If you’re coming from Quezon Memorial Circle, Roberta’s is one of the first restaurants (along with Rodic’s <3) you will encounter on Maginhawa St. Maginhawa has quickly gained the distinction of having a lot of up and coming mom and pop shops that mainly cater to University of the Philippines (UP) students and the surrounding Teacher’s and Sikatuna Villages. However, the people who have been drawn to this eat street definitely come from all over Manila.
Momma dJ wanted to check the area out because of the many rave reviews of different restaurants dotting the roughly 2km street and surrounding side streets. I wasn’t sure which was more difficult: getting to Maginhawa or deciding where to eat. At first I wanted to try Friuli (which I read as Frutti but hey, pretty sure I’m somewhat dyslexic) Trattoria but the wait for 2 people was over 20 minutes and it was already past 8pm. So my stomach spoke and was basically like “Screw it, we will eat at Roberta’s because I saw it along the way and I’ve heard good things.” And that’s how we came to decide to eat there.
We arrive at Roberta’s and settle down immediately because there was more space hence it felt more relaxing. We started with a trio of appetizers which included their bestsellers: fried tawilis (Philippine sardinella), catfish mango salad, and mixed seafood gambas. The tawilis were perfectly fried, not too oily, and tasted great with or without the vinegar. I preferred it without because it stayed crispy that way. The salad had a great mix of refreshing, crisp green mango and the salty, tangy bits of catfish between layers of bean sprouts. Lastly, the mixed seafood gambas included shrimps (cause that’s what gambas really are), squid, and baby mussels. This was sautéed and given just the right amount of kick with some finely shopped local peppers. It’s almost like a full meal.
Well, the appetizers weren’t the only things we ate of course. Onto the main course which included spicy squid with tofu, binagoongan lechon kawali (fried suckling pig in fermented fish paste), kamote (sweet potato) fritters, and finally, tinola sa pakwan (ginger chicken soup with watermelon). I found the spicy squid with tofu to be quite ordinary but everything else was new to me. The lechon was a little dry but the bagoong made up for it and gave the classic dish a wonderful twist. The bagoong itself can be eaten separately either alone or with rice. The minced onions and garlic in it definitely add wanted flavor. The kamote fritters looked like the came straight out of a movie but they were a welcome addition to our meal because of the perfect fry but keeping the shrimps in them juicy enough for a contrast of textures. I also really like savory kamote because sweet kamote can be too sweet at times.
The most awaited dish had to be tinola sa pakwan. I had never imagined watermelon in a soup let alone my favorite comfort food soup. Momma dJ and I were so curious as to what it would look and taste like that we stopped everything when it arrived. While the soup appears spicy with it’s bright red color, it’s nothing close to that. The taste was more of a sweet, close to tomato soup taste. The chicken was perfectly cooked which is what one can expect from tinola and I actually found myself liking the flavor more than that of traditional tinola. Because cooking chicken in chicken broth kinda makes it redundant, right? I was craving a bowl of rice but I really needed to hold off.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect because “Flavors of Asia” is such a broad term but I can say that I wasn’t disappointed at all. The food leaned more towards Filipino and Thai food but I’m not gonna start complaining because it was delicious and very comforting. Definitely coming back! Oh wait, already did within a week!
Roberta Flavors of Asia
45 Maginhawa St
UP Village, Diliman
Quezon City, Metro Manila
+632 263 8632
Monday to Saturday 1100H – 2300H