I am kind of reluctant to write about 101 Hawker Food House.
You know how it is when you stumble upon something special that you want to post a shout out about it, but on second thought you’d rather not in fear of it being ‘too exposed’? That’s how I feel right now, writing about this hole-in-the-wall I luckily discovered a few months back.
Since my first Laksa from 101 Hawker Food House, it has, at once, become one of my default dining places in the Makati area. For quite some time now, I’ve been keeping this knowledge to myself—enjoying the fact that a mere ten-minute walk from my office can get me to a Singaporean restaurant serving cook-as-you-order meals at fast food joint prices. Not to mention, with not much people to fight tables with during the hectic dinner time.
When I tell you that the prices are affordable, I’m not kidding!
But how do I keep mum about a place where a hundred pesos can get you a medium sized bowl of a decent Singapore Laksa or a plateful of tummy-filling Char Kway Teow, with a ten peso change to boot? For a little more than what you usually spend for a jollijeep (the ubiquitous carinderias in the Makati CBD) meal, you can get set meals (‘bowls’ in the menu) priced at P100 complete with a serving of soup and (instant) dalandan juice for your lunch or dinner in 101 Hawker.
Char Kway Teow
A favorite among the menu is the Singapore Laksa (P90), a thick coconut based curry soup which will never fails to get me all sweaty by the end of the meal.
I haven’t encountered a locally available Laksa at such a price and if ever there is one, I don’t think that it would be at par with this melange of spices that doesn’t at all taste cheap nor “instant.” Strong notes of ginger and coriander, I believe, are the keys in this wonderful concoction I most appreciate during rainy days.
When my palate is not in the mood for something hot, I order the mildly sweet Char Kway Teow (Single P90.00, For Two P150.00).
Char Kway Teow
The slithery flat noodles, well decorated with nice and crunchy bean sprouts, a few shrimps, and your regular cast of onion, garlic, and chives is not particularly astounding but gets the basic sweet salty flavors of Char Kway Teow. This is a good option when you want some heavy lunch for the day.
Because 101 Hawker is a Singaporean restaurant, I found trying their Hainanese Chicken (Bowl-P100; Short Order-P150) a must.
At such a price, I had doubts that it would be as good, fatty, and silky as the best (and much expensive) Chicken rice dishes I’ve tried. And in a way, I was right. Although it is good and filling on its own, it didn’t quite match my expectations, primarily lacking on the “silky” part, which in my opinion, is the key word to describe the white chicken. So when craving for chicken, that is not fast food, I order their Green Chicken Curry (Bowl-P100; Short Order-P150) and Kung Pao Chicken (Bowl-P100; Short Order-P150)— two no fail rice bowls I come back for here often.
Green Chicken Curry
Kung Pao Chicken
I’ve also had their Nasi Goreng (Bowl-P100; Short Order-P150) for a couple of times. Although I find the chicken not that different from your average fried one, it’s the rice part of the meal I go back for. Perfectly sautéed in dark soy, chili oil, sambal, a couple of more spices, plus shrimps and squid strips, I don’t think there’s anywhere else in Makati you can get a fried rice as special as what they serve here for the price of a hundred.
There was also this time when I sampled something off their short order menu just because. Together with a friend, I feasted on the Cereal Prawns (P320) listed under their seasonal menu.
About ten medium-sized perfectly cooked prawns landed our table that night. The cereal coating isn’t as generous as what I recall from a trip in Singapore, but overall, it is commendable. Firm and supple shrimps coated with slightly sweet cereal flakes and dashes of chili would always please anyone.
Although most of the orders I get there come with a serving of dalandan juice, I still make it a point to request for their Teh Tarik (Hot-P30, Cold-P35). Not cheap tasting at all, it is a bargain at P35! You might also want to know that they pull their coffee the same way it is done in Singapore and Vietnam. They do it in the counter so you can watch it from afar.
Teh Tarik at P35? Not bad!
So there goes my secret– now revealed for all of you to try out. As long as I do not find myself queuing for tables in the next few weeks, I don’t mind you sharing my liking for 101 Hawker Food House’s Singapore Laksa or their rice bowls. And as for writing about the secret Thai place I go to here in Makati for a plateful of kick-ass green curry priced at P120? Let me first think about it.