Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Laguna Mabuhay Filipino Food @ Gereja Road

Looks deceive: Laguna Mabuhay might seem like a sterile, surprise-free outlet from outside, but in terms of its food, this is one of 2013's most distinctive new eateries.

The Philippine clientele, especially strong on Sunday afternoons, is enough to indicate what cuisine is offered here; Laguna Mabuhay is the Filipino eatery that KL has long needed, with a menu that outstrips the now-closed Cagayan's at Bandar Utama's Centrepoint.

Start with "sisig" (RM12), the super-addictive sizzling recipe of pork ears & jowl, cooked with calamansi & chilies, flooded with egg for extra flavor. Even the squeamish might be stunned to find themselves enjoying this.

"Kinilaw" (RM25), the Filipino interpretation of ceviche, a tangy salad-like mix of raw tenggiri fish (cooked not with heat but citrus juices), salted egg & pork strips.

"Kare-kare" (RM18), a creamy comfort-food stew of beef & veggies prepared in peanut sauce, served with salted shrimp paste for absolute authenticity.

Laguna Mabuhay makes no concessions to Malaysians; its menu lists dishes in Tagalog without English translations. Bring a Filipino friend to help explain that "morcon" (RM28) means pork rolls stuffed with hard-boiled eggs, sausage meat & carrots.

"Pinaputok Na Bangu" (RM22), milk fish stuffed with tomatoes, ginger & onions, grilled & served with a spicy dipping sauce.

"Lechon kawali" (RM18), Filipino deep-fried pork belly, also known as evil incarnate. More tender than it looks; like a cross between 'siu yuk' & fast-food-style fried chicken.

Much of the food here screams out for rice. Ask for some aromatically laced with crispy garlic.

Laguna Mabuhay,
3, Jalan Gereja, Kuala Lumpur.
Drive past Lebuh Ampang's Ming Annexe, then park at the open-air lot. Laguna Mabuhay is less than 50 meters up the road, before the turnoff up to St John's.
Open daily through 9:30pm

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45 comments:

  1. Hi Sean, great review, as always. The rice with garlic looks really good. I love the decor here as well. It is bright and cheery.

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    1. Linda: oh yes, that rice is so addictive, you could eat it on its own even without any meat. and this place gets a lot of natural sunlight, since it's entrance is wide open =)

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  2. well, the sisig looks like "oh chean" (oyster with egg) to me~ haha

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    1. Mr Lonely: heheh, imagine 'oh chien' cooked with pig ears instead of oysters, and it tastes like that, something like that! :D

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  3. Ohh.. time to bring a few filipino friends to check this out :)

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    1. Rebecca: hope they enjoy it! the kitchen crew and service team here are filipino (though i think the ownership might be malaysian) =)

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  4. I shall try these because they are right up my alley :-)

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    1. Cquek: hope u enjoy it! Asian soul food =)

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  5. The sisig and lechon kawali here looks better than the ones I had in Manila lar...hehe =)

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    1. Ulric: ooo, hope that's a good thing! I've only had sisig three times before this ... Once also in Manila, once in Cebu, and once at centrepoint bandar Utama. I've always enjoyed it (love the crunchy-creamy combo). I never had lechon kawali though, but it tasted... interesting =)

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  6. Here, we have the crispy pata just about everywhere...but not full-fledged Filipino restaurant. Went to one in Kuching, nothing to shout about. In fact, I went to the Philippines a long long time ago - loved the music and the lovely people, didn't really notice the food...

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    1. Suituapui: oh ya, the crispy pata is available here, but it's the priciest thing on the menu, heh =) I guess Filipino food can be easily underrated, since it's quite humble and maybe too rustic for some of us. It's good that kl finally has a full-fledged Filipino restaurant though, cos I think this cooking is worth exploring =) p.s. I can't recall Filipino music, heheh :D

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  7. Awesome! We've never actually had Filipino food before, but it looks extremely hearty and comforting! :D Thanks for the heads up!

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    1. Dropsofcontentment: yeah, it almost seems kinda unfair that we're inundated with thai and Indonesian restaurants, but not Filipino ones, heh. Though I guess that's the way it is in many cities around the world, especially with thai food. I think you're right, Filipino food may be simpler and have less exotic flavors, but it's definitely hearty and comforting too =)

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  8. You know what they say, look at the clientèle and u will know if the food is good. Great to have a Filipino restaurant in KL, that deep fried pork belly looks sinful.

