THE GREAT BUDDHA CAFÉ: A Great Dining Experience

LOCATION: 2nd Floor UBE Tower, 628 Ongpin Street, Binondo1, Manila 1006 Metro Manila2

The Great Buddha Café is a casual Chinese restaurant located in a three-storey building at the heart of Binondo1. Its menu is inspired by Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine and it is a good option for dining with family (including kids) and friends.

It is called Great Buddha because the (Eng Bee Tin) owners want guests to feel happy and contented – feelings that are embodied by the golden Buddha statue sitting inside the restaurant’s premises. Their use of quality ingredients ensures that customers get value for money.

Do you know what Eng Bee Tin means? Eng stands for “forever”, Bee stands for “beautiful” and Tin stands for “precious”. Eng Bee Tin in Hokkien literally means “ever beauty precious”.

Eng Bee Tin popularized ube3 hopia4 and eventually ventured into other pastries and other related products.

The company making this favorite and iconic hopia brand is helmed by Mr. Ube himself, Mr. Gerry Chua, a third- generation Chinese entrepreneur, whose grandfather, Chua Chiu Hong, came to the Philippines from Xiamen, China, and established a small stall on Nueva Street in 1912.5

Gerry always wears a violet t-shirt and matching eyeglasses. He is also known to have formed an active volunteer community firefighting organization.

A trial opening of The Great Buddha Café was held on from February 10 to 20, 2019, in time for the Chinese New Year. It then closed on February 21 for the finishing touches and reopened thereafter.

The Great Buddha Café is open 8am till 10pm daily, but, sorry, no reservations are accepted. It easily gets packed and parking is a problem so, either have a driver drop you off, come early to get a parking space, or just use Grab6 service to get there without any stress.

1-ground flIt offers Chinese dishes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. But wait! There’s more! Imagine stepping into a one-stop-shop building where the ground floor offers all your favorites Eng Bee Tin goodies – mooncakes7, hopias4, tikoy8, Chinese deli and bakery products, mochi9, noodles, etc.

1-eng bee tin goodies-ok

There is also an escalator which easily brings you to the second floor.1-2nd-fl-1-ok

1-2nd-fl-shop-okOn this floor, you not only feast your eyes on Chinese charms and decorations but also on native bags, fans, etc. in an open-style souvenir-shop display. I bought a beautiful rattan bag and a couple of lucky charms. Of course, this floor is also where you can dine and enjoy Chinese cuisine.

1-2nd-fl-buddha-okThe café looks so spacious and what will attract your attention on one side of the dining area is the huge golden buddha statue with two intricately carved wooden chairs on each side. Guests may take turns posing with the buddha and/or seated on the chair/s. This is indeed a welcome feeling of space compared to other restaurants in the area.There is also free wi-fi.

Coming soon would be the Eng Bee Tin museum on the third floor. I guess they will feature the history of this brand and the process of making their famous hopia4.

I read somewhere that this building has a wheelchair-accessible lift. I will check it out next time I visit.

Here is the menu:

1-menu-1-dimsum-ok                                                                          Dimsum10 

1-menu-2-claypot rice-ok                                                                         Claypot Rice 

1-menu-3-roastings-ok                                                                          Roastings 

1-menu-4-side orders-ok                                                                           Short Orders 

1-menu-5-noodles=congee-ok                                                              Noodles and Congee11 

1-menu-7-squids-ok                                           You can also order squids dishes

1-menu-8-siomai-frice-okFried Shrimp Wonton, Yang Chow Fried Rice, Chicken with Anchovies and Black Pepper Beef are also available

1-menu-6-desserts-drinks-ok.jpg                                                            Desserts and Drinks 

Sorry, no alcoholic beverages are offered.

And now, for my dining experience in this restaurant:

The senior citizens in my group, including myself, appreciated the automatic glass door and the Chinese deli and goodies shop on the ground floor (a must stop before leaving this building for “pasalubongs12”); the escalator to bring us to the second floor; the souvenir shop on the second floor, a few steps away from the escalator; and of course, the very spacious, well-lit, and air-conditioned dining area complete with its smiling and friendly service staff.

1-2nd-fl-dining-okI had lunch here with four other family members. The air-conditioning temperature was just right even when the dining area was full.

We ordered: Hainanese Chicken, Salt and Pepper Fried Squid, Pork Ribs Glazed with Honey Garlic Sauce, Beef Tendon Claypot Rice, Yang Chow Fried Rice, Xiao Long Bao13, Pork and Shrimp Siomai14, and Sun Cake ala Mode.

