It’s true what they say, sometimes the most delicious and memorable food experiences can be had in the most unexpected places. There’s something about uncelebrated street food that makes the likes of the late Anthony Bourdain include at least one hole-in-the-wall in their shows.
The place may not be the most appealing to everyone, but the flavors are as rich and authentic as, if not more than those in regular restaurants.
They always aim to please their small but loyal following, so you are assured of amazing food and a unique experience every time, without the quality dropping with over-popularity.
And because it’s not overhyped, you have your own little place where you can eat in peace, almost like a secret that’s too good to share. If you’ve always been the type to go for the most blogged-about restaurants with the trendiest interiors and a long waitlist, maybe it’s time you gave it a rest.
Here are four holes-in-the-wall with interesting food offerings that you may want to check out soon.
AJ Street Thai Food
The owner, who worked in Bangkok for over 20 years, sources his ingredients directly from Thailand as he also has relatives there. You can enjoy your favorite Thai dishes and relive your food trips in Thailand at much cheaper prices. Finding its exact location on Gorordo Avenue (Ayala Access Road) is already part of the adventure. Customer recommendations include the tom yum goong, the yum egg and its bestselling pad Thai. Don’t hesitate to ask about secret menu items too.
This hole-in-the-wall opened on Feb. 1 with the goal of satiating cravings for affordable but good-quality ramen. Located in Brgy. Sambag I near the University of San Carlos South Campus, Ramenikuya focuses on dry or brothless ramen, which comes in three variants. The signature dish here is the Eight Pillars Mazesoba, but it also serves regular ramen (with only one kind of broth), gyoza and sushi rolls, and on weekends, onigiri.
Yaya Monda’s Grilled Balut
A first in Cebu, this treat is patterned after Vietnam’s popular street snack, trung vit lon nuong. The grilled balut at Yaya Monda’s is served in a bowl with a slightly spicy and tangy sauce that’s flavored and made fragrant with aromatics, and placed on a charcoal grill again so it arrives piping hot on your table. Its main branch is in Carcar City, but it has also opened in Lapu-Lapu City, Toledo, Tisa and Consolacion.
You can come here for its beef pares, its beef mami, its roasted bone marrow, or all three. You will need an extra cup or two of rice for the beef pares, with its tender beef cubes and flavorful broth with fried garlic bits. The bone marrow, seared with a blowtorch and also topped with garlic bits, is like a fatty, savory version of creme brulee that’s given a natural crust through that quick charring.