Filipino Food: Masas Traditional Filipino Cuisine in Greenbelt Makati

Established in 2002, Masas Filipino Cuisine was among the first restaurants to rise in Greenbelt 2 in Makati; and it has been there ever since.

It is owned by three friends with a shared love for eating who agreed to set up a restaurant they could call their own: Lovell Gopez – distributor of Mizuno Sports Gear; Eli Antonino – sister of GenSan City Congresswoman Darlene Antonino; and Christopher James Escudero who’s the COO and is married to GMA 7 newscaster Connie Sison.

From the start, the owners knew what they wanted their restaurant to be: a Filipino restaurant but with a marked difference, succinctly stated as “traditions perfected”.

Their recruitment of staff echoed this. The general manager, the chef, and the admin and service staff all come from different regions of the country. They were encouraged by the owners to share recipes of dishes that their provinces are most noted for.

GM Julie Radaza, a nutritionist-dietician with 16 years of experience in the food service industry, is proud of Masas’ upholding Filipino cuisine which she calls a delicious blend of Chinese, Spanish, and Asian influences.

Masas has earned two other distinctions. It is the only restaurant in Makati City that serves Pancit Buko (inspired by a dish in Pangasinan), in which coconut meat is used instead of the usual egg noodles.

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It is also the only restaurant in Greenbelt that serves zero (negative 0º or freezing point) alcoholic beverages. When the bottles are served, there’s a technique in preserving the snowy feel and taste of the beverage. Slam the glass bottle with a fork to transfer the icy cold liquid into real ice formation. Drinkers, Julie explained, love it because it has a soothing effect on the throat. In Tagalog parlance, “swabe ang dating.”

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A bestseller that is yet to be dethroned from its top slot is their crispy pata, which is popular with big groups of 4 to 5 guests. It is the most expensive at Php675. Crispy outside, yet the meat is very tender inside. When you chew it, you can hear the crunch even if you try very hard to close your mouth to muffle the crackling sound.

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Here’s another. Masas kare-kare tastes so good, that it needs no add-on shrimp paste sauce; nevertheless; the ‘bagoong’ is provided.

Tables – made of mahogany – are littered with various ‘sawsawan’ (condiments) like kuratsoy, which is their native Iligan version of vinegar and soy sauce, waykurat, and piñakurat.

And what is the Masas menu? They’re authentic regional Pinoy dishes that Masas refers to in their bill of fare as sabaw, gulay, ulam, and panghimagas.

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Here are some of their tempting ulam (main course) and kanin (rice): Laing, ensaladang talong, gising gising (spinach dish with pork and chilies in coconut milk), pinakbet, kalderetang lamb, bellylicious (crunchy pork belly), peking friend chicken, bacolod chicken inasal, inihaw na posit, blue marlin a la gambas, binawangang bangus, garlic sesame infused fried rice, binagoongang rice, and tinapa rice.

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Vegetarians are not neglected here, either. They can take their pick from vegetarian pinakbet, vegetarian laing, and lumpiang ubod.

To complete your selection, choose from any of their drinks: frozen dalandan, frozen margarita, and zombie (pomelo with gin).

The crowd profile is interesting and to die for (especially if you’re in the service industry), Class A/B and companies. Expats make up 60% of that crowd. Dinnertime is the busiest when they have to look after the eating guests and at the same time attend to waiting guests.

As for the young ‘uns, you’ll mostly see them on Thursday and Friday evenings because acoustic bands like Snare, The Groove, and Emman perform on those nights at the Patio Area from 8PM to 11PM.

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Masas has three areas: the ground floor which can seat 48, the mezzanine which can hold 55 guests, and the patio or al fresco area which can hold up to 75 persons.

Plans are afoot for a branch expansion next year because Masas owners are determined to instill a deep appreciation of traditional Filipino food amongst Filipinos and foreign nationals. Where they will branch out, no one is saying just as yet. If you’re desperate to know, try to seek enlightenment from the huge La Independencia sepia photograph of Jose Rizal hanging on one of the walls across the flight of stairs leading to the mezzanine or from the other well-preserved old photos of the Manila Cathedral, Puente de España, and Escolta St. while you’re sitting on one their abaca-upholstered chairs and doodling with the weaved place mats.

When in Manila, be sure to get a taste of perfected, traditional Filipino food! Head over to Masas at Greenbelt 2 in Makati and get your fix on all of the yumminess that the Philippines has to offer. Be sure to try the unique Pancit Buko and the very yummy Steamed Fish Pla-Pla (my pick of the night). Oh, and I also really loved the definitely perfected Sinigang Soup and the food coma-inducing Kare-Kare! Pretty much….. I LOVED all of the Filipino dishes at Masas!

Masas Filipino Cuisine

Unit 105 Greenbelt 2, Ayala Center, Makati

4890084 / 7574030 to 31