With the weather getting cooler, I was definitely looking forward to warming myself up with wintertime soups and stews, so my friend and I thought it'd be fun to organize outings to restaurants that specialize in certain kinds of entree soups, ethnic and otherwise.
With me being Filipina, I wanted to introduce people to a Chinese-inspired, Filipino soup called Mami. First, a little history that I picked up from Wikpedia.
Mami is the creation of Ma Mon Luk, a grade school teacher in Canton. Arriving penniless in Manila, Ma Mon Luk decided to peddle chicken noodle soup, utilizing egg noodles. He soon became a familiar sight in the streets of Manila, plodding down with a long bamboo pole slung on his shoulders with two metal containers on each end. Ma Mon Luk himself called his concoction "gupit", after the Tagalog word for "cut with scissors". Soon however, Filipinos took to calling the dish "mami", an amalgam of Tagalog words for chicken ("manok") and egg noodles ("miki"). Ma Mon Luk also introduced siopao, a steamed bun, which is like the Chinese bao, to Filipino culture and generally, the siopao is eaten as a side to the mami soup.
Anyway, I took the group to experience mami soup at Asian Noodles in Chinatown. While mami is still made up of chicken broth and noodles, you have meat options other than chicken. Now you can get mami soup with beef, pork or won ton. I opted for the Classic Filipino Mami, which has chicken and pork.
My mami soup was excellent. The broth was flavorful with the green onions adding just the right amount of zip. The noodles were cooked just right and not overdone and the meat was tender. What was nice is that they also put out a couple of bowls of extra broth so as you ran out, you could add more to your mami.
Along with the mami, I had the bola bola siopao, which had a filling of chicken, pork, sausage and salted egg. You can also order siopao with just chicken or pork fillings.
In regards to the siopao fillings, regardless of what type of meat is used, the filling tends to be on the sweet side. Usually, the siopao meat mixture has sugar and soy sauce as part of its ingredients. I think the combo of the two gives siopao a unique sweet-salty flavor. That sweet-salty flavor also gets carried into the sauce that the siopao is dipped in since it is also made up of sugar, soy sauce along with other ingredients. What I like about the bola bola siopao is that the sausage and the salted egg will cut down the sweetness of the filling even more, so that when I break off a piece to dip it in the siopao sauce, all the flavors are balanced well.
By the way, an interesting thing that the manager told us is that the number of red dots showing up on the siopao will tell you which kind of siopao you have. By the way, Bola Bola siopaos only have one red dot.
Whenever I eat mami, I'm reminded me of those moments growing up as a kid, when the rainy season would come and when my Mom didn't feel like cooking, she'd pile the whole family in the car and we'd head off for a steaming hot bowl of Mami soup at a local Filipino restaurant. No words were needed as we enjoyed each spoonful to the last drop. Essentially, mami soup is really just another version of chicken noodle soup, but regardless of what name it goes by, it's good comfort food that will warm you from the inside out and it certainly did its job that evening.
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