Who makes the best hopia?

Published April 8, 2021, 1:25 PM

by Sandy Daza

What’s good to go in Chinatown and other places while many restaurants are still closed

After many days of being forced to stay home, you tend to look for the brighter side of things to ease the boredom. My son Arturo and I were discussing how blessed we still were to be able to sleep in comfortable beds, eat good food, breath fresh air, bond with our loved ones, and have Wi-Fi. Imagine if we were prisoners. Then, you realize we really have it good.

Most of the dining places I love to visit are still closed. So when I get bored, while my kids are still asleep, I jump into my car and just drive around. I smile to myself whenever I have to deliver something somewhere to friends or have to shop for something. As soon as I get back home, I’m refreshed.

In this Pandemic 2, I have learned to enjoy the simple things. Badminton was something I looked forward to, especially on weekends for that also meant Salcedo Market on Saturdays and occasionally Legazpi Market on Sundays. But today, even those markets and badminton are gone. One Sunday before the lockdown, I was looking forward to my reward after playing badminton—a Wagyu beef shawarma. But the Legazpi Market was closed, so even before I went, I already had a plan B in case I didn’t get what I wanted. True enough, I needed a Plan B. That was Sweet Ecstasy along Jupiter Street in Makati. I am “takaw mata,” so I ordered a cheese burger, a hamburger, and Sriracha wings. I like my burgers without mustard or catsup. Many times, without cheese, but I wanted to reconfirm that I preferred a plain burger. 

Today, Sweet Ecstasy has the best burger and the wings are also to die for. I noticed it came with a white sauce when I had devoured each piece. Another tip I got was that the fried pickles are also good. I’ll be back!

Another discovery which I go back to often is Pho Hoa on Green Street in Capitol Hills. Here, I always start with the fresh lumpia with shrimp and pork. I tell them not to slice it, so I dab hoisin then sriracha on it with every bite! What a winner! Sometimes, I order a Goi Ga or chicken salad with a sweet patis dressing. This is something I also love here. Lately, I’ve been tripping on Bun Ga Nuong and Cha Gio, a dry rice noodle bowl with a sweet patis dressing and topped with lemon grass chicken and fried lumpia, chopped peanuts, cucumber, and chopped lettuce. Winner! What I also like about Pho Hoa is they’re consistent in taste!

I asked Waze to find me Polland in the eskinitas of Chinatown, Soler, and Alonzo. A branch was open on Benavides Street, where I grabbed the last six boxes left, plus two kuchay breads and a mahu ball pack.

Last Sunday, I woke early and drove to make some voluntary deliveries. I decided to go to Chinatown. Almost every store was closed. No traffic and there were a few detours. It’s ok, I love driving and exploring. I remembered a hopia given to me by a badminton buddy, Rannie Mercado. Polland Hopia, which I paid no attention to before, makes the best hopia mongo. So I asked Waze to find me Polland in the eskinitas of Chinatown, Soler, and Alonzo. A branch was open on Benavides Street, where I grabbed the last six boxes left, plus two kuchay breads and a mahu ball pack. The mahu balls are stuffed with pork mahu with what seems like ground sweet mongo and salted egg. Pretty good!

Whenever I want to be healthy, I get a Veggie Whopper at Burger King with extra vegetables! To me, this is the most delicious healthy vegetarian burger around!

Another discovery is a peanut butter called Martie’s NO B.S. peanut butter. Yummy! With pandesal, it is my family’s simple merienda! Find them on IG!

Still in the middle of this pandemic, I hope I get to deliver a few more things and, in the process, discover or rediscover more food items!

Happy eating!

 
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