Review: Little Manila In Muraqqabat, Deira, Dubai

Filipino Cuisine in Dubai, UAE

TeamLamberang at Little Manila

#TeamLamberang outside Little Manila in Muraqqabat, Deira, Dubai

As a proud Filipino, it always gives me joy to see any pinoy-related developments happening in a foreign land. May it be in the field of sports, fashion, technology, music, and so on. But here in the UAE and in Dubai particularly, the Filipino Cuisine is discernibly flourishing.

Places like the Little Manila in Muraqqabat, Deira, which opened just late last year, is one of the manifestations.

This is what the famous celebrity chef once said during his visit to the Philippines with his No Reservations crew then:

I’m still struggling by the way to try and kinda try to figure out how to describe Filipino Cuisine – Anthony Bourdain

This can be blamed on Philippine’s different colonizers, who left behind several influences even in food. But Bourdain’s statement above can be best riposted with the one below, which I can positively agree with:

There’s no stronger term to capture the essence of Filipino food, Asia’s most unique, idiosyncratic, and underrated culinary tradition. Bottom line, it’s the boldness. It’s the audaciousness of the ingredients –

I Keep Coming Back To Manila

Admittedly, I regret not visiting Little Manila before.  Since Deira to me is synonymous to Satwa, which means, traffic, the location did not really appeal to me. But since it’s Ramadan, getting to the place is a breeze as everyone’s on their Iftars.

The food court concept, as it reveals to me once inside, was at first overwhelming. But then, I was instead impressed by having the combination of appetizers, juices, main course meals and classic desserts under one roof.

Starting from Kwekie Bites, which brings the appetizing Philippines’ famous street foods like fish balls, kwek-kwek, toknene, kikiam among others. The generous amounts of different dipping sauce guarantee that Pinoy taste you’ve been longing for.

Now, straight to the main course meals, they’ve got Jay-J’s Inasal & Kare Kare and Binalot. Both are Philippines’ sought after and staple food brand names.

My wife had the Quarter Chicken Inasal which was marinated with a mixture of lime, pepper, vinegar and annato, then grilled over hot coals while basted with the marinade. My son and I had the Chicken Tocino and Beef Adobo respectively; both from Binalot. Our 3-year-old picky eater girl was enjoying the fish balls and kwek-kwek from Kwekie Bites.

The crispy skin and the marinade that seeped well into the chicken inasal, made my wife say “lami” (delicious), right after her first bite. On the other hand, though it tasted good, the Chicken Tocino was a bit hard for my boy. But my Beef Adodo was just perfect. Very tender and the right amount of the ingredients made the fusion taste great. The “itlog maalat” (salted egg) and tomato, added flavor and at the same time neutralized the rich flavour of the adobo. (Adobo by the way is a popular Philippine dish, and is a kind of recipe/cooking procedure that can be done with various kinds of meat, chicken, prawns and vegetables among others). 

These two, the Chicken Inasal and Beef Adobo were the main highlights of that night and I’d recommend them on your visit in case you haven’t been to this-place-like-home in Deira yet.

While munching my binalot, I can’t help but recollect and share to my wife my wonderful childhood experience. Like how I asked my then, public school teacher mom to make my “baon” (packed lunch) a “binalot” (wrapped with banana leaves). I used to have this, so I could have my lunch at school with my classmates outside our elementary campus under the shades of a big acacia or talisay trees. There’s something about banana leaves as well that adds a hint of smoky smell to your packed food.

Another popular Philippine brand and refreshing Zagu was there to compliment my kids’ meals with their Melon and Strawberry variants, while my wife and I completed our meals with iced-tea from Fiftea.

But wait, we had a kind of an encore too. The Buko Halo-halo from Fruitas was a perfect dessert. It was the freshest Halo-halo that I’ve tried here in Dubai based on the freshly scraped “buko” or young coconut meat.  Wife was the happiest to have finally found that kind of halo-halo here in Dubai and vowed to definitely come back for it soon, as the peak of summer is approaching.

My kids on the other hand, enjoyed the delicious and irresistible Mochi Crème ice cream. A sticky Japanese rice cake confection with a soft donut-like shell called ‘Mochi’ and ice cream filling. That makes it a hit especially to kids. Although this dessert originates from Japan, this brand has gained popularity in the Philippines too.

Chicken Inasal by Jay-J's at Little Manila, Dubai

Jay-J’s Chicken Inasal at Little Manila

Chicken Tocino and Beef Adobo Binalot at Little Manila

Chicken Tocino and Beef Adobo Binalot at Little Manila

Team Lamberang at Little Manila


Fruitas on SantiagoFilman's Instagram

My #Fruitas post so far got 34 likes and counting on Instagram l Follow me: @santiagofilman

Zagu Melon and Strawberry

Melon and Strawberry by Zagu at Little Manila

Ivana eating the Mochi Creme

Ivana enjoys her Choco Mochi Crème Ice Cream

That first visit of ours definitely won’t be the last and I’ll probably bumped into you in this very place soon, with me singing ♫ I keep coming back to Manila ♫.

The Little Manila Overall Experience

To sum it up, with the scrumptious food, the roomy place, those wide array of choices and the awesome service, I think all these debunk all those not-so-good feedbacks I’ve heard months back. But there’s always that room for improvement along the way.  I’d say, they need to revisit the place.

In addition, I think they’re the first to have a self-service counter with readily available plastic containers and bags, for your leftovers that you wish to take home.  That’s a big plus right there! 🙂 Not to forget the fact that their prices are not expensive.

Giving them an easy 8.5 out of 10 is just fair enough.

The Little Manila Muraqqabat Deira Dubai

The roomy Little Manila

Tinikling Dance at Little Manila

Sipa Traditional Philippine street game

With Mr. Ken Peralta of Little Manila and Filman Santiago

Yours truly with Mr. Ken Peralta, Brand Manager, Little Manila

On my next visit, I’d definitely go for the boodle fights and their authentic Filipino breakfast. The Pandesal Combo Meal – 3pcs Pandesal, Omellete, Pico De Gallo, Fruit salad. Best with Kapeng Barako (Filipino Coffee) for just Dh10/-. The Pandesal Combo Meal is from their Bread Shop which also makes yummy Cheesy Ensaymada.

And wait, just a heads up though to those who are driving, to have more patience in finding a parking especially during peak hours. 🙂

For prices and other info, visit their website.






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This is not a sponsored review. Got invited but this is of author’s own and honest opinion.




A Filipino expat in Dubai, an online ad specialist, a social media influencer, a photographer wannabe, a music lover, a loving husband and a loving father, a movie freak, a gadget geek, a foodie etcetera

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