When it was announced that the World Street Food Congress will be held here in Manila, my Facebook feed literally exploded with people sharing the news. Of course, as a couple who loves trying out different kinds of food, we wouldn’t want to pass up the World Street Food Jamboree. And despite all of the negative remarks that we heard about the said food affair i.e. very long queues, having not enough food for the people etc., it didn’t deter us from experiencing it for ourselves.
The World Street Food Jamboree 2016 was held for the first time in Manila, Philippines from April 21-24. We arrived around 4PM so we didn’t suffer from the long lines that people were talking about.
Upon entering the area, the first thing that greeted us on the side were the jamboree’s commandments and map. The commandments when followed make the festivity more enjoyable. We specifically liked and applied the “Kill Boredom” command which led to a good fruition. I’ll talk more about that later. Meanwhile, the jamboree map is both equally helpful to those who have made prior food plans, and those who need to meet up with someone.
You’ll notice that they have a Security & First Aid Station. I hope no one had to go here because of stolen items or high blood pressure from eating lechon (roasted pig).
Seeing the booths, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Is this really a world street food congress?” I haven’t been to the previous World Street Food Jamboree. However, I’m pretty sure that the “World” should mean that they will offer various kinds of food from different parts of the world. It wasn’t the case here as the only cuisines that we saw there were mostly from South East Asia. No Japanese, Mexican, European, African street food and many more folks. Well, since I haven’t tried out Malaysian, Vietnamese and Indonesian cuisines yet, I didn’t mind this as much. It would still have been more awesome if they did include street food from other regions.
The other thing that I noticed was how pricey the food is. Prices starts at PhP 200 (or USD 4.279) and can go all the way up to PhP 400 (or USD 8.56). Isn’t this a little too much for a street food? This may be overlooked if the food is truly worth it. After all, we’re aiming for all things reasonable.
The first thing we ordered was the WAN DAO TOU ASSAM LAKSA (PhP 250/ USD 5.35) from Penang, Malaysia.
I chose this in a heartbeat because I was craving for laksa for so long. The street food is “thick rice noodles served in a sharp, tangy, sweet and spicy flaked mackerel broth with sweet prawn paste with a lovely accent of lemongrass and blue ginger.” This is very different from the laksa I’m accustomed to as its soup base is not coconut milk. Yes, I’m used to eating Singaporean laksa. As Me-An has been to Malaysia, she explained to me that Malaysia’s laksa typically uses tamarind as its soup base.
The hotness of the laksa was tolerable at first. It eventually escalated wherein I could no longer bear it as seen in the photo. The tamarind blend indeed gives it a sour kick, but it’s not enough to neutralize the spiciness of the chili peppers they’ve put. For its price, I personally think this is not reasonable for those who not into sour and spicy food. Its serving is pretty small too.
Next up on our list is SATAY BEEHOON (PhP 250/ USD USD 5.35) also from Malaysia despite the Singaporean Chinese roots.
The street food is a serving of “soft slurpy noodle blanched and bathed in rich, peanutty satay sauce topped with seafood, greens, tofu and sticks of satay.” Even if I only got to try a few street food from the jamboree, this will have to be my top pick. This is a much better deal for me compared to our previous food which has the same price. It does not only have a bigger serving, but it’s more delicious as well. The skewered chicken mixes well both with the glass noodles and the yummy satay sauce. And the seafood adds a sweet flavor on the entire meal. Overall, we really dig this reasonable food and we recommend you to try it if you find yourself in Malaysia.
The last, but not the least on our list, is CHURROS SUNDAE (PhP 200/ USD 4.279) from Portland, USA.
To be honest, we already have churros here in Manila. And it’s not exactly unique as Me-An has tried Street Churros in South Korea which offer the same concept. It is just one of the longest lines in the place that piqued our interest to try it.
This street food is “churros (fried-dough pastry) served with Vanilla ice-cream drizzled with either chocolate, strawberry or caramel sauce and topped with nuts and sprinkles.” However, what we exactly tried is churros topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream drizzled with caramel sauce and sprinklers. There may be nothing too special about it, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. It is actually delicious that we finished it in just a few minutes. For its price per order, it’s on point with what is being offered.
On Killing Boredom
They eventually introduced us to their friends who shared a table with us and, little did we know, we’ll be meeting another set of people through them.
World Street Food Jamboree
There are other dishes in the food affair that we would love to try like the Sticky Rice Banana (“Nam Bo“). However due to budget and time constraints, we weren’t able to try it. It’s really best to come here as a group or go there several times.
This one is the Sticky Rice Banana (“Nam Bo“) that we also wanted to try. It’s banana coated with sticky rice and wrapped with banana leaves to grill over charcoal fire. The dessert is slathered afterwards with coconut-based milk and sprinkled with toasted nuts.
We just like to commend one of those who endured the very long lines of the World Street Food Jamboree, but still remained patient – Mr. Lorenzo Espiritu. We learned from him that some people intentionally cut the lines and senior citizens were given priority so he ends up being further from his turn. He still waited for his turn despite these issues.
As people prefer going at night to avoid the summer heat, it is truly at nighttime that we heard several complaints due to the long lines. We noticed also when we were about to go home that the lines were almost about to cover the whole area outside.
Reasonable or not?
Overall, I personally think that Manila’s first World Street Food Jamboree is organized, but needs more variety in terms of food offering. If you’re well traveled like Me-An, you won’t find this reasonable because of the food’s prices. There is also the fact that the bottled water being sold is priced at PhP 50/ USD 1.069. Thus, some people may find it better eating at restaurants.
On the other hand, if you’re less traveled like me and a foodie too, you’ll find this event reasonable. This is because I get to try street food from other countries whilst staying in my home country. The prices can also be justified with the free entrance to the event and the expense in setting up the stalls ex. putting up open kitchens. Lastly, the jamboree is also a great place to meet fellow foodies.