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Manila: Sentro 1771

March 26, 2010

L and I were walking around Greenbelt (shopping centre) the other day and decided to go have some Filipino food at Sentro 1771. We’d been there once before on a visit to Manila a few years back, but neither of us could remember what we’d had or if it had been any good, so we were essentially starting from scratch. D’oh. Sentro 1771’s menu features local favourites with a slightly modern twist. There’s nothing completely modern or revolutionary here, but classics are given enough of a change-up that things remain interesting.

Deciding to cut straight to the chase, we ordered mains to share: the Catfish Adobo Flakes, the small Pancit Palabok (noodles tossed in a shrimp sauce) and the Beef Binagoongan (a type of beef stew). What can I say? We were hungry! Service was friendly and efficient and we soon found ourselves diving into our meal.
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Pansit Palabok: Nyegh. A waiter had walked past our table earlier with a plate of the pansit and the smell… oh god, the smell had been intoxicating. It had smelled so appetising, we decided instantly that we had to try it as well. When it arrived, the wonderful aroma wafting up at us from the plate promised to pack a punch. Sadly… the dish didn’t hold up its end of the bargain on the taste front. There was no depth to the flavours, there were no bold flavour profiles and while a touch of sweetness was present, it was lacking in salt. Not a terrible dish, but not terribly interesting or memorable either. In a word: disappointing.
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Beef Binagoongan: Nestled in a white boat-shaped bowl was this rich, dark beef stew topped with chopped spanish onion, tomatoes and matchsticks of green mango. Hoorah! Not only was the beef surprisingly tender, but the sauce was full of flavour and the flavours all married together nicely; the tartness of the green mangoes with the sweet-saltiness of the stew produced a lovely balanced result. Yum.
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Adobo Catfish Flakes: Not having had catfish before, I didn’t know what to expect and for that matter, I have no idea if Sentro’s take on this dish does it justice or not, but it wasn’t for me. I love adobo and am more than happy to drown my rice in the garlicky goodness of a good adobo sauce, but what arrived was sadly bereft of both sauce and flavour. The tiny micro-flakes of fried catfish were held back from being completely dry by an unappealing amount of oil that sat heavily on the ‘flakes’. My excitement at the sight of several whole cloves of garlic laying amongst the catfish was short-lived as I discovered that even they had been miraculously stripped of their flavour.
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To round off the meal, we ordered the Fried Suman (rice cakes). Holy cow. Neither of us had ever had fried suman before and there in front of us was this platter of golden pan-fried suman squares topped with slivers of mango and finished with a generous drizzle of latik (a thick, dark, caramelised, coconut-milk-based syrup). I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but the mango that was served was just past the green stage which was perfect as their slightly sour note set off brilliantly against the sweetness and heaviness of the suman and the latik. Oh. My. Yum.

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Verdict: A few ups and downs in regards to the food, but on the whole there was enough deliciousness to justify further exploration. As I mentioned earlier, the service was great: friendly, helpful and efficient. The location is handy, they’re open everyday from 11am, I just discovered that they serve breakfast as well (both Filipino specialities and Western fare) and they deliver! Points! Looking at the menu now I find myself wondering why we in the world we didn’t order the Corned Beef Sinigang… I absolutely adore sinigang and Filipino-style corned beef (as ‘wrong’ as I think it is) is delicious. Huh. Then again, I do remember us struggling to decide on what to try as there was so much that sounded appetising… next time na lang!

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SENTRO 1771

Telephonic Numerals +63 (2) 757 3941 (restaurant) & +63 (2) 757 5555 (delivery)

Location Level 2, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati, Metro Manila

Website www.chateaugroup.com

Grace them with your presence Any day from 11am. They close at midnight on Saturdays and Sundays; other days they close at 11pm.

Smoking Outside only please! There are actually tables outside if you want to brave the heat and humidity. Erm, no thanks.

And? Did I mention they deliver? Awesome. This is one of the many things I love about this country. For god’s sake, even McDonald’s delivers!?! Try the suman. If it’s not on the menu, demand it! It’s so damn tasty! Crap. Now I want one… what was that delivery number again?

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