Monday, 6 March 2017
Roberto's: The Best Siopao In The Islands
(In front of Roberto's)
I wondered why my brother always asked for Roberto's siopao (steamed buns) every time someone in the family crosses the Iloilo Strait from Iloilo City to the Negros Island in the Philippines.
So, when I crossed the Iloilo Strait myself, I decided to find out why.
(Long line at the take-out counter)
(A lady selling langka or jack fruit outside Roberto's)
Roberto's is a restaurant along Iloilo City's JM Basa Street, one of the city's busiest, that sells steamed buns and other popular dishes. But on my first ever visit during the Dinagyang Festival, what I discovered was that this restaurant was busy inside and out!
The line for the 'dine-in' customers was long, but the line for the take-out counter was even longer! I saw for myself how popular those siopaos were!
Not only were the dishes reasonably priced, they were good, too. Since my tummy was grumbly and complaining, I decided on fried rice with fried chicken for a fulfilling purpose, pairing it with some meatball on stick and fried lumpia.
We also took home siopaos in case the need for a midnight snack at our hotel arose.
And later that night, as I was munching down a siopao, I understood why the popularity of Roberto's steamed buns extended beyond the island of Panay!
(Roberto's very busy take-out counter)
The size of the siopao is bigger than my clenched fist and the bun is thick with the filling firmly squeezed into it. And this was why Roberto's siopao was a bite above the rest: the savor of the cooked meat dish as the filling was flavorful that, as its sign on the counter suggested, the siopao didn't need any sauce.
Most siopaos require sauce in order to brighten up its flavor; Roberto's siopao doesn't need any. And that for me is even more convenient and efficient. Putting sauce can be messy and every time you need a bite, you have to drop more sauce on it.
(My take-out siopao visited the next restaurant)
The meat was soft and the taste chicken and pork adobo mixed with chinese sausage and boiled egg were the most flavorful and efficient way to enjoy the rich culinary heritage of the Filipino-Chinese families.
Yes, when it comes to Chinese food in the Philippines, I defer to the menus offered by restaurants run by Filipino-Chinese families. They know what they are doing, or in this case, cooking!
When we left Iloilo for Bacolod, we had to stop by one more time. I lined up for a turn at the take-out counter and bought a few siopaos.
This time, the jumbo siopaos, along with their reputation, crossed the Iloilo Strait and went home with us.
So, the next time you're in Iloilo City, make sure you have time to line up (or dine in!) at Roberto's to enjoy its siopaos.