We have a new category on this blog, something that should have been done years ago: One Shot. This is where instead of ‘reviewing’/featuring the restaurant and its dishes, I just focus on one dish. There are several reasons why I considered this category; the top reason is that it’s more economical for me to just buy one dish.

If you haven’t been following Strictly Dumpling on YouTube yet, then you should definitely do so now. The guy’s love for food is genuine and infectious. He’s also been to the Philippines a couple of times, and during his first trip here he hit up several restaurants in Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown. One of the restaurants was Masuki. Mike Chen got the classic Mami and Siopao (Asado) combo: He loved the Siopao; He was not impressed by the mami.

Masuki Chicken Mami Megmall
Chicken Mami with Asado Siopao from Masuki SM Megamall

Before anything else, do you know why we call most Filipino Noodle bowls as Mami (like Chicken Mami)? According to Wikipedia, it was coined by Ma Mon Luk himself for the noodle soup he peddled along the streets of Manila. It’s partly Chinese, “Ma Mi” which translates to “Ma’s Noodles”. The term became so attached to a bowl of noodles, however, and Filipinos took off with it. It was fair game, it was never patented.

Mike didn’t hate the mami, he was just underwhelmed. He actually liked the noodles themselves, and I have to agree. It’s the broth, however. He described it as “one-dimensional” and “(even with the different sauces) is a little monotone… It’s not bad; it’s just not very interesting either”.

Mike hit it right in the nose. I’m basing this on the couple of times I’ve eaten at the SM Megamall branch. Both times I’ve had the chicken mami: The noodles are amazing – bouncy, cooked al dente, easy to pick up with chopsticks; the chicken bits were not dry and tasted fresh; the broth tastes of nothing. I know you have to add the sweet sauce on the side according to your liking, but to me it just makes it weird. I tried adding white pepper as well as soy, but it still didn’t do it for me.

Chicken Mami needs more savory flavor. Sweetening it up does not help

It’s the original recipe, but consider that the dish was invented during a time when ingredients were hard to get by in the Philippines. We now live in a time when a lot of ingredients are accessible for everyone to ensure their dishes have good flavor. Some may argue that having the option to adjust the flavor according to how you like it adds to the charm of the dish. Don’t we Filipinos love our ‘sawsawan’ (dipping sauce) for almost anything we eat? But this is different. It’s one thing to use sauces to enhance the flavor; it’s entirely different to only have the flavor coming from your dipping sauce.

These bowls are not cheap either, at least the ones in Megamall. It’s Php 160 for a regular bowl! You get more flavor from a Php 50 bowl out in the streets. Makes me wonder how this tastes compared to the broth from Ma Mon Luk.

People still love these bowls but I think that’s more out of nostalgia than anything else. It’s like my affinity with Tropical Hut Hamburgers – I associate it with my childhood so much that I turn a blind eye to how bland the food is sometimes, especially the burgers. I’m not blasting you for liking it, but you won’t ever convince me that it’s the best bowl of noodles I’ll ever have.

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