By Kristelle Bechayda | Images by Roc Verdera
Many passersby can seek inexpensive refuge from the rush hour traffic, should they find themselves along the lively street of Leon Guinto, just a little off Taft Avenue, as there are several food establishments in the area. They have the luxury of choice and can take their pick from fast-food chains, cafés, and ever-reliable convenience stores. For hearty, homecooked meals, however, you can’t beat a mother’s lutong bahay. The place to be is Providence Tower on the corner of Estrada Street and Leon Guinto, where the family-owned Mama V Restaurant is located.
Established in 2004, the restaurant has gained quite a reputation for serving tasty Filipino dishes. The family matriarch Lucita Campos Vitas (or Mama V as she is fondly called) has 60 years’ worth of culinary experience under her belt. She is the writer and collector of all the recipes.
According to her daughter Tina, the restaurant started with 101 menu items that included the bestselling 24 Flavors of Tapa (The establishment started out as a tapa restaurant), and the daing na bangus. Through the years, the choices had to be trimmed down to a still impressive 70 items, as customers often had a hard time selecting from the plentiful options. What remains now of the tapa flavors, for example, are the salty, sweet, and spicy variants.
The tapa with rice and egg comes in spicy, salty, and sweet flavors
New dishes were also added to the lineup. Apart from the tapa, Mama V Restaurant has introduced rice meals featuring chicken adobo, chicken curry, chicken mushroom, beef caldereta, and beef sinigang. Seafood is on the menu, too, and the popular White Fish with Butter, Garlic, Knorr, and Calamansi is a must-try.
Mama V is proud to say that each dish is made with love and accuracy. She takes time to perfect every recipe (which usually takes about a week), and will not introduce the dish to the diners until she feels like it has acquired the right taste. Tina describes her mother’s cooking to be a contrast to her personality. “Her personality is very frilly and fussy, while her cooking style is no-fuss. She uses very few ingredients, but the umami element in the taste is strong,” she says.
In 2018, Tina launched Mama V Delicious, an online extension of the restaurant, which also serves exclusive items like the Bacon Carbonara, the Garlic Sotanghon, and Chicharon na Bulaklak. These dishes have been making waves online.
Chicharon na Bulaklak
Unlike its brick and mortar counterpart though, Mama V Delicious prepares party platters for the most part, good for at least three people. The party trays are available in small, medium, and large servings. Tina also offers “dine at home” food packages, where she delivers ready-to-eat viands to customers who don’t have the luxury of time to cook.
Speaking of luxury and convenience, for those who wish to order a week’s worth of food, like a meal plan, they may choose an assortment of six viands for only ₱680. Tina is working on supplying meals on a daily basis, which is now a trend in the metro, as well as adding sago’t gulaman and Mama V’s homemade vinegar to sweeten the deal and spice up her online offerings.
Mama V Delicious may still be fairly new but the family matriarch’s homemade cooking has already gained many new customers apart from the students, tourists, and patrons frequenting the restaurant. And Tina takes great pride in being able to share her mother’s recipes with many.
Tina and Mama V share the same staff and kitchen in running Mama V Delicious and Mama V Restaurant
“The food has 60 years’ worth of history, if not more,” says Tina. “For the taste to be where it is today, there was a woman who was cooking when she was 18. She’s 80 now, and this is her legacy.”
GF Providence Tower, Leon Guinto Street, Corner Estrada, Malate, Manila | Mamavdelicious.com | Facebook: @mamavdelicious