Spicy, creamy, slightly-sweet, coconut-ey—there may be a formula to Bicolano food, but despite the chili and gata-dousing methods, the local dishes still manage to offer distinct flavors and textures to meet your very specific cravings. Happy Plate offers some of these rich Bicolano favorites straight from Naga, and frozen for your ease of consumption.
Parapagulong (also known as sigarilyas, or winged bean) and Puso ng Saging (banana blossom) offer you crunchy and textural dishes that are heavy in fiber. Or go with the classic Bicol Express, made with a heavy and ultra-salty dose of bagoong to complement the creamy white coconut milk. And our favorite Bicolano dish discovery from Happy Plate is Pinangat, minced shrimp with coconut wrapped in gabi leaves. Though it veers on the salty side, plate it over a healthy dose of white rice and you are set with a memorably tasty and truly local dish.
We want to fill people’s tummies without them thinking it’s just a waste of calories . . . It’s not less calories, but it’s good food [so] it’s worth it.”
There is of course Bicol’s famous Laing, which owner of Happy Plate Marie Tycangco asserts is worlds away from Laing made in Manila and we are wont to agree. She declares the gabi leaves from Bicol to be the best-tasting in the country from her experience. “Before, when we used to run out of stock, we would get [gabi leaves] from here in Manila, but it’s not the same. The taste of the food [would change and] that’s what we don’t want to happen.” Now, if they run out of laing, it’s just too bad for those who are looking for a taste of Bicol—they’ll have to wait for the next shipment from Naga.
Tycangco tells us that even though she grew up here in Manila, she was raised on Bicolano food as both of her parents are from Bicol and her aunt would regularly send over dishes from their hometown. Her house was always filled with Bicolano food that Tycangco would often bring some over to friends’ houses to share, telling us that after every party her “friends would always ask about it and want to buy it.”
Tycangco decided to share that taste of home with others through Happy Plate, where all the dishes are made by her aunt in Naga using only fresh ingredients. Dishes are delivered weekly, and can last for around three months in your freezer. Tycangco tells us, “It’s a business that doesn’t feel like a business because it’s something that’s always been a part of our freezer, so now that I’m distributing it to other people, it’s like sharing my home with them.”
Frozen, homemade Bicolano dishes straight from Naga.