This Teachers Village food fair brings together street food from around the globe
Sample a hodgepodge of flavors in one go.
Merkanto: International Street Food Fair
38 Mayaman Street corner Mahinhin Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City
Open from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. (Tuesday to Saturday), and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) It’s easy to miss Merkanto: International Street Food Fair if you aren’t too familiar with the side streets of Teachers Village. The latest food concept to hit this side of Manila is so discreet that you’re going to have to pay close attention as you drive by. But we’ll save you the trouble. Merkanto is right inside 38 Autocare Carwash, which is located across the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board compound.
Where world cuisines meet...
Unlike other food markets that host different tenants around the Metro, here, every dish offered is the brainchild of chefs Niño Laus and Isaac Bravo of Ninyo Fusion Cuisine fame. Merkanto brings together quick, value-for-money grub from countries such as Brazil, Morocco, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia. In the coming months, the team behind this novel culinary outfit—a tightly knit group of Claretians—is looking to incorporate culinary additions from Spain.
Nasi Goreng and Chicken Satay
Beef Rib Finger Rice Box
The Nasi Goreng (P140) is their entry point into the food scene. “We sold that [dish] at the Quezon City Food Festival in Maginhawa, and it did really well,” explains BJ Ching, one of Merkanto's partners. “After that stint, we knew we had to venture into more street food that’s cheap but of high quality.” Their Nasi Goreng—Indonesia’s take on fried rice—is big enough to feed two to three people. The box carries a heaping jumble of seasoned rice packed with bits of chicken, shrimp, eggs, and peanuts, which can be taken as is, or paired with a Chicken Satay Skewer (P50) drizzled with peanut sauce for a boost in flavor.
Cross over to other cuisines for your fix of rice meals. The Brazil booth’s best-selling USDA Beef Rib Finger Rice Box (P180) features prime U.S. rib finger chunks flavored by tempero caseiro or a piquant mix of garlic, onion, and olive oil. Follow up each bite with a mouthful of black-eyed peas and fried rice, then you’re good to go.
Grilled Pita Taco
If you are in the mood for a medley of flavor profiles in each spoonful, the Morocco stall’s Chicken Tagine (P180) is your best bet. While the dish marries the bold flavors of couscous, raisins, olives, lemons, and chickpeas, the mishmash is surprisingly restrained. Don’t leave the Morocco stall just yet without sampling a crowd favorite: the Grilled Pita Taco (P130). This snack can come with either beef kefta or chermoula chicken, complemented by a smear of baba ghanoush and a drizzle of yogurt and cheese sauce.
Want some easier munchies? Begin with the Coxinha (P50), Brazil’s version of a chicken croquette, which the chefs packed with cream cheese and chicken bits. “The original [version] of this is usually taken as is,” Chef Niño says. “But we wanted to serve it with a side of chimichurri and cheese for added flavor, and also because Pinoys love their sauces.” Chicken stock is the key ingredient in its batter, so every bite is not only crunchy but already full-flavored.
Beef Kefta Briouat
Other quick eats include Beef Kefta Briouat (P80), or triangles containing ground beef, baba ghanoush, and tahini; and Samosa (P100), a popular Indian empanada that combines peas, potatoes, and curry. To fully enjoy the sharp flavors of the samosa—and for a nice contrast—dunk each piece into their special tamarind sauce.
Make sure that you're not too full for their flat breads. Have your pick from the traditional Paratha (80), a wheat flat bread with a creamy mushroom and cheese filling, or the Roti Paratha (P60), a flakier alternative that's deeply integrated with Indian butter. Pair these breads with your sauce of choice: curry, yogurt, and tamarind, or all three combined.
You won't find the usual Italian or French fare here. “While we’re keeping our options open, we’re looking to offer dishes from cuisines that are uncommon, different,” says BJ. We're always up for trying something new.
Photos by Hans Fausto