Despite the earlier criticisms and diplomatic-threatening issues that took place mostly in 2018 and a few more in 2019, Kuwait remains to be one of the top work destinations among Filipinos in the Middle East.
And as this trend continues coming into 2020, it’s not surprising to learn that some kind of an enclave for Filipinos has begun to grow in the heart of the Salmiya District in Kuwait aptly known as ‘Little Manila’.
Kuwait’s Little Manila: Here’s What to Expect
Along with the opening of the revamped Souq Salmiya, last year emerged a Filipino enclave in the heart of Salmiya known as Little Manila, as shared in a report by the Kuwait Times.
The souq has become a favorite shopping destination and gathering place for Filipinos living and working in Kuwait. Old Souq Salmiya is located opposite the fire station at the end of the Fourth Ring Road. It is an extension of the popular Salem Al-Mubarak Street that is lined with bigger shops and malls in the district.
The popular Filipino hangout is filled with Filipino restaurants, cafes, bakeries, exchange houses, salons, shops and groceries catering to the Filipino community.
The area offers a ‘home’ in the form of local food, culture, and community events. Graffiti in Tagalog can be seen on the walls and on weekends, Tagalog can be heard up and down the street as Filipinos mix in large numbers to meet their friends, relatives, and others from their homeland.
If you head right on to the corner of Salem Al-Mubarak St at the tip of the Fourth Ring Road, you will find Seafood Island Restaurant, directly across McDonald’s. It serves the freshest grilled seafood dishes named after famous mountains and destinations in the Philippines, either al a carte or boodle fight style. The food items are named after native places like Taal Volcano, Boracay Seafood and Davao’s Best.
If you’re more into casual dining, you can check out the popular burger joint, Sarks, also originally from the Philippines.
Right behind McDonald’s are other Filipino-inspired restaurants like iTEA, Tia Maria Restaurant, and Nature’s Taste Bakery, all serving specialty Filipino cuisine. In the building next to the seafood restaurant, you can try the best Filipino dishes, including a place similar to the Aristocrat Restaurant in the Philippines.
On the ground level of the same building are some Filipino shops, in addition to Pinoy Street Food. The next building has Boodle Restaurant and Da Gucci, also specializing in Filipino cuisine. Qusinna ni Yorme (Mayor’s Kitchen) is also in the same building, which sells Pampanga delicacies. The next building is a relatively small one, which is also frequented by Filipinos, with a couple of Pinoy restaurants and some exchange companies.
Another building houses the House Bucks Restaurant and various shops selling Filipino products. The Kabayan Grocery Hypermarket is next to it, where you can buy frozen meat and fish products, all imported from the Philippines. There are also native tropical fruits from the Philippines like durian, young coconut and a selection of green vegetables up on display and on sale. At Kabayan, you can find walis tambo (a broom made from rattan in Baguio City). There are other supermarkets in the area as well as catering to Filipinos, with Ambassador Supermarket and Greenland Hypermarket right next to each other selling Filipino food products and other consumables, and household items.
If you’re craving for good ‘ole Filipino street food such as kikiam, kwek-kwek, gizzards, porridge and light foods including the famous balut (14-day-old egg), which is a Southeast Asian favorite, the area offers several stands where you can get your favorite snacks as you go – just the way we do it in the Philippines.
Walking a few meters further from the main Salem Al-Mubarak St, you’ll find a small street with a large concentration of Filipinos – the street is dubbed Makulay Street, short for Malikhaing Kulturang Layag (artists’ guild).
The graffiti on this street was designed through the collective efforts of Filipino artists, who have made this street very colorful and attractive. It has become a selfie spot, not just for Filipinos, but for other nationalities, as well. Check it out!
Makulay Street is dedicated to towns and cities in the Philippines – representing the major islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao – scrawled using colorful paint. In front of the graffiti wall is Bahay Kubo, a 150-seater Filipino restaurant that hosts a live band and parties on a weekly basis.
There are also other familiar food places in the area such as Jollibee and Chowking, as well as other artisan places such as a Filipino grooming salon called Kuwentong Barbero and two Manila juice shops and the original Bubble Tea by KuwaiTEA.
So, if you’re in the mood to catch some Filipino food, activities, and company, be sure to check out Little Manila in Salmiya and let us know what you think of the place by commenting below.
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