MAKANSUTRA, the famous Singaporean Hawker Market by K.F. Seetoh, has finally re-opened in Manila together with local partners J.J. Yulo and Chef Him Uy de Baron.
It first launched in Manila Ocean park in 2009 and re-opened after the successful 2016 World Street Food Congress held in Manila. Makansutra is the famed food bible in Singapore, featuring heritage street food. Makan means “to eat” in Malay, and Sutra means “string, thread” in Sanskrit.
It can be daunting to visit here because of the variety of choices–over 70 dishes and 11 street stalls in a food hall inspired by the Singaporean hawker market.
Here’s a guide to help you on your foodie date in Makansutra in SM Megamall…
Makansutra is all the way in the 2nd floor of SM Megamall Building A. It’s near the area of Marks & Spencer.
This is the best area to sit, beside the “die die must try!” mural and near the entrance, away from the smoke of the kitchen stalls.
The 500-seater food hall has a lot of private nooks or function room areas where you can put all the food on one side, just like in a catered meal.
Makansutra Ultimate Set (P2,700 for 6-7 pax). A platter of Indonesian chicken satay marinated with 18 special spices, chicken Hainanese balls, Old Chun kee prawn paste chicken, marinated paper-wrapped chicken, fried Hokkien prawn noodles and Malaysian famous laksa soup, Singaporean oyster omelette, Jin ji kway chap and cereal prawn, tofu skin wrapped, prawn with salted egg yolk sauce and plain roti parata with Indian curry sauce.
If you are going with a group of 6-7 people, I suggest the Makansutra bundle sets where they serve you the best dishes from the food market.
Check out: Makansutra Christmas Menu
This guide is for those who are going on a food date with your special someone or a small group of friends.
It’s always good to know some Singaporean hawker terms like Shiok, Chope, Kiasu, Bojio, and Lepak.
ABOUT DONALD & LILY
Donald and Lily rocked Manila Foodies with their Mee Siam at the Manila World Street Food Congress in April 2016. It is uber moreish with tones of sambal, leveled by tangy tamarind and served with thin palabok or beehoon. Their Laksa is done classic Malacca style, the birthplace of the Nonya race. Jennifer Tan, who helms this setup, is the daughter of Donald and Lily – known to be the first Nonya hawker on the streets of old Malacca, Malaysia.
There are only 4 stalls from Singapore in Makansutra Manila. Donald & Lily’s Mee Siam is our favorite from the World Street Food Congress 2016 in Manila.
Laksa (P250). Laksa is done classic Malacca style, the birthplace of the Nonya race.
This is the legit laksa from Malacca and currently the best-selling item in Makansutra Manila.
The soup itself is very comforting, especially for people who miss the laksa in Singapore. This is our #1 favorite at Makansutra. Don’t forget to order this!
ABOUT GEYLANG CLAYPOT RICE
Anthony Bourdain wants them in his New York Market, so do we. A cult favorite for over 30 years in Singapore, their clay pot rice is slow-cooked to order and over a wood fire. It is infused with the wonderful flavors of chicken, Chinese sausages, waxed meat and salted fish into their carefully selected premium Jasmine rice. The layer of charred, toasty and crispy rice at the base of the clay pot perfumes the whole dish, and when drizzled with their special sticky soy sauce, it’s a sensory party in the mouth. Have this with hearty doubled boiled soups and the Chef’s favorite side dishes.
Check out: GEYLANG CLAYPOT RICE MENU
I’ve tried this in Geylang in Singapore and I’m happy that they were able to bring this claypot tradition t0 Manila.
The claypot is brought directly to your table to make sure you eat it hot and fresh from the charcoal oven.
Famous Chicken Claypot Rice (P280 – 1pax). Slow-cooked over charcoal with succulent chicken, lup cheong (Chinese sausage), yun cheong (Chinese duck liver sausage), and salted fish.
Don’t forget to mix it well. When you’re ready to eat, be sure to get a bit of the sausage or the chicken or the salted fish. You’ll love the charred sweet taste with the rice.
There are some stalls that were inspired by the Singapore street food classics, like this shop dedicated to Fried Carrot Cake and Fried Oyster Omelette.
Check out: AH TEE MENU
Most of the people in the kitchen are Filipinos already trained by K.F. Seetoh’s team. One person is assigned to cook one specific food only.
Oyster Omelette (P260)
The oysters are served on top of the omelette. Hawker stalls in Singapore are quite affordable, but in Manila the price ranges from P250-P300.
Mian Ji is the dedicated noodle shop specializing in Lor Mee, Hokkien Prawn Noodles, and Prawn Noodle Soup.
