This article originally appeared in the November 2015 Issue: Hosting the Holidays. Read it here!
Mano e Mano (café): Here’s a brief summary, Mano opened as a coffee shop with a wicked salad bar, then was placed into the hands of former Petrus chef Frederic Chabbert, and has now changed hands (and names) to Mano Café and is run by the wholesome and awesome Corner Kitchen peeps. Make sense? If not, don’t worry, the food does, and that’s really all that matters.
The food: Home-style dishes from Southeast Asia. Chef Shelley hails from Manilla and puts a lot of love in her authentic dishes with her own twist spun on them. We tasted from the winter menu, which included plenty of hearty fare to fill the tum. To begin we had a selection of fish and pork tacos, which you may remember from the days when Corner Kitchen was Heirloom and they hosted popular taco evenings. Still delicious, the Balinese fish taco remains our favourite with a spray of calamansi juice to bring out the full flavour of the wrap. The Asian chicken salad that followed was dressed with a zingy peanut sauce that was positively scrumptious and the prawn and corn salad was another nice opener. The crispy fried duck came with a spicy green sambal on the side and it really made the dish with a delightful kick that was perfect with the duck. The pork knuckle was indulgent and rich while the Gado Gado dish of tofu and veggies was a more pious offering. Our favourite of the day was the oxtail stew that was so moreish, even on a full stomach.
The dessert: Despite the plethora of homestyle offerings, we found room to try a smattering of the gorgeous cakes that ranged from pumpkin pie cheesecake, chocolate cream cake with Oreo crust and German chocolate cake with a creamy coconut centre to the pretty red velvet cake with marshmallow top and the gooey goodness of the pecan pie, all of which were as tempting as they were tasty. The coffee at Mano Café is worth popping in for on its own as it's a custom blend by the fine folks at Alchemy with a nutty flavour that finishes a meal with a smile and a jolt.
In the end: It’s affordable, friendly homemade fare in a cosy neighbourhood eatery that you could easily find yourself calling your local. The all-day diner makes for an easy option and it is open, roomy and extremely kid-friendly.
G/F, The L Place, 139 Queen's Road Central, Central,