It’s a festival, not only in May, but every month, every week, every Friday midnight until 11 am Saturday. It’s a banquet, overflowing with different kinds of food, which may not come in free (unlike the usual banquet we were used to), but available in very affordable prices. It’s a market, with the same noisy crowd, same number of people with the same exciting mood. And what’s more awesome about it, it’s a fiesta, not in the province, but right in Metro Manila, in the heart of Ortigas. That’s Banchetto, a street food fiesta, Filipino-style.
Banchetto is a foodie night market, with almost 80 stalls set-up in tents offering foods of different varities, delicacies, cuisines, and home cooked meals. It was supposedly organized to attract the Call Center people and employees, and nearby residents in Ortigas area as the main clientele. But for someone like me who may not work nor reside near Ortigas, but simply loves to eat and always in search to have that gastronomic satisfaction, it appeals to me as well. Banchetto is a food haven and every foodie’s paradise.
You’ll never miss Banchetto the moment you reach Emerald Avenue (now F. Ortigas Jr. Avenue) in Ortigas because you’ll see the smoke clouding the top of the tents, some sort of signal for the people to know that the street food fiesta is officially open. That smoke actually came from the barbecue and kebab stalls, where the vendors grill your choice of inihaw right in front of you. From pork barbecue, chicken, hotdog, tenga ng baboy, isaw, and squid to pork kebab, chicken, shrimp, vegetables, and angus beef skewers. Name it, they have it. No wonder it’s a crowd favorite.
Another crowd favorite, judging from the long cue of people in front of the stall, is the Monster Burger. Yep, the name says it all. The beef patties are about a half-inch thick or so, grilled as soon as you order, so you can still see the juice coming out. The bun has the same size as the saucer, the grilled patty topped with cheese, lettuce and tomato, with the final touch of mayo and catsup. But beware, one burger can almost fill your entire stomach, so make sure you reserve some space to try other foods.
Another must try is the crepe. They have ham and cheese, tuna, chicken, and fruits like banana, peaches, and strawberry with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and chips. The crepes are prepared as you ordered, but you won’t mind waiting because you’ll be amazed as you watched how it was made. You can say it’s worth the wait.
There are stalls offering local favorites like lechon, inihaw na liempo, vigan longanisa, kakanin, puto bumbong and bibingka, and the tapsilog, longsilog, and tocilog variety. But wait, there’s more. They also have Asian and Western cuisines like takoyaki, shawarma, maki and sashimi, yang chow, teriyaki, different kinds of pasta and salad, buffalo wings, grilled baby backribs, sausages and Mongolian bowl.
There are stalls offering home-cooked meals, the kind of meals that you mostly see on Sunday lunch with your family, or the kinds that you wished your mom or your grandma will cook for you. You can actually see some of the vendors cooking right on the spot.
There are stalls offering cakes, pastries, and desserts. You can also buy cookies, biscuits, chips, and native sweets without the branded packaging, which makes them much cheaper than those available in groceries.
What is food without the beverage? You can always chug the food down with drinks available, from mineral water, sago’t gulaman, soda, to fruit shakes. But alcoholic drinks are strictly prohibited.
You can buy foods turo-turo style. There are foods available in set meals, with rice and two viands, with the accompanying plastic spoon and fork and table napkin. So if you can’t resist the gastronomic urge to sample the food and eat right away, there are plastic chairs and tables set up on both sides with an al fresco ambiance. But since there are lots of customers, tables are always occupied. Be adventurous and jologs for a while and start eating on the steps in front of the building. Just don’t forget to be environment friendly. There’s one manong roaming around with a trash bag so you can dispose those empty Styrofoams, plastic cups, spoon and fork, and leftovers properly.
From gourmet foods to street foods. From local to foreign cuisines. From fruits to veggies, from meat to fish. If enumerating the foods available in Banchetto can be turn into a song ala-Bahay Kubo, then it must be a Mansion or Hacienda. It’s just too many to mention.
So if you’re tired of eating fastfood meals and dining in restaurants where you were pressured to follow proper table manners and etiquette, order foods you can’t even pronounce the name, not to mention leave you almost penniless, then Banchetto is the right place for you. With only 200 pesos for one set of meal complete with drinks, to 500 pesos if you wanted to take home some for your friends or family to try, it will not even give a dent to your budget.
So get ready and head to Banchetto on Friday midnight. And experience the street food fiesta, right at the metro. Give your stomach a treat, yourself a different kind of food trip adventure, and your pocket more pennies to save.
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