Not all street food are the same. The empty corners and sidewalks of the Philippines are filled with vendors selling all kinds of grub but, among the hundreds of carts and stalls on the street, there’s that handful of carts that you keep coming back to; those who serve food that just stand out from the rest. They barely advertise but word about them spread quickly through the same mouths they’ve impressed. But sometimes, serving amazing food in carts and stalls is not enough. Success awaits for those who truly seek it and, often, it’s the visionaries who go beyond carts who find their sweet spot at SM.
Off the Streets and to the Malls
With all the malls popping up, going to the mall has become everyone’s favorite weekend agenda. Among the pioneering street food who ventured to SM is Sam’s Everything on Sticks by Reymont Choachuy who says, “kahit nasa mall ang tao, hinahanap-hanap pa rin nila ang street food.” The pioneer tusok-tusok in SM Malls was created after Reymont got sick consuming a bad bunch of fish balls on the street. In 2005, Reymont opened the first Sam’s Everything on Sticks serving good quality fishballs, squidballs, kikiam, and more. The secret to his success is in his special sauce.
The favorite Khaleb’s Shawarma started as a recipe straight from the internet modified to suit local palates in 2003. It operated in an apartment compound in Quezon City. It was developed by Marlene and Beejay Burog, siblings who were looking for ways to help their mom finance their studies. Business picked up when they opened their first SM stall at North EDSA. And now, their menu has expanded to include pitazza, gyro pita, fish kebab, and yoghurt smoothie.
Filipinos are really mall-goers by heart and it’s a blissful feeling to find favorite street food sold in the malls. Gloria Marin, owner of Gloria’s Goto, got the idea from her husband who wondered why with all the restaurants and food stalls, it’s impossible to find goto in the mall so that’s exactly what she did. After a few stores, she opened at SM where she was trained on how to properly run her business and her goto business started to really take off, even bagging the Best Tenant award from SM Supermarket Bacoor. Today, the business is run by their daughter, Rosemarie.
The vision is shared by balikbayan Joey Leonardo of Bulacan Lugaw Kitchen who, after years of living in Australia, went back to bring authentic Bulacan goodness to the Metro. He did this after realizing that many of the popular restaurants serve Kapampangan, Ilonggo, and other regional dishes but rarely serve his beloved Bulakenyo food. As Joey says, “Filipino restaurants here are all from Pampanga. Bakit walang taga Bulacan considering that the Bulakenyos are known to be good cooks as well.” By using an impressive collection of Bulakenyo recipes given to him by friends who love to cook, word about Bulacan Lugaw Kitchen spread like wildfire, even landing as a runner up at Let’s Eat Magazine’s New Restaurant for the Year in 2018.
Finding Street Food Perfection
There are also those who are visionaries out to perfect their food and share it to the world. Larry Cortez of Super Bagnet went to Ilocos and tried all sorts of recipes before coming up with what he and his avid customers believe to be crispier, juicier, and tastier; the real super bagnet. His dream is for Bagnet to be available and accessible to anyone craving for it; a dream that is surely coming into fruition.
Sgt. Sisig, on the other hand, was developed by the owners of Siomai King Jonathan So and Carlo Macadangdang. He put the same thought and effort he exerted to his successful siomai to the classic Kapampangan dish and created a seriously satisfying sisig recipe. Carlo made sure that his sisig will have the crispiness and flavor the Pinoys love. True enough, with the right location and great timing, SM mall goers started lining up for his version of the popular Kapampangan dish.
Street Food Students Crave For
The teenage-sized appetites of students in schools have also ushered in legendary street food. Students are always on the lookout for something tasty, filling, and well within their allowance, something that Ate Rica’s Bacsilog and Mang Larry’s were able to capture. Ate Rica’s Bacsilog rose to fame when Rica Penalosa added her unbeatable cheese sauce to the already delicious Pinoy silogs. She was between jobs when she thought of peddling bacon silog, something not usually available in the streets. It was an instant hit with the students of Taft! In fact, it got so popular that some students even ended up as franchisers of Ate Rica’s Bacsilog.
On the other side of the Metro is Mang Larry’s isawan, definitely the most famous isawan who had all the students from the schools along Katipunan and even those in Manila lining up at his stall. A former janitor in a film production agency, Lauro Convencido Jr. decided to put up a business using only P40 as capital to send his children to school. From its humble beginnings as a kitchen on wheels, Mang Larry’s can now be found in Maginhawa, Cubao, and also in a restaurant in Tomas Morato. Despite this, Mang Larry still goes to the market every morning to buy the ingredients for his isawan and make sure to serve the same taste and quality of street food to his customers.
SM Hypermarket Street Food Festival Mall Road Shows
SM Hypermarket gathers all these legendary street food along with the biggest food brands Unilever, Nestle, Purefoods, Alaska, Bounty Fresh, CDO, Century, Del Monte, Meatworld, Mekeni, and P&G in an event for the food history books. SM Hypermarket’s Street Food Festival 2019 kicks off at SM Mall of Asia on August 9 and continues to SM City Fairview on Aug 10-11, SM City Baliwag on Aug 17-18, SM City Clark on Aug 30-31, SM Center Pulilan on Sept 6-7, SM Center Muntinlupa on Sept 20-21, SM City Molino on Sept 27-28, and back at SM Mall of Asia for the Grand Finale on Oct 5-6.