CHEAP CHOWS | Pia’s Boodle Fight in Navotas

CHEAP CHOWS | Pia’s Boodle Fight in Navotas

I was sitting on the backseat of an Uber going from BGC to Pioneer with my fellow Malabonian (Malabon-er? Malabon-ites?) Regina when we went from talking about random events to food.

Me: Uy may bagong boodle fight sa Navotas ah. Dinala kami nina Kulet nung anniversary nina Mama dun sa Pia’s. Masarap.

Uber Driver: Taga Navotas kayo ma’am? Taga Navotas din ako eh. Kumakain kami dun sa Pia’s. Masarap dun.

Kuya uber driver knows it. In other words, alam mo yan kuya!

You see, Navotas and Malabon are small ponds compared to BGC or QC. Recently, there have been a good sprouting of small restaurants in the area and if it’s any good — and cheap — word spreads quickly.

On my parents’ 37th(!) anniversary, Mark and Kulet, my youngest sister, treated them, and us, to Pia’s, a boodle fight concept restaurant in Navotas. Just like any restaurant in Navotas, Pia’s is easy to find. Navotas has 3 main roads that go up and down along the Manila bay coast. Pia’s is on M. Naval, the biggest (2 lanes!) one.

The restaurant is charming. It sits under a nipa structure with gravel flooring and pine tables and chairs. There’s a decent crowd on a week night and as my sister, the frequent patron, says, in spite of its spacious dining area, it gets crowded during weekends. As with any restaurant where you can find good, cheap food, there’s no airconditioning.

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There are good boodle options on the menu suitable for any budget. We got the Sama-Sama A: Fried Rice, Grilled Liempo, Binagoongang Baboy, Pinaputok na Tilapia, Chicken Inasal, Ensaladang Talong, Itlog na Pula, Atchara and One Pitcher of Iced Tea. At 590, it’s good for 4 persons. Everything is good, even the fried rice, which I have a sneaking suspicion that it had MSG, because it’s that good. Very umami.

Back in the uber, where kuya uber driver and I already bonded over food…

Me: Masarap nga dun sa Pia’s, kuya. Masarap yung bagoong. Tsaka hindi nakakastress kumain kaysa sa Mikay’s. Grabe kasi sa Mikay’s, di ka pa natatapos may nagaabang na. Di ka makakain ng maayos.

Uber Driver: Oo nga. Nakakain na rin ako dun. Dami ngang tao.

Kuya Uber Driver is my people.


Pia’s
786 M. Naval St
Navotas, Metro Manila

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Boodle fight at La Mesa de Mikay

Boodle fight at La Mesa de Mikay

Malabon is probably most notorious for one thing: flooding. In Malabon, those numbers in those big wall calendars companies give out during the new year, they matter. Maybe not so much now, but in my childhood, I distinctly remember having to refer daily to the calendar. In the general Malabon-Navotas area, we kinda live and die by the tides. If it’s high tide and somebody decides to the laundry by the sewers, there will be flood. Ok, so maybe that’s an exaggeration. Or maybe, it’s not.

But aside from rising waters, I guess one more thing Malabon is vaguely known for is its lifelong affair with good cheap comfort food. We love our pancit malabon and our kakanin. We did not invent the Crispy Pata, but we sure perfected it. We are not Makati, or BGC, or Quezon City. If something is not priced affordably here, it’ll soon not see the light of day. In Malabon, it has to be delicious, and it has to be cheap.

We’ve only been seeing malls pop up here lately, but they are not full service malls. They are more like small derivatives of their bigger, shinier more urban center sisters. Like we have a Robinson’s, but it doesn’t have an H&M. It does have some small boutiques that are sometimes selling surplus H&M. And as long as they are cheap, they will sell. Up in the naughty north, we are simple folks.

And since big establishments dare not cross this territory, mom and pop stores that offer reasonably priced goods can still make a killing. Take for instance La Mesa de Mikay. The first instance my sister told me they went to this place that offered a big boodle meal for 400 pesos, I begged them to take me there.

“Tyempuhan natin. Andaming tao.”

And the time we did, true enough, there were a lot of groups waiting. And this is not Yabu. You don’t get a saucer that will buzz when your group is up. No, you stand there at the edges of the al fresco seating, and give the evil eye to those taking their sweet time to finish their meal. This strategy is effective. The table turn around is fast. These are groups of families and friends, but the restaurant is not a social setting. You sit outside, beside a busy street, stepping on gravel. It is not conducive for mingling. People just eat and run here. But the wait, even at 10 pm, doesn’t let up.

In Malabon, you got to be quick and good and cheap. In La Mesa de Mikay, you can basically feed a group of 8 people for 150 pesos a head with a lot of food. Like a lot. Like this much:

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La Mesa de Mikay
Brgy. Concepcion
Malabon City

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