The last time I ate at Mantaro, they were still located at their tiny restaurant along Scout Tobias– just a street away from where they are now. This new location is certainly more spacious, with way more parking space to boot. Just like before, the décor is simple. Warm colors are on the walls, with an Aztec mural at one end of the restaurant the only highlight. No extra frills but it is cozy in any case.
While the location and interiors have changed for Mantaro, behind the counter and inside the kitchen, we still see the same set of passionate people in Chef Luis Higa and restaurant manager Candy Higa. In their old restaurant, the space is so small you can smell everything they’re cooking from your seat. Even though this bigger space is a welcome change, I kind of miss those scents wafting from the kitchen.
Speaking of, you can actually take a peek into the kitchen through the opening behind the counter. And if you’ve eaten at Mantaro before, seeing that roasting oven housing their signature pollo probably gets you excited too.
Coming to eat here, I wasn’t expecting to find something different. I was looking for the familiar dishes that stayed in my memory since my first visit. My little taste of Peru, if you will. And in a nutshell, I’m happy to report that I got exactly what I wanted.
Ceviche de Pescado (Php 360)
Raw fish marinated in a spiced citrus juice with red onions and Peruvian Amarillo chilies. Served with sweet potatoes and maiz cancha or Peruvian corn nuts.
As always, I am a big fan of Mantaro’s ceviche. The citrus mixture they use for their ceviche awakens the tastebuds with its bright tart flavor, and it serves as a great warm-up in preparation for your meal. The sweet potatoes and canchas eaten alongside the fresh fish gives it some interesting texture.
Also, the fish is incredibly fresh, as you can see. I could eat this stuff all day.
Ceviche de Pulpo (Php 340)
A seasonal ceviche dish featuring octopus marinated in a similar spiced citrus sauce as above.
Basically the same as the ceviche pescado, only with cooked octopus instead of raw fish. Though the octopus was fresh, I personally found it a bit hard and tiring to chew. The sauce of course makes this wonderful in terms of flavor, but I still prefer the ceviche pescado overall.
My brothers all liked this one more than I did thanks to the chewy pieces of octopus present in the dish.
Lengua Guisada (Php 450)
Peruvian-style dish featuring super tender ox tongue in a thick sauce, served with mashed potatoes.
No matter how many times I return to Mantaro, I find that this dish is something they do so well and so consistently. We proudly order this when we invite friends for a meal here because we know it’s a dish that won’t fail us. It’s that good! The tender ox tongue is coated in this glorious lightly spicy sauce that you will want to lick off the plate. The super creamy mashed potatoes are great on their own, but eaten with the lengua and the sauce it is perfection.
If anything, this dish has truly become a must-order for us when dining in Mantaro. Highly rcommended!
Anticuchos de Lomo (Php 340)
Grilled beef tenderloin on a stick, served with chimichurri and aji verde sauce.
I am not a fan of how Mantaro does their grilled dishes. On another occasion we dined here, we ordered grilled pork and I did not like that it was overly charred. I could barely see the meat underneath! This isn’t as bad as that one.
I suppose the beef was slightly juicy, but a charred flavor had permeated the meat and you can really taste it. It’s hard to ignore that sort of thing. It was saved only by the chimichurri and aji verde.
Half Pollo Con Arroz o Papas (Php 350)
Peruvian rotisserie chicken served with 3 kinds of sauces and your choice of either rice (arroz) or fries (papas).
Now THIS is another thing Mantaro does so perfectly. Their chicken is always so well done it falls off the bone! It smells amazing and tastes amazing, and that’s all you really need to know. It’s fabulous with any or all of the sauces. I always go with the aji-chimichurri combo for the sauce.
Arroz con Mariscos (Php 390)
Rice simmered in wine sauce is topped with an assortment of seafood.
Similar to paella but not quite. This was a really delicious one. Very flavorful with a hint of spice, it’s great on its own but it also goes really well with the pollo and the lengua.
This was perhaps some of the best rice I’ve had in these parts.
Chuleta en Salsa de Mostaza (Php 420)
Grilled pork t-bone generously slathered with three kinds of mustard sauce.
The first thing that hits you with this dish is the intensity of the mustard sauce. Equal parts sweet, savory, tangy, and even earthy, the sauce has a very memorable mustard flavor. So I guess if you dislike mustard, it’s likely you won’t enjoy this one. Personally I love it. I like how the sauce clings to the seasoned pork and just wraps itself around the meat. The olives add an extra sass to the dish.
Pie di Limon (Php 340)
Peruvian-style lemon cheesecake with candied lemon slices inside a lemon jelly topping.
The lemon taste of this dessert is bright but it’s not as tart as I would have liked. I find it to be just the right degree of sweet though.
On the top is a thin layer of gelatin covering lemon slices. None of the other parts of the dessert overwhelm the lemon notes provided by the zest inside the fluffy mousse-like cheesecake layer.
Adding lemon to your cheesecake is always a good idea! From the graham-butter crust to the lemon gelatin, the parts of this dessert complement each other well. Though I prefer a cheesecake with more body, this is still a good way to end a meal at Mantaro.
Mantaro cooks their dishes sort of homestyle Peruvian, and I am all for it. I am careful not to call Mantaro’s dishes classic since I’ve never been to Peru to comment on authenticity, but that’s how they feel like. I am sure of one thing though: They’re not trying to do anything preppy or hip here. It seems to me they’re trying to keep it as close to the real deal as possible.
Despite my love for many of their dishes, I really am not a fan of their grilled ones. It doesn’t seem to be their expertise. The only reason it got highlighted as a negative is because it stands out against their other excellent dishes. I will stick to the rotisserie chicken, thank you very much.
Peruvian cuisine has never been anything I’ve known about, but after eating at Mantaro I realized that I really like it. It bears some similarities to Filipino food, but the way they use lemon and mustard to give dishes this zing the diner will remember is unique. For me, being a restaurant one wants to keep returning to is an achievement in itself.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Mantaro Original Peruvian Cuisine
G/F Elements Hall, 27 Scout Rallos Street,
Brgy. Laging Handa, Quezon City
Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 11AM to 2:30PM, 5PM to 10PM (Closed on Mondays)
Contact Nos.: 246 9069 ext:672 / 0956 3722035
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way. This meal was fully paid and I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions stated above are my own.