Christmas has finally rolled into town. Without a doubt, the season is the best reason to eat, drink, and be merry. And seriously—what would Filipino Christmases be without the boxes of sapin-sapin mysteriously appearing in the refrigerator? Or the pillow-soft bibingka and fragrant puto bumbong welcoming you as you stumble out of Simbang Gabi? Hungry yet? Then get on as we go all around the metro for the best kakanin in town.
My Top Five Kakanin
First off let’s start with the ubiquitous bibingka. The Christmas staple is now available all year round, but the certainly the best time to have it (meaning eat as many as one can handle) is during the holidays. Something about the chill in the air and the twinkling lights that make the fluffy rice cake taste infinitely better.
Bibingkabon stalls are found in the following places: Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall, Starmall, and Shopwise Libis. Each bibingka is freshly made — you’ll rarely find one sitting out because they are snapped up as soon as they come out of the oven!
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If you find yourself in front of a bibingka stand, chances are, a stall selling puto bumbong is nearby. This curious dessert is made of sticky purple rice, steamed through bamboo tubes, wrapped in banana leaves, and served with a swipe of margarine or butter, grated coconut and sugar.
The puto bumbong is gloriously sticky sweet and infused with the scent of the banana leaf wrapper. For P25 a pop, it is cheap means to tide your hunger, or calm things down when the traffic gets awry. Which brings us to our third kakanin: palitaw.
Yes, those palm-sized, milky-white treats are another good reason for stopover.
The multi-colored, round-shaped kakanin made with rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and ube, is a perennial dessert favorite. Dolor’s Kakanin makes one of the best. The main branch is located in Malabon City, and smaller ones in Banawe Ave., Quezon City and Along McArthur Highway in Monumento. The dessert originated from the northern part of the Philippines but has since travelled down to other provinces and is now widely available.
Tsoko.Nut Batirol serves a fine version that will giddy up a good chunk of endorphins in your brain. The dish arrives at your table steaming hot with the thick latik bubbling up. As you dip your spoon into the kakanin, you realize it’s in that fantastic half liquid, half solid state. Eating the dish requires some dexterity, but your efforts are justly rewarded when the mixture hits your tongue and your taste buds go into overdrive. Tsoko.Nut’s version doesn’t scrimp on the latik—even going as far as putting both sugar and rice in equal portions.
The dish is quite rich, and small as it may seem it is best shared with another person. You will have to because you cannot eat suman latik—or any of the abovementioned kakanins for that matter—without a hot cup of traditional tsokolate. Why go anywhere else when Tsoko.Nut serves a fantastic cup of tsokolate ah? Some might recoil at the idea of drinking hot chocolate with sweets (usually bathed in butter at that) but Filipinos usually wave those kinds of worries away. You can never have too much of a good thing, especially during the holidays.