Manila Bay

What the heck do you call the neighborhood around the 200 block of Fifth Avenue South? North Chinatown? East Pioneer Square? Or just way, way down Fifth Avenue? You might call it a dead zone, consisting mainly of parking lots and construction sites, but then you'd be missing Manila Bay and a fairly rare chance to sample Filipino food in Seattle. The kitchen does all the island standards: fried lumpia rolls, pansit noodles, and various stews made with chicken, pork, and beef. The chicken adobo, a Filipino classic, unfortunately lacks the vinegar zing that you find in some preparations. But order anything that comes with the sweet chili dipping sauce—the lumpia or the coconut prawns, for instance—and you won't be disappointed. Lunch combos run $6.95 with rice and pansit. If you're feeling adventurous, order a more exotic daily special for the same price, like Wednesday's mongo beans with spinach, bitter melon, shrimp, and chicharon (pork rinds), or Friday's oxtails simmered in peanut sauce with banana hearts, eggplant, bok choi, and green beans. The decor, like the location, is nothing to write home about: a low-key bar/restaurant with dark wood and bamboo accents, and a TV playing in the corner. But one taste of those banana hearts and you'll know exactly where you are. 212 Fifth Ave. S., 206-749-9300, www.manilabay.us. DOWNTOWN

 
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