1-order-1-hainanese chixThe Hainanese Chicken (PHP600 for a whole chicken) was served hot. The chicken was so tender and flavorful and I really enjoyed it along with the Ginger Sauce, made of ginger, garlic, sesame oil and chicken broth. I like the idea that the sauce was portioned per person so we do not have to take turns getting from one large container.

1-order-2-squid-okThe Salt and Pepper Fried Squid (PHP340) was fried and seasoned just right. The chopped red and green pepper not only improved its appearance, but its overall taste as well.

1-order-3-pork ribsThe Pork Ribs Glazed with Honey Garlic Sauce (PHP320) was delightfully savory. The pork was very tender and crispy, and the flavorful honey-garlic glaze was so magical to my taste buds.

1-order-4-claypot riceThe Beef Tendon Claypot Rice (PHP260) was good for one generous serving. The tendon was very tender and the sauce tasted just right with the beef tendon and plain rice.

1-order-5-fried rice-okThe Yang Chow Fried Rice (PHP240) was served hot and the rice was pleasantly mixed with shrimps, meat, bits of scrambled egg and other colorful and flavorful ingredients. This was a welcome accompaniment for the main dishes we ordered.

1-order-6-xlb-okTheXiao Long Bao (XLB for short, PHP248 for 10 pieces) was served hot in a bamboo steamer basket. The skin is just right (not too thick, not too thin) and did not easily tear when lifted onto the Chinese soup spoon. The soup inside the dimsum10 was tasty and the meat filling was tender. We appreciated the portioned dipping sauce made of black vinegar and fresh ginger slivers.

The Pork and Shrimp Siomai14 (PHP128 for 4 pieces) was likewise served hot in a bamboo steamer basket. It was tender and very tasty, and we enjoyed it with a soy sauce-calamansi15-chili-garlic dip.

1-order-7-dessert-okI ordered the HK-Style Flaky Egg Tart (PHP58) but was told it was already sold out. Next time, I will come earlier and try it. Anyway, I settled for Sun Cake16 ala Mode. It was served with chocolate ice cream on top with chocolate syrup. I found it too sweet, so next time, I will request them not to place the chocolate syrup.

1-2nd-fl-dining-crew-okThe dining room employees were all very accommodating and efficient. Dishes were served at the right temperature and pace.

You can also request the waiter to buy your favorite milk tea17 at a nearby store. Now that is what I call SERVICE!

1-order-sauces-dips-okAccompanying sauces/dips were given to each person which we really appreciated. Oh, you can also ask for more, just in case you are partial to them, like the ginger sauce for the Hainanese Chicken.

Cash is the only form of payment accepted.

The restrooms are on the third floor, a bit far from the second-floor dining area, especially for senior citizens, but are very well maintained. Both the men’s and ladies’ restrooms smell good and are very clean, with automatic faucets and well-supplied soap and toilet paper.

The escalator from the second floor to the ground floor was much appreciated after our meal, and prior to a much-awaited stop to shop at the ground floor to buy “pasalubongs”12.

We will definitely come back for more and even try other food/beverage items.

Contact information: Telephone Numbers (02) 288 8888, 288 8881 local 129, and 241 9999; Instagram @greatbuddhacafe and @loveengbeetin

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my visit in this restaurant.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your dining experience in this restaurant. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Tohsiah! (“Many thanks!” in Hokkien)

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1Binondo is the Chinatown of the Philippines, considered the oldest in the world, established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese. It is a district in Manila and the hub of Chinese commerce, according to the Wikipedia page “Binondo”.18

2Metro Manila is the official and administrative urban area in the southwestern portion of Luzon surrounding Manila, established in 1975. It is the center of culture, economy, education and government of the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Metro Manila”.19

3Ube is the Filipino term for purple yam (Dioscoreaalata). It is a kind of vividly violet to bright lavender colored yam or tuberous root vegetable, with origins in the Asian tropics. It is also called greater yam. It is used in a variety of desserts as well as a flavoring for ice cream, milk, and a variety of pastries. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Dioscorea alata”.20

4Hopia is the Filipino term for bakpia, a popular, inexpensive, Philippine and Indonesian bean-filled mooncake7-like pastry, originally introduced by Fujianese immigrants in these countries’ urban centers during the turn of the 20th century. It is also a favored gift for families, relatives and friends. The flaky type uses Chinese puff pastry while the cake-dough type uses a soft cookie-dough similar to Japanese bean cakes. There are four traditional and popular fillings: mung bean (called “mongo” in Filipino), azuki (red mongo), purple yam (called “ube” in Filipino), and pork. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Bakpia”.21

5https://www.manilatimes.net/mr-ubes-quest-sweet-success/346473/

6Grab is a private car for hire service provider.

