Villa Manila

East meets East as Chandler goes Flipino.

If I never thought I could be tempted with ideas of a cotton candy-fragranced infant, I also never would have thought I could be so charmed by a lunatic assembly of pochero, sounding entirely offbeat with pork, beef or chicken sautéed in tomato sauce alongside Spanish sausage, bananas, potatoes and cabbage. But bliss -- I love this wild ride of flavors and textures so much that I'm not even embarrassed to be writing so dramatically about it.

Mom has zeroed in on pancit, a more approachable dish of bihon (skinny, soft white noodles) tossed with a confetti of moist pork, bay shrimp, carrots and peppers made dazzling with a spritz of Filipino lime (the fruit is colored deep orange inside). We alternate bites of the mellow dish with crispy lumpiang Shanghai, a dozen petite egg rolls stuffed with spicy sausage, and sips of fresh strawberry milkshake.

I offer a spring roll to the baby -- a French friend of mine uses biscotti as a pacifier for her infant, so why not? -- but the girl is sleepy now and nestles down into her mother's bosom for a nap. It's time for Mom and me to go, we agree, though there's room in our bellies for another bite of chicken adobo, poultry in a lush marinade of soy sauce, vinegar and garlic. It's a simple sauce, but so thrilling.

Manila Café brings a dazzling array of exciting Filipino dishes.
photos by Erik Guzowski
Manila Café brings a dazzling array of exciting Filipino dishes.
Manila Café co-owners Noel Ricafort and Jean Arnold.
Manila Café co-owners Noel Ricafort and Jean Arnold.

Details

Afritadang manok: $3.99
Dinuguan: $3.99
Pancit bihon: $5.99
Lumpiang Shanghai: $1.99

480-917-9794. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

2986 North Alma School, Chandler

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