I have been on the lookout for a good place to find laksa in Manila. Unfortunately, a lot of the places that offer this Malaysian/ Singaporean dish falls short. At least until a friend directed me to Singaporean restaurant Tao Yuan, which he claimed served the best laksa in the city. Said friend loves to eat, and is always out trying new restaurants, so I trust his judgement.
Tao Yuan has three branches: the original, hard-to-get-to-if-you’re-not-from-Manila Malate branch, the good-place-to-eat-in-before-clubbing-or-after-a-flight branch in Resorts World near the airport, and the most accessible one (at least for me) in Greenbelt 3. I have tried all three branches, and I am pleased to report that all three branches serve good food.
Tao Yuan’s menu is formidable, the kind that you find in restaurants that you can only eat in if your parents are paying. They serve Hong Kong cuisine, hot pot, and dimsum, as well as traditional Singaporean dishes, which is where the Singapore Laksa can be found.
A bowl of Singaporean laksa costs Php328. It isn’t cheap, but what you get is a big bowl (good enough for two moderately hungry people) filled with curried soup flavored with coconut milk covering shrimp, fish, noodles, and puffed tofu. It is served steaming hot, and if you wear glasses like I do, they will most likely fog up. The seafood is fresh, firm, with a little give. The noodles are smooth, the kind that invites slurping and the licking of lips, everything brought together by the rich, thick soup. The laksa is served with sate on the side, and the wait staff will happily serve you more, should you require a more intense flavor.
A bowl is quite filling, so it’s a good idea to share one order if you plan to try other dishes. After your meal, the staff serves complimentary dessert, usually a bowl of almond jelly with a lychee on top. Free dessert, especially one as classic as this, is always appreciated, and serves as a great way to end the meal in terms of taste and memory–your taste buds delight in the universally loved almond-lychee combination while your mind thinks, ‘Wow! Free dessert! This place rocks!’ Not that Tao Yuan needs to give out free treats in order to be well-loved. The restaurant is often jam-packed with Chinese people, and if you adhere to the belief that a sure sign of an ethnic restaurant’s authenticity is if it is frequented by people of the same ethnicity, then that should be enough to recommend the restaurant.
2/F Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati