Aling Baby's stall is clean and well lit. Her ingredients are displayed inside a glass counter top showcasing the assortment of toppings that makes her Palabok a one of a kind treat.
Aling Baby prepares your Palabok upon order by blanching the noodles in boiling water and then portioning it in individual plates before pouring over the rich and luscious shrimp sauce.
It's amazing to watch how fast she can prepare an order. After she ladles the sauce, she arranges the toppings on top and immediately serves the dish. Even though I already ate at Beth's Palabok, I still ordered one for me to see if this is indeed the best Palabok inside the Sta. Ana Market.
Aling Baby's Palabok is topped with the familiar egg slices, tinapa flakes, crushed chicharon etc. but what I noticed different from this one is the generous amount of tampalen chicharon that she puts in every order compared to the previous one I ate.
Tampalen chicharon is the end result of slow rendering tampalen or pelya into lard. This type of chicharon is a favorite pulutan of my good friend Blow who introduced me to the dish back in college. It is fatty and has somewhat of a pulpy texture as opposed to being straightforwardly crispy.
T also specified that she wants "Halo" which is a mix of bihon noodles and a thicker yellow noodles. Since this is her turf, I also went for the "Halo" variety hehe. When in Rome, right?
After mixing the toppings with the sauce and noodles, I took a quick taste and man this Palabok is really Awesome! The sauce was full of flavor and has the right amount of saltiness and richness. It is one of those umami moments where I would wish that they open a branch near where I live.
The texture combination of the thick and thin noodles was great. Combined with the fantastic and flavorful shrimp sauce coupled with a piece of the tampalen chicharon in one swoop of my fork and I am a happy camper. Hands down this is one of the best Palabok versions I've tried here in the metro aside from being very affordable at P35 per order.
Now I know why T and her sisters are really adamant in saying that the BEST Palabok is indeed hidden away inside Sta.Ana Market in the heart of Manila. Aside from the good food, I also loved the no-frills hole-in-the-wall ambiance of the place and the personal service that you get when you eat at Baby's Palabok. I will surely be going back here for MOAR!
Sta. Ana Wet and Dry Market
Pedro Gil, Manila