hawkers place, pinoy style
Being that we are backpackers, it always follows that we travel on a budget. Our plane tickets carefully booked, our hostels painfully scrutinized, and our daily allowance tightly budgeted. It is also an art of backpacking to find the most affordable places to eat in. We also consider the cultural requisites like flavor, tradition and the old school way of cooking it.
In most cases, we end up being seen in the streets and hawker stalls getting down and dirty. Hawker stalls can be found all over Asia, and the Philippines got a good version of it too. Although Filipino street food are irreplaceable, its nearest and most accessible incarnation would be the food court of SM Malls.
SM Sta. Mesa got a pocket full of stores with treats from different regions of the country. It is indeed a one stop traditional Filipino food expo. We were invited to try out what the food center has to offer.
Lugaw – know generally all over the Philippines as the local version of Chinese congee. It is so easy to make, just by combining the broth, rice, ginger, scallions, some other spices and chicken or beef then VOILA! You have the staple snack of the social class A to E. Lugaw ni Juan is the newest member of the chain of food stalls in SM. Sta. Mesa, their version got strips of ox tripe that made it really unique and special.
Lechon de Cebu – Lechon or roasted suckling pig is a popular star of Filipino celebrations like Fiesta, birthday, wedding, baptismal and the list goes on. As a celebratory dish in the southern city Cebu, it is luciously cooked with juicy meat and crispy thin outer skin. Just make sure it is served hot and crunchy.
Empanada – unlike the mexican empanada, Ilocanos’ version is fried, not baked. The northern colonial towns of the Ilocos region boasts a menu of treats that are uniquely Ilocano. Empanada is one of the most popular among them. Balay Ilocos (Ilocano House) serves those traditional cuisine showcasing the flavors of the north.
Sisig – this is one kapampangan’s pride, known as the kitchen of central Luzon, the Province of Pampanga started a pulutan culture. This dish is made from parts of pig’s head and liver, usually seasoned with kalamansi and chili peppers. It is indeed and undoubtedly the most popular beer match across the country. Where else to try it? But from the kitchen who invented it…
FACT: Lucia Cunanan of Angeles City has been credited with inventing sisig. The Philippine Department of Tourism has acknowledged that her “Aling Lucing’s” restaurant had established Angeles City as the “Sisig Capital of the Philippines” in 1974.
The dish is said to have originated from locals residents who bought unused pig heads from the commissaries of Clark Air Base in Angeles City, Pampanga. Pig heads were purchased cheap since they were not used in preparing meals for the U.S.Air Force personnel stationed there.
Pancit Malabon -The ingredients clearly represent the origin of the dish. Situated with the northern fishing ports of Manila, Malabon is the drop-off point of fresh bounties from the South China Sea. Pancit Malabon is a type of pancit, or stir-fried noodle dish. It has a yellow-orange color due to a sauce that includes patis (fish sauce) and crab fat. Its toppings draw heavily from the fresh seafood that is available in the area and may include fresh shrimp, squid, oysters, and hard-boiled duck or hen eggs, as well as pork.
Kakanin (Rice cakes) – There’s a myriad of documented preparation of this traditional snack/desert. Philippines being covered with vast rice paddies, the crop comes really handy to our pre-colonial ancestors. And with recipes passed from generation to generation we are still enjoying the old original and traditional taste and texture.
Who would’ve thought we can experience a good historical and cultural culinary tour inside the Philippines most popular shopping center? Our visit with SM City Sta. Mesa became a sampler of what Filipino kitchen has to offer.
The relaunching of SM City Sta. Mesa Food Court showed an impressive recovery from the wrath of typhoon Ondoy last year. The new festive look and Wifi enabled food park is cheerfully serving the universities and communities of Sta. Mesa in Manila.
We would also like to thank Jolibee SM Sta. Mesa, Pizza Hut SM Sta. Mesa, Island Gas, ASC Marketing, Inihaw Express, Kusina ni Gracia, Baliwag Express and Mr. Maynard Bulosan for showing us what they have for the budget conscious foodies like us.