Philippines

Silantro, Mojito, Molito

It’s an easy trike ride from anywhere inside BF Homes to “Toyota”. The dealership is long gone but, by name, it still marks the intersection of Concha Cruz and Alabang Zapote Road, as well as the BF Homes gate. From there you can hop into a jeep and get off at Madrigal Avenue but my people and I prefer to walk.

Most of this stretch has decent sidewalks, lined with overarching trees to keep the air cool. Of course, if you dislike the adventure of communing in Manila you can get an Uber straight here.

Either way, you’ll want to make your way over to Silantro Fil-Mex for the longest wait but certainly some of the best food you can get for the price in the South. On Madrigal Avenue, you’ll find the Sykes building, newly erected in front of Alabang Town Center, and Silantro is along the outside on the ground level.

Let me see, my friends got there around a quarter to eight and it’s now half past but we are not yet close to food. Thing is, the rainy season has started so they’ve had to get rid of their outdoor seating. Here we are, in a country with likely the world’s highest umbrella usage per capita, and they hadn’t thought to put some up.

The server sounded so genuine, too, when he said: “Oh, that’s a good idea!”. I’ve probably always had to wait at least half an hour to get seated here but tonight we’re in for the long haul. At least I know the food is worth it.

The tacos, starting at only 75 pesos a pair, are chock full of fresh vegetables and deliciously prepared fish, chicken, or beef. The beef nachos are a must and it’s not for nothing that you’ll see them on every table. The burrito is quite alright, although they only have one option and I personally find it lacking in a few key ingredients. (Beans!) Skip the quesadillas though, they’re a bit too messy to eat and disappointing overall. I only tried them once and found the dish greasy and plain.

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s talk condiments. We’ve got a garlic sauce, a spicy sauce, and a guacamole sauce (not quite a legitimate guacamole). I really do miss big ol’ chunks of avocado in all the food but plenty of cilantro in the sauce keeps it fresh. The spicy sauce (You don’t suppose it has an actual name, do you?) is very manageable, I find. The garlic sauce always runs out first, and it is a little unfortunate that all three sauces come in such tiny saucers.

The mojitos then. Take it from a friend who has evidently had his mind blown by the mojitos at a boutique in Phuket (an experience that included partially dissolved sugar cubes for added mouth feel) that no Manila Mojito will match. These ones, then, are a bit heavy on the rum and lacking in mint to be enjoyed properly but they do get the job done and it’s only 250 pesos for a pitcher.

Some service slip ups included water dripping from the air conditioning in the ceiling and a mix up of the beef and pork tacos. Mistakes in the orders are fairly common here but they do fix them pretty quickly once it’s brought to their attention.

At the table, with our party of five–my daughter, her father, two friends, and myself–I was complaining about how servers often ignored the kid’s presence at the table and wouldn’t bring her, for example, her own cup.

She’s nearly four and eats with her own utensils, mind you. Silantro scores in this department by bringing five cups of water but then they take it a bit far by bringing our mojito pitcher on a tray with five cups as well. Pardon me, boss, my daughter won’t be indulging tonight. She’ll have to be a little bigger for that experience but to her credit, she is certainly not too small to put away most of a burrito.

Why do we keep coming back? Maybe it’s the perfectly prepared and succulent meat or the bursts of flavor in every bite. It could be the fact that the servers, no matter the long wait or occasional mistakes, always stay friendly and helpful. But more than anything, what keeps me coming back is that lingering of silantro on my tongue when the meal is over.

Where to go after dinner? I’m glad you asked. Head across the street to Molito, sit on a bench or in the grass and watch the fountains change colors as they move from bubbling spurts to towering bursts. Watch the big kids yelp as their fancy shoes get wet, or maybe you’ll see a toddler charging through every spout, soaked from head to toe. That one is probably my daughter.

 

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The color-changing fountains
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A beautiful spot for watching the sunset.
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There’s the new Sykes building in the background, where you’ll find Silantro Fil-Mex and many other food options.
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Molito has a variety of places for all ages, from indoor playgrounds to puzzle lounges and sushi restaurants to draft pubs

 

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