Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mabuhay Bakery - Anaheim

You've heard it over and over again: the best food discoveries in Orange County are often made in anonymous, beaten-down strip malls far away from the master-planned communities some of us live in.

Case in point: Mabuhay Bakery -- a Filipino bakeshop we stumbled into recently in a blink-and-you-miss-it dilapidated row of stores facing the wrong direction on a busy Anaheim thoroughfare. Had it not been next door to the Ethiopian restaurant that was our intended destination, we wouldn't have found it in a million years.

A proud, middle-aged Filipina tended the store, curious at the sight of our curiousity at her selection of goods.

There was the ever popular pan de sal, the Filipino version of the dinner roll, tied up in bags. Ensaymadas -- the sweet brioche-like breads frosted with butter and shredded cheese -- came in plain, ube, and macapuno flavors. The chicken empanadas looked plump, the edges of its pastry shell crimped with a fork. A modest selection of Filipino pantry essentials lined metal racks. These would be your banana ketchups, cheese spreads, and patis (fish sauce).

But what caught our eyes were some Technicolored, twirly-topped meringues (8 for $1) set on cooling trays, existing in more hues than Benetton can dream up. The confections, we later discover, has got a tacky, sticky outer texture similar to taffy, which relents and turns to foam in your mouth.

Some squat, golden brown muffins that looked like cornbread also tasted like it. But these had a dense, compact crumb and more a determined sense of purpose. Cheese rolls had the shape of a flattened hot dog bun, but ate more substantially, especially because it was slathered with butter.

As we paid for our haul, I asked the proprietress how long they'd been in business.

"Four years," she said, too matter-of-factly.

"Are you not from the neighborhood?" she queried in return.

"No," I said, almost embarrassed. "We're from Irvine."

Mabuhay Bakery
(714) 828-4947
2620 W La Palma Ave
Anaheim, CA 92801


At 10:50 AM, Blogger Ed said...

Were those cornbread-like cakes bibingka?

And I love Filipino-style cheese rolls with the butter and sugar on top! How much were they at Mabuhay? My local bakery sells them for $2.50/4 rolls - I remember when they only went for $1 for 4. Sayang (you do know this word, right?)...

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Deb said...

Anywhere near Eulcid & La Palma?? I want to chekc out the Ethiopian place to!

At 11:06 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I wish I could remember what those cornbread-like things were called. But you can see them on the bottom rack of the photo on the upper right (they look like little gongs). A fragment of a label can be seen in my original picture but it is cut-off. I do know it ends with "bayan".

Unfortunately, I also can't recall how much the cheese rolls were. I think they were 2 for $1. And yes! Sayang has the same meaning in Indonesian as it does in Tagalog.


It's actually on La Palma and Magnolia. About a block away from Buena Park Mall if I recall correctly. And yes! Tana is, in a word, quite awesome!

At 6:23 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

Yum! I love Filipino baked good! Especially anything with ube. Ube rocks!

At 4:08 PM, Blogger KirkK said...

Hi Elmo - Another strip mall gem! Gotta love those mom-and-pop places. They really take pride in their offerings.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger brekkie_fan said...

I am so there. That makes me miss my parents *sigh*.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger Vegasbuff said...

Will have to check this place out if I ever get "lost in Anaheim". And yes, Tana should be part of any culinary treasure hunt. I thought the food there was pretty good, but that chicken dish was certainly not worth the price for a leg and an egg. One of the beef dishes was well worth the money though.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome find Elmo! And speaking of pan de sal, stay tuned over at my blog later this week for a recipe that utilizes this humble Filipino bread roll! Nice timing;)

At 7:35 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I went to Tana the other day. It was good, but for some reason the spices seemed more mild than other Ethiopian food I've had. Also, the lamb what we ordered, didn't taste like lamb...

At 9:31 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Ube does rock! It should be Prince's favorite tuber.


Yeah. Not to take anything away from Red Ribbon and Goldilocks, but the stuff most mom-n-pop Filipino bakeries produce often tastes like more care went into it. There's a place in Artesia called Valerios that fits this category too.

Brekkie Fan,

Definitely try this. It's one of the few Pinoy bakeries in OC. And if you haven't tried Valerios (in Artesia) you have to!


