Where to bring my balikbayan aunt who migrated to the States in 1982 and has never set afoot on Philippine soil since then?  Imagine, that was 31 years ago!  I was still in grade school then, and now I have 2 kids in grade school!

We were having Sunday lunch with the family and the location had been selected:  BGC.  Ok now, where in BGC?  The initial choice was Abe in Serendra.  This LJC group resto is one of the best-tasting Filipino restaurants in town, and it’s our default option whenever a foreign or balikbayan guest wants to get a sampling of Pinoy comfort food.

But our tita wanted to do some shopping after lunch, and with some seniors in our posse (pardon the oxymoron), it would be exhausting for them to walk around Boni High Street and bask under the heat of the sun.  (Although it was still January and the country was experiencing the cold Amihan air, my aunt is from Boston and to her the humidity was unbearable).

So we decided on having lunch at SM Aura.   At least its big enough and the area is enclosed with air conditioning of course.  Then we learned that Mesa Filipino Moderne Restaurant, the famed dining place in Greenbelt 5, is also now in SM Aura.  It was the perfect choice.


Here were the family’s favorites:

Tofu Sisig – Bean curd on a sizzling plate with onions


Hito Flakes on spoon – Crispy pulled catfish with mango salad


Baked Tahong with cheese – Mussels baked with cheese and garlic


Crispy Boneless Tilapia served with 4 sauces


Boneless Patatim – Sweet and savory pork leg stewed in soy sauce and anise


Kare Kare Oxtail – Ox tail and vegetables cooked in a rich creamy peanut sauce (not in photo)

Chicken Pork Adobo Mesa Way – A Filipino favorite of chicken and pork stewed in soy vinegar and aneto (not in photo)

Overall, Mesa did not disappoint.  Our balikbayan Tita enjoyed all the Filipino cuisine that she missed for more than 30 years and we hope that for just a brief moment, we were able to bring her back to 1982 (segue into Sharon Cuneta’s “P.S. I Love You”).  (To those who don’t know, Mesa is owned by Sharon’s better half, former Senator Kiko Pangilinan).


Photo credit: Diana Jean de Leon (Follow her on Instagram at @heymsdjdeleon)


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About The Author

Marv is the founder of the Philippines’ premier freelancer community, Freelance Blend. He is the host of the Freelance Blend Podcast (a top business and career podcast in iTunes), a writer for FreelanceBlend.com, and a columnist for Malaya Business Insight newspaper. He also coaches and speaks about the topics: freelancing, blogging, podcasting and entrepreneurship. Marv is currently an executive of a global financial services company, a serial entrepreneur, a graphic designer, a loving husband and a hands-on father of two kids. He loves writing tech and gadget reviews as well as interviewing the country’s top entrepreneurs and influencers. You may check out his website at marvdeleon.com.

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