Valerio makes a good Chinese bakery for a Filipino place. There are some very similar baked goods.
Baked pork buns = Pande Sal
Steamed pork buns = Sopia
Red bean cake = Hopia
The prices are rock bottom cheap and the baked goods are very fresh. It beats any of the panadrias if you need a sweet bread fix.
My favorites are the Hawaiian bread ($1.50) and Spanish bread. Of course, I never ate a bibingka (description below) that I didnt like. They have a good bibingka.
I highly recommend this bakerys version of Hawaiian bread It is dense and yeasty with a gentle dusting of sugar, cinnamon and coconut.
The Spanish bread is a yeasty sweetbread roll with an excellent honey like interior. Even though I can practically taste it as Im writing this, I still cant think of exactly what similarly wonderful roll this always reminds me of.
Hot Pande Sal reminded me of baked pork buns, only they are twice the size. Inside the bun there is either shredded chicken and sliced hard boiled egg or tiny cubes of pork with sliced hard boiled egg. Very good, but perhaps a bit more bun than I like.
They sell bags of plain Pande Sol rolls. There is also steamed siopao which is the larger equivalent of Chinese steamed buns.
They had hot Filipino empanadas. As mentioned on this board a while back, the Filipino version has a sweet crust wrapped around a savory filling. The ground beef tasted like is seasoned with beef bouillon. I didnt like that so much but the chicken with slices of mushroom and carrot was really good.
IMO, bibingka is one of the best Filipino desserts. It is a round buttery cake baked in a banana leaf and wonderful when it is just out of the oven and warm. There is a tangy cheese (similar to cottage cheese) and pieces of coconut baked in the batter with a sprinkling of sugar on top.
Ive read that the cheese is traditionally water buffalo cheese. Dont know if that is true at Valerio
The lumpia are a bit greasy. The vegetable had some bean sprouts and some sort of ground meat. The banana was a plantain and not very sweet.However, at twenty five cents, you get your moneys worth.
The sugar donut (bihko) is a puffy raised donut with a golden eggy interior, rolled in granulated sugar. Ok, but a little stale tasting as these donuts tend to be.
Valerio sells assorted hopia which remind me of Chinese bean cakes. Searching around the web, someone says the hopia is symbolic. I think that hopia are also the Filipino version of moon cakes because they are sometimes sold in decorative boxes for special occasions and said to symbolize wealth (coin shaped) and harmony (sweet). Not sure if this is true, but it makes a good story. The hopia at Valerio were everyday eating hopia. It was good, but Im not a fan of this type of baked good.
They have various kinds of halo halo which I havent tried yet.
Valerio Family Bakery
1245 International Marketplace
San Pablo, Ca 94806
Off San Pablo Blvd in the Plaza near the San Pablo sign that spans the street.
Thanks to Alice, heres a link to info about the Chinese (and other) influence on Filipino food.
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