Chino MNL Has More Than Just Tacos

The Manila branch has new delicious surprises up its sleeve.

Tacos and Mexican food aren't new to Manila's food fans. In fact, in 2017, Manila saw more Mexican restos opening shop. All of a sudden, Manila folks were Instagramming soft tacos, elote, and even horchata

Hong Kong's Chino opened in BGC, Taguig in 2018, with a menu that boasted street-style tacos which were a bit more sophisticated than the ones you can find in your usual taco shop. Made with fresh ingredients (some flown in every day), Chino MNL's Mexican food also had Asian elements to it. "We just wanted to bring the Chino from Hong Kong to Manila," shares co-owner Tracy Wei.

Soft-shell shrimp (flown in daily from Aklan) sits on top of ponzu pickled watermelons.
Photo by Mark Jesalva
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Almost a year after, Chino MNL's menu is now more than just tacos. It's still there-for those hankering for small bites with bold flavors-but there are other noteworthy items on the menu such as hefty value-for-money rice meals for lunch (for rice-loving Pinoys) and sigh-worthy plates from their brunch menu.

This plate might just be the most flavorful chicken breast meal in Manila.
Photo by Mark Jesalva
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Lunch Menu

Lunch isn't an afterthought at Chino MNL. They took seemingly average ingredients and made it better: they want to be the neighborhood restaurant you would go to for good and sulit meals. Take, for example, the chicken breast rice meal. One bite of that seemingly normal chicken cut will have you thinking you chose well: it's tender, flavorful, and satisfying (Wei later shares it was cooked sous vide before grilling). Paired with the garlic rice and corn salsa, the plate has flavors that we wish we could find in every single meal.

Sweet, tender pork belly for lunch? Chino MNL just launched its rice plates for lunch.
Photo by Mark Jesalva
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The pork belly lunch plate looks a bit more fancy and it rewards you with happy flavors: sweet, tender pork flavors most Pinoys would love.

Their version of French toast: drizzled with miso-caramel sauce and pinipig for added crunch. Yum!
Photo by Mark Jesalva

Brunch

Without the weekday crowd, BGC has a surprising community vibe, Wei shares, and they created a brunch menu specifically for this set. Don't expect pancakes and sausages at Chino, though. Instead, dishes such as Chinoya is listed on the menu. It's a hefty serving of Wagyu tataki on a bed of rice, topped with seaweed strips. A raw egg sits in the middle, meant to be broken and stirred into the rice dish that is in some ways similar to the Bibimbap, but with more robust and savory flavors.

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There's French toast, but it's not the kind you can make at home. It's drizzled with miso-caramel sauce and pinipig for texture, each bite nudging you to finish the whole plate.

"This is not a franchise," Wei adds. "We put in as much work here as much as we do in the Hong Kong branch." And judging from the few flavorful plates we tried, we can expect the rest of the new dishes to be as surprisingly delicious.

The lunch and brunch menu is available starting April 1, 2019.

Chino MNL is at the Ground Floor, One Bonifacio High, BGC, Taguig. Open from Tuesday to Saturday (6 p.m. to 12 mn) and Sundays (12 noon to 8 p.m.).

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Jun 14, 2016

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