908 Nicanor Reyes St., Sampaloc, Manila
Type of Cuisine: Filipino
Average cost per person: PhP 100 to PhP 300 (with the more expensive dishes good for 2-3 persons)
Overall rating: 3/5
I've been meaning to eat at Senya Kitchen ever since that time one of its waiters wouldn't let me pass through without taking a flyer. It was actually that persistent advertising that made me turn to look. The area wasn't exactly where you'd want to be skipping around. Everyone was always on a rush and you tend to just get swept by the flood of people. I've been passing through the area since I moved here in Sampaloc, Manila, in mid-2011. At the same time, Senya Kitchen had just opened.
One of the good things about the restaurant is its home kitchen feel. The decorations of shrubs pouring from the walls and the actual kitchen from behind the counter mimic what one would see in an actual house. There were bamboo plants for added aesthetics. The condiments area and the restrooms maintain the appeal: not too high class and certainly very familiar.
The menu changes every so often, showcasing the specialty of the day, reminiscent of those diners in chick lit movies like 50 First Dates. There is a huge board plastered right next to the counter that displays the entire menu. Once you enter the place, it's about the first thing you'll immediately notice. The food was exactly what you'd find in your own kitchen and that's not really appealing to everyone, especially people like me who find themselves stuck with similar dishes for every week. We all tend to get bored with our own cuisine because we're never eating anything that isn't Filipino. It’s the most accessible food if you’re a student far from mom and dad. However, if you don't get to cook as much as you'd want to, or if you've got a wider range of meals to choose from in your own fridge, which is barely Filipino, Senya Kitchen offers the nostalgic atmosphere you've been missing. It’s just like your mom’s cooking, more or less. The affordability is an added bonus. Ideal for people like me who live far from their hometown.
A bit of a warning, though: lunch time can get hectic with long lines courtesy of hungry students from nearby universities. Senya Kitchen is, after all, within the university belt.
I’m a big seafood fan, so I was excited to try out their version of sweet and sour fish. I wasn’t exactly sure what the fish was, but my food buddy is persistent about it being salmon. Personally, I thought it was trevally (locally, talakitok). Whatever it was, it was very delicious. The carrot julienne and the chili peppers were great for the sauce. There was nothing creative here but the meal was pretty satisfying.
Sinigang na Baboy (PhP 65.00)
When you think of home-cooked meals, Sinigang na Baboy immediately comes to mind. I love sinigang that is either spicy or sour, even both, at a level higher than normal. The vegetables were satisfying but the pork was a little too hard to cut for my taste. I did love the ribs floating in my soup. That was probably the highlight of my meal. Sinigang is always a great comfort food, no doubt about that.