There's this simple joy in scarfing down a bowl of hot rice with a savory and saucy topping. It's been a long day, you're tired and hungry, and there it is--your order of rice bowl, a glorious sight of fluffy carbs that meets your ulam, and you excitedly scramble for your chopsticks or spoon--with a bowl, who needs both hands? You can chow down your meal like a ninja just by using a single fork or a single spoon, mixing all the goodness of that savory meal to embrace those morsels of white fluffy rice.
Your rice bowl can be in the form of any comfort food best paired with rice--there's the simple Pinoy goodness of a silog, or something more for chopstick pleasures with the Japanese donburi ('rice bowl') or gyudon ('beef bowl with rice'), or Chinese rice toppings. Whatever type of rice-meal-in-a-bowl you crave, the metro's restaurants have it. And eating these dishes have an added delight when they're being sold for cheap. For affordable deep dish meals in Metro Manila, here are 12 places serving rice bowls for 200 Pesos each (even less!).
1. Coca Cafe
Head to this SM Jazz Mall restaurant to satisfy your Chinese comfort food cravings on a budget. In this restaurant, folks can enjoy a filling meal for less than P250 per person, and they have rice meals in a bowl featuring chicken grapow, and sweet and sour fish and pork.
Order: Chicken Grapow with Rice (P180), Sweet and Sour Pork with Rice (P200), Sweet and Sour Fish with Rice, Breaded Pork Chop with Rice (P200)
Photo from Flavours of China Facebook Page
This Chinese fast-casual restaurant with branches in Manila and in provinces, serves complete meals in a bowl, laid atop hot steamed rice. Budgetarians have 6 rice toppings with pork, chicken, fish, and beef to choose from.
Order: Spicy Garlic Chicken Rice Toppings (P155), Fish Fillet with Taosi & Tofu Rice Toppings (P155), Crispy Salt & Pepper Spareribs Rice Toppings (P155), Braised Beef Brisket Rice Toppings (P165), Sweet & Sour Pork Rice Toppings (P155), Taosi Spareribs Rice Toppings (P155).
Photo from Ramen Santouka Philippines Facebook Page
This popular ramen joint from Japan may champion the noodle soups category, but rice lovers on a budget have a trio of options in case they want to skip the ramen but are dining with companions craving for some. They have soybean, pork belly, and grilled salmon in their gohan (steamed rice) bowls.
Order: Natto Gohan (P110), Char Siu Gohan (P160), Sake Ikura Gohan (P180)
Photo from Kebabers Website
This Kebab joint also sells shawarma and curry dishes, and to cater to rice cravings, shawarmas are also served in bowls--rice replaces pita bread. Their Shawarma Bowls can be ordered in two sizes, and come in beef, steak, fish, and chicken. Kebabers can be found in Katipunan, SM City (Fairview, North Edsa, Manila), and Eastwood; a branch is set to open in Robinsons Galleria this September.
Order: Monster Beef (P109 Regular, P165 Double Up), Peppered Steak (P135 Regular, P220 Double Up), Crazy Chicken (P120 Regular, P175 Double Up), Fish Ahoy (P110 Regular, P145 Double Up)
It's quite unusual for a bakeshop to offer an eat-all-you-can of Mongolian rice bowls, but Cafe Sweet Inspirations has accomplished exactly that, and has been popular for this concept for many years. Their Mongolian rice bowl buffet is already affordable at P280-P380 per person. To fit your stricter budget, value meal rice bowls are served witl iced tea, and a single serving of Mongolian rice bowl served with iced tea is less than P200.
Order: Mongolian Trial Bowl (P180, with iced tea), Value Meal Rice Bowls (P150 each with plain rice and iced tea) in Beef Steak, Chicken Teriyaki, Spicy Pork Creole, Sweet & Sour Fish Fillet
Photo from O'RiceFacebook Page
This new restaurant at The Forum BGC coins itself as a place serving 'Korean Stylish Pan Fried Rice.' Their pan fried steamed rice is mixed with chopped vegetables and bean sprouts, served in a basket, and comes topped with many sorts of savory food, from shrimps, to kimchi, to chicken. For a little over P200, you can have a fried rice bowl topped with bulgogi (P220) or sausage bacon (P220).