7A mooncake is a Chinese baked pastry, traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival, held late September to early October, with a full moon. It is typically round, with a rich thick filling, usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste, surrounded by a 2-3 mm thin crust, and may contain 1-2 yolks from salted duck eggs in its center, according to Wikipedia page “List of Chinese bakery products”.22 It is usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by tea. It is offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. It is also customary for businessmen or families to give mooncakes to clients or relatives as presents. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mooncake”.23

8Tikoy is the Filipino term for niangao or Chinese New Year’s cake, originally from China, and widely consumed in the Philippines. It is eaten all year round but is considered good luck to eat it during Chinese New Year (on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, i.e., between January 21 and February 20) and traditionally during Duanwu Festival (held on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar, i..e, between the end of May till mid-June). This sticky rice cake is usually sliced, dipped or coated with beaten egg, fried until crispy but chewy inside, and enjoyed among all members of the family for closeness or unity, due to its sticky nature since it is made from glutinous rice flour. It is sweetened with brown sugar, giving it a dark yellow to light brown color, often prepared with different flavors. It also means “raising oneself taller in each coming year,” symbolizing a higher position, higher income, the growth of children, and generally, the promise of a better year. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Nian gao”.24

9Mochi is a chewy Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grained japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape. It is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year (held December 31/January 1 till January 4), and is commonly sold and eaten during that time. In Japan, it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mochi”.25

10Dimsum refers to fully cooked, ready-to-serve, small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. The term literally means “heart’s delight” or “touch heart”. They are usually served with tea and together, form a full tea brunch. In some Cantonese teahouses, carts with dimsum are served around the restaurant. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Dimsum”.26

11Congee, or conjee, is a type of thick, Chinese rice porridge or gruel, popular in many Asian countries. It can be eaten plain, served with side dishes. Meat, fish and flavorings can be added. Names for congee are as varied as the style of its preparation. Culture also often dictates the way congee is cooked and eaten. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Congee”.27

12 Pasalubong is the Filipino term for the tradition of giving gifts or souvenirs, from a destination visited by a Filipino, to family and friends upon one’s return home.

13Xiao long bao (XLB), literally “small basket buns”, are steamed dumplings or buns, named after Xiaolong, the small bamboo steaming baskets they were traditionally steamed in. It is a kind of tang bao (“soup bun”) or guantang bao (“soup-filled bun”). This soup dumpling is served piping hot and has a delicate skin that encases a pork-based filling and a gelatinized meat broth created by wrapping solid meat aspic inside the skin. During steaming, the broth liquefies, poaching the pork in a rich, savory soup. As the dumpling cools, the broth solidifies and the skin hardens, so eat this quickly but carefully. How? Place your Chinese soup spoon close to the dumpling. Grab the dumpling close to the knot with your chopsticks, and gently lift it from the steamer. If the dumpling sticks to the bottom of the steamer, peel it off slowly; do not tug so as not to rupture the skin. Remember, you want to savor the soup intact and inside the skin. Do not put the whole, hot dumpling in your mouth because it might be too hot, scald you, and cause you pain. You need to let the steam out and let it cool for a few seconds. In a fine dining restaurant, you could be given a big spoon so you can take a smaller bite along the side. The broth then drains into the spoon and you can decently sip it. In regular Chinese restaurants, you can nip off the top of the dumpling, or nibble off a piece of the skin on the side of the dough ring using your front teeth, pause to give it a few moments to cool, and savor the rich broth by sucking the juice directly out of the skin. You can then easily devour the rest of the dumpling in one slurp. You just need a little amount of the dipping sauce made of black vinegar and fresh ginger slivers. You have 4 options: you can put the sauce in your empty spoon before scooping up the dumpling; you can dip the dumpling in the sauce before putting it in your spoon; you can place the dumpling in your spoon then drizzle the vinegar over it; or, you can add the sauce to the drained dumpling after you have slurped all the broth out.28, 29, 30

14Siomai is a traditional Chinese dumpling, usually served hot as a popular snack item in the Philippines. It is usually made of seasoned ground pork with bits of shrimp, mushrooms, and other preferred ingredients/seasonings.

15Calamansi is a small (about 30-mm in diameter), tangy-sour citrus fruit with a thin, green skin (which turns yellow-orange when ripe), with a yellow/orange pulp. The juice is used in various food and beverages as a major/minor ingredient, seasoning or dipping ingredient for siomai14 and lugao31.

