Since my family is from the Philippines, I am blessed with a certain, albeit insignificant, level of credibility when it comes to Filipino food. That being said, I always get excited when I can introduce Filipino food to my friends. I usually take them to Maharlika because their style is a bit more approachable too. Manila Social Club is my new go-to for modernized Filipino. PRO TIP: For weekend brunch, go early at like 11AM if you don't want to wait.
At the start of the meal, Manila Social Club serves complimentary Pan De Sal with a side of Ube Butter. Pan De Sal is a staple in most Philippine households, as THE bread roll. It's absolutely magical when hot and buttered. Pan De Sal is so simple but, when made properly, has the perfect balance between toasty and fluffy. Manila Social Club also serves the bread with some Ube Butter, which is totally not a thing in the Philippines, but I'm glad it's a thing here in Brooklyn. Ube is essentially just a purple yam. It's very popular in the Philippines as a dessert topping/flavoring. When I first tried this ube butter, I was appalled at how good it was. It was silky and creamy like regular butter but it had the mildly sweet taste of a sweet potato. Go to Manila Social Club. And, leave no amount of this butter behind.
Steph and I also shared the Spam Fries. No, that's not a typo. Do you ever wish that your favorite type of unhealthy luncheon meat could get any more unhealthy? If so, you're in luck because Spam Fries are real. You must be asking yourself how and why is spam being served at a Filipino restaurant. Well, let me drop a little bit of history on you. During WW2, spam was a staple for American troops stationed in the Philippines. It was then assimilated into native diets. Today, it represents the U.S.'s expansion into the east. For me, it represents an excuse to eat spam :)
Anyway, Manila Social Club paired the Spam Fries with two sauces. The first was a Pickled Mango Sauce, which was semi-sweet and (obviously) fruity. I would be interested to see what a spicy version of this sauce would taste like. I'd be down to try the sauce with a bit more flavor with turmeric or chili. The second sauce, a Banana Ketchup (Jufran) sauce, is essential to having the full Filipino food experience. I use this ketchup all the time. It sounds weird but it's amazing. It tastes like bananas... and ketchup. OK, I understand that does not sound appetizing but you need to try it for yourself. I often find myself sitting in a pantry, pretending to be Banana Ketchup because it embodies what I want to be in life: awesome.
Steph and I got the Avocado Tempura. Yes, that's also a thing. Honestly, I think I've only seen this once at a random sushi restaurant. But, at 11AM on a Saturday, the only thing I want to ingest is more fried food just to wake myself up. I also don't drink coffee on weekends so I need to eat stuff like this as a replacement. The Avocado was lightly fried but still crispy on the exterior. Actually, when I think about it, I think it had the perfect amount of batter to avocado ratio. The avocado was paired with Pickled Daikon (radish), Moon Bean Flowers, and Squash Blossoms with a little bit of the Pickled Mango sauce. I love it when there are flowers in my food. It makes me feel beautiful.
For my main, I got the Mango Souffle Pancakes. In the menu, it is described to be "light as a cloud". I decided to see what the fuss was about. When it arrived, this beautiful thing, I found myself in love with a pancake for a few minutes. It had chunks of mango sticking out throughout the pancake with a huge scoop of bright, purple Ube Ice Cream on top. Seriously, look at the picture. Tell me that's not the most photogenic pancake you've ever seen and I will know you're lying. We had so many appetizers but I still deleted this pancake. It didn't even stand a chance. I think they were concerned at how fast the dish ceased to exist that they were kind to offer an extra scoop of ube ice cream if I was still ravenous.
Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments if you try this place :)
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2 Hope St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Pan De Sal with Ube Butter
Avocado Tempura, Pickled Daikon, Moon Bean Flowers, Squash Blossoms
Torta Talong: Fire-roasted Eggplant Omelet, Garlic Fried Rice, Tomatoes
Mango Souffle Pancakes: light as a cloud and served with Ube Ice Cream
Spam Fries with Pickled Mango Sauce and Banana Ketchup
Miscellaneous Pictures of Attractive People: