Nana Melody’s Oriental Kitchenette: Celebrating Pancit

Chami

Gone are the names such as New Life, Golden City, Golden Star, Southeast Asia, but the legacy of Sy Kau Teng lives on.  The late Kau Teng was a native of China who came to the Philippines to work as a cook at the People’s Lumber, met and married Felicidad Guevarra, an Ilocano, and set up his own Oriental Restaurant in downtown Laoag decades ago. Melody Co is one of the two children of Kau Teng who inherited their father’s cooking expertise and moved on to establish panciterias of their own.

To this day and age, no other restaurant in Ilocos can ever come close to Oriental Kitchenette’s lomi, chami, and kimlo. The recipes have been tweaked a little to suit the modern palate, like I couldn’t find anymore the authentic homemade kikiam and camaron, and innards, yet still basically the same legit Chinese style that keeps patrons go back again and again. The addition of ground pork rind (from traditional Ilocos chicharon aka bagnet) is the cherry on top in the enhanced or hybrid recipes. The chami I had was moist and piping hot, the noodles were chewy, the veggies obviously fresh and the toppings, plenteous.

Nana Melody's Oriental Kitchenette

Nana Melody’s Oriental Kitchenette in Laoag just moved to a new address on the corner of Gen. Luna and Zulueta Streets.

Nana Melody

– Nana Melody and her daughter Asuncion or Maan, who cooks just as well.

New Oriental Kitchenette

Besides old-time noodle favorites, habitues go to the Oriental Kitchenette for their super budget meals. At 30 pesos, one can have rice plus two viands (one meat and one vegetable) of their choice from the daily turo-turo counter.

Lomi

– Ilocos Norte mayors frequent the restaurant to chat while eating lomi, their bestseller.

Long Live Pancit! Long Live Oriental!

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

A sense of warm nostalgia: Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant Co.

A gastronomic adventure in Binondo’s Chinatown, the world’s oldest Chinatown (established in 1594) and one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines, is not total without eating at the seven-decade-old Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant Co.. Oldsters and habitues belonging to the Gen X’ers will attest to the fact that Mañosa’s chami or pancit guisado (either the regular or the special) is still high in desirability. Cha bihon, rellenong hipon, large siomai and maki are similarly sought-after.

I had a 95-peso regular pancit (with thick noodles). I give my word — the BEST chami I’ve ever had! I know when food is laden with MSG. Mañosa’s pancit tastes remarkable with the natural flavors of sauteed kikiam (pork roll), rellenong hipon (stuffed shrimps) and the like. I had a bit of the maki and the meat was so tender and likewise satisfying. Now I understand why food enthusiasts rave about this quaint restaurant on this bustling part of Manila.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2011