Food lovers of the Philippines rejoice! We have a new venue when it comes to late night food cravings. We gleefully welcome Cucina Andare! – the Philippines' first ever food truck market and food bazaar. This new haven for foodies is by the same organizers that brought us the popular Mercato Centrale night food market in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
Cucina Andare is conveniently located at Glorietta Park, right in front of Glorietta 3, Landmark, the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, and is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 4:00pm to 3:00am. I arrived at around 6pm myself so that the Sun wouldn’t be beating on my head but you can come anytime that is convenient for you since they’re practically open the entire day.
Open Friday to Sunday, from 4pm to 3am.
My Italian is a bit rusty and isn’t as good as my German, but I think what “Cucina Andare” means is moving kitchen. Being the fact finding type of person that I am, I went ahead and checked their official Facebook page and was happily surprised that my interpretation wasn’t far off. Officially, Cucina Andare means “Kitchen On-The-Go”. Which is an apt name for this food bazaar as it does bring together the specialty and gourmet food trucks of Manila into one place for our convenience. There are currently 10 food trucks at Cucina Andare and more will be joining the bazaar according to Anton Diaz, a popular food and travel blogger, and one of the co-organizers. There are food trucks such as Shawarma Bros, Guactruck, Chef Broosy, QKebab, Mexikombi, and Hungry Rover to mention a few.
But the fun doesn’t stop with the different food trucks. Cucina Andare also has a large collection of food stalls that are equally as good. There are stalls such as Casa Goni’s Paella, Merry Moo Ice Cream, Top Dog, Manila Q, B wings, Chicken + Waffle Haus, Schmidt’s Gourmet Hotdogs, and many more.
I arrived at Cucina Andare about the time things were starting to take off. The crowd was mingling and tasting the food, while the media was busy covering the different food trucks and stalls. There was live music being drummed by the band and I used this time to check out the different varieties of available foods and drinks while bopping my head to the rhythm of the drums. I also noted that throughout the park were tables and chairs for your eating convenience.
With all the different varieties of food available I had a hard time choosing a starting point. Where do you start when every smell tugs at you? So I did the next best thing I could think of. I went to the nearest truck I could see, the Hungry Rover food truck.
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The Hungry Rover food truck instantly caught my eye the first time I saw it. It was the only food truck with a small dining area inside of the truck! You could sit down, have a meal and relax with the kitchen crew bringing your food to your table (literally) without having to leave the kitchen area. They can reach over and give you your food but it didn’t feel like you were in a tight place. It was a comfy fit for a meal.
Inside the Hungry Rover food truck
I asked Mina, one of the owners of the Hungry Rover what I should try and she suggested I try their wraps. Besides wraps, they also have burgers, and rice dishes, all with a distinct Filipino/Mediterranean influence. I took a gander at their menu and decided on the Grilled Pork BBQ wrap with Yogurt Garlic sauce (P85). Inside of the wrap it had a meaty serving of tender pork barbeque strips with their special garlic sauce and assorted veggies.
Grilled Pork BBQ wrap with Yogurt Garlic sauce
The next food truck I set my radar on was a big blue truck with white letters on the side, QKebab it said. It turns out that this truck belongs to Chef RJ Ungco. QKebab, like the name implies is middle-eastern food. Chef RJ was trained at Les Roche Switzerland and before starting QKebab he travelled to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and throughout Southeast Asia doing research on middle-eastern food. The result of all this research is this fine creation.
The QKebab truck. Their physical store is at Katipunan.
Since I started out with the wraps, I decided to take another dab at a wrap, this time the Sultana Pork Wrap (P220). It came highly recommended by Chef RJ and was my wife’s choice of the night as well. It consists of Sultan Pilaf, roasted pork, all wrapped and drenched with their secret “Awesome Sauce”, which was of course, awesome.
