Flavors of the Middle East: Arabian Nights at Pan Pacific Manila

Pan Pacific Manila, the finest butler hotel in Manila, continues to surprise its guests and patrons with exciting new offerings as it launched its Chef’s Talk Middle Eastern Menu this June. A selection of Mediterranean dishes awaits diners and the hotel’s growing Arab clientele who are eager to sample authentic food prepared by Pan Pacific’s sous chef, Chef Tarek Alsarraj, who hails from Syria. Be prepared for a gastronomic adventure of fresh sights, scents and flavors atop Manila’s hotel of choice.

When I went to India 5 years ago, one of the things I was worried—and at the same time excited—about the most was the food. People told me everything was 10 times spicier there, and that I would upset my stomach for days. Well, to be honest, they were right—but the thing is, I enjoyed the food immensely. There was no holding back when it comes to Indian food; if you can’t match its boldness, just turn away. As you know, Arab food is closely related to Indian cuisine, so imagine my excitement as I went up the 21st floor to the Pacific Lounge to try these new dishes.

We started with the usual mezze (starters), a Hummus and a Mutabbal served with pita bread. The Hummus was finely blended and very smooth, not too pasty unlike some versions I’ve tried around. I had to stop myself from munching this with pita bread or I would never get to the other dishes. I also loved the Muttabal, which was made with mashed eggplant—sweetish and smoky at the same time. This came topped with chopped tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil for good measure.

Two types of Sambusa are on the menu: Beef and Vegetarian. Although I’m not into crispy fried food that much, I tried the vegetarian variant and found it really good—mashed potato, carrots, and chili burst out upon first bite. It reminded me of the time I went to Ilocos and refused to try the empanada because I don’t like crispy, wrapped food, but when I finally did I ended up buying more!

The Arabic Mixed Grill features grilled items like lamb kofta, beef kofta, chicken shish taouk, and shrimps. I have to say that the lamb was perfectly cooked, very tender and devoid of the distasteful smell. Both lamb and beef are meatball-like and skewered, while the chicken was simply sliced and grilled. If you like seafood, you would enjoy the shrimps (like my friends did, they hoarded the entire tray) but personally I’m not a fan of shrimps. These treats were perfect with the garlic yoghurt sauce, and of course, ice cold beer!

The Chicken Kabsa brought back memories of the biryanis I had in India. I could’ve sworn I was in that cafeteria in Kerala, lining up for what seemed like a kilo of basmati rice cooked into my biryani of choice, and dumped into my metal plate. Here, the chicken, although mildly spiced, is flavorful and moist; most of the seasoning comes into the rice. This dish alone was a smorgasbord of Middle Eastern flavors.

I enjoyed the Samak Harra, which was snapper fish bathed in a rich tomato-based sauce. Bell peppers and cherry tomatoes swim along, and yes, you don’t have to ask—I got more of the Chicken Kabsa rice to pair this dish with.

Notice that no pork dishes are available as Muslim Arabs do not eat pork. Thus, Pan Pacific also makes sure everything served is halal-certified.

Left: Arabic Pudding; right: Umm Ali
More delights ensued as we went on to dessert. I loved the Umm Ali and the Arabic Pudding, the former nutty and the latter flavored with mango. The Tulumba is similar to churros—I actually wished there was some hot chocolate, LOL! The Balkava was incredibly delicious: subtly flaky, nutty, chewy and mildly sweet. Definitely my kind of dessert!

Left: Baklava; right: Tulumba
To wash down everything I ate, I had three more glasses of beer some Turkish coffee—which was pure bliss for coffee lovers. It had a distinct aroma and a gingery taste, and it was rich and strong. I loved this! In fact I got some more as the night wore on.

You think our night ended there? No way! What’s an Arabian night without shisha? Guests can try Pan Pacific’s shisha for only PhP500++ per flavor, and that comes with one appetizer from the Middle Eastern menu. Such a steal, right? Ours had a citrusy-minty flavor, and we kept hitting and puffing as the night deepened, along with some Turkish coffee and beer. It was one of the most relaxing nights I’ve had recently!

Come to think of it, two of my most peaceful nights transpired at Pan Pacific. Just a few months back we tried their sundown pica-picas at the Sunset Lounge, drinking beer as we watched the view of Manila Bay. And this time, another new experience, at the top floor of Pan Pacific. It’s great to feel that genuine desire to provide a great customer experience, and at Pan Pacific, I never expect it but always end up getting it. I’m not surprised that people come back like faithful junkies. As for myself, I can’t wait for what Pan Pacific comes up with next.

photo credit: The Hungry Kat

The Pacific Lounge - Pan Pacific Manila
21/F Pan Pacific Manila, M. Adriatico St., cor. Gen. Malvar St., Malate, Manila
+632.318.0788/Toll-free: 0120.001.800
6:00PM – 9:00PM

Catch the Relaxing Shisha promo at Pan Pacific Manila’s Pacific Lounge (21st Floor) from 6:00PM to 9:00PM daily. Try one flavor of shisha for only PhP500++, which comes with a complimentary appetizer from the Chef’s Talk Middle Eastern Menu.

Avail of unlimited drinks daily from 6:00PM – 8:00PM for only PhP750++. Choose from their assortment of beers, wines, cocktails and liquors—plus 2 complimentary appetizers.

Do you love Arab/Middle Eastern food? Would you love to try Pan Pacific's Chef's Talk Menu? 

My meal was sponsored by Pan Pacific Manila. All opinions, however, are my own.
Dishes were provided buffet-style for food sampling purposes and the photos do not reflect the actual a la carte sizes.

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