Dining alone is always an adventure. One night when I was in the Philippines, I found myself needing to dine alone. I didn't feel like eating in the hotel, and I wasn't in the mood to hire a car or taxi to drive me all over town, so I decided I'd check out the Greenbelt area of Makati. It had been almost 8 years since I had been to Manila, and a lot had changed. The Greenbelt area was completely new since my last visit, and I had heard it offered a myriad of shops and restaurants, so I figured it was worth checking out.

After a quick 5 minute walk, and a detour by a bizarre open air church, I was there. There were indeed, a ton of restaurants and shops, including a lot of western chains such as Starbucks and Seattle's Best. After walking around for another ten minutes or so, I settled on a Spanish Tapas place called Casa Armas Tapas Bar y Restaurante, on the third floor of Greenbelt 3.

When I got there, it was still a bit early at about 6:30pm. The place was dead, but I had brought along a book (a constant companion when traveling solo) so I figured I'd be good to go. I was the only person there, so I was curious as to how I'd end up being treated. The waiter promptly seated me at a two top near a window overlooking the city, which I considered a good move.

After a few minutes, the waiter returned with a bread basket and asked me if I wanted anything to drink. I ordered a glass of the house red, which ended up being fairly dry, but not particularly good.

There were actually two menus from which to choose, a tapas menu, and a menu of more traditional Spanish (and other) fare. I was in the mood for tasting, so I opted to order exclusively from the tapas menu.

I ended up placing orders for gambas al ajillo (shrimp in olive oil and garlic), an assorted meat/fish/cheese/olive tray, and two pieces each of assorted shrimp, fish, pickles, and toast.

The gambas al ajillo was by far my favorite. The shrimp were nicely done, and the combination of pungent garlic and olive oil was divine.

The mixed plate had homemade chorizo, Jamon Serrano, and what I think was soppressato, along with manchego cheese, olives, and sardines. I loved the chorizo and manchego cheese, but the ham was not nearly as good as the other times I've had it. The olives were also plain and uninteresting. The plate was originally supposed to come with anchovies, but they were all out, so they substituted with large sardines. I'm glad they did, because they were great! I honestly had never gotten around to eating sardines, thinking they were nasty little fish that came in cans, but my opinion is now changed.

The other items I ordered were basically toothpicks containing pickles, olives, and shrimp or sardines, served on toast. They were ok, but nothing worth remembering.

All in all, Casa de Armas was ok. The gambas al ajillo were very good, but unfortunately, the rest of the menu fell a little short of what I had been hoping for. I do have to credit the experience, though, to opening my eyes to sardines, a food I had entirely dismissed until this trip.

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
K.M.S.'s Gravatar I totally disagree! I also have had my fair share of experience in different types of food. especially in Spanish. Trying out their food, presentation, and service tops what the exquisiteness of Spanish Cuisine is. It's all about the taste - that oddness in its ingredients rightfully makes the perfect Spaniard dish.
Dining in Casa Armas - superb! Growing up with homemade Paella, Callos, and everything else in Spanish dishes; this is what defines the taste most sought after. So I rate this a hundred and plus plus.
# Posted By K.M.S. | 1/10/07 12:49 PM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Wow K.M.S., sounds like you really like the place ;-)

I do have to say that on a recent trip back, my experience was much better. The spicy potato and tomoato dish was excellent, as were the white anchovies with lemon. All in all, I like Casa Armas, although, I still wouldn't say it's the best Spanish I've had.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 1/15/07 3:07 PM
KSM's Gravatar Yup, I agree. It isn't the best. But it is good.
# Posted By KSM | 1/16/07 11:28 PM
K.M.S's Gravatar Well Rob, no I don't super really like the food and the place. It's not bad but I'm no number one fan. The truth, I was just contradicting the person's blog. =) Tripping for that matter - 'coz I was sort of in a good mood - if you know what I'm sayin'. ;) I've had a great deal of experience there and yes I would like to keep it running for that matter.
# Posted By K.M.S | 1/16/07 11:33 PM
Richard's Gravatar Honestly, the paella is ok but you guys have to try the kutsinilyo.....have to be ordered a day in advance...but i assure you guys it will be worth it......When I go back to Manila to visit, I always make sure my friends
bring me there to eat kutsinilyo....
# Posted By Richard | 4/21/07 1:42 AM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Hi Richard,

I'll be back there in July, so I'll definitely add the kutsinilyo to my list of must tries.

# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 5/2/07 1:57 AM
Jose's Gravatar Jamon iberico:
I think the best spanish tapa is <a href="http://www.spanishtaste.es">Jamon Iberico</a>
Do you?
# Posted By Jose | 7/30/07 9:59 AM
SG's Gravatar I havent been to Manila in years but I remember that the original location along Nakpil served the best !!! My favorite was of course the mouth watering cochinillo which they serve and cut up using a stoneware plate in front of you, the garlic crab swimming in olive oil, and, for those in the know, you can order Iberian chicken a day in advance. Staple favorites was the torta, gambas al ajillo and the mussels, the pickled anchovies. It was such a treat to just sit by the bar and wait for a table (coz the place is always packed) while picking on jamon serrano and nuzzling a glass of rioja. If you know your Spanish wine then you end up with a good bottle. At some point, my friends and I were even able to inveigle the trusty bartender to whip up a mean caipirinha. I hope it is still unspoiled, authentic and as good as it used to be...
# Posted By SG | 10/2/08 11:06 AM
marge's Gravatar hi, im a practicumer there in Casa armas in greenbelt... the place is really nice, try and dine with us... im glad to see you there..
# Posted By marge | 10/17/08 11:18 AM
Sangria's Gravatar I've heard a rumor this coming November the Casa Armas Trinoma they will release a new set of menu for dessert so be the first guest who will try the bake alaska... good luck!
# Posted By Sangria | 10/18/08 4:51 AM
gareth's Gravatar ang sarap talaga ng foods dito!!!!!!!!!!!!!
# Posted By gareth | 2/23/10 10:29 PM

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