Walking along Flagler, you may have seen the sign Manila Kantina: Asian Food and Grocery thinking it’s a food store. Although its shelves are lined with Filipino pantry staples like pancit noodles, bagoong jars, and bibingka mixes, it’s also a sit-down restaurant, offering Filipino dishes buffet-style for $12 per person. Chicken adobo, dinuguan (pork blood stew), chop suey, lechon kawali, fried lumpia, and pinakbet (stewed vegetables) are some of the dishes prepared daily (except Sundays) by mother-and-son duo Judith and Noi Blasco, and their Miami nanay, Lynda. Their halo-halo, topped with mango ice cream (instead of the ubiquitous ube), is also quite refreshing. Inside, Bible passages can be seen as wall art, and Christian worship music often plays in the background. They also have a few tables for outdoor seating. Judith, who used to work as a chef at a Chinese restaurant in Brickell, opened Manila Kantina seven years ago to cater to Filipino cruise ship workers and has seen her customer base expand to include a cross-section of locals that come by the hour to pick up takeout orders.
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