Yesterday, before going to the Manila International Book Fair, my friend and I decided to have lunch close to her office instead of somewhere within the SM Mall of Asia. The Dragon Noodle Center in MH Del Pilar is my friend’s go-to place for affordable comfort food, which in our case, is a bowl of noodle soup or congee. I understand the place has been there for decades. She’d been planning to bring me there for years but said plan was only realized yesterday. I agreed because I knew we’ll be doing lots of walking in the huge exhibition hall of the Book Fair as we planned to visit as many booths as possible. We could use an energy boost.
The facade of the restaurant is utterly nondescript and a bit dingy. But I’ve learned long ago not to judge a restaurant, especially an old one, by its facade alone. We were seated immediately as the lunch crowd has yet to pour into the place. My friend is on a first-name basis with the service staff so they were delightfully attentive to our needs.
Since we were eating for energy, each of us ordered a bowl of noodles: wonton for her, beef-wonton for me. In addition, she ordered a Halo-Halo (Mixed) Congee while I asked for some pork siomai. Because we were chatting as we ate, I forgot to take photos of our meal. The photos in this post were culled from sites of people who have also previously dined at Dragon Noodle Center. The pictured foods are all from Dragon Noodle Center, but the photos are not mine. 🙂
The siomai is unusually-shaped: thin and long instead of almost square and squat. My first bite was just so-so but when I dipped it in the soy/ chili oil/ calamansi mixutre, its taste exploded in my mouth. I’m not talking about just the hotness of the chili oil; I mean its flavor was magnified by the dipping sauce.
My beef-wonton noodle soup was delightful! It came in this enormous serving, with lots of noodles that has the right tenderness and taste. It had lots of crisp veggies, too. The beef practically melted in my mouth. The wonton wrapper didn’t disintegrate even though the broth was piping hot. The meatball was savory. Oh, and the broth was really really great! If I had more room I would’ve asked for a refill. And they will give you broth refills, my friend told me.
I actually tried some of my friend’s congee. I was initially put off by its brownish color but its rich flavor made up for its lack of, hmn, beauty. I think I had a quarter of that bowl of congee.
Our hearty lunch gave me energy to walk around the halls of SMX Convention Center for hours. We walked, browsed, jostled with other shoppers, and walked some more tirelessly. Our MIBF mission was accomplished fully, with a few unexpected surprises. However, that is another story.
Dragon Noodle Center is at 1037 M.H. Del Pilar Street in Malate. It is open everyday, from 6AM to 2AM.