World Street Food Goodness in Manila (2017)

By KF Seetoh - Friday, Jun 02, 2017

When I first saw and ate without a blink of hesitation, I knew I had to bring that Soi Lum, an “ah boling” of sorts to our World Street Food Congress (WSFC) in Manila. The extraordinary element here is not just the smooth, soft gumminess with a flawlessly balance bean paste inside (by way of texture and sweetness), but the flecks of dried candied chrysanthemum leaves over the very light syrup. So the folks from Guangzhou, among the 30 stalls from 13 nations will be dazzling them all at the event from 31st May to 4th June at the Mall of Asia concert grounds and presented again by the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines.


It’s the fourth edition of the WSFC in second in Manila, after two gigs in Singapore. This travelling international street food festival has been drawing crowds numbering over 70,000 since inauguration in 2013. The soul of the event is the WSF Dialogue symposium, where over a dozen entrepreneurs, chefs, hawkers, educators, food tourism, students, celebrities and thinkers. Food and travel TV icon Anthony Bourdain has been a great supporter of this movement and will be at this year’s event again. He will be distilling updates on his mega Bourdain Market in New York, of which I was tapped to be a consultant and advisor.


Ok, back to the makan. If you plan to be in Manila this weekend, head over and be prepared for a massive feast of spectacular and sometimes strange (at least to you) heritage street and comfort chow from 13 nations. Our very own KEK Seafood boys will hawk their cze cha Curry Chicken Burgers and from Indonesia, the very popular Chocolate Martabak, will make a ,back-by-popular demand, return. It’s a full mee chang kueh sliced and topped with 4 types of chocolate including crushed green tea chocolate KitKat wafer bars. Last year, I asked a random customer how long she queued for this “2 hours” she winked and she came “just for this, first”. From Oaxaca, Mexico chef Chef Alam Mendez and his mother Celia Florian, will bring their traditional braised trotter and fried fish tacos. And for the first time, we bring a Taiwanese oyster omelette, loaded with crunchy greens and a sourish savoury sauce, from Chiayi town. Also a first will be Banh Loc, from Vietnam, a little rice cake steamed in a small sauce plate, much like chwee kueh, and topped with dried shrimps and greens with a sauce.


The colourful spicy and fruity Indian dhal croquette, Aloo Tiki.


From India, we see the return and the first time ever in Manila, Aloo Tiki, a new style Indian dhal croquette, slathered with three chutneys and fruits. Many will also see the rare halal fare from Davao, Philippines- from the humble Satti Tausug restaurant comes their Junay rice with egg and spicy black grated coconut grilled chicken.


Halal fare from Davao, Junay rice with egg and spicy grilled black grated coconut chicken


Six regions in the Philippines will have stalls featuring rarely seen (even in Manila) dishes and progressive takes on them. Their “national dish” Sisig, a hot plate of chopped pigs head and chicharon tossed in lime, soy sauce onions and chillies, will be reinterpreted for the first time, as a Sisig Paella, suggested by WSFC and created by Chef Sau Del Rosario from Pampanga and captain of the host nation. We’ve even suggested stuffing a pita bread pouch with bbq Chicken Inasal, something top chef JP Anglo will offer at a stall there.


A national favourite Sisig, given a new twist, the Sisig Paella.
A fresh look at old Philippine classic, Inasal Chicken Pita Bread Pouch


These are just a few of the 60 plus items hawked at the World Street Food Jamboree. What are you waiting for?


The World Street Food Congress is held from the 31st May to 4th June at the Mall of Asia Concert Grounds, Manila.