World Street Food Rush…

By KF Seetoh - Monday, Apr 25, 2016

I had not anticipated the response- we opened the first World Street Food Congress in Manila, Philippines last Wednesday at 4pm (the Jamboree food festival component) and by 6pm, over five thousand people flooded the little field in Bonifacio Global City, where it was held. In many ways, it was a good problem. Hardly anyone was turned off by some of the dishes that they had never seen in Manila soil.. kway chap and Hyderabadi briyani (an Indian spiced potato patty with chutney and sauce) were some of the dishes that drew the longest lines.


By 6pm on Friday, 6500 people was already in line for the food.


By, 830pm, almost half of the 25 stalls had sold out and the crowds was not letting up. The crowd control measures meant we had to hold attendees up at the event entry point when the place filled up. The line outside went 500 metres around the block and many had to be turned away as the food had sold out. Understandably, they unleashed their anger online. But we doubled up the next few days and caught up with expectations. .We originally planned to end the event at about midnight.


Our partners at the Jamboree, Ayala Malls and the Tourism Promotions Board (Philippines) was taken by the response and retail director at Ayala Malls, Ms Jessica Santos, who helped bring the event over to Manila, responded with a ͞I am not well, I am overwhelmed͟ (by the response). Even Pepitas, the stall that saw the longest line at last year’s World Street Food Congress in Singapore, drew as long a line and her Truffle Paella Lechon, was native to Manila.


Here’s some of the dishes that flew fast and furious off the counters..


200 kg of pork ribs for the Igo Bakar from Indonesia was sold out in 2.5 hrs


– Babi Iga Bakar, or BBq pork ribs from Bali. Their seasoning, done with a sweet kicap manis like sauce blended with sambal spices was a hit. They shifted 700 portions in 2 ½ hours.


– Jin Ji Kway Chap and Braised Duck- second generation owner Melvin Chew kept shaking his head in bewilderment over the response and admitted ͞the duck quality, surprisingly, is very good.͟ They cleared the day’s stock by 9pm.


– The crowds was initially giving Keng Eng Kee’s tempura seafood with three dips (chili crabs, black pepper and salted egg yolk sauce) a miss, until the event DJ and myself announced in slow motion detail, what the dish was all about. The line went out to the edge of the field when we were done harping.


– The Zhou Hou Chicken stall from Foshan, China, despite offering a plain looking braised chicken over plain rice, drew them in nevertheless. It was the intense flavour they fell for. The braise sauce was made of miso, rock sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, shallots with ginger and carefully braised over high then low fire.


– The Hyderabadi Briyani, which was made from scratch by the hawkers under the umbrella of the National Street Vendors Assn of India, had to make another batch of 200 portions after the first 600 cleared out at 7pm.


Some gems from Philippines.. fried mussels lumpia
Mdm Phan and her Banh Xeo is always a hit at WSFC events..since 2013


And at the World Street Food Dialogue held in a conference tent across the street, Woo Wai Leong, the first winner of MasterChef Asia last year, dazzled audience with this take on Sapin-sapin, Philippines national dessert. Also discussed with fervour was how, if and when it happens, will Philippines build hawker centres and who and will it be governed. Former Head of Hawkers Department at NEA, Mr Richard Tan, spoke on the Singapore government’s take on this matter and how it can be applied to other countries.


Close to one hundred thousand people are expect over the five day feasting festival and food symposium and we are indebted to the Filipino and their response and love for food, for there is no love more sincere, than the love of food.


The World Street Food Congress

Bonifacio Global City, Manila

Federacion Way and 9th St

20th-24th April