Fast Food, Slow Pace.

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Pat;s Carinderia

Flag of Philippines  , Soccsksargen,
Friday, January 20, 2012

The city of Koronadal is a melting pot of different cultures and many traditions, people from different ethnic backgrounds eat different foods, but it is just the food that is playing a major role in bringing these communities together. There are numerous restaurants and carinderias that serve traditional Filipino food in an infinite range of choices and variety, catering to all tastes. The many stalls that can be found at almost every corner of the city are offering an array of exotic, tasty street food for those who are in need of a quick bite.  Street vendors sell their high flavoured goodies at a low price. The most favourite are bibingka (rice cakes), fish balls, squid balls, dumplings, fried bananas or sweet potatoes on a stick, frizzled quail eggs dipped in a batter, isaw manok (chicken intestine) and of course the Philippines most unique street food "balut" (a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell). The Bay Walk is a street in Koronadal City that is generally known for its open air food stalls that are set-up early in the evening. The temporary stands are an attraction in their own right and provide a great, relaxing atmosphere.

It is easy to get drawn into the town's multicultural harmony with its laid-back, take-it-as-it-comes, attitude, the people are extremely warm and friendly, they show their hospitality by inviting strangers not only into their homes but at their dinner tables as well. Every member of the host family will go out of their way to ensure their guest feels comfortable and will take all time needed to enjoy every aspect of their meal and company.  Even an outsider passing by locals who are enjoying their meal or snack will always be spontaneously invited to "come and eat" (“Kain Tayo!”) with them. A good showcase of this unique Filipino hospitality and native cuisine is “Pat's Carinderia”, located on Emilio Aguinaldo Street, opposite the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital, A friendly, family run, local side-street eatery that is serving the best authentic Filipino dishes in town. One of its most appetizing and best-selling items on the menu is Nilaga, a one-meal-in-a-pot dish, it contains soup, meat, and vegetables all cooked together in one delicious broth. This small and simple outlet, where food is still chosen in the very Filipino “turo-turo” style, has all the elements that definitely appeal to what most people value the most, cheap and certainly delicious. “Pat’s Carinderia”, is casual, clean and unpretentious with wooden tables and plastic chairs, but it is without doubt an excellent spot for people from all walks of life who love to eat prime, really fresh, home cooked specialties.   

Despite the various deeply rooted culinary customs Koronadal could not escape the influence from the West; several fast food companies have slowly, but surely found their way into the city and definitely became part of the local eating culture. Jollibee, better known as the McDonald's of the Philippines, is one of those venues, it can be found at General Paulino Santos Drive, right near the round ball in the city proper and is one of the most favourite, decades-old, American-style fast-food restaurants. Because of the Filipino-influenced dishes, sweet style spaghetti, Yum Burger, Chicken Joy and French Fries, Jollibee is very popular among adults and children alike. The always smiling staff and comfortable atmosphere inside the store will make a visit worthwhile. Right across Jollibee, conveniently located in the KCC mall of Marbel, Chow king is offering a fusion of the Asian cuisine and combining western fast food service style with Chinese food at an affordable price. This restaurant is primarily serving siopao, pancit, noodle soups, dim sum, braised beef and rice toppings. Some of the house specialties are Almuchow, Chaofan, and Lauriat. Different kinds of congee, halo-halo and a variety of desserts are served as well. The KCC mall of Marbel is also home to Greenwich Pizza, an over-the-counter pizza and pasta store, serving rice meals and deliciously filling Italian style and American-inspired dishes. The pizza is still very popular, the combination of crispy dough, sauce, cheese and a great choice in toppings is striking a chord with nearly everyone. The food court in the KCC mall is a true treasure trove of tastes, smells and sights from differing mini cookery’s and the right place where two of the city's most crowd-pleasing pastimes, eating and shopping, seamlessly come together.

For those who like "sugary-sweet" things, Dunkin Donuts, not far from the KCC mall, fronting the old City Hall, is Koronadal's favourite every day stop for full-flavored donuts that melt in your mouth. Aside from donuts, there is high quality coffee, crunchy bagels, mellow brownies, additionally other savoury and baked goods are available. Ate Trisha's Burger House, a casual and intimate cafeteria along Rafael Alunan Avenue is the classical hangout to enjoy a quiet break, the helpful and kind staff serves primarily burgers and does them the best; likewise the very simple, yet surprisingly spaghetti and satisfying lasagne is a must-try for all Italian style food enthusiasts. The Ace Centerpoint Mall, situated on Osmena Street, just beside the old Koronadal City Hall and right in the heart of downtown Marbel, opened its doors for Kentucky Fried Chicken, the world's most popular chicken restaurant serving fried chicken, salads, sandwiches, snacks, sweets and sides. Ace Centerpoint is also home to Mang Inasal (“Mr. Barbecue”), something different in the dining scene of Koronadal; a fast-food diner for charcoal grilled-meat and fish lovers. With their time-honoured style of food preparation and cooking, Mang Inasal is a reflection of the true Filipino culture and tradition. Guests are stimulated to eat with their bare hands (kinamot), giving them the opportunity to relish in the richness of the palate, just like at home and, without a care in the world.

Genuine Filipino food remains the number one choice for the people of Koronadal, but they easily accepted the influence of the American, the Chinese, the Italian, the Vietnamese, the Malay, the French and many other cultures and have embraced these as their own cuisines, naturally with the famous Filipino touch and in their typical, versatile way, fast food at a slow pace.
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