Crazy desserts really catch my attention… well, honestly most desserts catch my attention. After scrolling through Yelp, like I sometimes do when bored, I get quite giddy when I see something new and exciting. This time, it was Halo Halo (pronounced Hahlo-Hahlo), a staple Filipino dessert.
In a small shopping strip hidden in south Austin, I found Filipino Asian Mart. Part Asian market; part catering, and part restaurant, this narrow little joint was filled with authenticity. After stumbling in on a random Tuesday evening, I was greeted by the friendly owner, Marlon Alalay and his General Manager Jeric Agpawa. Originally from Houston, Alalay came to Austin to attend UT, and like most people here, never left. After a friend of his opened up a shop, he offered to help out. When his friend ended up moving away, Alalay was left with what has now been Filipino Asian Mart for the past 7 years.
As a side note, there’s nothing more exciting for my little foodie soul than finding food I can neither pronounce nor identify. Therefore, looking at the daily menu of Filipino Asian Mart left me in blissful confusion and anticipation.
According to Alalay, they like to serve basic Filipino dishes during the week (they close at 7:00 pm), and save specialties for the weekends when a lot of the Filipino community is able to make their way over. Luckily, you can find what they’ll be serving most days through their Facebook page. For example, on June 3rd the daily special included Kare Kare and Lechon Kawali, while on the regular menu you could find dishes like Pancit Bihon, Adobo Chicken, Sinigang Na Baboy Fried Bangus and Lumpia. For dessert, you can find Leche Flan, Puto, Biko and Suman. I’ll explain some of those a bit further.
On the evening I was there, I tried their Adobo chicken, which was so tender it was falling off the bone, Pancit Bihon (the noodles), Fried Bangus (which is fried fish soaked in vinegar, very good), and some rice to accompany. With everything so full of flavor, I can’t wait to head back on a weekend to try some of their specialties. They also have a variety of desserts, like Halo Halo (the most popular), Biko (sweet rice, coconut, milk and brown sugar), Suman (banana leaves wrapped around coconut milk and rice), Leche Flan, and many other tasty treats.
Katie Bernal, Austin Contributor
Katie writes for Mezze Weekly in Austin. She has a lifelong relationship with travel after she began traveling with her grandmother and uncle at 8 years old. 25+ countries later, she’s grown a deep affection for immersing herself in anything multicultural, especially food. She believes her spirit animal is Andrew Zimmern, and will definitely try anything weird or exotic. She’s big into the Austin foodie scene, and enjoys tasting and rating the latest restaurants. You can follow her foodie journey through her food blog. Along with her love for food and travel, you’ll also find Katie taking local art classes, cooking, taking pictures, thrift shopping, working out, or hanging out with her cat, Pumpkin. Currently, she’s a sound engineer for a post production studio that works on TV, radio and film. Check out what she’s up to on her Facebook and Instagram.