I love bibingka. A bibingka is a Filipino pastry made from rice, sometimes with a bit of salted egg or white cheese added for contrast. It is served with a smear of butter or margarine anda sprinkle of sugar, then topped with grated coconut. It is usually served during Christmastime as a snack after Simbang Gabi, along with the equally yummy puto bumbong. But bibingka can also be ejoyed as an afternoon snack, usually accompanied by a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or salabat (ginger tea).
My favorite bibingka in the whole of Manila is the one served at Manila Hotel. I learned about this apparently well-known fact just last year when my mom took some visiting relatives there for a traditional Filipino snack.
The bibingka is served warm, so that the butter it comes with melts almost instantly when you spread it. It comes with the trifecta of bibingka toppings–kesong puti (white cheese), salted egg, and niyog (grated coconut). I love how this lets you interact with your food more than the usual bibingka, which comes with the egg and cheese steamed into the rice cake and the coconut already sprinkled on top of the already melted butter, which is still good, but not as fun as this. The cheese and egg add a hint of saltiness and texture, to make for a salthy-sweet combination. I’m not sure what the coconut does, as I don’t use it, but I’m told it is an awesome addition to the bibingka.
I’m not in the Manila area often but when I am, I try to make it a point to have merienda at Cafe Ylang Ylang and get my bibingka fix. Manila Hotel has spoiled me for other bibingkas. I fear that I will never be the same.
Cage Ylang Ylang
The Manila Hotel
Bonifacio Drive, Manila