16Sun Cake is a round Taiwanese dessert with a flaky crust and filled with condensed malt sugar. It is usually sold in special gift boxes as souvenirs for visitors. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Suncake (Taiwan)”.32

17Milk tea is a Hong Kong-style tea drink made of black tea, sweetened with sweet evaporated milk21 or condensed milk, usually part of lunch in Hong Kong tea culture, according to the Wikipedia page “Hong Kong-style milk tea”.33

18“Binondo,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo

19“Metro Manila,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_Manila

20“Dioscorea alata,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioscorea_alata

21“Bakpia,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakpia

22“List of Chinese bakery products,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese_bakery_products

23“Mooncake,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mooncake

24“Nian gao,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nian_gao

25“Mochi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mochi

26“Dimsum,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimsum

27“Congee,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congee

28https://thetakeout.com

29https://www.thrillist.com

30“Xiaolongbao,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaolongbao

31Lugao is the Tagalog term for a slightly thick congee11, seasoned, and boiled with ginger, onion and garlic. The stock depends on the desired taste/topping: ground pork, chicken, fish, liver, kidney, tripe, with a hard-boiled egg, or just served plain. It could be garnished with chopped green onions and toasted garlic, and served with fresh calamansi15, fish sauce and pepper.

32“Suncake (Taiwan),” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suncake_(Taiwan)

33“Hong Kong-style milk tea,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong-style_milk_tea.

Short and Simple: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NOCHE BUENA AND MEDIA NOCHE?

Some foreign friends asked me the difference between Noche Buena and Media Noche in the Philippines. Well, here it is:

NOCHE BUENA

First, let us describe what Noche Buena is all about. It is a Spanish phrase that literally means “the Good Night”, and often refers to the biggest feast for the Christmas season. It is celebrated annually on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). In Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines, it consists of a traditional family dinner, often with a roasted pig (called lechon in Filipino) as the center of the feast. This practice is believed to date back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them with a powerful flame.

In the Philippines, the traditional dinner may start as early 10:00 pm, but is usually held at midnight of December 24, after the whole family hears the late evening mass, locally known as Misa de Gallo.

Some of the common dishes served, depending on one’s social status, are: jamon1, queso de bola2, lechon, pancit3, spaghetti, fried chicken, arroz caldo4, lumpia5, adobo6, relyenong bangus7 (stuffed milk dish), noodles/pasta, rice or breads (like pan de sal8), desserts (e.g., fruit salad, ube halaya9, bibingka10, kakanins11, ice cream, pastries, fruits, and beverages (tsokolate12, coffee, soft drinks, beer, wine, and juices).

The above information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Noche Buena”.13

MEDIA NOCHE

Media Noche is the Spanish term for “midnight” but the Filipino practice during this time of year was influenced by the Chinese. The Filipino Media Noche is accompanied by fireworks (also from the Chinese) at the stroke of midnight to drive away bad spirits. Different kinds of food are served (again, influenced by the Chinese).14

In the Philippines, Media Noche refers to the lavish midnight feast on December 31 (called Bisperas ng Bagong Taon in Filipino) that may last until the following morning (January 1). It symbolizes each Filipino’s hopes for prosperity in the coming year, according to the Wikipedia page “Christmas in the Philippines”.15

Actually, anything can be served for Media Noche as long as the table is full of food and drinks. The assortment may include, among others: lechon, barbecue, Beef Caldereta16, Beef Mechado17, Buko Pandan18, cakes, Chicken Sopas19, Chicken Sotanghon20 Soup, Crema de Fruta21, Embotido22, Fruit Salad, Hamonado23, Ilokano bagnet24, Inihaw25na Bangus26, Inihawna Manok27, Inihawna Tilapia28, kakanins11 (Bibingka10, Biko29, Maja Blanca30, Palitaw31, and Puto Bumbong32), Kalderetang Manok33, Leche Flan34, Lengua Estofado35, Lumpiang Shanghai36, Macaroni Salad, Morcon37, Lumpiang Sariwa38, Paella, Pancit Malabon39, Patatim40, Pininyahang Manok sa Gata41, Relyenong Bangus7, Siomai42, Spaghetti, Ube Halaya9 and round fruits (like apples, grapes and oranges).

