Foodtrips: Manila Bound

Once upon a time, I didn’t like eating. I grew up in Manila not having double rice and indulging myself in street foods (except BBQ and hotdogs!), and that’s why I grew up in a white sando and very thin. Like tooth-pick thin.

That’s a picture of six year old me all ft. my sisters Ate Aiya and Ate Michelle back in the late 80s.

That’s also why it was a great experience flying back home last month and deciding to eat our entire refrigerator and asking my sisters for bituka ng baboy and Jollibee. I remember asking for kanin and ulam at around 2:30pm, exactly the minute I felt cured of my unfortunate fever and cold. Yaya extraodinaire Ate Mildred was shocked at how much my plate was able to carry!

Where did Troyski na mahina kumain go? I think I ate him when I decided to be a part-time food blogger!

PS. One thing that did not change about me apparently was my spacey-ness and child-like laugh. Phew!

That reminds me of the time my friends and I ate in Chop Chop in Shepherd’s Bush and while everyone gave up with their big plate, I was still chowing down on my roast duck with egg fried rice!

Of course, I had my staples Jollibee, McDonald’s, Shakey’s and Tokyo Tokyo, famous names I grew up with in Manila, but I discovered so many more places upon my return that I just make me want to come back quicker!

Rancho Lorenzo

One of the more grown-up get togethers with my family, Rancho Lorenzo became our first stop to have a few buckets of San Mig Light and started the kwentuhan.


I specifically love the native Las Piñas City feel here. The wind was just right and we were close to familiar landmarks that made me feel safer.

Food-wise, I had the salmon with lemon and sweet corn which could have been more enjoyable without the bones or maybe that’s just me used to eating salmon without the bones. Then we had I think four buckets of San Miguel Lights and Red Horse beers and more pork sisig which lasted just as long as we laughed, which felt like hours.

Hen Lin

Every Filipino knows Hen Lin! I had vivid memories of eating pork dumplings with my mom in Robinson’s Imus, a tradition that continued when we frequented Festival Mall before heading to my sister’s shop Ubehalaiya, the only difference being I developed a love for chili and calamansi and I had a tendency to order more than three orders of siomai, much to the glee of the Hen Lin assistants, and to the surprise of my mom.


YES, that was all mine!!! No shame there, especially because I was the one who paid, anyway! Happy eating!


Thank you Serenitea for introducing me to wintermelon milk tea aka my future wife!

After going around Quezon City with my sister and mom we stopped by the nearest Serenitea branch and I was then introduced to my future wife: wintermelon milk tea. If you want to see just how ecstatic I got after the very first sip, scroll down to the photo below.

My second trip back to the same branch happened because I had heard good stuff about their Yakult tea, a drink which up to that point in my life I had sworn to avoid since my sister told me scary but false stories about the drink (I will not write it down here to avoid any problems with their company). Luckily, my reluctance towards the drink had been dissolved and has been turned back to love as I tried their Green Apple Yakult Tea, which was just as great as the Wintermelon!

Tip: Make sure to control your excitement and always shake the drink beforehand. You don’t want to spend the first half of the drink sipping one half Yakult and the bottom half green apple juice.


Green Apple Fruit Tea, Mango Fruit Tea and Lychee Fruit Tea


I swear there must be something unhealthy about drinking fruit tea more than twice in a week, but I didn’t care since Infinitea exists. If I went to Serenitea for milk and Yakult tea, I went to Infinitea for some good old fashioned fruit tea.

I repeatedly ordered the Mango, the Green Apple and Lychee flavours as they were all so good and refreshing, especially after our Pansol roadtrip which I will write about sometime soon. Thank you Ate Michelle for buying me some when I had no extra cash!

Amber Pichi Pichi

Before visiting Imus, Cavite for the last time before flying back home the next day, we bought some food from the Amber branch in Bacoor. My sister suggested it on the way and I vaguely remember watching a YouTube video of Karylle and Coco Quizon blogging about the brand, so I was more game into trying them out.

Apart from the heavenly cheese pichi pichi (not a huge fan of coconut), I also remember the very tasty pancit canton, my all time favourite type of noodle dish. The very, very juicy pork bbq and insanely masarap na suka as sawsawan made the entire experience worth remembering, and worth coming back to.

Daddy’s Toasted Siopao

I had my first toasted siopao as a thank you gift from my best friend Jelyn’s sister Ate Camille when I dropped off her pasalubongs for her family there in Manila. I actually thought the siopao was to be brought back to London, hence why I didn’t say thank you. Sorry! Thank you so much!

Toasted siopao is basically what it’s called: a small siopao toasted so it can be eaten sort of like a small pandesal with palaman, either chicken or pork.


It makes as a good savoury snack during the afternoon, especially for me as I am a self-certified ulam boy.


During Karylle’s pre-Valentine’s Day gig there in Route196 (you can tell how much of a fanboy I am!), my sister treated my mom and I with their pork sisig and iced tea. I will always remember their pork sisig for the fact that it had egg in it, which made me eat it quickly because the egg was going to get solid if I didn’t mix it, which I found weird. Did pork sisig always have egg in it or have I always been spacey throughout my life?


See you again soon, Philippines!

– Troy

Published by troycabida

Troy Cabida (he/him) is a Filipino poet and producer based in south west London. His recent poems have appeared in TAYO Literary Magazine, harana poetry, MacMillan and bath magg. He is a producer for London open mic night Poetry and Shaah and co-founder of Liwayway Kolektibo, an arts and culture network providing space for UK-based Filipino/a/x creatives. His debut pamphlet, War Dove, was published by Bad Betty Press in 2020. Photo taken by Ray Roberts.

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