Pancit Palabok

I don't eat out at Filipino restaurants.

There are two reasons for this:
1. Filipino restaurants don't exist.
2. Even if they did, anything they can cook my mom can cook better.

OK, the first point isn't entirely true. I'm sure there's a handful of Filipino restaurants in the city, and I've maybe driven by two sit-down Filipino places in my lifetime, both of which I believe are now closed. Because nobody eats at Filipino restaurants. The truth is, most people don't even know what Filipino food is. They might have a Filipino coworker who brings pancit to all the office parties, or a Filipino friend whose mom makes killer lumpia, but that's about it. Otherwise, I can't imagine many people ordering something like peanut ox-tail stew, with a side of shrimp paste, off a menu. I just can't.


There is a Filipino grocery store by my parents' house, however, that serves food. My parents sometimes bring home a dessert, like turon or hopia, but it's never as good as homemade.

Which brings me to the second reason I don't eat Filipino food at restaurants: My mom can cook it better. I don't order foods at restaurants that I know will just disappoint. So I was pretty disappointed when, a couple of weekends ago, my mom told me she couldn't make pancit palabok for my birthday because she couldn't get the right kind of noodles, so instead she had to buy the palabok at the Filipino store. I suppose it was better than no palabok at all.

The store's version of palabok was plain. It had the right kind of short, thick noodles and the signature, slimy orange coloring, but that was all. No shrimp, no green onions, no crunchy bits of celery, no hard-boiled egg slices, no crushed chicharron topping. We dressed it up a bit with what we had in the kitchen, but it just wasn't the same.


Palabok is one of those dishes that was never included in my mom's weekday meal rotation because it takes a bit of work to make. And it's not like the regular pancit that she makes for parties or dinner guests -- it's more garlicky and has a wetter texture and, well, it's bright orange and is topped with smashed pork rinds. It's one of my Top 5 favorite Filipino dishes, so I felt I had to post the pictures of this less-than-stellar version, even if it's not what I'm used to.

palabok, after.

We still devoured it, though.


  1. Lovely story. I think it is such a high compliment to say you'd rather eat your mom's cooking than anything you could buy - she must love that. (And I feel totally the same about my mom's, BTW.)

    PS: I like the way you're expanding my knowledge of food. You're right - I have never had Filipino food, nor heard of it really until reading here. That's kind of awesome.

  2. PS - I think that LinkWithin thing is too cool and am totally going to use it on my site. I hope you don't mind my copying!!

  3. shanna - it makes me so happy that you enjoy learning about the foods i grew up with! you should really try regular pancit if you ever get the chance -- it's packed with veggies! :)

    as for the linkedwithin thing, don't mind at all. i saw it on someone else's blog and thought it was pretty cool, too.

  4. There isn't a single Filipino restaurant in Mpls/StPaul so I've started learning how to make it all myself. Palabok is my husband's favorite but we've usually had to wait until we visit my sisters in CA before we can indulge again. Sounds like your Mom makes a mean palabok!

  5. tangled noodle - that's awesome that you're learning to make all your favorites yourself. someday i'll learn to make palabok...until then, yes, my mom makes a good one!


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