To be surrounded by fancy food leaves me longing for the simplest of flavors. After a long day in the kitchen, I crave for dishes that are simple, familiar and tasty.
Of late, I have been ordering Aling Banang’s pancit bihon. I can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s the most flavorful pancit bihon I’ve tried. The generously piled rice noodles are always cooked to a perfect doneness and taste the same all of the time.
This is absolute comfort food that is plain to the eye but pleasant to the palate. It is not packed with ingredients; in fact, the reason I love it is because it’s just noodles cooked in delicious stock. It is finished and topped with chunks of lechon kawali.
Noodles and pork in one bite bring sheer delight. The magic of this dish is how clean it is on the finish. My buds never tire of it, which is why I end up eating so much.
‘Halo-halo’ in tin cans
Now famous for pancit, Aling Banang was first made popular by Urbana Silva Santiago’s version of halo-halo in the 1930s. The stall with a table and a couple of wooden benches at the San Juan public market would come alive at summertime. Back then, they served the iconic Pinoy dessert in empty tin cans of evaporated milk.
It is no surprise why their halo-halo remains a favorite of many, me included. Each glass is bursting with red monggo, white beans, sweetened banana, pinipig, macapuno, gulaman, sago, ube halaya and leche flan (creme caramel made from duck eggs)—all of which is home-made!
This is halo-halo as I remember from the good old days, full of sahog, rich, creamy and simply delectable. Tastes premium, in a homemade kind of way. It literally has that made-by-lola feel to it.
Ising (the fifth of Banang’s 12 children) is responsible for the eateries’ success. Having worked with her mother since she was 18 allowed Ising to master the art of making perfect halo-halo, cooking old-time favorites and running the business.
An excellent cook, she is the creator of many dishes including the bihon with lechon kawali that has become a staple on my list of personal favorites.
Gian Louis Roldan, Aling Banang’s grandson, attributes their success to close family ties and the relationships with their customers. He added, “We treat each one as our own.”
Follow them on Facebook @alingbanang. I am now on Facebook and Instagram: @iamreggieaspiras. My website www.reggieaspiras.com will also launch soon.