The Beat Asia's Xmas Food Crawl in Makati: Puto Bumbong & Bibingka Edition
December 15, 2023
The puto bumbong and bibingka. Although enjoyed all year round, these two delicacies unimpeachably rule the dining table and the palate during the Christmas season.
Puto bumbong, known for its slightly sweet and sticky purple logs that resemble suman, is steamed in bamboo tubes. It's often topped with butter, grated coconut, and muscovado sugar — its unique yet all-too-familiar color owed to the pirurutong (black or purple glutinous rice).
Bibingka, named one of the 100 best cakes in the world by Taste Atlas, on the other hand, is made of galapong or ground fermented sticky rice. Whereas puto bumbong is steamed, bibingka is baked in clay pots lined with banana leaves and is finished off with grated coconut, butter, salted duck egg, or cheese.
In their difference, the puto bumbong and bibingka are loved the same. The two rice cakes have long figured in the Christmases of Filipinos, whether eaten for breakfast, merienda, dessert, as a warm snack in the streets following Simbang Gabi — or all of the above!
This Christmas season, get into the merry spirit and have your fill of these beloved delights. The Beat Asia tried out six restaurants in Makati that offered their own takes on the puto bumbong and bibingka, from the authentic and traditional to contemporary and exciting variations.
Cafe Via Mare
While puto bumbong and bibingka can be found in manifold places in the metro, few can say they offer the best: the kind that hits all the spots in that balanced, "just right" Goldilocks way.
Via Mare is among the tried-and-true good restaurants that can do puto bumbong and bibingka right. An institution in Filipino cuisine, Via Mare has been serving beloved classic dishes since the 1970s; your grandparents know it, your mom and aunts know it, and it's still around for the younger generations to try.
Two of the most popular dishes in Via Mare are the puto bumbong and bibingka, so we headed to Greenbelt 1 where we sampled these delicacies.
Its Puto Bumbong (P125), which comes in two pieces, is topped with grated coconut, rich butter, and muscovado sugar, with the option to add grated cheddar cheese (add P30) or queso de bola (add 40).
Via Mare does not skimp on its fresh ingredients — and we're certain this is the reason it lasted decades in the industry. Its puto bumbong is relatively thick and long, soft, and has a generous amount of butter; we're adamant in saying it is the most buttery puto bumbong out of all that we tried. You can also make out the shape of the grains of glutinous rice in the puto bumbong, so you can rest assured that Via Mare makes theirs the traditional way.
Via Mare's Bibingka (P220 with Laguna cheese and salted duck egg or P235 with Laguna cheese and queso de bola) likewise can't be beat. Three words describe it best: fluffy, dense, and rich. The rice cake itself is not that sweet and has a hint of tang thanks to the galapong, which is also traditional in bibingka. The salted egg offered a welcoming sharpness in every bite, while the earthy grated coconut gave balance to the rice cake. The melted butter that pooled on top of the bibingka was pure decadence!
Location: Via Mare, G/F, Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas, Makati City
1120 House Manila
A quick seven-minute walk from Power Plant Mall, 1120 House is cozy and serves as a breath of fresh air in the middle of the bustling city of Makati, serving coffee, pastries, and mainly French-inspired meals.
But for this holiday season, 1120 House is bringing all-time Filipino holiday favorites, the famous bibingka and puto bumbong, to their house.
At first glance, you already know that their version of Puto Bumbong (P135) is too sticky compared to the usual street-side version of the sticky rice. Served with grated coconut and muscovado on the side, the puto bumbong itself has a plain taste, which you can adjust according to your liking with the provided sides.
You can never go wrong with their timeless Bibingka (P200), with a blend of salted egg and butter. The rendition of this delicacy by 1120 House is straightforward yet delightful. Paired with grated coconut, the bibingka features a toasted crust and a moist, chewy interior — a harmonious combination for a delightful culinary experience.
Location: 1120 House, Estrella St. corner Amapola, Makati City
Manam Comfort Filipino
Just a stroll from Greenbelt 1 is restaurant Manam Comfort Filipino, which makes a popular spot among balikbayans and foreigners seeking an authentic taste of local cuisine. The restaurant is known for offering classic Filipino dishes, such as adobo, sisig, and sinigang, prepared in traditional homestyle cooking.
It has 14 locations in Metro Manila and we checked out its branch at Greenbelt 2. Located along a strip of restaurants on the ground floor, Manam boasts a well-lit space and a charming mezzanine, providing a welcoming ambiance. Our post-lunch adventure led us to the outdoor dining area — an airy space that kept things comfortably cool.
We tried the Bibingka de Leche (P165) and Puto Bumbong with Muscovado Butter (P125). If you’re a fan of luscious, silky, and velvety texture combo, the Bibingka de Leche will surely delight your palate.
Denser compared to Via Mare’s version, Manam's Bibingka de Leche makes a delightful treat that doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds with sweetness.
On the other hand, Manam’s rendition of Puto Bumbong with Muscovado Butter, served in three pieces, required a bit more chewing effort because it was extra sticky.
Location: Manam Comfort Filipino, Ground Floor Greenbelt 2, Ayala Center, Makati City
We made a stop at Sentro 1771, a renowned Filipino restaurant celebrated for its Sinigang na Corned Beef and rated GG. The establishment captivated us with its cool ambiance, lofty ceilings, and ample seating, conveniently situated near the Greenbelt Park walkways and Sto. Nino de Paz Greenbelt Chapel.
Upon entering, we were immediately embraced by its modern decor oozing with warmth and sophistication. The color scheme, a pleasing blend of earthy tones, contributed to a cozy yet contemporary atmosphere.
Sentro’s Puto Bumbong (P150), generously served in four pieces, has a remarkably soft texture with just the right level of sweetness. It offered a delightful chewiness without being overly sticky and a prominent coconutty flavor. It came in decent length — longer than Manam’s but thinner than Via Mare’s — just the way we like it.
Location: Sentro 1771, G/F Greenbelt 5 Ayala Center, Makati City
Bibingka Manila at Power Plant Mall
Amid the lavish establishments set inside the Power Plant Mall, a small stall inside a mini bazaar offers bibingkas that remind us of home.
With a wide variety of flavors, Bibingka Manila's products were nothing less than ordinary and came at an affordable price, too! One of them is the Suman Latik Bibingka (P85 per piece), which boasts an authentic Pinoy flavor with its sweet, crunchy, and nutty latik toppings as well as salted eggs.
Of course, we also tried their Original Bibingka (P65 per piece), topped with a milky block of cheese and a buttery smack that dances on our palates. But what‘s special about their bibingka is its soft and pillowy cakes, served warm in a banana leaf cup — perfect to pair with a hot cup of coffee. No need to reheat, too, because their bibingka stays equally sumptuous even at room temperature!
Location: Bibingka Manila, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Drive corner Estrella Street, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City
Blending the classic holiday delicacy with a staple American breakfast, Army Navy has skillfully combined the two.
The Puto Bumbong Pancake (P190), generously topped with cheese, is best enjoyed with the accompanying butter, ube frosting, and drizzle of condensed milk to create a burst of flavors in your mouth. The pancake itself is fluffy, with a subtle puto bumbong flavor that harmonizes perfectly with additional components.
Location: Army Navy, 74, Jupiter Street 1200 Makati City
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