Will "the Mighty" Strohl

Food Review: Mana Restaurant, San Mateo, CA

Since there is an impressive following in Yelp, I promise to not post reviews on my blog as much, but rather limit those postings to time where a restaurant really impresses me.  This is one of those times. 

I happened upon a restaurant named Mana Restaurant in San Mateo, CA, just south of San Francisco.  It’s located on 25th street, just off of the main El Camino road, where you’ll find several other ethnic cuisines.

Giving You Some Context

The thing that really intrigued me enough to walk into this eatery was that the sign said it was a “traditional Filipino restaurant.”  If you don’t already know, my family is from the island of Guam.  This makes me partially a pacific islander.  In fact, if you look at one of our family photos below, I think you’ll get the “picture.”

Salas Family Photo

Now that you have a bit of context, let’s get back to the restaurant.  With it being Filipino cuisine, it means that their recipes are very close to our family recipes, of which I only have a couple.  So, I was very excited to check it out!

The Restaurant

I arrived for an early dinner, so I was one of the only people there when I arrived.  The place looked very clean and there was great attention-to-detail in the decoration of the dining area.  I was very happy to see that there weren’t any “gringos” working there.  That would’ve ruined the ambience.

I saw several items on their menu that looked familiar to me, but more importantly, the prices were all just right.  Little did I know, that would get better.

I was going to order pork adobo, since it’s a Filipino staple, but I instead asked the server to suggest something.  He suggested I order the Bihon, which is a noodle dish with chicken, shrimp and vegetables.  I love Cantonese noodles, and the description said that’s the type of noodles I should expect.

I also saw lumpia on the menu as an appetizer though.  I love making lumpia, but I love even more to eat it!  :)  I couldn’t help but order it.  Lunpia is kind of like mini-egg rolls, but in my opinion, they’re always better.

Vegetable Lumpia

The lumpia came out fairly quickly, but the main course was right behind it.  The server warned me that the serving was large, and boy was he right!  They have family-sized portions, like some Italian restaurants.  And it looks delicious!


I fell in love with this restaurant after my first bite of the Bihon.  It doesn’t look like it, but it has a complex, yet mouth-wateringly delicious flavor.  There was a decent mix of the ingredients in the Bihon too.  If you’ve never had Filipino or other pacific islander food, you just have to give it a try.

An entire family of about 12 people showed up while I was eating, and it looked like they ordered everything else on the menu that I didn’t.  It was all that I could do to keep myself from joining them at their table and helping myself. 

Speaking of will power, there was no way I could finish my own meal without stuffing myself so full that I’d have to loosen my pants!  I had to ask for a box just to keep myself from trying.  Luckily, the server came back with a box quickly, so I have lunch for tomorrow.  Woo hoo!

I am definitely putting this on one of my favorite places to eat.  Not only was the food delicious, the service was good, and the value for the money was exceptional!  I have not found any other place here in San Mateo that provides so much for so little while still producing quality.

Stop by and check them out for yourself!

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