With the amount of Filipinos residing in Dubai, there’s no surprise with the growing number of Pinoy restaurants in the emirate. Late last year, we were gifted with another dining option in the form of Little Manila. Set in one of the places we can literally call “Little Manila” – Deira, this Filipino joint is not your ordinary eatery as it is a collection of all our favorite Pinoy comfort food – from your favorite ulam down to your most-loved merienda. It’s a one-stop eat spot!
Set like a food court, there are 8 brands under the Little Manila roof. Kwekie Bites is a Dubai version of a street food cart. Beverage faves Zagu known for its pearl shakes, Fruitas for its fresh fruit shakes and Fiftea for milk tea lovers are all available, too. Guaranteed to satisfy Filipino food cravings are Jay-j’s, known for its grilled dishes and Binalot, famous for its dishes wrapped in banana leaves. The bakery Bread Shop serves freshly baked pandesal, ensaymada and other panaderia favorites while Mochi Creme, obviously, sells the hit Japanese dessert – mochi ice cream. Everyone is indeed spoilt for choices!
With familiar OPM hits in the background and an exciting mix of all-time favorite Filipino street food on my table, I was in for a trip down memory lane. Kwekie Bites’ Street Food Mix for 17 AED has a couple of squid and fish (yes, the authentic flat ones!) balls, siomai, kwek kwek, chicken spring roll and kikiam. Don’t get me started with the sauces because they’re just faultless! Take your pick between vinegar with onion and garlic or the brown sweet and spicy sauce our friendly manong fishball back home serves.
We washed these down with pearl shakes from Zagu. I wanted to have the Philippine mango flavor, it being my favorite fruit in the world. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available at that time so I settled with taro while the husband had melon. As with any Zagu experience, the black tapioca pearls are always a sweet surprise.
For mains, we had Jay-j’s quarter chicken inasal, which is so huuuge it’s good enough for two. The chicken is delicious – it’s a steal for 25 AED, given that it comes with rice and iced tea! We also had Bistek Tagalog from Binalot. The flavor is on point and I can’t even begin to describe how tender the beef is. Served with rice and salted egg, all of them are carefully wrapped in banana leaves.
There’s no more room for dessert but we had take home ensaymada and cinnamon rolls for breakfast the following day. The ensaymada with its generous grated cheese on top was just irresistible. No wonder everyone speaks so highly about it!
We had a lovely time at Little Manila – the good food, clean place and warm staff plus lots of flashbacks of memories at home made it all the more great. While traveling to Deira might not be wise sometimes (read: traffic and parking woes), a slice of home courtesy of Little Manila makes it all worth it.
K6 Building, Al Muraqqabat Street, Deira, Dubai, UAE
+971 4 299 9315
The Desert Life has been invited by Little Manila for a review. As always, all opinions/comments are all mine.