito. Wala akong masabi. I’m not familiar with what yakiniku sauce is, all I know is I’ve encountered it when dining at the more prominent Japanese restaurants in Manila. I liked it because of the sauce and the seafood, the serving was generous and is good for 2 – 3 persons.

Japanese Tofu Steak

Pan-fried tofu with shredded chicken, mushrooms and kuchay.

Whenever we go out and eat at Asian restaurants, we often try out the tofu dishes because it’s healthy and delicious at the same time. This dish was perfect for me because the tofu was cooked right, sometimes its a bit tricky to do tofu because if its overcooked it becomes rubbery, but if you undercook it, it becomes too soft… The dish was perfect, as the tofu was complemented by the mushroom and the light soy sauce, I could have eaten this dish on my own.

Pad Thai

Pan-fried Thai rice noodles with shredded beef, shrimps, cabbage, bean sprout, carrots, eggs and ground peanuts.

This brought back memories of my college days, when we frequented a hole in the wall Thai eatery in UPLB. Hands down the closest thing to that authentic Thai taste that I found lacking in some of the Thai restaurants here in Manila. The nutty taste prominently blended with the egg, beef and vegetables. Wow! Nakuha nya yung luto ni Ate Ning, the owner of my college day eatery straight from Chang Mai. It was surprising that they were able to pull off Asian tastes to a T, amidst the variety of their offerings from all over Asia.

Sizzling Beef Ribs

Sauteed beef ribs smothered in their special gravy.

Smothered talaga! Ang sarap eh. The beef was cooked well, it wasn’t too rubbery or too rare plus the gravy was heavenly. Though it came last, it was worth it. I was thinking whether the dish was good because the beef was cooked well or because of the gravy but the mixture of both truly satisfied by taste buds. I don’t know if it’s Asian but I also give this dish the thumbs up!

The rice and the drinks

We had Yang Chow Fried Rice and Emperor’s Fried Rice. One thing I noticed is that they don’t hold back on the serving size and the recados. Ang daming shrimp at kung ano-ano pa. It’s really good because when they say its good for 3-4 they’re really saying the truth. Serving proportions are hearty and commendable since a lot of restaurants in Manila have been passing off single-serve rice and dishes as “good for sharing”… Shame on them.

The drinks were a bit generic so nothing special. It was a bit pricey though at P95 for the shakes they offer. I had Dalandan Shake while my sister ordered Choco Banana Peanut Butter Shake.

If you’re looking for a comfortable space for Asian dining, I would highly recommend Little Asia. I remembered that my cousin brought me here a few years back but it did not make a mark that time. But now I was quite impressed with their menu and the overall taste of their food. As I’ve previously said successfully pulling of a slew of different cuisines require a certain mastery of cooking, it is clear that Little Asia is competent to offer the different tastes of our region. Heck, my best friend owns New Bombay and the samosas here are as good as theirs (IMO).

THE FINAL WORD

Price and Value for Money

For a group of five people and one kid (technically two, but my other daughter is only 2 weeks old hehe) we spent roughly P470 per head. Quite expensive, so bring your mom to pay hehehe For me it was on the expensive casual dining side, but the proportions were sulit for the money we paid.

Service

The attendants were courteous and efficient. As long as they treat my kids kindly I approve. The food came in just a few minutes after we placed our order, this was extremely appreciated by hungry customers like me. Hehehe.

Ambiance and Interiors

The place was nice and sleek, I really liked the lamps, it gave the place a homey feel. The only negative thing I can comment on is the cramped space, which I think is their way to maximize the dining area because of the number of customer who usually dines there, but apart from that, I am satisfied with how the place look and how well it helps calm the souls of weary foodies like you and me.

Final Verdict – 4/5

Little Asia is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. ☺

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