4.270 The Original – Verena

Cycle 4 – Item 270

2 (Wed) October 2013

The Original – Verena


at My Kitchen by Chef Chris

(The Oasis Paco Park Hotel)

-Paco, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines-


WHO Informal Consultation on Reducing the Harmful Impact on Children of Marketing Foods, Beverages, Tobacco, and Alcohol + Singapore Diet + WHO Health Law Project (Day 9)

    1. 4.262 1-Piece Chickenjoy Meal + Pancit Palabok
    2. 4.263 Parros Clams in Spicy Black Bean Sauce
    3. 4.264 3-Piece Chicken Barbecue
    4. 4.265 Chilli Crab
    5. 4.266 White Carrot Cake
    6. 4.267 Hainanese Chicken Rice
    7. 4.268 Inasal Chicken
    8. 4.269 Mango
    9. 4.270 The Original – Verena
    10. 4.271 SPAM Musubi + SPAM Burger Hamburger
    11. 4.272 Chicken Curry with Raisin Biryani

In Manila.  Two sponsored objectives of the trip, under the auspices of the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WHO WPRO): (1) to participate in a technical expert meeting on finding ways to protect children from the marketing of unhealthy products; (2) to progress the health law project that I’ve been involved with since last year.   The more important informal objective, on my own dime: (3) to visit Singapore and stuff my face.


Lunch at the WHO WPRO cafeteria, which is quickly becoming one of my least favorite places to eat in the Philippines.

The food tasted as bad as it looked.  At least it was kinda healthy.


The primary reason for choosing the hotel was cost.  At around USD 33 per night, cheap even by Manila standards, I’d booked a standard room, which turned out to be a hole in the wall, making me regret the attempt at frugality.
Since my return from Singapore, I upgraded to a superior room for around USD 38, totally worth the extra Lincoln, making me feel like a million pesos.


The view from the 3rd floor overlooking the atrium – something about the air pollution makes the sky turn purple at sunset, or so I’m told.
Despite the promise of free wifi in the rooms, the atrium is really the only location where wifi works – being Manila, wifi is sketchy even in WHO.

My Kitchen by Chef Chris is an Italian restaurant.  As of this writing, it’s listed #2 on TripAdvisor for Manila.

Located in the hotel, the hotel’s only restaurant/bar.

Whenever I tell someone from WHO where I’m staying, they all respond with some comment about the restaurant.

Despite the hype, it was mostly empty on this Wednesday evening.

Although Italian food in Manila wouldn’t be my first choice, I had to see what all the fuss was about.

Artichokes à la Milanese (2.5): like jeon, with tomato sauce.

The restaurant’s signature item is a pizza called “The Original.”  It’s a thin-crust pizza in rectangular form that’s cut into strips, each of which may be rolled with rucola and sprouts, and a drizzle of chili oil, at the customer’s discretion.  The pizza toppings vary.

I’ve never seen/heard of anything like it, and a quick internet search doesn’t reveal anything similar.  The name “The Original” suggests that it might be Chef Chris’s invention.

In any case, it was the best pizza that I’ve ever had.  The crust was thin, moist and chewy, crispy without being dry/crunchy/flaky like a cracker.  The cheese and tomato sauce were okay, not spectacular but good enough.  The Verena featured shrimp and scallops as toppings, also okay, also not spectacular but good enough, somewhat skimpy in amount.  However, rolled with the fresh rucola and sprouts, plus the chili oil, the experience was elevated to another level entirely – synergy – in the way that, say, rice with various namul as individual banchan is different than bibimbab with gochujang.  Rucola has long been my favorite pizza topping, though it’s leafiness makes it somewhat difficult to manage, but this rolled format is the perfect solution.  Who would’ve thought that I’d find my ideal pizza in the slums of Manila?

At PHP 790 (about USD 18.50), it’s quite pricey by local standards, but totally worth it.


I took the leftover artichokes up to my room as anju.

White Castle, a locally produced whisky (not really whisky), 34.5% alcohol by volume, PHP 60 (about USD 1.40) for a 375-ml bottle; tastes like crap, but I can see myself drinking the stuff if I were to live here long term.

I regret that I’d waited so long to try the restaurant, now with only one more night until I return to Korea.  I look forward to exploring more of the menu on my next trip.

(See also BOOZE)



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