Check out: MIAN JI MENU
Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles (P220)
Rache craves this Hokkien Prawn Noodles a lot. This is her favorite pasalubong to ask for when I come back from Singapore.
Adam’s Ribs is probably the healthiest stall in this Makansutra food hall with the Bak Kuh Teh.
Bak Kuh Teh with Sugar Cane (P300) with rice, salted vegetable, and peanuts.
This Bak Kuh Teh is the peppery type and not the herbal type, so people either love it or hate it.
We love the soup, the ribs, and the sugar cane that goes with it!
Nasi Lemak (P300)
Unfortunately, the Bak Kuh Teh stall has been underperforming, so they are replacing it with a Nasi Lemak stall.
ABOUT HONG KONG STREET OLD CHUN KEE
Ah Yau was a disciple (turned entrepreneur) of the famous and original HK Street cze cha master, the late Ah Hon. He now operates a few outlets in Singapore and hi Har Cheong Kai (fried bagoong chicken) is one of the best around. They are work master and their stir-fries are very comforting. He runs a popular stall at Makansutra Gluttons Bay in Singapore and his har Cheong Kai, prawn paste chickens served at the Manila World Street Food Congress 2016 were a huge hit.
Another one of the legit Singaporean stalls, which was also a hit during the World Street Food Congress 2016.
Check out: HONG KONG STREET OLD CHUN KEE MENU
This stall sells the high ticket seafood Singaporean favorites like Black Pepper Crabs, BBQ Sambal Stingray, and Fish Head Noodle Soup.
Salted Egg Prawns (P550)
Try all things Salted Egg in this stall, like the Salted Egg Prawns. Best to eat it with your bare hands so you can lick the creamy salted egg sauce off the prawns and your fingers.
This stall is the Filipino stall inspired by the Pares stalls in Manila specializing in Item No. 5.
Check out: GOOBA HIA MENU.
No. 5 Slow Braised Beef Donburi/Noodles (P280) with slow braised beef, beef tendons & egg.
We love the chunks of tendon (which makes your skin look younger) and the extra yummy slow braised beef.
ABOUT ALHAMBRA PADANG SATAY & MUSLIM FOOD
Sam is a second generation street-side satay hawker of the now defunct Satay Club in Singapore. His Indonesian Padang style skewers are prepared with 12 ingredients and carefully grilled over wood fire. He offers up Singapore style Muslim fare such as Soto Ayam, Mee Goreng and his Satay Beehoon, which attracted snacking queues at the Manila World Street Food Congress 2016.
This is another WSFC 2016 Manila graduate specializing in Satays and certified Halal food.
Check out: ALHAMBRA MENU
This is the braised duck stall that offers the Duck Kway Tiao.
You can order half roasted duck for P775 or the whole for P1,500.
Chicken Rice is available in this stall if you are still craving for it. We already have better alternatives for Chicken Rice in Manila.
Check out: BAO JI XIANG MENU
You can order the chicken rice set for P190, a half chicken for P400, and a whole chicken for P750.
This is the dedicated curry stall specializing in Roti Prata with Chicken Curry and Fish Head Curry.
Check out: CURRY FLURRY MENU
Roti Prata Set (P250) with 1 egg and 1 plain prata with chicken curry.
It was OK. We didn’t like the curry sauce itself.
In the middle of the food hall is the drinks and dessert station.
Our favorite is this chendol dessert with red bean and palm sugar over ice. The desserts are just a bit expensive.
Congratulations to K.F. Seetoh’s local partners–Chef Him, Mon, and J.J. Yulo for a job well done in bringing tge Makansutra experience to Manila!
We enjoyed our Makansutra experience. The place is especially great if you miss the hawker food culture in Singapore.
Our favorites are Donald & Lily’s Laksa, Geylang Claypot Rice Pots, Bak Kuh Teh, and the Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee’s Salted Egg Prawns. Some may perceive the pricing to be expensive at P250-P300 per dish. Budget about P500/head.
Best to order from the Singaporean stalls to ensure what you’re getting is authentic and the best that you can get in Manila.
The exhaust was already fixed when we visited so you don’t have to worry about smelling like a hawker afterwards. I like that they implemented the hawker system of one person specializing in cooking one dish throughout the day.
Best to go here with a group of friends or with the family so that you can order and try many dishes. But if you are going on a date, make sure to know and do your research so you can be confident of what to order.
Congratulations to the whole Makansutra Team! Wishing you great success in 2017 and beyond! 🙂
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: We paid for our meal. Some dishes were courtesy of Chef Him. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. They also offer Makansutra “happy meals” for the kids.