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Calamansi Soda at Surepinoy Oriental Food Mart

lipoff | Nov 18, 201110:06 PM

Had a really nice meal at JnJ Turo Turo in Quincy the other night (kare-kare, pinakbet, and vegetable lumpia). They only had American sodas behind the counter, but the very nice lady suggested that we get something to drink at the Surepinoy Oriental Food Mart right next door.

Now an aside: I fell in love with calamansi, a Southeast Asian citrus fruit (with a unique taste, the closest I could describe is "like yuzu, but different"), in Singapore. Even the 7-11s in Singapore have fresh calamansi juice! But I have rarely been able to reproduce the experience in the US. Most easily available are two middling options: the Gina brand calamansi juice in the thin blue cans just doesn't do it for me, and the Citrus Farms calamansi concentrate tastes more like honey than calamansi. Other Filipino restaurants I've been to on the west coast have also only had canned juice that just doesn't taste right, and some fancy bars have made calamansi cocktails that always seem to just have the weakest hint of calamansi. I had a calamansi sorbet at Hung Ry in New York City recently that tasted almost entirely of mint, rather than calamansi! The only glimmer of my love stateside was a brief one --- Pino Maffeo's short-lived "Boston Public Meat" in Louis Boston made a divine calamansi cocktail.

Anyway, Surepinoy Oriental Food Market has that mediocore Gina's calamansi juice, and that overly sweet calamansi concentrate, but also has something I'd never seen before: Zesto brand Calamansi Fruit Soda with Honey. This is a sparkling calamansi soda with a very pale green color, and while it's a touch sweet and just a touch weaker than I would prefer, it's not ridiculously sweet and the taste of calamansi with which I fell in love is very much there. I also tried Zesto's Dalandan Fruit Soda --- another Southeast Asian citrus fruit. This one was much less good --- it tasted more like Fanta than anything special.

They say you can't buy love, but at $0.79 a can of really quite good calamansi soda, I'm not so sure.

Even beyond calamansi, I was really imrpessed with this market overall. That had lots of Filipino favorites (Maggi sauce, banana sauce, lots of snacks, halo-halo flavored ice cream, and more) and lots of items with which I must admit to being totally unfamilar (frozen shredded banana blossoms, bulaklak ng katuray, jute leaves, malunggay, horseradish leaves). I haven't tried everything I bought yet, but did try the hopia mongo (a bean filled pastry) that I found a bit dry. Can't wait to try everything and then go back!

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