The city never ceases to surprise me. Sometimes when you think you know every street corner and eskinita there’ll be some new surprise waiting for you. Oftentimes these surprises come from people who hold these places near and dear to their hearts, the ones who remember every nook and cranny, every shortcut, every place to get the best street food, comfort food, and high class food. And for outsiders like me, my friends often take me to new places where the most simple are the divine, the rugged can’t compare to a Michelin-starred restaurant, where the gritty streets meld to give you another worldly view of some exciting place. Hence, meet Jam and Viet, another hole-in-the-wall restaurants among many other hold-in-the-walls I have yet to experience in the side streets of Makati.

One wouldn’t expect to see a restaurant, much less a Vietnames one, in one of Makati’s many side streets. In fact I would have expected a carinderia selling that part of Makati’s best isaw. But nope, along Mascardo Street in Makati is a tiny house converted into a restaurant serving up some báhn mì, spring rolls, and Vietnamese salads to nurse your craving for something fresh, new, and organic.

My experience with Vietnamese cuisine can be traced to two occasions: the báhn mì I had in Palawan back in 2008 and pho hoa from Pho Hoa. The former was absolutely delicious, filling me up during the then-long drives from Puerto Princesa to the underground river. While the latter didn’t really give me a glimpse into why traditional Vietnamese noodles were good. Lacking in experience, I entered Jam and Viet with no expectations whatsoever but an open mind and a ravenous appetite.

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A traditional bahn mi with all the exciting flavors Vietnam has to offer

To start off I had báhn mì which I must say I liked, I ordered the restaurant’s barbecue version but you can have it in other ways: traditional, ham and egg, and egg with pate. Hoping I would get a spicy and rustic zing from the barbecue flavor of the báhn mì I was sadly mistaken and should have stuck with the traditional form. I won’t say their báhn mì is bad, it just missed out a lot of marks in the flavor area but made up for it by having a really good baguette (crunchy exterior and chewy but not break your jaw interior) and a generous serving of meats and vegetables.

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Stay away from the peanut sauce and pair these fresh spring rolls with the vinegar from the fried ones

On the other end of the meal were spring rolls (fresh and fried) and a traditional Vietnamese salad. In terms of taste preference I would go for the fried spring rolls paired with the vinegar to really get a lot flavor, while the fresh ones just tasted off when peanut sauce was drizzled over it. But I would have to remark that the colors from the fresh spring rolls really looked appetizing, the green and the orange sticking out from the translucent rice wrapper would make anyone drool.

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Crunchy, soft, silky, tangy, there are just a lot of things happening here

And for the coupe de grace, the Vietnamese salad whose name I can’t pronounce, type or even remember. In the middle of the bowl was pieces of pork lightly drizzled with sesame seeds, surrounding it were colors of green, white, orange, and yellow. Mixed with the vinegar sauce suddenly this dish becomes the dish to balance out all of the flavors: the “spicy” barbecue, the tanginess of the vinegar from the spring rolls. Needless to say this was the dish I enjoyed the most, it was fresh, healthy, filling, crunchy, sweet, sour, and a lot of other things but above all else it was simple.

The bahn mi might not have been great but the other foods we ordered hit the spot just right. It was filling but not the gross kind, it was healthy without being bland. On a lot of levels it was fun being reintroduced to new flavors and taste and it was a good alternative to the ramen I’ve had in many months. I can’t wait though to try out the real thing in the future!

Jam and Viet

Mascardo Street, Sta. Cruz. Makati City
Open everyday from 7am – 10pm
Contact number: +63 2 758 2238 

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