Food is quite possibly the most enjoyable way of discovering the culture of a certain country, city, and even as small a unit as a village. If there’s any city in the metropolis known for its food, it must be Malabon. After all, even a kind of pancit is named after it.
A summer day trip, organized by the local government of Malabon, allowed members of the media to spend a day exploring the culinary offerings of this city.
The group started off with a sumptuous lunch at Jamico’s Restaurant, which highlighted the popular Judy Ann’s Crispy Pata. It is an unassuming restaurant but one that has been around since 1972, and known as a must-visit when in Malabon. The media group was greeted by sisters Susan Antonio-Corvera and Judy Ann Francisco, daughters of the restaurant’s founder, Remigio.
Served were generous platters of camaron rebosado, vegetables, bowls of fried rice and of course, crispy pata with a spicy soy dipping sauce. Judy Ann explained that they add secret spices to the crispy pata, which makes it extra flavorful. The crispy pata was deliciously crispy on the outside and surprisingly tender and juicy on the inside that one can slice it with a fork. No wonder the deep fried pork is one of Malabon’s most famous dishes.
Next, the group made a stop at Palmeras, a casual dining restaurant where they tasted dishes such as the Tokwa’t Baboy Twist. Instead of the usual diced tofu, fried tofu is cut into long thick strips then stacked on top of each other for this unique version.
The restaurant also gave a sampling of Deconstructed Pla-Pla, Shrimp Salpicao, Beef Caldereta and Creamy Tomato Seafood Pasta.
A cute little café named Cups & Cones that serves sandwiches, desserts and coffee was next. They use Illy, an Italian espresso brand, for their coffees but nonetheless priced reasonably. The day-trippers enjoyed the café’sFish Salad as well as their Smores for desserts. And by the way, Cups & Cones has a Tapang Kabayo dish, which is surprisingly tender.
After coffee and dessert, the group headed to the house of Angel Cacnio just a few minutes away. Angel Cacnio is one of the country’s esteemed artists and designed the one-centavo coin, 50-centavo coin as well as the old P20 and P100 bills.
At the ground floor of the Cacnio home is a gallery where his paintings are displayed, a collection of items that are older than most of the members of the media gathered. His paintings are arresting images depicting rural life. A
A number of brass sculptures are also on display, the works of Cacnio’s sons Michael and Ferdinand.
While inside the Cacnio home, one feels as though transported back in time what with its Vigan tiles, capiz sliding windows, stained glass, and carved wood furniture. Suprisingly, the house is very young, having only stood in Malabon for the last 14 years.
After a quick tour around the property, the group headed to Cocina Luna, where its black painted façade and fire engine red door seem better suited to Malate’s district.
“Are we still in Malabon?” the lot joked.
Once inside, a different feel emanated altogether with urban interiors and a British pub vibe. The walls were left unfinished with a Union Jack painted just under the stairs, which marked the spot for band gigs. Beatles artwork and numerous inspirational quotes littered the walls.
The owner, Katrina Alcala, is both the chef and the designer of the restaurant that serves all-day breakfast food, sliders, fish and chips and quesadillas. Their tapa is shredded and topped with toasted garlic, and served with sweet and salty homemade vinegar—a winning combination.
The second floor, meanwhile, revealed a terrace where customers can drink a cocktail or two.
Nearing the end of the tour, a short walk from the Malabon City Hall to the San Bartolome de Malabon Church served as the introduction to the grand finale.
The famed church had just celebrated its 400th year, making it one of the oldest churches in the country.
Freshly renovated for the grand milestone, the church looked very grand with huge chandeliers, gold trimmings, and a dome ceiling.
“A trip to Malabon has to have a stop at San Bartolome,” said a parishioner.
To cap the day, a picnic was held nearby for refueling before the drive back home, as well as to provide an opportunity for pasalubong shopping. Of course, food is always what you take home from Malabon, such as kakanin, maja blanca and kutsinta from Dolor’s Kakanin, the famed Pansit Malabon; Chef Quiel Salanga’s quiron (a portmanteau for his name and turon) with ube halaya and langka sauce; and Aling Upeng’s Quekiam.
Overall, the tour was educational and enjoyable, allowing members of media—and now their readers—to know Malabon a little bit better.
As with all destinations, a single encounter is not enough to discover its treasures. A second—and even a third—serving of Malabon’s cultural and culinary delights is definitely recommended.