Craving for real Bicol dishes in the Big City? If you are like true-blue Bicolana, Angel Jacob, who proudly says she knows the taste of real laing, then you will never be happy with what they pass off as laing or any Bicolano dish for that matter, in most restaurants in Manila.
If you’re not lucky enough to have your lola cook your favorite Bicol Express for you, no need to drown in homesick misery. Right in the heart of Cubao, is a small eatery that no less than the Asian Wall Street Journal has included in an article on Manila’s Top Five Dishes.
Laing, Atbp is ran by the Brina family who originally hail from Nabua, Camarines Sur. Aunt Cora Brina started the small eatery in P. Tuazon Blvd. 15 years ago. After her retirement , nephew Paolo Brina took over management of the place.
Laing of course, is the specialty here, with the Brinas claiming that they get the taro leaves to make the dish straight from Nabua. The town is said to produce the very best-tasting taro leaves. Forget the usual pseudo-laing they make in Manila restaurants that drown the leaves in coconut milk. Laing, Atbp’s version, as described by Asian Wall Street Journal author John Krish, is “an unforgettable, intense mash of tart greens with only a kiss of coconut and pork fat.”
Other dishes you should try in Laing, Atbp. are the ginataang langka (ranked second by John Kritsch among the dishes he tasted in Manila), the Bicol express (with more green sili than most city versions), pork binagoongan, fried tilapia (perfect with the ginataan dishes) and ginisang ampalaya.
Lunch is the busiest time, with most dishes in its glass display case often finished-off by early afternoon. Visit Laing, Atbp. at 33 P. Tuazon Blvd., Cubao, Q.C., right across the LVN Studios. Tel: 632-6932.
If it’s afternoon merienda of mami and Naga’s toasted siopao what you’re hunkering for, you no longer need to wait for your relative to bring you home this unique dimsum specialty. Young entrepreneur Obi Rocco is now selling toasted siopao for Manila clients with her first stall set-up at the Fiesta Market of the Market! Market! in Fort Bonifacio.
Obi’s version is trying to hit a more upscale market with its sleek packaging and “hip” brand name – O Bun. “O” by the way, stands for Obias, Obi’s maiden name and the family name of her grandmother who started the Naga Restaurant in the 1940’s.
Obi is now married to Bobbit, a fellow Bicolano and son of former Senator Rocco. Obi shares that although she is based in Manila, she and her family go home to Naga each year and maintain close ties with their Bicol relatives.
O Bun toasted siopao comes in two sizes: Regular and Beanie (minis- great for kiddie parties). There are three variants currently available: original (savory pork with egg), chicken (creamy chicken with mushroom) and plain (bun with no filling). Obi says that they are also developing other flavors that they will be releasing soon.
To order O Bun’s Toasted Siopao, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 0917-5312900.