La Mesa, Sydney (Chinatown)

I’ve been wanting to try out this restaurant since its opening in Chinatown (originally located in Dee Why). As a kid I had a Filipino babysitter and she would cook some of her country’s traditional dishes for me. I haven’t had any Filipino food for a very long time so I was very excited to bring back those memories!

Although I made a booking for 7:30pm, we arrived a bit late and by the time we got there, they already gave our table to other customers waiting in line without bookings. However, the staff was very nice and we didn’t mind waiting another 20min for a table. Seeing the dishes being served at each table was very mouth-watering but also very intriguing, as we tried to guess what each dish was by looking at the menu.

After being seated, we ordered straightaway. We started with a Mixed Entrée, which included of a fried quail egg, a spring roll, beef tapa, deep fried prawn cake and a pork/chicken skewer with sweet chilly sauce and vinegar.

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Mixed entrée ($8.50)

We ordered this dish so we could try a bit of everything in their Entree menu, but unfortunately it was a bit too small to share between 3 people. Each one of us only had a small piece of everything, which was good if you didn’t like one of the items on the plate, but not so good if you wanted more of something in particular.

The stand out of this dish was the beef tapa, although the crispy spring roll and the grilled chicken skewer were also very tasty. I was disappointed by the quail egg as I expected a bit more flavour, it was just a boiled egg with batter on the outside, the inside was quite dry and a bit overcooked in my opinion. The shrimp cake was interesting, although there was only one small shrimp in it. I felt a bit disappointed, it’s a bit like the feeling you get when you expect big pieces of shrimps in your Har Gao (Chinese prawn dumplings), but only get tiny shrimps all mushed together…

Next came the popular Chicken Adobo and the Sinigang na hipon with a serving of garlic rice and plain rice:

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Top: Sinigang na hipon (Prawns cooked in tamarind soup with vegetables, eggplant and snakebeans) $20
Middle left: Chicken Adobo (Tender chicken fillets cooked in sugar cane vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and black pepper) $16
Middle right: Plain Boiled Rice (small – $3)
Bottom: Garlic Rice (small – $4.50)

The Sinigang was full of flavours; the tamarind soup was very delicate and sweet.

The pieces of chicken in the Chicken Adobo were huge. The sauce/broth underneath was full of flavours, a perfect seasoning for the chicken. However, I wish the chicken contained more flavours itself, so we didn’t have to constantly dig in for more sauce.

And best for last:

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Crispy pata (Pork leg made tender through steam and deep fried to make its skin and meat crispy; served with a sauce concoction of vinegar, soy sauce and garlic) $20

The Crispy Pata was definitely the highlight of our meal. The crispiness of the pork skin was just perfect and the meat was well-cooked and juicy. The vinegar-based sauce was also very good, so good that we couldn’t eat a piece of the crispy pata without dipping it in it. It was almost addictive!

At the end of our mains we were so full that we couldn’t fit dessert, (I wanted to try their leche flan or casava cake), but oh well, there is always a next time!

What I also really enjoyed was the ambiance of the restaurant, as it was full of customers (mostly Asian) but also included Filipino locals. The noisy background, the artworks and the pictures of old Manilla on the walls created this strong Asian atmosphere. During the course of our dinner we had the feeling that we were eating at a local restaurant in the Philippines…

Food: 8.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Ambiance: 8.5/10
Price range: $$

Date of visit: August 2013

La Mesa on Urbanspoon

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2 comments on “La Mesa, Sydney (Chinatown)

  1. Don del Rosario says:

    We eat there two weeks ago the price is much expensive compare to other asian restaurants the food is good but the taste is not as flavorful of the real home cook dishes. Like the sinigang na baboy its sourness is not that strong and pork fat is emormous :) for the chicken adobo its okay but not the taste that im looking. The place is okay but they should play filipino shows o filipino artist mtvs’ rather than MTV channel

    • Agreed! We were quite distracted by some video clips.. especially Miley Cyrus’ recent music video..!
      I was also a bit disappointed by the chicken adobo, and I wanted to try the Dinuguan but my friends were too scared to try it haha!

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