Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Bibingka from Manila Sunset - West Covina

This is a bibingka. If you're not Filipino or familiar with Filipino cuisine and traditions, it's something you've probably never heard of. It's also, as I found out, something that's eaten in Indonesia. I'm from Indonesia. And before yesterday, I've never seen it or had it. But that makes sense. I'm from Java and this delicacy is popular in Sulawesi, the K-shaped island of the Indonesian archipelago that's closest to the Philippines.

The bibingka you see in the picture above is from Manila Sunset, a Filipino fast-casual chain that used to have a branch in Fountain Valley, but now only exists in areas where Filipinos live. West Covina has a big Pinoy population. And the Manila Sunset there makes bibingkas to order for $3.75 a pop.

And when I say they make it "to order", I mean it. Bibingkas are best served rocket hot. If you go to a place and they give you your bibingka lukewarm, you're probably NOT at a "bibingkahan", which translates to "place that makes bibingka". Since Manila Sunset IS a bibingkahan, when the cashier handed me the finished bibingka I ordered, the plastic container they'd placed it in literally melted from the heat.

Traditionally, bibingka is made by pouring a batter of rice flour and coconut milk into a cupped section of banana leaf set atop a terra cotta pot. The whole thing is cooked over a brazier with glowing hot coals.

A topping of grated coconut is provided for temperature and textural contrast. And when you eat it, it feels like a freshly baked tropical sponge cake that Tarzan and Jane might make in their jungle treehouse. The best parts are the edges where it's slightly charred and perfumed with the aroma of the banana leaf.

One thing you might be interested to know that bibingka is most often eaten at Christmas. So in essence, it's the Filipino equivalent to fruit cake, except that it's edible.

Manila Sunset
2550 E Amar Rd A13
West Covina, CA 91792
(626) 912-7672

Marche Moderne - Newport Beach


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