As a foodie, there’s something I have to confess: I love carinderia food! At the end of the day, when you’ve tasted all the fancy dishes and gourmet meals, all you really want to do is grab a bite of something closer to home – not fusion, not neo-Asian, not Euro-Continental
EK-EK but just something similar to what our mama/manang used to make.
Carinderia food may be something we take for granted as we encounter it daily, but it is representative of our regional flavors and is therefore something we can show to tourists or visitors who are out to discover more of the Philippines. The best carinderias I’ve encountered don’t necessarily hack it in terms of ambiance, some of them are roadside places in remote parts. But if there’s one thing they teach us, it’s the fact that our homegrown brand of cooking is nothing to be ashamed at. Every taste of that richly-flavored menudo, sinful irresistible pork adobo or piping hot bulalo soup is always worth the ride and rolling up your sleeves to.
That’s why am all hats off to the Jollibee Group for introducing the Tio Pepe’s Karinderia concept to the general public at a time when incomes are falling and standard of living costs are rising. With their line-up priced from six to thirty one pesos, Tio Pepe’s food is now even cheaper than those offered by traditional carinderias or student canteens. The environment is similar to the one offered by a conventional Jollibee store (with airconditioning to boot), the only difference is the rock-bottom pricing.
Doods, the manager I talked to, said Tio Pepe’s (soon to be re-christened Manong Pepe’s) is the closest thing to being the corporate social responsibility project of the highly-profitable Jollibee group. The only difference is that they’re already earning due to the volume of the people that come in. The pioneer branch in the EDSA Central Marketplace was first conceived to service the jeepney and taxi drivers in the area, and also the call center workers. Tio Pepe’s second branch has been opened in East Avenue,Quezon City and other outlets should open soon.
It was good that I arrived in Tio Pepe’s hungry from an errand I had to do in the Ortigas area. Still my whole meal of sinigang na bangus sa miso (P31), rice (P8) , iced tea (P10) and two pieces of the lumpiang togue (vegetable spring roll) cost me only P61. The tiny lumpia stood out, it must have been the yummy vinegar dip. It appears that the food choices are up to par and my fast food radar did not detect extenders at all.
Worth trying at Tio Pepe’s are the puto pao asado with salted egg on top and slices of roasted meat as filling (P7) , and the guinataang bilo-bilo (P18) , a native Filipino dessert made of coconut milk, bananas, ube, camote, tapioca or sago, glutinous rice balls and other ingredients as desired.
Just when you think Filipino food is all oily and fatty, the lumpiang sariwa (fresh vegetable egg roll) is out to shatter the illusion. This crepe-like wrapping is made up of fresh bamboo shoots, strips of pork, shrimp and lettuce then topped by a brown sauce that is made by whisking soy sauce, brown sugar, corn starch, water and garlic.
The adobo in Tio Pepe’s consists of sliced pork liver, pork, garlic bits and the traditional adobo sauce. Their adobo concoction needs improvement though, starting with the sauce which was quite malabnaw for me. The other main courses to be found in Tio Pepe are the picadillo, laing, estopado, and kaldereta ( all priced at P31 per serving), dinuguan, pansit, goto (P18), the “silog” sets for breakfast and other dishes that escape me now. The menu is changed from time to time and Tio Pepe’s EDSA Central, just like the old stand-by Goodah, is open 25 hours.
This is not a sponsored post. The author is just a fan of all things Filipino and Jollibee 😛