Thursday, March 30, 2006


La Identidad Filipina

A Round Table Discussion

April 4, Tuesday, 7:00PM
Cocktails afterwards
Anybody wanna come with me to this one? Jessica Zafra, Fernando Zialcita, and Ambeth Ocampo, It's like the three tenors of Filipino popular culture. I'm definitely going to check it out. Then I'm thinking about maybe having dinner afterwards at this place...

Aptly called Ambos Mundos (which means "both worlds"), this little restaurant is literally a combination of the past and the present, the east and the west, the Philippines and Spain, and gentility and grittiness all at the same time. First opened in 1888 by Spanish immigrants, the Gaudinezes, Ambos Mundos (above) could be arguably Manila's oldest restaurant (unless of course, somebody knows another that's older). Originally located on Echague (now C. Palanca), right beside Plaza Goiti (now Plaza Lacson) before dragging their original narra furniture, carved wood detailing, and generations old recipes to their current location near the Rizal Avenue MRT-2 stop, near the corner of Florentino Torres and C. Recto St. (formerly Azcarraga) right down from the original TVT Building/Manila Times Office - which looks like it's being readied for demolition by the way.

But anyhoo, their menu (above) is definitely Rizalian. Written on a chalk board out front and also available in laminated form, their selections are strictly old school Manila fare, a mix of Philippine and Iberian specialties with paella prices looking like they came from an era long forgotten era as well.

But aside from the Nick Joaquin chic decor (Spanish plates (above), bullfighting posters, ceiling fans and capiz lamps), most importantly, their staff was friendly and their San Miguels came to the table ice cold and immediately.

According to the employees, a couple generations ago, the Gaudinezes married into the Leung family of Chinatown, after which they opened up the much more famous Cantonese restaurant Wah Sun right across the street from Ambos Mundos.

And I guess, as a celebration of familial love and unity, both restaurants keep matching pet pigs right in front of their establishments. Make sure not to trip on them on your way out (Ambos Mundo's pig above; Wah Sun's pig below).

And it isn't an easy place to find, mind you. So if you really need a landmark, Just look for the crumbling but stunning Deluxe Chinese cinema located right beside Ambos Mundos and at the corner of F. Torres and Soler (below). A million maraming muchos gracias to Anson Yu for the shout out about these little gems.

770-772 Florentino Torres Street.
Tel. 7336709
Right across from Ambos Mundos
Tel. 7344108