To many Filipinos, pancit is life. An ample, filling substitute to rice when we get bored of eating our staple grain, day in and day out, rice noodles cooked guisado-style as we call it, is the perfect, complete meal.
It has chopped meat, slivers of pork or chicken liver, shrimp, vegetables like cabbage, carrot, lettuce or whatnot, on top of the regulatory sauteed garlic and onion.
A side dish of squeezed calamansi and toyo (soy sauce) completes the Pinoy pancit experience. Don’t forget that extra dash of ground pepper to add to your passion.
With these ingredients, bathed in tasty, soupy, meaty broth, pancit has imprinted heavily in our collective memory that it has evolved into some kind of a national dish with a hundred and one variations (palabok, luglug, Malabon, Lucban). Pancit defines every Filipino celebration at home or out of it, but especially during birthdays as long-stem noodles are associated with long life.
Charo Santos-Concio recalls that pancit was an integral part of her childhood. Growing up in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, she says family celebrations were always marked with servings of pancit bijon, miki, canton.
‘’My father would bring us to panciterias in our town on weekends. My memory of pancit is one of love and family,’’ she says.
Charo has not outgrown her taste for pancit that she orders it during meetings. Could it be any wonder that when she thought of going into business with some friends, it had to be something related to pancit?
And that was how Chammie came to be.
Formed as a joint venture among Joe Magsaysay, Donald Lim, August Benitez, Malou Santos, Flor Santos, Tess Guevarra, and Charo, the food chain was born out of the members’ common love for pancit.
TV-movie producer Malou Santos says they searched long and hard for a name that had Cha in it, as the investors agreed that the restaurant’s name could be anchored on a national figure like Charo.
How timely when the group learned that chami is Chinese for pancit. Some restaurants in Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown, has a listing for pancit chami on their menu.
Malou’s face lighted up at the recollection when we caught up with her at the grand opening of the Chammie branch on Morato on June 26 where QC Mayor Joy Belmonte and Ian Veneracion were special guests.
‘’How fitting then that we could call our restaurant, Chammie,’’ she says.
Chami is a Hokkien or Minnan language phrase meaning ‘’guisadong pancit.’’
The term (and the dish itself) was brought to the Philippines centuries ago by traders and artisans from Fujian.
Fujian is a province in the southeast coast of China, from where many of the Chinese who settled in the Philippines came from.
The first Chammie was opened in August 2020 at Madison Street in Mandaluyong. It was followed by a branch in Marikina in April 2021, and the third and the latest one along Morato Avenue (beside Mesa) in Quezon City.
On its menu are different variations of pancit, as we know it, or don’t. Aside from the traditional guisadong canton, bijon or sotanghon, there are new products like Pancit Lechon, Pancit Menudo, and Pancit Paella.
Not to be missed are Chammie’s own renditions of Filipino favorites Chicken Wings, Lumpia Shanghai, Pork BBQ, Butchi, Bottled Gulaman-Sago.
Everything with a twist, in keeping with the food chain’s slogan, ‘’Kakaibang pancit, kakaibang sarap.’’