Welcome to EnVi Eatery! In this edition, we are taking a trip to Woodside, Queens in New York, exploring a renowned area called Little Manila. Nestled between 70th and 62nd street along Roosevelt Boulevard, Little Manila is known for its dense Filipino population and is a hotspot for Filipino restaurants, food marts, and small businesses. To kick off your first visit, EnVi presents a rundown of Filipino snacks to find throughout Little Manila.

Red Ribbon’s Mamons

First stop in Little Manila is Red Ribbon Bakeshop on 65th street, where you can try their mamons. This popular franchise originated in the Philippines in 1979 and made its way to the US in 2001. Their Filipino sponge cakes come in four different flavors– butter, ube, mocha, and cheese. This soft and buoyant treat can be perfectly paired with an order of coffee for a light breakfast.

Photo courtesy of Red Ribbon Bakery
Photo courtesy of Cris Aguasvivas

Barbeque Skewers (Inihaw) 

For a more hearty snack doubling as a meal, Ihawan, a hole in the wall eatery right off 70th street, is home of “the best barbeque in town.” These barbeque skewers, also known as “inihaw,” typically feature roasted or grilled pork and chicken. This is a popular street food in the Philippines shared among family and friends. The smoky flavors and seasoning of the meat are what make Filipino barbecue stand out. Iwahan offers chicken and pork barbeque meals as well as other Filipino meals.

For more diverse options of skewers, try out Dollar Hits, only a block away from Red Ribbon Bakeshop. Their skewers range from pork skin to beef intestines.

Pork BBQ Skewers with rice from Iwahan. Photo courtesy of Cris Aguasvivas

Purple Dough’s Specialty– Ube Flavored Anything!

A perfect spot for a sweet treat is Purple Dough, located just right around the corner from Dollar Hits. Best known for their FIlipino specialty desserts, they offer a range of sweet cakey confections such as their popular ube-flavored items. A flavor mentioned previously, ube is a purple yam hailing from the Philippines and is widely known for its use in desserts. Ube has an earthy yet sweet vanilla taste. For those interested in trying, start off with Purple Dough’s ube cupcakes and make your way to their ube leche flan

Buttery, Warm Bibingka 

Bibingka is a Filipino coconut rice cake that is typically baked in banana leaves. This buttery and moist cake is best eaten when warm, right out of the oven or heated in a toaster. Bibingka is another versatile sweet treat that can be eaten for both breakfast or dessert. Another popular version of the recipe includes sprinkling cheese on top. 

While it’s hard to find pre-made bibingka,  the box mix is sold throughout all Filipino grocery stores, including Phil-Am Food Mart on 70th street. This grocery store is renowned for serving the Filipino community of Woodside since 1976. To make Bibingka at home, you can substitute banana leaves for cupcake molds to get its signature round shape.

Photo courtesy of ManilaSpoon.com
Photo courtesy of Cris Aguasvivas

Filipino Pork Chicharron Snacks 

Another Phil-Am Food Mart find is chicharrones, a beloved Filipino classic consisting of pork rinds fried with a bit of fat. These puffy and crunchy snacks are more on the salty yet savory side. Phil-Am Food Mart offers a variety of options, ranging from chicharron strips to salt and vinegar chicharrones.

Chicharrones from Phil-Am Food Mart. Photo courtesy of Cris Aguasvivas

Polvoron Shortbread Cookies

Polvoron is another sweet treat waiting to be added to your palate. These shortbread cookies will melt right in your mouth. They come in a plethora of flavors including cookies and cream, ube, pinipig, and more. Polvoron can be gifted as a “pasalubong,” or souvenirs from the Philippines, perfect to share among loved ones.

For multiple varieties of these snacks, you can find them in both Kabayan (Turo-Turo, Kakanin) and Sariling Atin Grocery stores. Consider picking some up in Little Manila to share with your dearest. 

*This snack contains nuts.

Photo courtesy of kawalingpinoy.com
Polvoron in Kabayan (Turo-Turo, Kakanin). Photo courtesy of Cris
Polvoron in Sariling Atin Grocery. Photo courtesy of Cris Aguasvivas

Boy Bawang

While visiting Sariling Atin Grocery store, in an aisle full of Filipino snacks, you can find “Boy Bawang Cornick,” or Garlic Boy in English. This snack is made of corn kernels soaked in water then deep fried to become crunchy corn nuts. Typically garlic flavored, they also offer alternatives like chili cheese, barbeque, and more to choose from.

Boy Bawang Cornick at Sariling Atin Grocery. Photo courtesy of Cris Aguasvivas

Premade Gelatinous Kutsinta

If you like the taste of tapioca pearls, you might also enjoy “kutsinta” (cuchinta). This chewy snack is a steamed sticky rice cake made from simple ingredients: flour, tapioca flour, brown sugar, lye water, and annatto. It’s a snack that is not too sweet but is enough to satisfy a slight sugar craving. Kutsinta is best served and eaten with grated coconut.

This treat is not an easy find but can be bought from Filipino grocery stores like the ones in Little Manila. Sariling Atin Grocery is a good place to find premade kutsinta.

Kutsinta with grated coconut. Photo courtesy of foxyfolksy.com

Halo Halo 

A perfect summer snack or simply something sweet to enjoy, Halo Halo is a beloved cold dessert in the Philippines. Halo Halo, meaning “mix-mix” in Tagalog, is quite literally a mix of sweet ingredients. This dessert typically consists of sweet fruits, red mung beans, condensed milk, shaved ice, and topped off with ube ice cream and leche flan

Halo Halo is a menu item that can be found in most Filipino restaurants in Little Manila. Each Filipino eatery has their own version, switching up the fruits or adding elements such as a nut garnish. One place you can find Halo Halo is Kalye Bistro on 64th street. It’s a perfect dessert to have after treating yourself to lunch or dinner!

*This snack may contain nuts.

Halo Halo from Kalye Bistro. Photo courtesy of Cris Aguasvivas

That wraps up our snack tour in Little Manila! This edition only scratched the surface of the world of Filipino snacks. If you’re a foodie, there’s plenty of more snack options to explore, along with a plethora of restaurants for you to try out.

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