However, for those Filipinos who have a strong Chinese influence, this feast consists of the following:14

  • Twelve (12) “round” fruits to symbolize prosperity for all the 12 months of the coming year. A round shape is the closest thing to a circle, a shape that does not have an end, which implies never-ending wealth. Thus, round fruits are as close as you can come to a circle. Examples are: grapes (eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight will give good luck for 12 months to come), or, pomegranates (since the seeds have always been associated with fertility and abundance in life).43
  • Pineapple is the centerpiece since this fruit’s scales resemble gold coins, which imply wealth for the next year.
  • Noodles for long life without illness, so do not cut or break them in the middle. Rice can also be served since it stands for fertility and wealth.43
  • Sticky desserts are served so family members will “stick together” for years to come.

Chicken and fish are not served since these symbolize scarcity of food.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy to Google such terms:

1Jamon is the Spanish term for “ham”. The Filipinos serve honey-glazed cured ham during Noche Buena and Media Noche.

2Quezo de bola is a popular cheese served during the Christmas season in the Philippines (perhaps due to its red rind) and is a traditional treat for Noche Buena (the traditional midnight feast with one’s family at home during Christmas Eve). Queso de bola is usually served with cured ham and hot pan de sal8. NOTE: It is called Edam, originating from the Netherlands, named after the town of Edam in the province of North Holland. This cheese has a pale yellow interior and a red rind/coating made of red paraffin wax. Edam only hardens with age.

3Pancit is the Filipino term for noodles, introduced by the Chinese, and adopted into the local cuisine, with many regional variations. Some versions of this noodle dish are stir-fried, often with sliced meat, shrimps and assorted/chopped vegetables.

4Arroz caldo is a Filipino rice and chicken porridge or gruel, heavily infused with ginger, and garnished with toasted garlic, scallions, and black pepper, usually served with calamansi44, soy sauce, or patis (fish sauce) as condiments, as well as hard-boiled egg. Most versions also add kasubha (safflower) which turns this dish to turn almost yellowish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Arroz caldo”.45

5 Lumpia is the Filipino term for “spring roll”. It is a savory dish made with a thin crepe pastry skin called “lumpia wrapper” enveloping a mixture of savory fillings, consisting of chopped vegetables (e.g., bamboo shoots, cabbage, carrot, green beans, leeks), or sometimes also minced meat (beef, chicken, pork and shrimp). It is often served as an appetizer or snack, and could be served deep fried or fresh (unfried). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lumpia”.46

6 Adobo is a Filipino version of the Spanish adobo/adobar, according to Wikipedia page “Adobo”.47 It was originally made by stewing meat (chicken and/or pork) in vinegar and soy sauce, with garlic, salt and bay leaves, sometimes with sliced potatoes. It is sometimes fried after stewing.

7 Relyenong Bangus is a Filipino dish literally “Stuffed Milkfish” where the fish is stuffed with a sautéed mixture of its own meat, along with precooked/chopped/cubed ingredients (like garlic, onions, tomatoes, ground pork, carrots, potatoes, sweet pickle relish, raisins, red bell pepper and beaten eggs), seasoned with salt and pepper, wrapped in banana leaves, then usually fried in a skillet.  It can also be baked, brushed with oil, but without the banana leaf wrapping. What is great about this dish is that diners need not worry about fish bones!

8Pandesal is a common yeast-raised bread roll in the Philippines, traditionally made of flour, eggs, yeast, sugar, and salt, rolled in fine bread crumbs. It is commonly served hot during breakfast, and originally consumed by dipping in coffee or tsokolate12. It can also be enjoyed with butter/margarine, cheese, jam or peanut butter. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Pandesal”.48

9 Ube halaya is a Filipino dessert made from boiled and mashed purple yam (locally called ube). It is combined and thickened with condensed milk or coconut milk, along with melted butter/margarine, cooled, then typically placed on containers in various shapes, refrigerated, and served cold. It is can be eaten as is or as an ingredient in pastries and other desserts like ice cream and halo-halo. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ube halaya”.49

 10Bibingka is a traditional rice cake in the Philippines made of rice flour, coconut milk, eggs, milk and water, traditionally cooked in clay pots lined with banana leaves with preheated coals top and bottom, usually enjoyed during the Christmas season, served hot or warm for breakfast or as a dessert. Toppings include butter/margarine, sugar, cheese, grated coconut and salted duck eggs50.

11Kakanin is the Filipino term for a common native snack in the Philippines, consisting of various kinds of rice cakes. NOTE: Kakanin comes from the word “kanin”, meaning “prepared rice”.

12Tsokolate is a native Filipino thick hot chocolate drink made from tabliya, tablets of pure ground roasted cacao beans, dissolved in water and milk. It is traditionally made using a tsokolatera51and briskly mixed with a wooden baton called the molinillo52 (also called batidoror batirol), causing the drink to be frothy. It is typically sweetened with a bit of muscovado53, and has a distinctive grainy texture. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tsokolate”.54

13“Noche Buena,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noche_Buena.

