Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Midnight Mercato

It was almost midnight when O, our host, took us to a food enclave called Mercato Centrale located in Bonifacio Global City, Philippines.  Visiting the weekend market for the first time, it looks like an ordinary big white tent from the outside but once inside you are transported to an enchanting world of food magicians.

And so the food trip begins.

The market place gives a glimpse of the whole gamut of Filipino food: street food, home cooked food, chef-created dishes and culinary delights. And for balikbayans like us, the food stalls were calling our name.  I was in a daze... seriously, as I felt like a kid in a candy store.  It seemed that all four of us felt the same.  We scattered in different directions and would meet in the middle to check out our food finds.  It was comical to see my brother in law carrying several dishes from different stalls, urging us to try each one.  But we all enjoyed it.

I was surprised to see the multitude of food hawkers, even as it was nearly midnight.  Well it is called a night market but I guess I've never been to a crowded tent like this with people's faces lighting up as bright as the sun and I'm sure our faces showed the same aura too... haha!

Chicken and Pig's offals skewered in bamboo sticks took me back to the streets of Divisoria sans the heat and the smog.  This is a very impressive selection of authentic Filipino street food.

Now who could miss all the street food - as they were brightly displayed, it intrigued my palette.  To be honest, I've never tried anything like this before...

So I took a closer look and I thought "should I even try?" But sometimes there's a voice inside you that you cannot drown out and I thought "tonight is the time to let go."

So I followed my instinct and indeed did let go.  My favorite among the skewered barbeque "thrill" was the pig's ear.  I thought that the sweet barbeque glaze made it  palatable ... haha!

The sizzling sisig was one of my favorites too. At least I was familiar with the taste and it didn't "shock" my taste buds.  

Except for the egg tray used as a serving tray(?), these little cuties were delightful.  They are called taclings, made of fried wanton pastry in a cup, shaped like a tiny taco shell.  The yellow ones had beef on it while the  green shells had tuna + mushrooms.  I just loved them.

I must have been away from the Filipino food scene for awhile, as I didn't know which drink to choose.  The flavors are mostly new to me and healthy options are widely available.  

I guess when you see foodies (I don't like to use the term but I can't help it) you know that there's a connection right away.  And rightly so - meet my new foodie friends.  They are pastry chefs from Texas who are temporarily based in the Philippines.  Too bad, their shelves were empty when I got there.  Their most raved about cheesecakes sell like hotcakes (well what can I say?) I was told that their lager beer cheesecakes is the bomb.

There was so much food to try. One stall caught my attention - it's called Off Beat and they sell burgers... Well not on a bun but between two donuts - oh how delightful.

One of the best finds I had was this dessert table by the wall.  They sell pastries by the slice and it reminded me of my favorite pastries from a neighborhood bakeshop in Makati.  But alas, I was hypnotized by the thick creamy sauce the owner (sorry but I forget her name) was slowly pouring over the slice of Brazo de Mercedes.  Let's just say this dessert didn't find its way home... haha! 

Next time you're in Manila and you want to go on a Pinoy food trip visit Mercato Centrale and you will have great start to your journey.

Thanks for taking us there O!


  1. Malou,
    I could just imagine how fun it went with you guys. Was it G or E who did that? LOL! We will be going home in a few months and will surely go there. What restos did you go to pa. More reviews please?

    1. It was E haha. He kept on buying and he just takes a bite and give the rest to us. OMG we had so much fun indeed!

  2. Malou,
    I told you to contact me while you were here since I wanted to take you to a similar place like this near our house. It's called Banchetta in Ortigas. I'm glad though that you were able to experience the Night Market Philippine style pa rin. Next time you're home please call me.


    1. Hi Paul,
      Glad to see you here. I'm so sorry I didn't call you back. My schedule was pretty packed. I thought 6 weeks will give me ample time, but I guess when you're having fun there's not enough time haha.
      thanks for dropping a note. A friend of mine in FB also mentioned Banchetta, so it must be good too ha... I will remember to call you next time,

  3. Scheduled :) I'm going to make this as must see stop next trip there. Unfortunately my family never took me to anything like this. As far as the skewers, chicken intestines are my favorite - but unfortunately they literally aren't allowed to sell them in the US due to FDA regulations

    1. It was my first time to taste it when I got there. And hmmmm I think I was intrigued more than anything haha. Thanks for dropping by.


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