February 24, 2016
4.30pm: WORLD STREET FOOD PRESSCON (Manila Diamond Hotel Culinary Studio)
After 3 hours of grueling traffic, we finally made it back to Manila where we had to make a mad rush for Diamond Hotel to attend the official press conference for World Street Food Congress 2016.
KF Seetoh of Makansutra talked about the importance of preserving our country's Heritage Foods, bringing the street vendor community together, and what to expect at the upcoming WSFC on April 20-24, 2016.
As Seetoh spoke our Fellow Food Frenzy Explorer, Food Expert, Master Chef, and Culinary Ambassador of Indonesia, William Wongso, gave everyone a live cooking demonstration, showcasing Indonesians' love for fresh ingredients and bold spices.
With the press conference over and done with, we proceeded to the next leg of our Gastronomic Expedition. Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet (yours truly) shared his thoughts on the diversity of Filipino food culture and what to expect at our next destination.
5.30pm: BINONDO FOOD WOK (Chinatown, Old Manila)
Occupied by Chinese migrants over 400 years ago, Binondo is regarded as the Oldest Chinatown in the world. Bringing with them their own culinary heritage, Chinese integration into Filipino society is evident in the cuisine that has evolved into a style all its own.
We met up with Ivan of Old Manila Walks around 5pm in front of Binondo Church, where he promptly started us on our Big Binondo Food Wok through the heart of Chinatown.
Stopping briefly at points of interest, we learned about the history of Binondo and the legacy of the first Chinese families to settle in the area.
6.00pm: QUIK SNACK (Binondo)
Quik Snack along Carvajal was first on our list, where we got our first taste of Chinoy (Chinese Filipino) carinderia-style food.
Our Singaporean friends loved the Amah Pillar's Sate Noodles with pancit, beef, sate sauce, and kangkong.
Lumpia, which is like the Popiah, is a wrap of vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, egg, juansoy, and other ingredients.
Empanada with pork, kuchay, carrots, and sauce in a crisp, pie-like crust.
The stand out was the golden brown Fried Tofu with their special sauce topped with cucumber, juansoy, peanuts, and chili sauce. It's cooked to perfection--crispy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside--with the sauce giving it a mildly sweet, oniony flavor.
6.30pm: SINCERITY (Binondo)
One of the more popular restaurants in Binondo, Sincerity is known for their homestyle cooking, variety of Chinoy dishes, and dishes cooked with "sincere" ingredients.
Another top seller is their Oyster Cake, made with tapioca flour, fresh oysters, egg, and bean sprouts. This elegant dish is sticky and chewy with a nice mellow briny aftertaste. Try it with hot sauce or their pickled daikon radish.
My personal favorite is the Kikiam, which is a Chinese sausage wrapped in tofu skin. This reminds me of my grandmother-in-law's cooking.
KF Seetoh- and Makansutra Team-approved!
7.00pm: DONG BEI DUMPLINGS (Binondo)
Next stop was a little hole in the wall that's been around for nearly 10 years. They specialize in one thing, which they do exceptionally well.
The place has zero ambiance and is quite cramped for a big group, which ironically adds to its charm.
Hand rolled daily, these northern-style pork dumplings are a refreshing alternative to the traditional shumai that's served in Chinese restaurants across the country. The dumplings are boiled, not steamed, and the skin is a bit thick but smooth.
We all loved the Chinese Pancake, which is simply a pressed dumpling that has been pan fried until crispy and golden.
What makes these morsels so special is the combination of spices, minced pork, and kuchay (Chinese chives), which give these pancakes a mild bite. Be sure to dip them in the house spicy vinegar.
On the way back to the bus, we had a quick stop over at Eng Bee Tin where we sampled hopia--ube, coconut pandan, and my favorite, custard.
We left Binondo at around 7.30pm and finally found ourselves on the last stretch of our epic 15-Hour Street Food Safari.
8.30pm: SARSA (Bonifacio Global City)
Sarsa serves authentic Negrense food using high-quality ingredients by Chef Jayp Anglo. It has a homestyle feel to it, with bold flavors and hearty portions, so it's no wonder this place is usually busy.
The must-try Negrense food is the Batchoy, also known as the Pinoy Ramen, with noodles in pork and beef stock, egg, pork, liver, and topped with chicharon.
We were treated to an authentic boodle fight, a style of Filipino dining that encourages sharing and invented by the Philippine Army. A mound of garlic rice is topped with dishes that are typically eaten with the hands.
The Kinilaw, which is like ceviche made from raw tuna cooked in vinegar and lime, literally melts in your mouth as you chew it.
Bacolod is known for its Chicken Inasal--grilled chicken cooked in annatto oil and spices.
The Isaw (chicken intestines) is probably the #1 streetfood in the Philippines.
Also known as the Bishop's nose, Isol is another favorite. Tender juicy chicken tail--just don't eat the pointed triangle tip.
Another alternative to chicharon (pork skin crisp), is skewered grilled chicken skin.
The Tortang Talong made with eggplant and egg was crispy and packed with flavor.
My all-time favorite at Sarsa--Sizzling Kansi--with chunks of beef in batwan gravy sauce and bulalo bone marrow served on a sizzling plate!
To end on a sweet Negrense note, we were served a trio of their popular Piaya Ice Cream Sandwich--ube, queso, and vanilla ice cream, sandwiched in between crisp unleavened flatbread.
9.30pm: MERCATO CENTRALE (Bonifacio Global City)
A Filipino Food Tour is not complete without the Balut Challenge for first time foodies in the Philippines .:) First, you crack open the fat rounded part of the duck egg...
Drink the egg broth (add salt to taste)...
Then open the rest of the egg to reveal a 16-day duck embryo with the egg yolk and a rubbery egg white portion.
(Photo by William Wongso) It's either you love it or you hate it. Filipinos eat balut for its aphrodisiac benefits. :)
Philippine Lechon is best known for its super crispy thin skin and slicing it open makes the best sound ever.
The lechon is best eaten with the smoke coming out of its butt.
We had such a wild and hectic time, learned new and exciting things, built international friendships, and shared a few laughs. But most importantly, we had the chance to eat some of the most awesome Filipino Food!
See you all for the World Street Food Congress in Bonifacio Global City on April 20-24, 2016!
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: We organized the food tour in partnership with the Tourism Promotions Board and Makansutra to promote the World Street Food Congress. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.
P.S. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org or text me +63 917 5683627 if you want to join the next public run of the 15-Hour Food Frenzy Safari.