14www.primer.com.ph

15 “Christmas in the Philippines,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_in_the_Philippines.

16Beef Caldereta is a Filipino dish similar to a spicy Spanish Beef Stew, made of beef, tomato sauce, vegetables (i.e., bell and hot peppers, carrots, green peas, olives, potatoes), and liver paste/spread, served during special occasions. Some areas in the country use goat meat, chicken or pork.

17Beef Mechado is the Filipino version of Beef Stew where beef is stewed in tomato sauce, along with spices, bell peppers, potatoes, carrots and green peas.

18Buko Pandan is a popular Filipino cold dessert made by using cubed green gelatin, flavored with the extract of pandan55 leaves or buko pandan flavoring and sugar, along with a mixture of condensed milk, cream, young coconut meat and tapioca.

19Sopas is the Filipino term for “milky macaroni soup” using elbow macaroni, meat (usually flaked chicken meat) and vegetables (carrots and celery), made creamy with evaporated milk. So, Chicken Sopas means “Creamy Chicken-Macaroni Soup”, served during breakfast, cold weather, or to sick people. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Sopas”.56

20Sotanghon is the Filipino term for “cellophane/glass noodles”, transparent noodles made from starch and water, according to the Wikipedia page “Cellophane noodles”.57 So, Chicken Sotanghon Soup is “Chicken-Glass Noodle Soup”, made of a thin but hearty soup made from chicken stock, flaked chicken meat, cellophane noodles, sautéed onions, garlic and kinchay (Chinese celery), vegetables (chopped carrots and napa cabbage), seasoned with salt, pepper and patis (fish sauce), colored with achuete (annatto), and topped with fried garlic bits, chopped green onions and sliced/halved hard-boiled egg.

21Crema de Fruta is a special Filipino cake made with layers of sponge cake, sweet custard or whipped cream, gelatin/agar, and different (canned or fresh) fruits (e.g., cherries, mangoes, peaches, pineapples, strawberries), usually served during the Christmas season, according to the Wikipedia page “Crema de fruta”.58

22Embotido is a Filipino steamed meatloaf, shaped like a thin log, made of a mixture of ground pork, chopped onions, carrots and red bell peppers, raisins, grated cheddar cheese, sweet pickle relish, bread crumbs or flaked bread, salt and pepper, and bonded by raw eggs. Hard-boiled eggs, Vienna sausage or hotdogs could be placed at the center of the roll so when it is sliced crosswise and arranged artistically in a serving platter, it would look attractive. It can be enjoy cold, but Filipinos sometimes fry this dish before slicing, and could be served warm, with (often banana) catsup as a dip.

23Hamonado is a popular and savory Filipino dish consisting of meat marinated and cooked in a sweet pineapple sauce, often served during the Christmas season. Typically, meat (usually fatty cuts of pork, beef or chicken) is marinated overnight in a sweet sauce made with pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and various spices. It is then pan-fried until the meat is browned. The meat is then simmered in stock and the marinade with added pineapple chunks until the meat is very tender. It is best enjoyed on white rice. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Hamonado”.59

24Bagnet is a Filipino dish which is simply crispy fried pork rind, originating from the Ilocos Region, in northwestern Luzon, Philippines.

25Inihaw is the Filipino term for “grill” or “roast”.

26Bangus is the Filipino term for “milkfish”, with the binomial name Chanoschanos, according to the Wikipedia page “Milkfish”.60 So, Inihaw na Bangus is “Grilled/Roasted Milkfish”. NOTE: Bangus is not the official fish of the Philippines. In fact, there is no official national fish of the country.

27Manok is the Filipino term for “chicken” so Inihaw na Manok is “Grilled/Roasted Chicken”.

28Tilapia is a freshwater fish which inhabits shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes in temperate countries. In the Philippines, it is commonly called pla-pla and several species of tilapia are commercially grown in major lakes and rivers like Laguna de Bay, Taal Lake and Lake Buhi. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tilapia”.61 So, Inihaw na Tilapia is “Grilled/Roasted Tilapia”.

