The old city of Manila is changing. Taller modern structures are taking over a landscape that was once dominated by midrise art deco buildings and residential spaces. Once the preferred urban retreat of young artists and designers, it seems to have lost its regulars. Only a few stay, almost hardheaded about the city they call home.
Tapa King is a small local fast food joint that specializes in the breakfast staple tapsilog. It offers several tapsilog versions and, despite its name, it is the Tapa Queen that stands out. Don’t miss this amazing dish of sweet and spicy marinated beef strips, served with fried egg, tomato salsa and garlic rice. Their Manila branch is right in front of De La Salle University, along Taft Avenue.
Get sporty in one of Metro Manila’s oldest sports complexes, the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. It was originally built in 1934, and was reconstructed in 1953, after the Second World War. You don’t have to be a national athlete to enjoy its facilities. It is open to the public for a fee. Swimming is best in the morning, when the sun’s not too hot and there aren’t a lot of people doing laps. Tennis and badminton are also popular here. You can hire a tennis coach at an hourly rate. The complex is located near De La Salle University in Taft Avenue. Just turn the corner of Vito Cruz, moving towards Harrison Plaza.
Suzhou Dimsum Restaurant
For lunch, head to Suzhou Dimsum Restaurant, along Mabini in Malate, Manila. An old-time favorite in the area, you can get authentic Chinese cuisine in this hole in the wall. Don’t let the clatter and chatter turn you off. It really gets busy during peak hours. Don’t miss their Xiao Long Bao, Pork and Vegetable Rice, and Hot and Sour Soup.
When the sun’s settled into early dusk, head for a walk along the Manila Bay. This area has experienced massive changes in the span of a decade. It was rehabilitated by then Mayor Atienza, and then converted into a commercial space. Rows of seaside bars and comedy joints once occupied it. Now, under the leadership of his successor Mayor Lim, the strip is cleared of these bars, allegedly because these didn’t have permits to operate. It is now a place for promenaders, joggers, bikers, and line-fishing men.
For good food and drinks, head to a Malate institution, the Oarhouse Pub. Oarhouse has been around since the ’70s, and has been passed on from one owner to another, all of whom share a love for the Malate community. It is still home to the hardheaded Manila regulars, some come all the way from the capital’s outskirts. They go for the cold beers, the amazing cheeseburger, and the eggplant mozzarella. It has a new cook, who’s able to churn out new favorites, such as the Buffalo wings with cheese and pork sisig. Oarhouse is located along Bocobo Street, in Malate.
End the night by mingling with your shorter brothers and sisters at the Hobbit House. As the name implies, the Hobbit House is a bar run by short people. It’s been around since the ’70s. It has moved from its old home and is now located at the corner of Padre Faura and M.H. Del Pilar in Manila. This is a place to chill, listen to folk music, and drink beers and cocktails. It boasts of an extensive collection of beers. If you feel like it, you can request to have a photo taken with the entire staff.