‘Little Manila’ opens in Abu Dhabi

‘Little Manila’ opens in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi opened its doors for Al Ahli Holding Group’s Little Manila, the first-ever Filipino food court style restaurant in the capital. Little Manila Abu Dhabi, located at Fatima Bint Mubarak Street (formerly known as Al Najdah Street), officially opened last Nov. 14 welcomes diners as it offers delectable Filipino and Filipino-inspired dishes.

(5th from left) H.E. Constancio Vingno, Jr., Philippine Ambassador to the UAE; and (4th from right) Mr. Parvez Naqvi, General Manager of Al Ahli Holding Group’s F&B Division, with guests at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Little Manila

Foodies, and their willingness to try something new, are redefining the UAE’s F&B industry, marking a growing demand of various international cuisines. A recent survey conducted by the Al Ahli Holding Group has shown that Filipino cuisine, in particular, is gaining traction. More than 70 per cent of the participating UAE expatriates have noted their willingness to try Filipino food, according to the survey with 1,215 respondents.

(on the left) H.E. Constancio Vingno, Jr., Philippine Ambassador to the UAE; and (on the right) Mr. Parvez Naqvi, General Manager of Al Ahli Holding Group’s F&B Division at Little Manila

Parvez Naqvi, General Manager of Food and Beverage Department at Al Ahli Group, said: “Authentic Filipino dishes are very tasty, include a lot of various spices, and are inspired by other international cuisines; hence its appeal to people, no matter the nationality, is undeniable. Aside from that, the network of Filipinos here in the UAE is also growing, thereby influencing the tastes of the country’s expatriates. True enough, our survey has also revealed that the top influencer for expats to try Filipino food is the recommendation of others.”

In the survey, among the Filipino dishes that topped the expatriates’ preferences were: adobo (meat stew with a marinade of soy sauce, vinegar and garlic), sisig (a sizzling, crispy dish made of meat, liver and other innards seasoned with lime and chilies), and pancit (stir-fried noodles).

On the other hand, the Filipino dessert that ranked high on the survey list are: halo-halo (a cup of shaved ice and evaporated milk with a host of sweet delicacies such as boiled sweet beans, coconut, tapioca pearls, tubers and fruits), leche flan (a custard dessert with a soft layer of caramel on top) and ube halaya (boiled and mashed purple yam mixed with milk and butter).

Seventy per cent of the people who already tried Filipino food are open to trying it again, the survey also added.

Considering how the interest in Filipino food is picking up, Little Manila, the UAE’s first Filipino food hub, opened its branch in Abu Dhabi, its second outlet in the country.

“People are embracing the authentic Philippine cuisine, and the success of Little Manila’s first shop in Al Rigga, Dubai, is proof of that. As the food hub now expands its presence in the country, more and more people will get to enjoy local Filipino flavours. We are confident that everyone’s going to love it,” Naqvi said.

Little Manila is born of the need to satisfy the Filipino expats’ longing for food they have grown up with and have always loved back home. There has been a rapidly growing demand for authentic Filipino dishes and delicacies, and Little Manila has successfully responded to it by flying in popular homegrown food brands straight from the Philippines.

Since the Al Rigga flagship restaurant has opened its doors, foot traffic has been consistently high. Whether they’re dining in or ordering some takeaways, Filipinos have made it a habit to drop by Little Manila to have their favourites.

The themed restaurant’s popularity has since grown beyond the Filipino market as more and more people from various nationalities are now enjoying the local flavours of the Philippines.

As it expands its presence in the country through its Abu Dhabi outlet, Little Manila is right on track to capturing a significant share of foodies in the UAE, be they Filipinos or of other nationalities.


Little Manila is a themed restaurant that offers an array of food choices from multiple Filipino brands, such as Binalot, Jay-J’s, Fruitas Group, Mochi Crème, Zagu, Fiftea along with its in-house brands Kwekie Bites, Noodle Depot, House of Lechon Manok and Breadshop. From appetizers, main course meals, to desserts, beverages and street food, Little Manila gives its customers that distinct Filipino taste and feel at a price they afford any day.

From its interiors to the service it provides, the restaurant offers a complete dining experience that ultimately makes the Filipino feel at home. After all, Little Manila is theirs—as the restaurant’s mantra goes, “Atin Ito”, a Pinoy phrase that means “This is ours”.

Visit its website at www.littlemanila.com. Little Manila is also on Facebook and Twitter (@LittleManilaME).

(Press Release – Supplied)

Leave a Comment