29Biko is a kakanin11 or sweet rice cake from the Philippines which is made of coconut milk, glutinous rice, brown sugar, and usually topped with latik (either or both the coconut curds or the syrupy caramel-like variant). It is called sinukmani or sinukmaneng in southern Luzon. In Mindanao, it is called wagit in Maguindanao, wadit in Maranao, and wadjit in Tausug. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Biko (food)”.62

 30Maja Blanca (coconut pudding) is a Filipino creamy white, delicately flavored rice cake made primarily from coconut milk/cream and cornstarch/agar mixture, along with corn kernels, milk, and sugar. It is then poured in greased (with coconut oil) serving dishes, topped with latik (browned coconut cream curds), and allowed to cool, refrigerated and served cold. It is usually served during fiestas or holidays, like Christmas. It has the consistency of a thick gelatin. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Maja blanca”.63

31Palitaw is a traditional, small, flat, usually circular or rectangular, sweet, sticky Filipino rice cake made from “malagkit” (sticky rice, which has been washed, soaked and ground), rolled and flattened, shaped like a thin tongue, then cooked by dropping into boiling water. When it floats/rises to the surface, it is finally done and prepared for service by dipping it in freshly grated coconut, white sugar and toasted linga64. NOTE: Palitaw comes from the Tagalog65 word “litaw”, meaning “float” or “rise”.

32Puto bumbong is a traditional cylindrical, purple/violet, Filipino, steamed, sticky rice cake made from pirurutong (glutinous rice flour, soaked in salted water and dried overnight) with violet coloring, placed into bumbong (bamboo tubes) attached to a lansungan (steamer) then steamed until done (i.e., when steam rises out of the bamboo tubes). The cooked sticky mixture is tapped out of the bamboo tubes, traditionally onto a banana leaf, with a dollop of margarine/butter, then topped with a mixture of freshly grated coconut and (muscovado53 or white) sugar. It is then wrapped and kept warm in a (thermal) container.

33Kalderetang Manok is a rich and flavorful Filipino chicken tomato-based stew, made of chicken, tomato sauce, vegetables (potatoes, carrots, green bell pepper, chili peppers), olives, cheese, and liver spread.

34Leche Flan, or“milk flan”, is a popular dessert for special occasions in the Philippines. It is usually a steamed (but can also be a baked) flan made of egg yolks and condensed milk, poured in oval-shaped (or desired shaped) metal pans with caramelized sugar at the bottom. Prior to serving, a knife is used to loosen the sides and then inverted on a serving platter so that the caramelized sugar will serve as topping and will flow on to its sides.

35Lengua Estofado is the Filipino version of Braised Beef Tongue in tomato sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, along with white wine, olives and bay leaves. Ox tongue is usually used and this dish is served during special occasions.

36Lumpiang Shanghai is the Filipino term for “Fried Bite-Sized Spring Rolls”, usually filled with ground pork/chicken, minced shrimp, water chestnuts, carrots, singkamas (jicama), and chopped green onions. It is then served with sweet and sour sauce or catsup.

37Morcon is a Filipino dish like a stuffed meat roulade, commonly served during special occasions like Christmas. It is made of thin sheets of beef (or pork), wrapped around hard-boiled eggs, ham, bacon, sausages (hotdog or chorizos), carrots, sweet pickles, cheese, pan-seared on high heat to brown its surface, then simmered in low heat in a braising liquid made of stock and tomato sauce, then finished off with other flavorings to serve as gravy/sauce. It is then sliced when cool.66

38Lumpiang Sariwa, literally “Fresh Spring Rolls”, is a Filipino vegetable dish, typically made from a sautéed mixture of julienned ubod (heart of palm), pork/tofu strips and/or chopped shrimps, garlic, onions, and cilantro, wrapped in a soft (unfried) crepe-like wrapper with fresh lettuce leaves, garnished with a sweet sauce (made of brown sugar, water, pork cube, crushed peanuts, thickened with cornstarch), and topped with freshly minced garlic.67

39Pancit Malabon is a type of pancit3 which originated in Malabon City, located in Metro Manila68, in the Philippines. It has a yellow-orange sauce due to the use of achuete (annatto seeds), combined with shrimp broth, patis (fish sauce) and crab fat. Local fresh seafood toppings may include cooked shrimps, squids, tinapa69, mussels and/or oysters. Other toppings are boiled strips of pork, hard-boiled duck/chicken eggs, crushed chicharon (pork rinds), sliced napa cabbage, chopped green onions, and lightly browned/sautéed minced garlic. It is similar to palabok (another kind of pancit3) but has thicker noodles. It is best enjoyed with patis (fish sauce) and calamansi44 (calamondin or Philippine lime) juice. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Pancit Malabon”.70

40Patatim is a Filipino Chinese-style dish where a whole pork leg is first seared to seal in the flavor, then slowly braised in a sweet-savory soy sauce mixture made of Shaoxing wine (a traditional Chinese wine made from fermented rice), star anise, bok choy (a type of Chinese cabbage) and mushrooms until the skin is very tender and the meat has an almost melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. NOTE: “Pata” is Spanish for “leg” and “tim” is the Chinese term for a cooking style of this dish.

