Review: Little Manila's big time Kalayaan boodle fight

Little Manila's Sarao Jeepney inspired interior

I was a bit hesitant to go back to Little Manila because of the bad reviews that stormed its Facebook page during its first few months.  My personal experience of dissatisfaction also tells  the same.

But when I heard about the changes in management, it gave me hope that everything will change as well. The interiors are well-thought, so I hope the food compliments. True enough, I started to see better feedback in Facebook.

They enhanced the recipes, added items to the menu, offered value to their meals. And they introduced variety of in-demand dining sets among Pinoys, a.k.a. BOODLE FIGHT!

Add the improved customer relations to the list.

These days, you can tell the goodness of Pinoy restaurants in Dubai through their boodle fight packages.

We tried the 'Kalayaan' boodle package for 4-6 persons from JJ's Inasal. Chicken, beef, seafood, veggies and fruits. Here's what's in it:
  • Chicken barbecue
  • Fried chicken
  • Beef belly barbecue
  • Crispy shrimps
  • Grilled tilapia
  • Grilled squid
  • Bulalo
  • Ox tripe kare-kare
  • Fried eggplant
  • Nilagang garlic kangkong with bagoong
  • Ensaladang mangga (green mango salad)
The set comes with garlic rice and loads of plain rice (unlimited siempre). Fruit platter (watermelon) and one-round 2 liters of red tea also included.
For those not familiar with "boodle fight," it is a traditional military style of eating where long tables are prepared with banana leaves and foods are placed on top of it. No utensils used but bare hands. This style of eating among troops symbolizes fraternity and unity.
There are plastic gloves to use in Little Manila for those not too comfy with bare hands.

Pritong talong, Beef belly barbecue and Chicken barbecue sticks view

The beef belly barbecue and crispy shrimps are my favorite in the boodle. I mistaken the beef for pork as it resembles the tender meat, and its flavor is close to tocino. We were told that one of the secrets lies in the delicate process of marinating which takes days.  Crispy shrimps are so crunchy you can eat everything - leave me with this and I'll be fine.  The house vinegar dips adds more appetizing and mild spicy flavor.

Chicken barbecue sticks are juicy and tasty. They're good with rice.

The unique Filipino veggies kangkong with bagoong and fried eggplant, and the ensaladang mangga complete this authentic Pinoy dinner.

Grilled squid, Crispy shrimps, Garlic kangkong on top

Bulalo is a good soup starter. Kare-kare seems out of place when your bare hands are busy on the plate, banana leaves, but it's not really bad.

The amount of food, especially rice, is too much for the six of us. Priced at AED 199, this one's a good deal huh.

Personally, I think it would taste better if the eggplants are cut thinner so it would be well-fried. An added grill time to the squid could enhance its taste. Other than these two, everything is okay.

We've also tried Chicken Inasal in JJ's few weeks ago and we're happy about it. In fact, maybe they could replace the fried chicken with inasal in the package.

People queue for this

We also had some bites of ensaymada from Bread Shop. It's soft, fluffy texture and the right amount of sweetness and the balance of cheese and butter makes it the best-seller of the shop. People wait in line for this.

It was indeed a great experience worth writing for. True enough, they have improved by a mile. We will definitely come back.

Check out their website at, Facebook and Instagram to know more about the food court. You may need to call for reservation especially for dinner and on weekends as they're beginning to see long queues again, more frequent than usual.


* Thank you Little Manila for inviting us to try your new offerings.

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