[ADVERT]Sydney's Chinatown and its surrounding neighbourhoods used to cater for almost every conceivable Asian cuisine you could think of, from Chinese (of course) to Thai and Japanese and much more. Now you can add Filipino to that list, with the arrival of La Mesa Philippine Restaurant.
Opening the day before my visit, La Mesa was once located in Dee Why and attracted both Filipino and non-Filipino customers, a definite draw card to a cuisine so underrepresented in Sydney. With its recent relocation to Chinatown, it should draw a much bigger and wider crowd than its cozy Dee Why digs.
The dining room area at the new La Mesa Philippine Restaurant, Chinatown, Sydney
Unlike the Dee Why location, the Chinatown place is roomier and naturally brand spanking new. The décor, like the Dee Why place, features wooden ornaments and wicker-ish touches, but this time it's much more reminiscent of the Philippines – more wooden furniture is on the dining room floor, old black and white images of the Philippines from what way back when (one photo I saw featured a group of women dressed in traditional terno gowns and men in barongs) are on display, and even a collection of woven sombreros hanging on the wall to greet you as you walk up the flight of stairs from the Goulburn Street entrance.
Sombreros to greet you as you walk up to the dining area
The food is still just as good, so here's hoping the old clientele from the Northern Beaches still make their way to the new spot. We ordered the mixed entrée of okoy (deep fried patties made with shrimp, carrots, pumpkin and sweet potato), BBQ chicken on a skewer, spring roll and beef tapa. Served on a little platter with a side of sweet chilli sauce and vinegar, it was devoured in a heartbeat. It was enough of a tasting platter for two people, but if you're famished or want just one type of entrée food, that's available on the menu too.
Mixed Entree of Okoy, Spring Roll, Chicken Skewer and Beef Tapa
The mains we ordered were Tocino, a BBQ pork dish covered in sweet sauce, and my go-to Filipino comfort food, Siniganag na Baboy, made with gorgeously tasty (it's gotta have a bit of a tang otherwise what's the point?) tamarind soup and filled with pork, beans, okra, tomato, onions and eggplant. I happily drowned my side of rice in the soup and ate most of the pot it was served in – and maaaaaaaan, did that go down a treat! Other Filipino food crowd favs can be found on the menu, like adobo, pancit and beef tapa.
Unfortunately I had over-flogged myself on the Sinigang so I wasn't able to try the dessert this time around, but I did see that there was Halo-Halo, Cassava Cake and an Ube offering, among others. Had I not eaten the equivalent of a four person meal in under half an hour, I would've been able to smash a serving of leche flan. There's always next time.
Overall, La Mesa Philippine Restaurant's move to Chinatown from Dee Why hasn't diminished its appeal to me, nor has it made me fearful of its future. If anything, with the new location, great ambience, wait staff that were eager to please and just plain ole good filo food, this will surely continue to place Filipino cuisine on the map of Sydney's Asian Dining experiences, just as it did when it first opened back in 2002.
La Mesa Philippine Restaurant is open 7 days a week, 11am to 10pm on weekdays and 11am to 11pm on weekends.
im interested in trying this new filo resto, had been going to blacktown (next to the train station) for filo food but got bored with their greasy/salty food at high priced, I just hope la mesa will be better.
Boohhh! I went here and it was very disappointing! Service was shocking, they forget your orders and even give you your wring order! They ended up serving our food to another table and realized it was ours 15mins later! Not even an apology and we ended up eating cold food. To end our meal with halo halo we ended up waiting half an hour only to taste like water and it wasnt even busy. La Mesa Dee Why was definitely far better and never will I return to La Mesa Chinatown.
It's Friday and another reason to dine with my food-loving family. For years we enjoyed the sumptuous Asian banquet in Glebe. But this time, curiosity convinced our never-to-be-fooled-by-Filo resto taste buds.
As we took the flights of stairs, interior ornaments reminded me of Pinoy Republic restaurant in Davao City. In fairness, the restaurant presented itself with pride as compared to the carenderia-grade Filo resto in Lidcombe and the name-and-shame headliner Fil-Em-Up in Blacktown. As we waited to be seated, not for long we were guided to our reserved table for 10. After we settled ourselves comfortably on Filo-themed dining chairs, a waitress came to us and asked "Are you ready to order now?". But we haven't seen the menu yet! Hello!?! Looking at the prices on the menu really made me want to leave and head to a Malaysian restaurant next door which had a long queue as a good indicator how good the food is.
The food was served on time but the serving size is like it's for a diabetic patient who are hardly allowed to consume two spoonfuls of bland hospital food. Who want's to pay for a $6-a-piece vegie lumpia? I'd rather go fine-dining in a Thai restaurant in Darling Harbour and get a 4-course dinner for just $40.
The food. To be honest, nothing extraordinary! The sisig is bland! The $16 lechon kawali serving is just half size of the roasted pork you get in any Chinese and Thai restos. I wasn't surprised seeing the resto packed with first-and-last-dining-experience-in-this-resto Filos as we always wanted to support our very own but first impression tad lasts! I bet those faces won't be coming back again. It's not worth their dollars.... and mine too! If you are one Filo who just long for real Filo food, try taking an extra travel mile to Lidcombe and head to Bahay Kubo (the name had changed already but I can't remember what!) and eat the same food (at least the serving is a little generous).
On a scale of 10, this resto gets a 2 from me and so with the rest of my family!