Filipino Tour of Destiny

We are going to resist telling you that rworange’s massive eating tour of the Filipino community in Hercules was a Herculean effort—because that joke would, frankly, be really dumb. Instead we are going to tell you that we are completely awed and overwhelmed by the sheer, awesome majesty of her journey—her and her Chowhound compatriots, of course.

Highlights of the travelogue:

RSM Oriental Food Mart makes an excellent breakfast. Fried eggs are perfectly cooked to order—with a beautifully liquid yolk. With good, sticky garlic rice and three sweet, plump, ever-so-slightly garlicky longaniza, it’s five bucks well spent. The people here are the nicest, and they’ll explain anything on the menu. Be sure to dip your longaniza in some vinegar condiment—it’s the greatest. They’ll make stuff fresh to order, too, so you’re not trapped by the steam table.

Choko’s Cuisine is the nicest-looking restaurant in the area. The chicken salad is the best in the East Bay, with nice cubes of white chicken, macaroni, and bits of raisin, pineapple, carrots, and celery. Halo-halo is light and refreshing, with the usual beans, tapioca, crushed ice, ice cream, and some excellent crunchy-fried rice bits. There’s some crazy purple ube jam, too, with a dense, fudgy texture and a nice coconut flavor. Pork sinigang (rib meat) and ampalaya (bitter melon) is pretty delish, says AntarcticWidow, with a pleasantly sour broth. And there’s good dinuguan (chocolate blood) and nice sweet sautéed bitter lemon, says juan07delacruz1966. The place is, says rworange, excellent, and second only to Marylou’s—though the dining area is larger and nicer.

Marylou’s seems to be the standard for all Hercules visitors—and rightly so, says rworange: “Marylou is the queen of local Filipino food. The quality is high and the food is delicious.” Catfish steak will actually fall off the bone and become catfish stew in your mouth. Kebabs are wonderfully sweet and charred. The Filipino chicken macaroni salad is almost as good as Choko’s—homier, less creamy, with more stuff in it (like bits of ham and crunchy apple), and bigger chunks of everything. Turnover is higher at Marylou’s, and you’re more likely to get something fresh from the kitchen, instead of from the steam table. On weekends, there are fresh baked goods, which are the best in the area.

At Sunflower Bakery, the best thing is the Filipino cream puff, for $1, says rworange. It has a thin, crackly glaze—biting into one is like biting into a candy apple. The caramel cake is also great, light, airy, and not too sweet. Another popular item is the turon (banana egg roll), a bite of relatively bland plantain surrounded by a sweet, shattering lumpia wrapper.

There is also a surprisingly good sushi joint in Hercules: Shinsen Sushi.

And Hercules has a great farmers’ market, too, with good barbecue brisket sandwiches from Shaw’s BBQ truck, and amazing barbecue oysters on the half shell. Plus a bouncy-bounce castle for the kids.

RSM Oriental Food Mart [East Bay]
1500 Sycamore Avenue, Hercules
510-799-7808

Choko’s Cuisine [East Bay]
1511 Sycamore Avenue, Hercules
510-245-3511

Marylou’s Homemade Delights [East Bay]
1572 Sycamore Avenue Suite F, Hercules
510-245-1100

Sunflower Bakery [East Bay]
1500 Sycamore Avenue Suite B3, Hercules
510-799-1234

Shinsen Sushi [East Bay]
Creekside Center
1581 Sycamore Avenue Suite 8, Hercules
510-245-1000

Hercules Farmers’ Market [East Bay]
Turquoise and Sycamore, Hercules
510-799-8234

Board Links: Hercules Recap … or is that hub?
Hercules – Filipino breakfast at Rsm Oriental Food Mart and Restaurant
Hercules: Choko’s Cuisine–Filipino food and the best chicken salad in the East Bay
Hercules: Marylou’s Homemade Delights … Filipino macaroni salad
Hercules Little Philippines–Marylou’s Homemade Delights
Hercules: Sunflower Bakery–Cream puffs, caramel cake and Filipino baked goods
Hercules Farmers Market – A rock band, dancing in the street, classic cars, margaritas and BBQ… gotta get some hot stuff

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