The bagel is one of those iconic foods of the world. To me, it’s New York on a plate, right up there with a nice cheesy slice, and the street cart hot dog.
Toasted, with schmear (cream cheese, in various flavors) it is the quintessential Manhattan breakfast-on-the-go. Take a walk down the avenues at around 730am, and you will see countless people headed to work, headphones blasting Jay Z (or gee – show tunes!), and munching on a sesame bagel.
However, if you’ve had the good fortune to try exceptional versions of this Jewish treat, finding a decent one here in Manila is like looking for Waldo. Once upon a time, there was an American family who had a bagel shop in Filinvest, but sadly, it closed, together with our collective bagel cravings. Everything else was like eating a brick, until now.
Here’s my latest capsule review: LES Bagels New York Deli & Bakery.
Well, they’re still on soft opening, so as of this writing, TODAY, July 19, EVERYTHING is 50% off. JUST FOR TODAY. They close at 10pm, so haul ass there now!
It’s a – dare I say it – cute little space. Cute because it’s tiny - there are a few tables upstairs on the mezzanine, but I think takeout or al fresco on a breezy day is the way to go here. Unfortunately, today was not a breezy day. Hehe!
But if you’ve had the chance to enter an NYC neighborhood deli, it all looks sooo familiar: bagels of various flavors (onion, sesame seed, plain, pumpernickel, among others), different kinds of schmears (cream cheese, baby! Veggie, herb, garlic, caramelized onion, bacon & cheddar, jalapeño & cheddar, strawberry, apple cinnamon), bialys (another Yiddish treat – similar to a bagel but with an indentation in the middle, usually with caramelized onions), rugelach (sweet Jewish pastries), AND, according to their menu, a myriad of deli sammies --- from smoked pepper turkey and Havarti on a hoagie roll, to Ruebens on rye, to good ol’ egg salad. All these are the handiwork of a man named Cuit Kauffman, the same guy behind the pizza slices of Nolita in High Street Central.
I walked in this morning with Paolo Vasquez (the fine gent behind Longboards Manila) and the wife and we immediately zeroed in on the star of the show. Between the three of us: a sesame bagel with jalepeño & cheddar, an onion bagel with bacon & cheddar, and a plain bagel with plain cream cheese.
The verdict? A definite hooray! Chewy, just the right kind of dense, and great schmear flavors – nice and satisfying, and guaranteed to fill you up for at least a couple of hours (like all good bagels should! Hehe)
There’s soooo much to try still, and that’s always a good thing. They have stuff like matzoh ball soup and even egg creams! I kinda envy the people who live around here, because they have all these fun dining options at their doorstep.
Oh, and fine.. PS -- Upon recommendation, I bought an oatmeal maple cookie sandwich. I didn't take a pic because........ I ate it. tsk. It's good with coffee. We haven't tried a lot of stuff, but my gut tells me we'll be getting quality. Always a good thing.
New York just moved a few steps closer.
Well, it was our fault, I think – we forgot to have the bagels toasted. We’re all big on the crunch, so toasted it will be next time around.
Also, I wish there was more shade outside, but well, that’s just me. It was a bit hot this morning. But don’t get me wrong ---- it’s a casual place to go to in your shorts and sneakers, so eating al fresco should be quite pleasant most of the time, especially in the late afternoons to evening.
The only real complaint I have about this whole area is universal to all the restaurants here: parking. I’ve been told there will be spaces somewhere, but the I will tell you now that the existing ones are few and far between, and once all the big guns are up and running (like Ukkokei! Shudder) parking will be absolute war.
Oh, and you know what else is swangit? The feeling you'll get after more than one bagel. Tread carefully, my friends. haha!
Upper McKinley Rd, Tuscany, McKinley Hill (beside B&T Mexican Kitchen)
Currently on soft opening -- M-Sat, 8am-10pm; no phone number as of yet
- bagels with schmear (Php 140-180); bagel sandwiches (Php 60-420 for one with lox and scallion cream cheese); sandwiches (Php 250-580)