Popped Rice Soup
The rainy season is upon us, and there’s nothing that goes better with raindrops than a bowl of hot soup.
At Xiu Restaurant with some of my favorite former Xavier coparents (Joseph and Joy Tiu, and Wilson and Vivian Sy), we ordered our usual favorites. New to our table was a clear seafood soup, warmed in front of us and served with toasted popped rice.
The soup was comforting and tasty in its simplicity, but with a spoonful of rice crispies, its character is transformed completely. The rice gives the pristine broth, with bits of seafood, mushrooms and lots of sliced celery, a distinct texture and a smoky finish. Interesting indeed, if you’re in search of something different and new.
For dessert, the Lava Black Sesame Buchi was to die for. Brought to you piping hot, its outer shell is crisp, with a chewy interior. Once the fork cuts through the glutinous rice, a lava of buttery sweet black sesame filling spews out of the buchi! For this buchi alone, I’d go visit Xiu, again and again. (Tel. 86507189)
Darth Vader ‘kuchinta’
Dolor’s, the most renowned of the sapin-sapin makers, has evolved and kept up with the times.
I am so amused by their kakanin creations, made to resemble golf fairways, fire trucks, mahjong pieces and even our beloved Philippine flag.
I recently feasted on their Darth Vader black kuchinta, which is a softer version of the black kuchinta we’re familiar with. It comes with a thick and milky dulce de leche dip. I had fun eating it, for its novelty and also for its deliciousness. (@dolors_kakanin on Instagram)
Sweet and salty cookies
Sweet and salty has always been my thing. Since I was young, I often paired my meals with something sweet, like fruits, cake, condensed milk—to the horror of many.
Little did anyone know that sweet and salty would eventually be fashionable! Speaking of which, I recently savored freshly baked cookies by Cookiefixx. Their cookies are exactly as its baker describes them, “a perfect blend of sweet and salty goodness in a single bite of a cookie.”
The cookies are the brainchild of sisters Christine, Caitlin and Cailey Co-Salonga.
On the palate, these cookies are a play on tastes, flavors and textures: sweet and chocolatey with crisp edges and gooey centers. Add to that a salty, crackling crunch from Maldon sea salt flakes.
On the menu are three variations of their cookies. The OG Chocolate Chip Cookie; the Uncle J’s Walnut Oat Cookie, a nutty and mellow cookie that pairs well with coffee or tea; and the Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie, a healthier alternative to the OG Cookie, but said to be as flavorful as the original.
You can Grab your Cookiefixx today. Remember to eat them once they get to you. I got mine fresh out of the oven, warm and delectable. (@cookiefixx on Instagram)
Ube Leche Flan Suman
I recently tried one of the best suman made by Agapito “Aging” Mercado. The one I had was stuffed with ube and leche flan, a gift by a dear friend, Marco Montes.
It is so delicious, and the quality of the ingredients used are top-notch.
Nine years ago, Aging started a home-based business. She made suman and sold them to different banks around the Pasig area.
The first flavor she ever made was ube suman. Prepandemic, there were nine flavors to be enjoyed: White Sugar, Brown Sugar, Leche Flan and Ube, Kalamay Nutella, Chocnut, Haleya, Mangga and Biko. All nine can still be ordered but available daily are Suman Original with Ube and Leche Flan filling, Brown Combi (suman with brown sugar, ube and leche flan filling), Halaya and Kalamay.
The Mercados are kakanin lovers. The family frequents Thailand and the manner their suman is wrapped is Thai-inspired. So is their suman-making technique. Yes, Aging’s suman is, in taste and texture, very similar to the famed Thai sticky rice with mangoes.
In the beginning, Aging used to make 500 pieces of suman a day. These days, she makes 1,000 pieces, apart from the many individual orders she receives.
Aging now shares her stall with her son Greggie who specializes in breads, cakes and pastries. His bestsellers are his ube-cheese pan de sal and buttered Spanish bread, which are by order only. (Tel. 0929-8410424)
Aging’s Mango Suman Cake
1 kg malagkit
3 pc pandan leaves
500 ml coconut milk
500 g sugar
500 ml water
1 tsp salt
Rinse sticky rice. Cook using rice cooker. Add the other ingredients.
Arrange the banana leaves in the bilao.
Cool down the sticky rice before making the suman cake. Flatten the sticky rice in the bilao. Top with fresh mangoes.
It is no secret that I am a Vito’s Barbecue fan, enamored with their boneless chicken barbecue. There is more to Vito’s, though, than just barbecue.
Mike Pelayo always whips up something new. His creations are a fresh take on the classics, like the Pufflabok, deep-fried sotanghon noodles with palabok sauce. He transformed this even further and created the Black Pufflabok, a collab between Vito’s and Camille Ongpauco of La Petite Bella.
To Mike’s palabok sauce, Camille’s special Calamar en Aceite de Oliva—slow-cooked baby squid in premium olive oil with garlic and apple cider vinegar—is incorporated. This results in a sauce that every squid ink lover must savor. The noodle dish makes a light and delightfully satisfying afternoon snack. (Tel. 0917-3000770, 0917-3000809; @vitosbbq on Instagram)
Follow the author at @iamreggieaspiras on Instagram and Facebook; reggieaspiras.com