Celebrating 15 years this 2019, the market still retains its neighborhood vibe. Photograph by Chris Clemente
Food & Drink Features

From black cuchinta to a grandma’s tapa: an insider’s guide to Salcedo Market

With more than 160 food vendors to choose from, a neighborhood habitué takes the stress out of shopping with 15 of her favorite food purveyors (plus 2 bonus finds!)
Joey de Larrazabal-Blanco | Aug 23 2019

With traffic the way it is nowadays, I’m happy to have a weekend market in my neighborhood. I like to visit the Salcedo Saturday Market every weekend I can. I’m shopping at a premium, I know, but one that I’m happy to pay in exchange for the convenience of not having to get in a car. Sometimes, it’s just a quick visit to grab some produce or fresh seafood, sometimes to catch brunch with my family from the many delicious purveyors, and sometimes just to walk around and admire the offerings. I love the market’s relaxed vibe and community feel.

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If you’d like to visit, block off a couple of hours so you aren’t rushed. I recommend a leisurely once-around, perhaps buying a snack to munch on while you peruse the different stalls. Then you’ll know what you want to zero in on and make your purchases on the second round. After the shopping, you can cool down in one of the nearby coffee shops to admire your bounty. Or, if you have children, take a bench in the adjoining park and let them enjoy the playground. 

I’ve listed down 15 of my favorite items and vendors below (in no particular order) to get you started:

1. Savaria Blue Crab that’s canned locally and is the best canned crab I have found. Tastes very fresh. Premium crab meat for when you want the convenience. They also sell fresh crab and prawns for when you have the time to cook from scratch.

2. Down to Earth for their interesting organic produce, like different kinds of microgreens, heirloom carrots, and colorful radishes and beets. Also edible flowers for your salads.

3. Budbud Kabog for the must-try budbud kabog and their different flavored suman! A great snack to have while at the market, but don't forget to bring some home too. My favorite is the langka and the budbud.  For those of you who love champorado with tuyo, they have a Champ Tuyo variant!

4. Alavar’s for the Alavar sauce, a famous sauce in Zamboanga that they have with curacha or spanner crab. Try it the next time you cook crab or prawns—it will take your dishes to the next level, I promise.

5. Bun Appetit for lobster rolls and lobster grilled cheese that don’t mess around! Also good are the crab and prawn buns, and garlic noodles. They are now at The Grid in Power Plant Mall, but the market is where it all started.

6. Real Girl, Toy Kitchen for very good frozen soups and sauces. My favorite is her tomato soup. Great to have in your freezer for emergencies!

7. Old Fashioned Tapa, not too sweet, old school beef tapa. It’s made with his grandmother's recipe. One of our favorites!

8. Calidad Española for chorizo made locally by two sisters who lived in Spain and learned the art of making them from their butcher there.

9. Bikol’s Best for good Bicol Express and Tinumok. Super no-frills stall, honest-to-goodness good food at probably the lowest prices in the market.

10. El Jefe for Mexican products (they bring some in from Mexico!), tortillas, and really good freshly made salsas.

11. Manong’s Bagnet, and apart from the bagnet, you need to try their bagnet sisig. Get ready to be addicted! 

12. The bangus guy from Bataan has a really small table that also sells bottled fish and bagoong, as well as cashews. He has one of my favorite tinapang bangus in the city—nice and fat with good flavor.

13. The Curry Ball stall where I like to get a small cupful of lobster curry balls to snack on while I explore the market.

14. Sinaing na Tulingan where they have big palayok or pots of various kinds of sinaing. I love getting this to have for lunch at home. They also sell seasonal produce like paho, kadyos, patani, squash flowers, and dried kamias if you want to make your own sinaing.

15. Tita Lea’s for black cuchinta with caramel. I’ve converted non-cuchinta eaters with this! One of the best cuchintas I’ve had! Soft with a molasses-y flavor (which is what also gives it its color).  Come early for this because they sell out fast.

These 15 stalls are just some of my top favorites, and there are many other great purveyors at Salcedo Market. Let your own tastes guide you as well. I hope this list inspires you to visit this market and to try some of the local vendors there. And because I just can’t help it, here are two more finds that you shouldn’t miss:

The fruit stand beside the Budbud Kabog stall has super sweet pomelo that’s already peeled. I like to keep a pack in my fridge. Chilled sweet pomelo is such a treat.

The lady who sells carabao’s milk, in the area of my bangus guy and with just half of a small table. You need to keep your eye out! She sells raw carabao’s milk in old Ginebra bottles stopped up by folded banana leaves (but sold out when we took this photo). She also has various souring agents for cooking like batwan, dayap, and dahon ng sampalok.

 

Salcedo Market, Jaime C. Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati City, open every Saturday, 7 am to 2 pm

The author is a blogger and recipe developer. Visit 80breakfasts.com and follow her on Instagram @chichajo

Photographs by Chris Clemente