Naga City takes pride in their delicious homegrown dishes, and eating like a local here is such a joy -- food is both delicious and affordable and an entire trip to the city can simply consist of discovering delicacies and dishes (a foodie's perfect itinerary!).
One must not miss pit-stop during your food trip in Naga is at Naga Garden Restaurant. This longstanding establishment is a popular noodle shop, and has been over the decades serving their famous mami noodle soup, and locals swear by pairing it with another one of the restaurant's specialties -- the original Toasted Siopao.
This merienda is a truly local treat that is best served fresh and hot! And here at one of Naga's oldest eateries, you get a jumbo sized toasted siopao compared to the newer toasted siopao stalls around the city. And at only 24 Pesos a pop, this filling snack is the perfect thing to eat in between meals and to bring back home to Manila. If you're already inside Naga Garden though, get yourself a glass of ice cold soda and enjoy a piece or two while it's fresh off the oven!
At first look you know this isn't exactly the typical siopao that they just popped into the oven to toast - the bread is different, heftier, and more compact, compared to the soft, fluffy white bread of siopao. The toasted bread is harder, and biting into it will reveal a texture that's more like monay or pinaputok. Pull apart the dense bread in two to reveal its stuffing of meatball and hard boiled egg!
Steam emanates from the inside of the toasted siopao when you break it in two, the scent of fresh and hot bread paired with the delicious smell of bola-bola filling are both comforting and mouthwatering. One piece is actually quite filling -- it's about the size of a tennis ball and it's also a heavier bread. A couple of these babies can easily be a meal in itself. The fillling is also already flavorful as is and doesn't require the usual siopao sauce. This Toasted Siopao is a beloved fixture in Naga's food scene and is the perfect pasalubong, too -- don't forget to leave space in your bags for these stuffed breads and to heat them first in the toaster before serving!
The Dish: Toasted Siopao (P24)
Where to Find it: Naga Garden Restaurant, located along Panganiban Drive in Naga City, Camarines Sur. Other branches are located in SM City Naga Food Court and Robinsons Place Naga.