Have you ever tasted the food of the Philippines? If not, you may owe yourself a trip to the two-month old Manila’s BBQ Stop in Centereach. It’s in the same deceptively modest strip mall that houses another Epicurean find, Istanbul Cafe.
Manila's is hyper-informal. Order at the counter, behind which is a steam table display of foods. Don’t know what anything is? Ask and it will be cheerfully explained and then brought to table in paper, plastic or foil dinnerware.
Fancy it isn't, but oh, the flavors. Delectable skewered grilled chicken and pork. Pancit bihon, thin rice noodles with pork and vegetables, texturally resembles Singapore mei fun noodles, but with overtones of pepper rather than curry. In the same vein, pancit palabok, features thicker noodles in a golden sauce seasoned with dried fish flakes and garnished with hard-cooked egg. I'm a fan of the strong flavors in the dish but recognize it may not appeal to one and all. What probably will is the stew called menudo, pork with vegetables, tomatoes and raisins. For dessert, there's halo-halo, a riotously colorful parfait of fruit, beans, gelatin, shaved ice and ice cream.
Manila's BBQ Stop is at 2133 Middle Country Rd., Centereach, 631-676-2050.
Above, pancit palabok at Manila's BBQ Stop, Centereach