Our first night in Manila was at the Marriott Hotel at Resorts World. This property is not far from the airport which made it a good temporary home for the night, as we were to fly the next day to head out to the north. Check-in was a breeze, and soon enough we were in our assigned rooms.
The hotel is fairly new, clean and well appointed (I’m not a fan of Marriott properties to begin with), but the scent on the hallways and even the room was not that pleasant. We were in a non-smoking room thus, it was really hard for me to pinpoint what the odd smell was. Since we were staying there for one night only, I figured there was no point to request for transfer (we checked out at 1:00 p.m. the next day). The breakfast buffet however was the redeeming factor. My foodie husband was pleasantly surprised to see the spread of food. I, on the other hand, was fixated on just the Filipino dishes. Little did I know that this breakfast would be the start of many days of eating something that I have been missing for years.
The few days (seven days) of rest and recreation in Manila before flying back to New York was spent at Dusit Thani in Makati. It was a spur of the moment decision to stay at a hotel (as family and relatives were all exhausted from the 18 days of wake and vigil for my Mom), and Dusit Thani was the first hotel among the other two (Manila Peninsula and Makati Shangri-la) that was able to confirm our rooms without prior booking.
Dusit Thani is the same old Hotel Nikko. The rooms are still the same (dated). I think it needs some kind of a facelift (but then again, I said the same thing about Manila Peninsula and Makati Shangri-la when we stayed in the two hotels in 2005 and 2008 respectively). I still remember the “younger” days of these hotels as I routinely stayed in these 3 properties when I was still in the corporate world. Dusit’s service was impeccable and being there for 7 days, I have to admit that the whole gang loved their stay in general and the breakfast buffet. With the wide array of dishes (different cuisines), the gang always had a great breakfast to start their day.
For me, all I needed was my danggit and tinapa plus taho to make my day. Yes, I feasted on these foods for days (day 1 was at the Marriott but it was halted when I was home) and as soon as I spotted them again on the Dusit Thani buffet.
Growing up, I was not really into dried fish (because for some reason, my parents weren’t really fond of them) but I developed my love affair with danggit and tinapa when I frequented Cebu while on business trips for many years.
Danggit is dubbed as a poor man’s food like any other types of dried fish, but rich and poor alike love to eat this typical Filipino delicacy. It is best paired with a mixture of vinegar, crushed chili peppers and a dash of salt. Danggit is known as rabbitfish or spinefoot in English.
Tinapa or smoked fish is another native delicacy. To me, there is nothing like dipping a morsel of smoked or dried fish into some favorite vinegar and consuming it with tons of steamed rice for breakfast. I skipped the “tons of rice” though (lol).
I must have ingested a little too much of Pinoy foods on this trip. I know, and I’m sure because I’m not craving for it. I haven’t eaten rice since we landed here in New York. I wonder how long this rice-free diet last.