Literally meaning "the way of the sea," Via Mare started as a specialty seafood restaurant, and was known for their Oyster Bar. The business went through many changes, but one thing that never changed was their mission to innovate and upgrade the traditional Filipino cuisine. Although the company is very conservative and don't really compete head to head with other restaurants, Via Mare still wanted the younger generations to learn more about them and their food as has recently tied up with Kidzania Manila, a dedicate play and learning space for children.
There might not be a lot of Café Via Branches around Metro Manila, but they are very much well known in the catering business, having to serve six Philippine presidents and other big national events like the 1995 Miss Universe pageant in Manila, the papal visit of then Pope John Paul II, the gala of the Philippine-run West End’s Miss Saigon, and the 2007 ASEAN Summit in Cebu. Currently, they are working on dishes for the APEC Summit.
Last week, I was with my fellow bloggers as we tried the merienda at Café Via Mare at Landmark TriNoma. It was my first time to visit this branch, and even if the café is somewhat hidden and difficult to find, it was really interesting to see the café full of people. Dishes we tried include...
This one's very simple - toasted pandesal with light dressing (I assume it was butter) with Vigan Longganisa and Kesong Puti (Laguna Cheese). Simple as it may be, but it was really good!
Congee with adobo flakes, salted egg, fried wanton, crisp tofu, and pork kilawin, this one sure is a winner! The different toppings not only provided different variations of flavor, they also added a contrast of textures.
Café Via Mare also serve Arroz Caldo with either chicken or goto (which I wasn't able to photograph), but even if their lugaw already comes with meaty toppings, I still recommend you guys to order a side order of their Tokwa't Baboy. Not only did this have a good amount of pork under the tofu blocks, I also liked that the sauce had a good balance of sourness, saltiness and sweetness. Also, the tofu they used is very firm that even if the sauce is served in the same plate, it didn't really soak a lot of it.
Egg noodles with shrimp, squid balls, and pork liver. Unfortunately, I didn't get to taste this, my tummy was so full already!
Puto at Dinuguan
Dinuguan is my ultimate favorite Filipino dish, that my mom usually cooks this whenever I feel gloomy. This dish is a sure-fire way to put a smile on my face, but even if this is my favorite, not all Dinuguan passes my taste. I prefer my Dinugan on the saucy-creamy side and slightly more on the sour side. This one is on the soupy side, but my gosh, it was heavenly good! I loved the right amount of sourness of the dish, that went well with the slightly sweet puto, but if I am to eat this, I'd order a cup of rice.
A very big plus that this had generous amount of toppings, but the heart of the dish was its sauce, that tasted really good as is (one of the best Pancit Lulog I have tasted), but of course a squeeze of calamansi and a few drops of patis would add oomph to the taste.
Another dish I wasn't able to taste, sadly.
Fresh Lumpiang Ubod
If you want a hearty, packed with filling lumpiang ubod, try this. It will not disappoint.
Love at first taste! It had a full body and the topping was sweetened just right.
This one's good, but at the back of my mind I was craving for ice cream, which goes really well with sticky rice and mangoes.
Think this food is only available during Christmastime? Now you know you can have this anytime of the day, any day of the year.
Another native delicacy you can try anytime of the year. Café Via Mare serves this in two variants - one with salted egg and kesong puti, the other has kesong puti and queso de bola. This one's fluffy and moist, truly a delicious treat!
Another native delicacy you can try at Café Via Mare is their Palitaw and Guinataang Halo-Halo.
A sampler of Pinoy desserts - the Halo-Halo, Mais con Hielo, and Ginumis. A great choice for people who cannot decide which dessert to try, as well as those who wanted to try everything. A standout for me was their Ginumis - it was so rich and creamy and very flavorful, I wanted to have more.
These may be merienda items, but you can most certainly order them anytime of the day, so if you fancy a bowl of Pancit Luglog and a serving of Puto Bumbong for lunch or a plate of Bibingka and the Shooters for dinner, please do so. Their prices may be on the steep side, but is competitive with other Filipino restaurants. If you still haven't tried eating at Café Via Mare, I suggest you visit one. Their food is really good and is worth the price you're paying.
Café Via Mare branches are as follows - Landmark TriNoma, Landmark Makati, Eastwood Mall, Rockwell, EDSA Shangri-La, Greenbelt 3, Greenbelt 1, Greenhills Promenade, Tomas Morato, and Panay Avenue. For more details about their locations and other information about them, please check http://www.viamare.com.ph or follow their Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/viamareph.
Cheers to 40 years of quality Filipino food, Café Via Mare!