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Mami, siopao, anyone? |

Food and Leisure

Mami, siopao, anyone?

FORTyFIED - FORTyFIED By Cecile Lopez Lilles -
Mami and siopao define our memories of childhood. We were served these treats on rainy afternoons for merienda or whenever we nursed a fever. These were staples at family gatherings, when our grand aunts ladled mami for us with much affection. These were also served at wakes and funerals, where we accompanied our parents not really to condole with the departed’s family, but to have our fill of siopao. And it was siopao that we bought with our five-peso baon at recess, and it was siopao yet again that was an integral part of our weekend fare at our neighborhood Chinese panciteria

Masuki Mami House is a gem of a panciteria. It sits on the second floor of Sekai Center at the corner of Ortigas Ave. and Madison St. in Greenhills. The food here is down-home scrumptious, not to mention downright affordable. Every dish is heartwarming, every bite a throwback to childhood. Not only does its mami taste exactly as I remember, Masuki has elevated this humble noodle soup to the next level by adding a variety of meats to enhance the decades-old original recipe of chicken mami.

Masuki Mami House has its roots in Binondo. Then called Ma Kong Mami House, it opened in 1930 but was later renamed Masuki when it relocated to Benavides St. in Binondo. In 2004, the owners, a Chinese corporation whose members include Bowie Kho and Willen Ma, opened Masuki at its present address in Ortigas.

It is a humble setup, with a seating capacity of 30. The interior has a no-nonsense functional layout of wooden tables and chairs. The focal point is the open, gallery-style kitchen, which is visible to diners through glass panels. One can observe the entire assembly-line process of mami-making. Institutional-sized siopao steamers are stacked in plain sight, while a huge vat of broth is at a constant simmer, waiting to be ladled on bowls of miki noodles.

Masuki prides itself with its homemade miki noodles. All its other products and condiments are trucked in from the Masuki commissary in Binondo daily. Only the final assembly of the dishes is done on-site. Talk about the real McCoy!

Although their original mami recipe, priced at just P85 a bowl, remains popular, the house specialty is a four-meat-version: beef brisket-wonton-chicken-pork asado mami. The distinct flavors of the slow-cooked, tender beef brisket, the steamed chunks of chicken breast, and the smoked flavor of pork asado enhance the traditional taste of plain noodles in broth. This special is P125 per bowl; the regular is P115. The only difference between them is the size of the bowl. The servings are extremely generous, so unless you’re really starving, the regular order should suit you just fine.

One can opt for more simple tastes and stick with just one kind of meat to mix with the mami. Beef mami goes for P110, while wonton mami is P85. A duo of beef-wonton, beef-pork asado, or beef-chicken is P120. A trio of any of the four meat selections goes for P125. These are all for regular-sized bowls. An additional P10 upgrades your order of mami to special.

Another must-have is simply-to-die-for siopao: a gargantuan incarnation, which is at least six inches in diameter – I kid you not. It is almost the size of a four-year-old’s face, a chubby one at that! There are absolutely no chunks of fat in the filling, and this is how you are assured that you are getting value-for-money. There is no daya, no extenders of fat or vegetables to plump up and fortify the siopao filling. Its siopao is bursting with all-meat asado and a slice of egg as an added treat. This goes for P38. The special siopao asado variety at P55 is filled with the winning combination of chicken-pork asado-chorizo and egg.

I truly have never tasted siopao this good. Don’t forget to try the bola-bola siopao for P38 and its siomai the size of lemons for P32 per order. Wash it all down with its most popular drink: the black gulaman refreshment, which goes for P28 a bottle.

The piece de resistance in this establishment is Masuki’s original sauce, a secret recipe of a thick, brown, all-around concoction that further enhances the taste of every dish whenever it is added. Works like magic! It is a difficult test of self-control not to drown everything in sight with this divine sauce. Aside from this, Masuki’s taste arsenal also includes its hot sauce and finely-chopped spring onions.

I lost myself in the entire experience of slurping spoonfuls of hot mami into my mouth, slightly scorching my tongue in the process – all part of the fun of gorging on mami. I feasted on the siopao by dousing it with original sauce and having it explode at the seams each time I took a hefty bite, sending the steaming juices trickling down my fingers. I could not get enough of it and am already dreaming of my next visit. 
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Masuki is at Unit 203, Sekai Center, 368 Ortigas Ave. corner Madison St., Greenhills, San Juan. For inquiries, call 744-2720 and 744-2721. It is open from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily.

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