Hotsilog – street food in the Philippines

bus stop hotdog

Hotsilog is the Tagalog name for hot dogs. This is different from the Philippines chorizo type sausage called longganisa. Longganisa is short links of pork sausage while hotsilog is actual hot dogs as you know it – it’s also much longer. No, there’s no double entendre intended.

hotsilog

You can find hotsilog sold in bus stops and other stalls where quick travel food is required. It’s usually sold next to balut and chicharon (pork crackling). The history of the Philippines with the long American presence has created this long and *brightly colored* radioactive red hot dog that is sold on a stick or in a bun.

hotsilog hotdog

The ones in a bun costs 30 PHP (about RM 1.80) while the hotsilog on a stick costs 25 pesos (RM 2.20). The shorter hotdog in a bun actually costs *more* than the longer ones on a skewer! You’ll be initially surprised that a locally made bun wrapped around the hot dog will actually hurt your wallet more…especially when you see the length.

bus philippines

Hotsilogs on a skewer / stick is much longer than the ones in a bun. That means you get more meat for 5 pesos less for the former. Street peddlers will come on board while you’re in a bus and sell all sorts of stuff from Buko Pies to newspapers.

me hotsilog

The hotsilogs is a distinctively American influence that has been given a local twist. It tastes much like what you’ll expect a hotdog or sausage to, but juicier and mildly spiced so it’s good to eat by itself without other condiments.

philippines hotdog

It’s an interesting experience to eat it on long journeys. The way it’s cut into spirals before being cooked is something the locals have done to make it cook evenly.

hotsilog vendor

The local hotsilog is also surprisingly sweet and worth a try if you’re on a bus with nothing better to do. You might also require a hardy stomach. ;)

Eating stinky tofu in Hong Kong

eating stinky tofu

Stinky tofu is one of the great gastronomical items that Hong Kong does very well. It’s available from most street vendors and you just have to follow your nose to find this wicked delight.

hong kong street vendor

The smelly tofu in Hong Kong is astonishingly odoriferous. It smells really, really bad. It made me wince the first time I had it. The pungent stench is quite intense.

smelly tofu

This is what the innocent stinky tofu (called chao dau foo) looks like before it’s deep fried. Smelly tofu is basically marinated and fermented tofu, which produces the signature smell. I remember an old HK movie where a Caucasian complains about the smell, tries it and then becomes an ambassador of sorts, loudly proclaiming “This smells really bad but it tastes wonderful”.

stinky tofu hong kong

That was exactly how I felt. I’m not a big fan of tofu but I was eager to try stinky tofu in Hong Kong. I had it twice at two different street vendors. It’s usually eaten with long wood skewers straight from a paper bag. The smelly tofu costs around HKD 9 (RM 4) for two pieces and you can opt to have spicy hoisin sauce on it.

stinky tofu

Stinky tofu has a crumbly crust that smells strongly of ammonia. The odor is palpable – it smells like a public toilet that has not been cleaned for months! The intense aroma is matched by the equally breathtaking taste. Smelly tofu tastes like someone dusted the tofu pieces with dried urine.

It also makes for very messy eating as the entire thing is so greasy it dripped everywhere. However, the experience is very rewarding. Stinky tofu tastes like nothing else in the world. You can smell/taste the ammonia as you chew it and the crust is quite salty. It’s crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and best eaten piping hot on the street.

eating smelly tofu

You’ll have really bad breath for the rest of the day but it’s worth it! smirk

Banh cuon in Hanoi

goi choon start

Banh cuon is a term used to describe rice flour rolls in Vietnam. I was wondering along the streets of Hanoi when I decided to pop into a street stall to try one of their offering. I don’t quite remember where this was as I was just walking along and taking in the culture but it was really good.

Goi Cuon stall

The Northern part of Vietnam (including Hanoi) has a slightly different varient of Banh cuon. It’s a “rolled cake” which contains pork, shrimp herbs and rice vermicelli wrapped in rice paper.