Sultana Pork Wrap
There were several more trucks to choose from but I had to pace myself as there were other good smells vying for my attention. Besides, I don’t want to ruin all the fun for you! Cucina Andare also has several food stalls that are not to be missed, such as Top Dog, the brainchild of a group of college business students. What started out as a school project for them has grown into a great business venture. Their aim is to provide fresh, natural products with great taste. I tried their Spicy Italian hotdog with the Italian Job sauce (P140). And yes indeed, it was fresh and smothered with sauce as I like it.
Spicy Italian, and yes, there’s a hotdog underneath all that sauce!
Following the trend I started for the night (You know, from wrap to wrap, now Italian to Italian?) I went over to Famiglia e Amici. Well, this one is easy to translate even though my Italian is rusty as mentioned earlier. This means “Family and Friends”. The name comes from a group of friends who felt like family, and shared the love for food.
The chef preparing my pasta meal.
There were several choices in their menu but following their three step procedure made it easy. I decided on the Spaghetti Beef Pomodoro with the semi-spicy Grilled Chicken Fillet (P125). What a mouth full to say when ordering but it’s also mouth watering as well.
Spaghetti Beef Pomodoro with semi-spicy Grilled Chicken Fillet
With chicken on my mind I went over to the curious sign I saw from far away. Waffles it said. But it had the word Chicken in there. The stall was called Chicken + Waffle Haus. Curiosity peaked I asked the owner (Sean Lim) what the combination was all about. “Why Chicken and Waffles?" I asked. And a few minutes later I finally understood. There appears to be a very rich history for Chicken and Waffles which I didn’t know about. This combination comes from the Eastern Seaboard of the USA and is very popular there.
And so a C + W Sandwich (Half P80/Full P150) it was for me . It’s a deep fried boneless Chicken thigh fillet between two slices of Belgian Waffles with Syrup. The taste of the spicy chicken and sweet Belgian Waffle is a must try. This was my personal choice for the night.
Chicken + Waffles
At this particular time of the night I was starting to feel a bit full. Time for some drinks and dessert, I said to myself. I headed over to the stalls where I saw some drinks and Ice Cream. The Merry Moo Artisan Ice Cream stall was selling pretty interesting flavors of ice cream such as Candied Bacon, Cookie Butter, and Strawberry Basil.
The nice lady selling the Ice Cream let me try a few of the flavors before I decided on which one I wanted. I felt like a kid in a Candy store…ah, I mean, Ice Cream store. The Candied Bacon was actually very good; it is a vanilla based concoction with bits and pieces of caramelized bacon in it. But after a few seconds of wrestling with indecision I decided on getting their best-seller: the Sea Salt Caramel (P70). It’s made with actual Sea Salt and Caramel so it has a salty and at the same time sweet taste to it.
Sea Salt Caramel
My last hurrah for the night was the stall right next to the Merry Moo. It was the Bundaberg stall with a barrel looking cooler. Inside of this cooler I found several types of drinks in cool bottles.
I immediately set my eyes on a curious brown bottle with the title of Bundaberg Sarsaparilla (P69). Wait, I thought to myself, isn’t that what the Smurfs eat? Curiosity peaked again I decided to try one. The best way I could explain the taste of this drink would be like this: it’s a mixture of Sarsi and root beer. Bundaberg is imported by the Silverwave Corporation and is available at all major grocery stores. I did some scouting already and found them on shelves at the Megamall supermarket.
With my night already coming to an end and my appetite appeased, I was already making plans on coming back to Cucina Andare while I was still munching away. My wife is practically dragging me back, but there’s no need for coercion. There are several trucks and stalls I still want to try out and revisit. Cucina Andare is a welcome addition to the Manila food scene as it provides another venue for us food lovers to gather and enjoy what we love to do. I’ve already set aside a weekend for this venture. If you see me there biting into a waffle or a hotdog, don’t be shy, say hi and I’m looking forward to seeing you there. Ciao, Ciao!