You're right about the chicken. It wasn't much protein, but the sauce was killer I thought. Reminds me of a joke in "When Harry Met Sally" about Ethiopian food...""Hey I didn't know that they had food in Ethiopia? This will be a quick meal. I'll order two empty plates and we can leave."


Does it have to do with Coke? Like dipping the pan de sal in Coke?

By the way, I use pan de sal for my bread pudding. It's the best!


It was spicy for this chili wimp (but not overwhelmingly so). The lamb we had, though, had the distinct lamb funk...We tried the beef at another visit and found that tasty too.

At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elmo, bread pudding is exactly it! Crap. Great minds think alike I guess;)

At 12:09 AM, Blogger pleasurepalate said...

The next time you visit Valerio's Bakery, grab a bag of pan de sal, especially hot out of the oven. Yum! Pan de sal, by the way, is like a dinner roll, but is something that Filipinos will often eat, toasted and buttered, as part of their merienda (4 pm snack time). :-D

At 12:34 PM, Blogger raissa said...

we buy our pan de sal from here. I actually know the owner and will let her know about this when I go to her bakery. They have hot freshly baked pan de sal every afternoon at 4. Its the best thing to eat for afternoon snacks with pancit or Kraft Cheddar Cheese. Yummy! Their ensaymadas (brioche) are good too. while on the topic of mom-and-pop Filipino bakeries here are more suggestions:

Valerios Artesia - ube bread and also pan de sal (they have it as early as 730 AM)

Valerios West Covina (Amar) - the best cheese-pimineto bread there is

Luisa and Son's (inside Diho and also on Alondra/Bloomfield in Norwalk)- Egg Pie, Ensaymadas, Mamon (Sponge Cake), Pancit Malabon, Empanadas

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that other Filipino restaurant still next door, or did it finally close down?

At 12:30 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Love it! You know what also works well for bread pudding? Hawaiian sweet bread, or croissants. Of course, it's more expensive than pan de sal. And since I always seem to have more pan de sal than I know what to do with...viola!


I like Valerios pan del sal (I love their turon). But there's this place in Diamond Bar that kicks the butt of all other pan de's called Green Hills, and you can't beat a dozen for $2.00. AND THEY'RE HOT FROM THE OVEN TOO!


Believe or not, I've had stuff from Luisa and Sons (although I haven't actually been there). Good stuff...and YEP VALERIOS! I think I need to whip out my camera the next time I'm there.


Actually the Filipino restaurant you speak of once occupied the space Tana Ethiopian presently sits. I believe it was called "Hoy Kain Na". Bummer that it's gone, because I really get a kick out of the name. It translates to "Let's Eat Now!"

At 1:14 PM, Blogger raissa said...

Is the Green Hills in Diamond Bar the same as the one in Artesia and Pioneer? I havent tried the pan de sal there hmm

At 4:36 PM, Blogger Ed said...

Viola! (Heehee) Now I'll think of haunting string melodies instead of the French "voila" whenever the opportunity to use that expression arises! :)

At 5:17 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Hmm...good question. Not sure. But I wouldn' t be surprised if they are connected in some way.


LOL! DOH! Yeah, what you said! Makes a difference where the vowels go, doesn't it?

At 8:21 PM, Blogger caninecologne said...

love your blog!

now i know where to go for good filipino baked good when we're in the area...

i didn't know they had valerio's up north. we have several in san diego.

At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think those muffin things are called kababayans...and yes, they are yummay!!!

At 10:57 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Well, touche! I didn't know there's Valerios in SD! That's cool!


I think you're right. Funny name for pastry though. Doesn't that mean "countrymen"?

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't really like filipino too muchb, but when i do crave filipino food, i would for sure go to MABUAHAY BAKERY because the food is so homey and it's pretty cheap priced compared to the other filipino places i have gone to. i especially love the puto and hot pandesal every 3:00 in the afternoon. it just melts in your mouth!n yummy!it's absolutely delicious!

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't really like filipino too muchb, but when i do crave filipino food, i would for sure go to MABUAHAY BAKERY because the food is so homey and it's pretty cheap priced compared to the other filipino places i have gone to. i especially love the puto and hot pandesal every 3:00 in the afternoon. it just melts in your mouth!n yummy!it's absolutely delicious!


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