Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another Side of Manila: Mofara's Halal Food Haus

Strangely, I have never been to Quiapo, despite having lived in Manila for my whole life, so some time ago, my friends decided to take me on a Quiapo adventure. We visited a few churches, took a look at some fascinating ancestral houses, shopped for handmade souvenirs under a bridge, and also dropped by the Muslim mosque as well as the neighboring shops. I was eventually led to this quaint little eatery, Mofara's Halal Food Haus, that served halal Maranao cuisine. Something new and different? Excellent!

(Fun facts: Maranao refers to the people of Lanao, a predominantly Muslim region in Mindanao.)

Mofara's, a small open-air restaurant that's the exact definition of "hole-in-the-wall", also served non-Muslim, regular cafeteria fare, but why would we want to try that? We quickly ordered several exotic-looking dishes to try by pointing them out in the display case in front of the store, and eagerly took our orange seats to wait for our orders.

Despite being unfamiliar with the neighborhood, I felt right at home at Mofara's. The staff was nice and accommodating, the place was cozy (and despite the lack of air-conditioning, surprisingly not that hot) and the prices were incredibly cheap, with meals under P100 that could rival any carinderia.

Water was served in a pretty teapot (water pot?), and we were about to find out just how important it was going to be in a few minutes.

Beef balbacua soup
We each ordered a cup of rice, and were even served a bowl of beef balbacua on the house! It had a rich beef flavor (which did not taste of broth cubes at all) and was made extra delicious with creamy coconut milk. For something that's free, it was really good!

We ordered three dishes to go with our rice: tilapia curry, beef rendang, and chicken papar.

Tilapia curry
The tilapia (a native freshwater fish) was delicious, it was sweet and tender and the thin curry "sauce" was mildly spicy and very fragrant.
Beef rendang
Some of you may be familiar with beef rendang, which is a popular Indonesian dish.  This version is similar but slightly different, as it is a bit saucier. It is however, extremely spicy, and I emptied the entire pot of water by myself after just a few bites. The beef wasn't tough at all, but had a very nice texture that went well with the curry.

Chicken papar was a very interesting dish, and I'd have to say, it was also my favorite out of the three. It was chicken curry, but instead of having a thick coconut milk base, this curry had desiccated coconut that was mixed with turmeric, ginger, and chili. Despite looking dry, the coconut is actually very moist, and goes really well with rice. It was a very unique dish, and I loved it. In fact, I loved it so much that I looked up a recipe on the Internet so you can get a better idea of what it is, and maybe even make it on your own!

Mofara's is a humble little eatery in a quiet corner, away from all the hustle and bustle of Quiapo, yet it clearly represents what Quiapo is all about. It may appear to be just another restaurant, just like Quiapo is another busy Manila district, but it will definitely surprise you and change the way you look at it.

Mofara's Halal Food Haus
Norzagaray Street (near A. Bautista)
Quiapo, Manila

No comments:

Post a Comment