Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • June-July 2023 • Circulation 5000

A Filipino Food Adventure

Chicken Adobo at Panciteria de Manila. Paula E. Kirman

Panciteria de Manila
9653 102 Avenue
(780) 425-5757

When Bayani and Lorena Alcantera moved to Canada ten years ago with their four young daughters, they did not expect to be running a restaurant. However, the couple, along with Lorena’s mother, have opened a new eatery in the area that is becoming the talk of the town, with extensive media coverage.

Occupying the space formerly housing the late, lamented Noodle Maker, Panciteria de Manila is a family-run business that offers a selection of Filipino rice and noodle dishes. In fact, the restaurant is named after pancit, the signature noodle dish from the Philippines. The choices of pancit include a base of noodles, vegetables, and shrimp, with the customer’s choice of meat (pork or chicken). Rice dishes (adobo) are topped also with a choice of meat, as well as tomatoes and egg.

I decided on the chicken adobo, which featured a generous amount of chicken chunks on top of a bed of garlic rice. The rice was not overly tasting of garlic, and the tomatoes added colour to the dish. The egg was scrambled, adding protein, colour, and substance to the dish. I liked how the chicken was not overpowered with seasonings. The natural flavour of all of the ingredients really worked well together.

Alfie, one of my two dining guests, also had the chicken adobo and enjoyed the generous portion. Randy the Distribution Guy had the Pancit Bihon, which Bayani recommended for those new to pancit. It is basically a stir fry with rice noodles, vegetables, shrimp, and meat. Randy chose chicken and decided to skip the shrimp. I noticed how heavy the container of his food was – he commented that he was quite full afterwards. The noodles got high marks from him, and he commented on how the distinct flavours of everything were noticeable.

Although I definitely had enough to eat when I finished my chicken adobo, I simply had to try the Halo-Halo, a popular Filipino summer dessert. First, let me clarify something: it is pronounced “hallo hallo,” not like the round thing hovering over my head that gets more tarnished year after year.

Let me try to draw a mental picture of exactly how epic this dessert is: it was a large plastic cup like the ones used for bubble tea, with ripe bananas, white beans, creamed corn, and young coconut slices at the bottom. Atop that was a mountain of shaved ice and milk. Topping the whole thing off was a scoop of purple ice cream (taro flavoured – sort of like a purple yam) and half of a creme brulee tart. I had to have instructions on how to eat it. First, I consumed the ice cream and tart. The ice cream is so delicious, I would be happy just to have an order of that. Then, I had to mix the shaved ice and milk with the ingredients at the bottom of the cup. I joked with Bayani and my tablemates that this was an interactive dessert. The results were creamy, sweet, refreshing, and appealing in texture. Did I mention how huge it was? I have plans to go back just to have one of these.

Most of the main courses are around $6 or $7, with an extra dollar for a fountain pop. There are also canned and bottled drinks, as well as Filipino beers. All-day breakfast, Filipino style, is also available (involving an egg over rice with meat). Service is cafeteria style – you place your order at the counter, pay, and then pick it up when it is ready. Everything is served on styrofoam with disposable cutlery. Bayani and Lorena are two incredibly friendly people, and if the restaurant is not busy, will chat with you about their food and lives. Panciteria de Manila is a welcome addition to the multicultural culinary scene in the area.

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