41Pininyahang Manok sa Gata is a tasty Filipino dish which literally means “Pineapple Chicken in Coconut Milk”. The cut-up chicken is marinated in pineapple juice then cooked together with coconut milk, pineapple tidbits/chunks, sliced carrots, green and red bell peppers, chopped onions, minced garlic, and flavored with patis (fish sauce) and ground black pepper.

42Siomai is a traditional Chinese dumpling, usually served hot as a popular snack item in the Philippines. It is usually made of seasoned ground pork with bits of shrimp, mushrooms, and other preferred ingredients/seasonings. It is accompanied by a dip made of soy sauce and calamansi44.

43www.dish.allrecipes.com

44Calamansi is a small (about 30-mm in diameter), tangy-sour citrus fruit with a thin, green skin (which turns yellow-orange when ripe), with a yellow/orange pulp. The juice is used in various food and beverages as a major/minor ingredient, seasoning or dipping ingredient.

45“Arroz caldo,”accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arroz_caldo.

46“Lumpia,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumpia.

47“Adobo,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobo.

48“Pandesal,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandesal.

49“Ube halaya,”accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ube_halaya.

50A salted duck egg is a preserved food product made by soaking duck eggs in brine or packing the eggs in damp, salted charcoal. In the Philippines, the eggs are traditionally dyed red to differentiate it with fresh duck eggs. It is used as a topping for bibingka10, or mixed with chopped, fresh tomatoes and scallions, onions and fish sauce, as a side salad for fried fish.

51A tsokolatera is the Filipino term for chocolatera, a Spanish/Latin-American type of high-necked metal pot shaped like a pitcher used for the traditional preparation of tsokolate12, used in combination with a molinillo52 baton to froth the chocolate. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Chocolatera”.71

52A molinillo is a traditional turned wood whisk used in Latin America, as well as the Philippines, where it is called batidol or batirol. It is used primarily for the preparation of hot beverages like tsokolate12, held between the palms and rotated by rubbing the palms together, creating a frothy drink. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Molinillo (whisk)”.72

53Muscovado is a partially refined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavor. It is considered a healthy alternative to refined sugar due to higher levels of minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium). It is used in various food and confectionery, like puto bumbong32 in the Philippines.

54“Tsokolate,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsokolate.

55Pandan is a leaf used to flavor desserts and drinks like Buko Pandan, Maja Blanca and Gulaman. It comes from the genus Pandanus, according to the Wikipedia page “Pandanus”.73

56“Sopas,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sopas.

57“Cellophane noodles,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellophane_noodles .

58“Cream de fruta,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crema_de_fruta.

59“Hamonado,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamanado.

60“Milkfish,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milkfish.

61“Tilapia,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilapia.

62“Biko (food),” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biko_(food).

63“Maja blanca,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maja_blanca.

 64Linga is the Tagalog65 term for sesame seeds. In the Philippines, it is toasted and used as a topping of palitaw31.

65Tagalog is a language spoken in Metro Manila68 and the provinces of Central Luzon(Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Zambales) and Southern Luzon (the CALABARZON Region, Marinduque and Mindoro) of the Philippines. Its standardized form is officially called Filipino, the national language of the country. It may also refer to the people who live in the aforementioned places.

66https://www.kawalingpinoy.com/morcon/

67https://panlasangpinoy.com

68Metro Manila is the official and administrative urban area in the southwestern portion of Luzon surrounding Manila, established in 1975 through Presidential Decree No. 824. It is the capital region of the Philippines, the seat of government, and is officially called the National Capital Region (NCR), composed of 16 cities (Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Novotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela) and the municipality of Pateros. It is the center of culture, economy, education and government of the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Metro Manila”.74

69Tinapa is the Filipino term for “smoked fish”, often made from black fin scad (Alepesmelanoptera, locally called galunggong), or from bangus26 (milkfish), according to the Wikipedia page “Tinapa”.75

70“Pancit Malabon,” accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancit_Malabon.

71“Chocolatera,”accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolatera.

72“Molinillo (whisk),”accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molinillo.

73“Pandanus,”accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandanus.

74“Metro Manila,”accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_Manila.

75“Tinapa,”accessed December 12, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinapa.