After taking photographs on top of a building, overlooking the Manila skyline, one by one we climb down the stairs and reach for the elevators. We start walking again, clueless of the next place we will go to.
Our guide gives out trivia every now and then. He talks about the buildings’ histories and the government’s future plans for it. It’s nice to hear someone exerting an effort telling these vital information that will awaken your social and civic consciousness.
We end up in narrower alleys and endless number of shops lying next to each other. I try to keep an eye on everything that sparks my interest and take a photograph of it.
Then there it is, after a few minutes, we stand in front of a small pop-up store lying just beside a busy road where the words “Shanghai Fried Siopao” is hanged. You can easily notice the huge number of patrons this store has.
Our tour guide goes to the store manager and whispers a word or two. Afterwards, she hands out a plastic bag with the food in it.
As he distributes the food, the tour guide tells a few trivia about the siopao they sell. I didn’t get most of the things he said because all I can hear is myself chewing this lovely treat. Its aroma, its tenderness and its warmth will make you munch on every single piece they bought for you.
The fried siopao has a crisp and burnt bottom. I delicately tear off its soft white bun uncovering the meat inside. Then, I slowly chew the teared piece and savor it while listening to our guide.
The siopao is composed of minced meat with a few chopped spring onions. The hardness of its exterior and the softness of its meat has created this unexpected texture inside my mouth. The first bite is crunchy and is subsequently followed by a gooey texture brought by the tenderized meat.
It’s such a beautiful surprise when something you think you knew all your life can completely make a new experience for you.
And furthermore, what’s good about this hole in the wall store is that its food can be brought anywhere. You can eat as a snack or even as a whole meal, depending on how many of this sumptuous buns can you eat in one sitting.
Address: Sabino Padilla St, Santa Cruz, Manila, Metro Manila