Order: Poo Phat Pong Curry (P200 - crispy shrimp coated with po phat curry sauce), Kimchi Fried Rice (P150 - chopped kimchi, onions, vegetables, and topped with fried egg), Chicken Nugget (P180 - sliced chicken cutlet in curry sauce)
Photo from Omakase Facebook Page
Omakase, which translates to 'leave it to the chef', started as a take-out counter and now is a restaurant with many branches areas in the metro. Eating a full meal with P200 on hand is possible at this Japanese restaurant, take your pick among their rice bowl items. Bonus points for their complimentary house tea!
Order: Katsudon (P190 - pork), Torikatsudon (P190 - chicken), Tonkatsudon (P190 - breaded pork cutlet), Ikadon (P175 - squid steak with vegetables), Salmon Katsu Rice (P180 - salmon tempura with egg)
Photo from Ramen Bar Facebook Page
8. Ramen Bar
While best-sellers at this restaurant are obviously their ramen, Ramen Bar doesn't leave the rice-loving foodies behind. They offer affordable Gyudon, a popular Japanese dish of beef ('Gyu' means cow) and rice served in a bowl ('Don' from donburi, which means bowl).
Order: Classic Gyudon (P195), Kimchi Mayo Gyudon (P195), Bonito Gyudon (P195), Onion Black Pepper Gyudon (P195)
Photo from Recovery Food Facebook Page
Open 24/7, Recovery Food has long been the comfort food joint for many night owls (and party animals, post-clubbing) in BGC. Their Rice-A-Bowls come in two sizes, just add a little bit more than your P200 budget for an upsize to 'Full Recovery.' Their very popular version of the tapsilog is believed to cure hunger pangs, heartaches, and headaches.
Order: Tapa de Morning (P180), Happy Beef Rice (P160), Happy Pork Rice (P155), Happy Chicken Rice (P155), Hey Jude's Paksig (P165), S.S.T. (P180), Porkqua (P185), Porkqua Curry (P195), Amadobo (P180)
10. Salo BGC
Salo is BGC's Filipino restaurant open till late at night for the hungry and thirsty cheapskate. Your P200 can stretch here, as they offer affordable appetizers, rice bowls, hangover food, and even cocktails. Their bowls are served quick, and depending on your hunger, can be eaten fast and just in time before your work break (or your self-imposed early morning post-party curfew) ends.
Order: Tuyosilog (P145), Bicol Express (P130), Bistek Tagalog (P150), Tapsilog (P140), Longsilog (P140), Tocilog (P145), Pork Binagoongan (P130),Beef Pares (P145), Crispy Liempo (P140), Lechon Belly (P145), Bangusilog (P145)
This popular Japanese fast food brand is your best bet for a wallet-friendly quick fix of gyudon. Yoshinoya's beef bowls are popular worldwide, with outlets in Japan, US, Asia, and Austraila. Aside from their best-selling beef bowl with meat simmered in a signaure sauce, they also sell rice bowls of beef yakiniku, beef misono, chicken and pork katsudon for less than P200 each.
Order: Gyudon Beef Bowl ( Regular P125 / Super P159), Beef Misono Bowl ( Regular P125 / Super P159), Beef Yakiniku Bowl ( Regular P125 / Super P159), Chicken Teriyaki Bowl ( Regular P125 / Super P159), Pork Katsudon Bowl (P135), Chicken Katsudon Bowl (P135), Veggie Beef Bowl (Regular P125 / Super P159)
Photo from Zhu Kitchen Facebook Page
12. Zhu Kitchen
This Chinese restuarant in BGC is known for their selection of dimsum and seafood dishes, which are both reasonably priced. All of Zhu Kitchen's rice toppings, featuring ulam that are classic Chinese favorites, are priced below P200.
Order: Roast Duck Rice Topping (P185), Ampalaya Beef Rice Topping (P185), Seafood Rice Topping (P185), Taosi Fish Fillet Rice Topping (P185), Beef Brisket Rice Topping (P185), Roast Pork Asado Rice Topping (P180), Soy Chicken Rice Topping (P180)