Goi Cuon woman

You can see them prepare it fresh right in front of you!

Goi Cuon plate

This version also has a healthy sprinkling of pork floss on top and it’s served with a dipping sauce which has lime, sugar and fish sauce called Nuoc cham.

Goi Cuon preparation

It costs VND 15,000 for a plate (about RM 2.40) for a plate of four rolls and unsweetened iced tea is on the house.

Goi Cuon dip

I love the yin and yang concept of Vietnamese cuisine – they always have raw vegetables and herbs to complement the dish.

Goi Cuon dish

The dipping sauce is something awesome too. I ate it without the dipping sauce first but with the nuoc cham it makes it all the more better. Street food FTW in Vietnam!

Bun dau in Hanoi, Vietnam

bun dau hanoi

Bun dau is the cousin of the famous bun cha. It is essentially the same but bun cha has grilled pork as its main meat dish instead of tofu. I was wondering around the streets of the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam when I saw this small bun dau place that is full of locals.

bun dau shop

The place piqued my interest, even though I’m not a huge fan of tofu. I reckon I could use some food to wash down all the fresh local draft beer that I had. smirk

bun dau frying

The bun dau place is quite a simple setup with a place for frying and cutting tofu and the ubiquitous pieces of meat in flour and seating arrangements inside and outside.

bun dau meal

I was overwhelmed by the chunks of rice vermicelli, deep fried tofu, and the veritable forest of herbs and vegetables that came so I started eating it with the dipping sauce (made of fish sauce – as most Vietnamese dishes are).

bun dau girls

There was a table of three girls sitting beside me and after watching me for a while, one of them came over and showed me how to mix the dipping sauce:

bun dau dipping sauce

You’re supposed to put some bird’s eye chilli and squeeze a couple of limes into it for the taste to shine through.

bun dau me

It tastes pretty good but I have to admit, I had a lot of trouble finishing it coz I really dislike tofu.

bun dau clientale

The place attracts a lot of people from different walks in life – I saw everyone from office workers to stall owners at the Old Quarter pulling up a chair and ordering some bun dau.

bun dau

The chunks of rice vermicelli have a very interesting texture. It has no taste per se, but the way it rolls around and unravels in your mouth when you dip it is quite an epicurean experience that is worth noting.

The best part is that it only costs VND 20,000 with a bottle of Bia Ha Noi! That works out to slightly over RM 3 – not too shabby for a tofu dish. ;)

Laksa Utara @ The Middle of Nowhere

shah alam laksa stall

I was driving yesterday afternoon when I realized I haven’t had breakfast or lunch and I was really early so I decided to stop by this roadside stall.

shah alam stall

Now, when I say roadside stall, I mean the REAL kind – the ones that can pack up and leave without a trace…

shah alam chairs

…with plastic chairs for you to sit on, arranged nicely in clusters under the shade of trees.

shah alam laksa

I only had RM 4 in my wallet and I ordered their Laksa Utara (RM 3). It tasted pretty good, probably coz I was very hungry. It had all the right stuff inside – boiled egg, fish pieces and shallots. Laksa Utara (Northern Laksa) is asam laksa, sorta, kinda.

shah alam chendol

This was washed down by a bowl of nice cold chendol (RM 1). The patrons of this place seem to be predominantly blue collar workers and truckers as can be seen here:

shah alam people

You’re supposed to throw the bowl and spoon in one place and there’s a bucket of water for you to wash your hands in.

shah alam rubbish

Now tell me this isn’t authentic street food!

shah alam wash

Alas, I think I used my right hand to wash though. smirk

All photos taken using the Sony Cyber-shot TX-5. You know the best thing about these outlets? I only had RM 4 and pulled it out (all of the cash in the wallet) and the dude said, it’s okay, we’ll just make it RM 3 (so to not leave my wallet empty). *touched*

Location:

N 03° 03′ 14.8″

E 101° 32′ 49.2″

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