I arrived here recently for lunch service and came with great expectations. I was really excited to experience a quality lunch with unbeatable water views at Manly Wharf. Papi Chulo is right on Manly Wharf, right next to Max Brenner.
My ferry arrived right on midday from Circular Quay. There were a fair few people waiting to come inside, despite being a relatively hot day. The staff in abundance were working full throttle to get the restaurant opened in time. That homely ambience was welcoming. As my reward for coming at the right time, I nabbed a beautiful spot right in front of the water.
To cut a long story short, I was starving. Water makes many people hungry. Despite being a Latin American Restaurant, I was in the mood for some Vietnamese fare after looking at the menu. My gut instincts were right to go for the Smoked Pork Belly Banh Mi ($18) with fried bologna, chicken liver pate, pickles, coriander and cucumber with sriracha mayo. To drink I went for the Lemon, Lime and Bitters ($4).
The wait staff are quite polite. They ensure everything is okay, and they get you settled right in. The airy ambience is a winner. All good, my Banh Mi arrived promptly. Wow it looked so appetising.
Took my first bite. This dish is rather filling and spicy. I am not much of a pork fan, yet I've always loved the pork in Vietnamese Banh Mi's - whether from Miss Chu or any Vietnamese bakery in equal measures.
This pork was fresh and exuded a BBQ like flavour. The pate was just a beautiful spread, and the fresh vegetables ensured a match made from culinary heaven. The mayo added to the spiciness. You definitely need that water, and the soft, flavoursome Lemon, Lime and Bitters added to the experience elegantly.
I was full. The Bani Mi ensures a satisfied, leisurely lunch. I did not need anything else to eat until dinnertime. Not even an ice cream - something which many people have (without fail) in Manly on a hot day. I was too full.
I loved my Papi Chulo experience until the end. When it was time to pay the bill, the person serving me answered the phone. The entire time she attended to that same phone call while serving me simultaneously. Sure, that ability to multi-task is an asset, however I find this rude when you have an existing paying customer right in front of you. You pay top dollar to eat here. Some courtesy to end my Papi Chulo experience would have been nice. Paying a 1% credit card surcharge was not a biggie, yet for many people that is high. In actuality it is, considering that you're already paying top dollar for your food and drinks here.