WATCH: Go on a Malabon Food Tour!
The tricycle tour is a delicious jump-off point in getting to know Malabon's delicious eats.
When one thinks of Malabon, images of a sleepy fishing town, Pancit Malabon, kakanin, and flood waters come to mind. It isn’t exactly the first spot on top of one’s food trip list. But the Malabon Tricycle Tour is out to change mindsets and fill people’s tummies with delicious food.
The Malabon tricycle tours are an initiative of the local government to provide livelihood to tricycle drivers, promote the city’s heritage homes, and show off the delicious food one can only find in this seafood-abundant city. The food stops are chosen to highlight meals for breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon snacks.
The tour starts at the 400-year old San Bartolome Church, a regal structure with its twin bell towers. Our first stop: a nondescript lugaw shop with no signage, with a small cramped space with only three tables. Lugaw Experience opens at 10 a.m. and arguably serves the best lugaw in town—the place is never without customers and the lugaw runs out even before 11:30 am, a signal to the owners to close shop.
A bowl of flavorful lugaw topped with crunchy, cooked-just-right garlic bits is only P10, but you may choose to order preferred chicken parts by the piece. Patis, calamansi, and red chilies are served on the table and complete the Lugaw Experience: an affordable, filling meal that does not disappoint.
Hazel’s Puto is on the food trip special list, a small shop peddling only two things they do well: puto (rice cakes) and puto pao (with savory, tender pork asado filling). What makes them stellar: the rice cake is soft and fluffy, its top smooth and slightly glossy. The secret, were told, is in the cake flour.
Lunch is at Jamico’s, popularly known to Malabon locals as Judy Ann’s Crispy Pata restaurant. It was borne of a father’s love for crispy pata and his perserverance to come up with his own recipe. Remigio Antonio, a jeepney driver who had a passion for food, came up with a recipe for the crispy pata he liked: succulent, tender, moist, and slightly sweet pork with crispy skin.
The restaurant is now managed by two of his children, Dr. Judy Ann Antonio Francisco and Susan Antonio-Corvera, who renamed the restaurant to Jamico’s, combining the names of their youngest children Jam and Mico. They also serve these delicious picks on the menu: shrimp relleno, tortang alimasag, chicken pandan, and their Jamico’s fried rice.
Malabon is popular for its kakanin (rice cakes) so a trip to the first shop of Dolor’s Kakanin on Escanilla Street is obviously on the list. The famous red circle box holds strips of six different rice cakes: kalamay ube, biko, kalamay mais, kutsinta, kamoteng kahoy (cassava cake), and sapin-sapin. Everything is made from scratch and you’ll see sacks of cassava and yellow corn in the cooking area behind the small shop.
Tips from the folks at Dolor’s: you can customize your bilao of kakanin and request for more (or less) of the rice cakes you love and they will happily oblige. They also reminded us to look for the red circle box, a sign that what you’re buying is made using the original recipes of aling Dolores Santos.
Nanay’s Pancit Malabon on Governor Pascual Avenue introduced us to Pancit Malabon—thick rice noodles enveloped in sauce flavored with annatto seeds, crab fat, fish sauce (patis), and topped with seafood toppings and egg slices. Seafood toppings differentiate Pancit Malabon from Pancit Palabok and shrimp, tinapa flakes, oysters (talaba), and mussels (tahong) are usually used and is traditionally topped with duck eggs.
Nanay’s (Remedios Cruz) version of Pancit Malabon includes tinapa, celery, shrimp, and pechay and has a huge following. She shared that their small mom-and-pop business started because neighbors and family members who ordered their homemade Pancit Malabon prompted them to share their version with a bigger audience.
Desserts are last on our tricycle food tour and Betsy’s Cake Center is a Malabon institution. Opened in 1962, Betsy’s was first known for their jelly rolls but today, people flock to the space for their soft broas: freshly-made, soft and airy ladyfingers have a light buttercream filling.
Cakes and pastries are also on display, while their menu is filled with fast food items, Filipino favorites including fresh lumpia and cuapao buns. You shouldn’t miss the bottles of atchara on display, too—don’t leave without bottles of green mango, ampalaya, and papaya atchara.
Malabon Food Trip Special tour rates are P750 per person (minimum of 6 people). Contact the Malabon City Tourism and Cultural Affairs at 667-7910 or email [email protected]