My friends and I were at SM Megamall recently when we found ourselves hungry but unable to agree on where to eat, so we headed to the mall’s center of international culinary fusion: the food court. My friend who, like me, didn’t feel like having rice suggested Empanada Nation, which she’d tried before, so I went along with her.
Empanada Nation is a small, open stall at the food court. The attendant makes your empanada on the spot so you don’t have to gnaw your way through chewy cardboard that’s been sitting there for a couple of hours. On their menu, you have four choices of empanada: ordinary (one egg), special (one egg and a Vigan longganisa), double special (one egg and two longganisas), and double double (two eggs and two longganisas). Veggies are also tossed into the mix, though I can’t really remember what kind (I did see something that looked remotely like shredded cabbage, but I can’t be sure.).
How the attendants make the empanada is they take a wad of bright orange dough, roll it out to roughly the size of a small LP, stuff it with your chosen combo and their mix of greens, fold it up and pop the thing into the fryer. After a couple of minutes in the hot vat of oil, they scoop out the empanada, slip it into a sheet of paper (to absorb the grease, I suppose), and hand it to you with a packet of sukang Iloko.
I ordered the special, and my first bite is of the fried dough, which is pleasantly crunchy but also pretty salty. When I get to the filling, it was… interesting. It was hard to distinguish the flavors of the different components. I know there was longganisa in there (I watched the lady mash it in there), but she could’ve just shoved a bit of ground meat in there and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.
The most disappointing part was it was bland. Really bland. They probably skipped seasoning the filling since the dough was already salty, but once you’re done munching on the orange wrapping, you’re pretty much left with a mouthful of flavorless mush.
At Php 65.00, I thought it was a bit much, especially for the way it tasted. A quick search online revealed some stalls offer rice meals too. If I ever find myself having to eat there again, I’d probably skip the empanada and give these a shot.
Overall rating: ★★☆☆☆
Lower Ground Floor, Building A, SM Mega Mall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City
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