Wet market or supermarket?
- Lydia Castillo () - March 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Where is it best to shop for food items? That depends, really, on what you need. Past experiences in comparing costs among different sources must also be used as a guide. There are advantages and disadvantages.

Supermarkets – most of which are now called hypermarts – are clean, one-stop outlets. With regard to fresh catch, meat and vegetables, their weight and measure system is deemed more reliable, though price-wise, they are generally more expensive. The quality, especially of vegetables and fruits, sometimes suffers due to late delivery of goods. A chef told us we should not buy groceries on Mondays because usually no deliveries are made on Sundays.

The wet markets are, yes, wet and often dirty. Generally, vegetables and fruits are fresh although some sneaky vendors would mix in nearly spoiled items. Those selling vegetables normally pack their days-old stock in plastic bags, so avoid buying those. Beware, as well, of those who would slip spoiled fish into your basket when you are not looking. Exposed meat could also become discolored. Chicken is sometimes sold at a price higher than that in the supermarket. So as not to be duped, it is best to establish sukis. Should you be able to find a reliable and honest vendor, some items are cheaper in wet markets.

On our most recent price watch, we noted the following – pork liempo and kasim are at P170 and P175 a kilo, respectively; beef kalitiran, P240; shrimps/prawns between P300 and P500; galunggong and tilapia go for P80; brown sugar is P42 and white, P48; flour, P28; tomatoes are at P15, onions at P28; kangkong, P5 a bunch; cabbage and sayote, both at P24; potatoes for P35; carrots, P30; Sinandomeng rice, between P30 and P34, Dinorado from P30 to P42, and Gold Cup at P42. Chicken, at P126 a kilo, could be more expensive because they do not get these in bulk like the bigger operators

Going to the Manila Hilton was like coming home to a place that we have not been to in a long, long time. The first international hotel to set up in Metro Manila in the 70s, it has since changed management and today is called the Manila Pavilion (tel. 526-1212).

Its lobby is as active as it was before and some familiar staff members are still working there. The Port Orient on the third level, which offered very good sirloin steak, is now the Peony Garden, specializing in Malaysian-Cantonese cuisine. The dishes combine cultures and tastes, creating a delicious fusion. The place is done with modern Chinese accents in a reddish-coral color scheme. The food is enhanced with the use of spices and herbs, and dishes are meant for sharing. Here the diner discovers that there is more to Chinese food than dim sum.The day we lunched there, we were efficiently served deep-fried prawns beautifully laid on thin slices of watermelon, mixed with fruit salad and corn flakes; braised shark’s fin with crab meat soup; steamed garoupa with tao saw and XO sauce; deep-fried boneless chicken legs with Thai sauce (this gets a 10) in a deep-fried taro ring; crispy cuttlefish with butter and eggs (also a 10); braised home-made bean curd with fish fillet in a clay pot; fried rice with dried meat, giving it a lovely brown color; and deep-fried Chinese pancake with sweetish filling, paired with ice cream. After such a meal, we can only be thankful to our hosts, food and beverage manager Ho and Donna of the communications department.

If a family dines at Peony, they can take advantage of the eat-all-you-can buffet at P800 per person. They are given a menu from which they can choose the dishes they want. The mini abalone and shark’s fin soups are limited to one order per person, but the rest of the long list of dishes come in unlimited servings. Down at the hotel lobby, the patisserie is still doing brisk business with an old favorite, the mouth-watering chicken pie which we would always get when we used to frequent the place. They now have jumbo ensaymada among their premium items at P150 per.

Appreciated correction from a regular reader – annatto is ‘atsuete’ and turmeric is ‘luyang dilao’ and stuff sold at OK Mart are for cooking Korean, not Japanese, dishes. Sorry, and thank you.


E-mail comments and questions to: lydia_d_castillo@yahoo.com.      



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