Sunday, December 18, 2005

Food Haven

Iloilo City - The second stop of our consultations for a UP System-wide initiative brought us to this beautiful city in Western Visayas. Home to the UP in the Visayas, the province of Iloilo and its capital Iloilo City is the gateway to the entire region. A 15-minute outrigger boat ride brings you to the fabulous island of Guimaras, where the mangoes abound and where the beaches are fabulous. About 2-3 hours away is the province of Capiz and Roxas City, the seafood capital of the country. About a few hours away also is the province of Aklan and the pristine beaches of Boracay Island. Iloilo is the place to go for some of my most favorite gastronomical delights. A trip to Iloilo is never complete without the usual trip to Ted's Old Timer for their Extra Super Special (yes, it's that superlative) batchoy, complete with all the toppings (some of which are better eaten than described). Another place to go is the Biscocho House in Jaro, home of my super-ever all-time favorite butterscotch. The molo soup also originated in this wonderful place. Yummy! And how about Tatoy's, the place where beachside dining is at its finest. Atchara pa lang, ulam na! There was also a time that I ate enough talaba to last a lifetime.

Recently, Jonas informed me of his most recent venture (no, not his sleeping pills, though I'm desperate for some), The Mango Tree. I discovered that, at the time of my visit two weeks ago, The Mango Tree was in
the 3rd week of its operations. With some expectations on the food (courtesy of taste-tested sisig while playing DoTA) and ambiance ("It's the most romantic date place in Iloilo City" boasts my friend), I invited Prof. Manegdeg of the ME Department to have dinner at The Mango Tree. Dr. Ricarte Nunez of WIT (I'm not so sure of this) joined us for dinner.

True enough, the ambiance at the entrance is impressive especially by the standards set by other restos in the city. Music was provided by a component system that I vaguely recognize from the Gonzales home in Capitol Homes. The restaurant had space to seat about 50 people but it can easily accomodate double or triple that. Upon entry, a huge MANGO TREE (thus the name) welcomes the casual diner (note to visitors: slippers and sando/sleeveless shirts aren't allowed, though I saw a group of teens wearing flip flops when we were about to leave).

Prof. Manegdeg, Dr. Nunez, and Mr. Po after dinner

The menu was printed on copy paper, cut into three. Hardly impressive, I thought, but maybe they're still developing the menu. I was remembering the instructions... try the sisig, don't forget the bulalo steak... I immediately asked for those, and then ordered some spicy gambas. I don't remember if they had mango shake but I do remember some kind of food with mango dressing or sauce. I may want to try that next time. Prof. Manegdeg ordered some molo soup, which arrived first. The molo actually tasted very ordinary, especially when compared to the ones from Molo (duh?!) but was heartily tasty nonetheless. The sisig was a tremedous improvement from what I tasted and I am now a bit more sure of backing Jonas' claim that it's the best sisig (the one from Razon's could compare but it's not fair to compare them because I ate the sisig with halohalo). It was very tasty, just a teeny bit spicy and the calamansi added a nice touch to the flavor. The spicy gambas was, well, spicy. But the shrimps were very fresh (dapat lang!) as they came right out of the shell. It was a perfect complement to the beer (oops, did I say beer??). The servings were paltry though as we had to order another plate. And, for the coup de grace, the bulalo steak was amazing (just don't think of heart disease). It was very tender and the grazy was smothering the steak in all the right places. I told Jason later that night that the bulalo steak looked very much like the one in the picture (a tarp outside). Few restos can boast of that.


Food Quality: 4 burps (I can make better adobong mani than that!)
Value for Money: 4 burps (considering its Iloilo, where the minimum wage is much lower)
Ambiance: 4 and a half burps (the music mix was quite ecletic; may nahahalong music na wala sa mood; the mango tree lighting was very well made)
Rest Room: 4 and a half burps (walang mirror! paano na pag magpapapogi yung nakikipagdate?! but the rest room itself was designed well and may soap)
Overall: 4 burps (may room for improvement pa)