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    1. Baby sumo: ya, that's true, it was quite reassuring to hear the happy chatter in the Filipino language all across this restaurant =) that deep fried pork belly is really guilt-inducing. It feels like i still am carrying the weight of that around my own belly! =)

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  9. Filipino restaurants are a rarity here. Good find. Whattt... u didn't have Adobo, their national dish, LOL?! Pork jowls good ah?

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    1. Pureglutton: ya, it'd be good to see a few more filipino restaurants pop up in various parts of kl. hopefully eventually :D heheh, saving the adobo for a future visit. i'm an adobo fan too :D and ya, the pork ears & jowls were nice in terms of texture. gelatinous, and a bit crunchy :D

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  10. Wow, have never tried Filipino food before, interesting! And they use peanut sauce! I would want to try that. hehehe

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    1. CK: ya, i'm glad this place is just a five-minute drive from my office. quite convenient for me (somewhere near raja chulan) ... the beef in peanut sauce is quite interesting. it's not as rich and salty as our satay peanut sauce, but it's more mild, smooth and creamy like soup =)

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  11. Wah...Filipino food! Very rare. Some of the dishes above, abit look like our Chinese food. That grilled fish looks good :-)

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    1. Melissa: yeah, there are only three or four filipino eateries in KL now, but this is probably the most authentic one (and the main one that serves so many dishes and serves pork too). heheh, ya, there are some chinese influences in some of the dishes (they also have 'shanghai rolls' that are like fried popiah stuffed with minced pork). the fish was an interesting change from our usual malaysian fish recipes :D

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  12. Sounds like a charming little place, and authentic as it gets! Definitely one to try. Is Filipino food quite spicy?

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    1. YouHadYourLunch: yeah, i think this is pretty much what the filipinos would consider their cuisine! ooo, some of the dishes are spicy. many of them are mild, but there are several with a lot of nasty green chilies, heh =)

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  13. I don't know much about Filipino cuisine but I know they like using pork! All the dishes looks quite exotic to me (I guess also because of the name, probably sounds really ordinary to them haha), I wouldn't mind trying that sisig. Mmmmm!

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    1. Kelly: ya, it's interesting that we all probably know more about italian food than we do about filipino food! what interesting is that these dishes do taste very asian, but they don't exactly taste malaysian, chinese, indonesian or thai. i think there's something for everyone here, and you'd probably enjoy quite a few of these recipes. yeah, pork seems to be a staple here, and that sisig is one of their top recommendations! :D

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  14. I had one opportunity to savour Filipino cuisine in Manila Makati, it was memorable. Good to know one in KL !

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    1. Wong: ya, if you ever feel like you miss filipino cuisine, can head here in the heart of kl to sample some! :D

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  15. Kumustaka?

    I think the simple rice with garlic and the pork belly will make me a very happy girl!

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    1. Missyblurkit: heheh, i just realized that i don't speak any tagalog at all :D and ya, i think you're right, the combo of the garlic rice and pork belly would certainly be satisfying enough for a lunchtime treat! :D

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  16. Hmmm I wonder if they have the dish cooked with young chili leaves? Think the only way to know is to pay this place a visit:D

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    1. Missyblurkit: ooo, i saw some photos of dishes cooked with green stuff, but i'm not sure what the actual ingredients are. hope you'll be able to enjoy a food adventure here! =)

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  17. next time sure have chance to visit

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    1. AhWee: i hope you like the food here! =)

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  18. Should try the 'Balut'. Need to reserve in advance though ;)

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    1. Yieng: whoa, that's really cool! Didn't notice it on the menu, but will ask for it, thanks :D

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  19. Hi Sean! It's my first time to visit KL. What do you recommend for our 3-day trip there on March 2014?

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    1. Runica: it kind of depends on what kind of food you want to try and what your budget might be, but if you'd like to have malay food in a comfortable setting, then try googling a restaurant called Bijan. hope that helps =)

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    2. We'd like to try authentic known restaurants but in a tight budget. Is bijan affordable for 3 people?

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    3. Runica: Bijan's a bit more upmarket, and a meal for 3 people would probably cost more than US$50. but it's a bit difficult to make recommendations for local food, as that's not my area of expertise, and many of the most authentic ones are in locations that are difficult to explain for foreign visitors. i'm sorry i can't really help much, but i think you'll find other better sources for local food in KL online =)

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  20. hello sir! is 100RM enough for 6pax? how about their buffet lunch? is it just like eat all you can?

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    1. Janine: hi, yes, I believe rm100 will be enough. I haven't tried their buffet lunch yet, sorry.

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  21. Would love to know the prices :)

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  22. Hi. Is there a way you could connect me to the owners of Laguna? I'd like to feature the restaurant and interview them next week when I go to KL. thank you.

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