A few weeks ago, my officemates and I went for dinner in Mabuhay Laguna Restaurant, a Filipino restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Finally, we found something we can recommend to non-Filipino friends here!
We need good Filipino restaurants abroad
When I first came here in Kuala Lumpur, I thought there’s just one Filipino restaurant that I can find and that’s The Narra. The Narra is popular among Filipino expats here, and it’s the default hang-out location on Fridays and Saturdays.
My biggest gripe about The Narra is that the food is mediocre, in my honest opinion. Although it has 5-star reviews in Google from Filipinos (who are nostalgic and looking for home food), I’d never personally met anyone who agrees the food is delicious. I suppose no one gives a low-rating because it may seem “unpatriotic” not to support a Filipino establishment abroad. For me though, at most, the food here is “okay lang.” Anyway, one can argue that you come here to satisfy your cravings for sinigang and sisig (regardless of quality & taste) and maybe to listen to live music on selected days, with a familiar crowd of Filipinos chilling on their days off.
You might be wondering why this is an issue to me. When you’re living abroad as a minority, whether you are aware of it or not, you represent your home country. Following this, The Narra is the most popular Filipino restaurant in Kuala Lumpur and it basically represents Philippines cuisine to everyone else. Of course, I expect — want, would even beg — for it to be good.
Last time, my boss was asking me to take him to a Filipino restaurant here, and I gave a noncommittal grunt because I didn’t want to take him there. I want to give a good impression of our food and that just won’t do. If pressed, I would honestly just resort to homecooking.
So anyway, several weeks ago I heard about Mabuhay Laguna, and reading about online reviews it seems it’s worth a try. My officemates and I went here on a dinner on a weekend.
(This is a bit impromptu and I didn’t bring my mirrorless camera, so I’m apologizing in advance for the quality of the photos.)
Mabuhay Laguna restaurant
Mabuhay Laguna restaurant can be found at the city center in Kuala Lumpur. The outdoor facade is unremarkable, and I’m not sure what look they’re going after for the interior. It’s looks like an ordinary home eatery. Anyway, forget the decor because you come here to get some good Filipino food.
There were only three of us in the group, and we ordered sisig (a grilled dish made of pork bits, seasoned with chili and calamansi), beef kare-kare (stew with peanut sauce) and lechon kawali (crispy pork belly).
First, the sisig better than expected. It doesn’t seem to contain the typical pork parts (pig face), but it’s delicious nonetheless. It’s perfect paired with steamed rice. The same goes for kare-kare. It was hearty and there were lots of leafy vegetables, which made up for our lack of veggie side dishes. It brought me back to morning trips to Aani weekend market in Taguig City with my mother, where we’d buy organic produce and Filipino delicacies such as this one. See? It reminds me of home already.
For the lechon kawali… well, you can’t really go wrong with this dish. It’s pork boiled and deep fried. The lechon kawali comes with spiced vinegar dip.
We also ordered gulaman (a refreshing drink with dark jellies) and halo-halo (iced dessert with various ingredients such as fruits, beans, pearls and ice cream). The halo-halo for me is good as well, although when the ice cream melted it turned too sweet for my taste. Perhaps next time I’ll request less sugar or eat the ice cream before mixing it with the shaved ice.
Overall, we had a great dinner. We weren’t able to taste-test other items in the menu because we were a small party, but based on our order, I can tell that the quality of the food here is good.
I finally have something to recommend to people who wants to try traditional Philippine dishes in Kuala Lumpur.
Practical info: Mabuhay Laguna restaurant
Mabuhay Laguna Restaurant serves traditional Filipino fare. There are silog meals (fried rice, egg and another dish of your choice) for 1 person or main dishes good for 2-3 persons. It also serves alcoholic drinks.
Mabuhay Laguna restaurant is just walking distance from Masjid Jamek station. It has another branch in Petaling Jaya.
Address: 3, Jalan Gereja, City Centre, 55000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
- Monday: 9AM – 2:30PM
- Tuesday to Sunday: 9AM – 10PM
Suggested budget per person: RM15-20
You can visit them via their Facebook page here.
P.S. Here are other Filipino restaurants you can find in Kuala Lumpur.
Have you been to Mabuhay Laguna restaurant? How was your experience?