Home to bargain and tiangge (flea market) shopping, the Greenhills Shopping Center evokes fond memories from decades past. Mention 'Greenhills' to an eighties or nineties kids who grew up in San Juan or studied in any of the nearby schools and watch their faces light up remembering fondly of old spaces filled with stores, hobby shops (still recall Nova Fontana?) hang-out spots, and restaurants long gone. McDonald's first drive-thru outlet was built in Greenhills, people flocked to Tickles for all sorts of quirky and cute knick-knacks, and for even more gift shopping, there was Gift Gate and Regina Gift Shop (commonly known as Regina's, which is still open).
What is your fondest Greenhills memory? Was it about Virra Mall and its dark nooks and crannies lined with stores selling all sorts of imported goods (Laser Disc/VCD/DVD, anyone)? Or about foodtrips along the Crossroad Arcade lined with restaurants? In this edition of The Click List, we tap into our inner nostalgic foodie, recalling some of the popular little eateries serving comfort food for cheap. Here are 7 food haunts–still standing after all these years!–selling their iconic fare that won't hurt your wallet.
1. Chinese Fresh Lumpia at New Sunbeam (Shin Ton Yon)
Now located at the ground floor of V-Mall, Shin Ton Yon's store used to be located at Virra Mall, and now it's more known as New Sunbeam. It's Chinatown served in Greenhills — cheap eats of Chinese fare served carinderia-style, assorted viands on display as well as cold cuts, milk teas, and a mini grocery/deli station for takeout. But most iconic here is their Fresh Lumpia (P100), Amoy (Chinese-style) lumpia prepared fresh upon order.
2. Cuapao at Choc Full of Nuts
This longtime Shoppesville favorite has been around since the 70s, and loyal patrons swear that their Cuapao (P40)–a steamed soft bun pocket filled with pork, crushed peanuts, and vegetables–still looks, feels, and tastes the same. More tasty throwback treat served at the iconic snack shop include their Chocolate Cupcake (P31) and Taisan Loaf (P150); rid of any fancy piping or packaging, they are just satisfying and classic baked goods you can take home after a long day of bargain shopping in Greenhills.
3. Diced Hopia at Baker's Fair
Their popular monggo hopia in cube form is served piping hot, fresh from the griddle, and has been an awesome pop-in-your-mouth snack by shoppers as they wander around Greenhills in search for more clothes and goods they can haggle at lower prices. Bakers' Fair is already a well-established brand with roots in Chinatown (they also have more outlets across the metro) and their product line has expanded to more baked goods, but their freshly grilled Diced Hopia (sold per piece or P120/box of 20 and available in mongo and ube flavors) is still quite the crowd pleaser.
4. Tacos at Kamicos
Serving Greenhills since 1982, the taco shop in Shoppesville continues to feed the hungry with an affordable selection of tacos, nachos, and other Tex-Mex grub. Here, Tacos (P69 each) are sold for cheap– they are crisp and satisfying, and can come filled with chicken, beef, or tuna. Other food you can order with a P100 budget are their pastas served with garlic bread and soft tacos — a reason why lots of students often flock to this store.
5. Spareribs Rice at Le Ching
Famished and craving for cheap Chinese grub in Greenhills? Look no further than the legendary Le Ching — so legendary with its affordable offerings of rice toppings, congee, noodle soups, and dimsum that it opened a second outlet a mere walking distance from the first one (called Le Ching, Too). There are debates on how different the second branch is from the other ("it's not the same!") and that's probably another reason why the original Greenhills spot gets filled up quick during lunch and dinner. Same food or not, both Le Chings are best known for their Spareribs Rice (P168) and Beef Brisket Rice (P168), rice toppings served in metal cups and seasoned to taste by diners with an unfailing mix of soy sauce, calamansi, and chili oil. Extra rice, anyone?
6. Cookies at Kookie Korner
Tucked inside the complex of Unimart (another old school establishment where titas of Manila do their grocery shopping) is a desserts stall filled with happy sweet memories. Kookie Korner has been the go-to of the older Greenhills community for their classic takes on timeless favorites, like Chocolate Cake, Sansrival, and Brazo de Mercedes. For quick bites and sweet nibbles, Kookie Korner sells cookies, of course — they have Oatmeal Cookies (P20/piece) which also has fat-free and chocolate versions, and their big and soft Choco Crinkles (P60/piece, P95/tray of nibblers) is a customer favorite.
7. Shawarma at Food Channel
Greenhills kids in the nineties grew up with this affordable and no-frills Mediterranean wrap, and were first introduced to the original location of Food Channel inside Virra Mall (V-Mall now takes its place). Now, the store is now located at the walkway of Promenade, perfect for no frills eat-and-go enjoyment of your shawarma. 'Shawarma at its best!' is their tagline and many fans swear by it — there's a lot of variants to choose from right now: Regular Shawarma (P82), Shawarma with Cheese (P88), All Beef Shawarma (P120), All Beef Shawarma with Cheese (P127), Shawarma Rice (P107). For the extra hungry, level up your shawarma with add on of fries on your wrap!
Are your favorite nostalgic food from Greenhills not on this list? Hit the comments section and tell us all about your go-to cheap eats and treats!