5.007 Ampalaya

Cycle 5 – Item 7

12 (Sun) January 2014



at Mr Poon

-Malate, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines-


For the past few days, I’ve been staying at Tropicana Suites, a serviced residence.  At the WHO rate, 48,000 pesos per month (a little under USD 1,100, about 35 per day).

In fairness, it wasn’t exactly recommended by WHO, just listed on an informal sheet along with other hotels in the area.

After one day, I was already done with the place.  Ants, everywhere, so aggressive that they’d swarm a glass of water left on the table.  Only the bedroom has AC, which is a deal-breaker.  No cable TV.  No lights in the dining room.  The most uncomfortable chairs that I have ever experienced, ever.  Kitchen hardware was subpar.  I had to get out.

The Adriatico Towers (my soon-to-be 2nd home in the Philippines), as seen from Tropicana (my 1st home, for 4 nights).

I asked everybody in my division about better options.  Fortunately, I was put in touch with a broker, who showed me a couple available units this afternoon – I’m moving tomorrow.

Living Room

Mr Poon is a Cantonese restaurant. Affiliated with the Tropicana, which doesn’t have its own kitchen, Mr Poon provides “room service,” on trays with plates covered in plastic wrap, from 06:30 to 22:00.  Cash only.

On TripAdvisor, reviews were rather lukewarm about the hotel but seemed to regard the restaurant as a silver lining.

The food was generally okay.

The chicken appeared to have been first roasted (Cantonese style) and then finished off in the deep fryer (Filipino style).  It was a bit underseasoned but among the juiciest chickens that I’ve ever encountered.

Bitter melon is the fruit of the tropical vine Momordica charantia.  Looks like a cucumber/zucchini but riddled with bumps.  Popular in certain parts of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.  In the Philippines, it’s known as “ampalaya.”

At the time of ordering, I had no idea what ampalaya was and just took it upon the server’s recommendation for any green vegetable.  Totally/utterly/completely/entirely bitter, it didn’t offer room for any other sensation.  I did manage to finish the portion, even though I was wondering if maybe it had gone bad, the vegetable normally tasting like something else.  Bitter melon isn’t really the kind of thing that a server should recommend to a customer who’s never tried it and doesn’t know what to expect.  Anyway, I’m glad to have experienced ampalaya, but I doubt that I’d order it ever again.



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