I drove back to Mandaue City, taking a U-turn at the SRP near the SM mall being constructed as I remembered that I need to visit the city for its bibingka (native rice cake) and masareal, a sweet and delicious sugar and ground nuts bar. I just came from shooting a run and the thought of these yummy desserts was enough for me to step on the gas and sped away.
Mandaue City is an industrialized urban area just above Cebu City. Even with its modern and fast development, there are still heritage houses that abound near the city center and for the foodie, of course, a visit would not be complete without buying the two.
My father used to visit here and buy the famous Mandaue bibinkga which are wrapped in threes with blanched banana leaves. But I didn’t know where that was. I asked around and was directed to a pasalubong stall selling many types of delicacies.
The Mandaue bibingka differs from the rest in that individual rice cakes are around five inches in diameter and around 3/4 of an inch high. Made from ground rice flour, sugar, bits of young coconuts and gata (coconut milk) and steamed.
Other than the bibingka Mandaue City is also known for its masareal, specifically the Didang’s product which was said to be created by Juliana “Didang” Suico in 1914. If Bicol has their pili bar or mazapan, this city has masareal.
Unlike the mazapan which is soft, masareal, made from ground peanuts and sugar is not as soft but still easy to bite. It’s cut into thin finger like strips piled and wrapped in white paper, stamped with the brand name and either tied with a string or just sealed with a scotch tape.
I do like this one. It’s nutty and sweet. Although it’s found in many pasalubong centers, sold by vendors near churches and ports and popular in nearby island provinces, many from Manila doesn’t know this one.
I was just planning to buy the bibingka and masareal but when I learned that the stall was also selling budbud kabog, I just have to get it. Budbud kabog is the traditional suman, a type of rice cake usually made from rice or grains, longitudinally wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed.
Budbud kabog is quite popular in Catmon, a northern town in Cebu and is also found sold in the ports and public markets of Dumaguete City and Tanjay in Negros Oriental. Made from kabog or millet, its pricier than those made from sticky rice but more delicious.
Although there were still more, like biko with dukot, sticky rice cooked with brown sugar and gata then topped with burnt biko, ampao (sweetened rice crispies) and several cookies, I just settled for this three. When I did reach home, took a bite of each and just reminisced my childhood.
These products are available just at the back of Jollibee Mandaue. Masareal, on the other hand is sold in many pasalubong centers and by ambulant vendors in Cebu’s piers.