Cartimar Eats: Sen Lek

I’ve been wanting to write about this place for a really long time (maybe 3 years). Except I was always worried that his concept would soon fizzle out in a place like Cartimar food court because 1) it’s not Filipino food and 2) it’s noodles with soup in a hot place! What are the usual open-air market fares that we get here in Manila? Siomai, shawarma, hotdogs, fish balls, soft serve, fries and maybe, shakes…all of which do not exist in this funny cart called Sen Lek. This place, has been in Cartimar for years…his cart, moved from place to place wherever the management placed the open air eating areas. Now they stay beside the newly opened Save More Mart. Look for the man who owns it, he usually keeps a keen eye on his servers when they prepare every soup bowl that gets served. Back when he started, he used to be in a pony tail, now he cut his hair short and it’s just a little gray.

My bro and I decided to try his food out three years ago when we spotted it because 1) it seemed misplaced, and 2) he had pots of many spices which are used in Thai cooking and 3) we spotted bits of coriander in his soup…this means, this guy gives more of damn than to just put a few horrible pieces of spring onions like what you would expect in a place like this. Mig has come to enjoy his beef bowl. It’s a snack portion with a pretty good broth, beef slices and beef balls. Come to think of it, it’s almost like an odd version of a pho too. You can control the heat with the chili flakes he has on his cart…they only serve it to you with the flakes if you ask for it. This bowl? About P65… CHEAP EATS!!!

After a couple of years, he decided to serve up a Pad Thai. I know, it may not be the most authentic Pad Thai you can get, but it’s actually pretty good. It’s got the tartness, the peanuts, the good old fish sauce flavor and the different bits of vegetables and egg. I think his base must partly be ketchup but it’s done pretty decently and is seasoned well. I order the Pad Thai only when he’s around. This bowl? About P75 only!

It is pretty misplaced but I think Sen Lek is a breath of fresh air from the usual open-air cart fares. I usually get my pet stuff in Cartimar and I always get a bowl of his soup or Pad Thai. It’s sounds crazy but it feels quite comforting. You know that the spices were mixed into it and coriander was placed on it just to ensure that you have a little Thai in that bowl despite the rising cost of food. You can now enjoy a little bit of Thai while buying stuff for your pets in this place.

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