Pares is not new to me. It’s ubiquitous on the side streets of Metro Manila, but I actually discovered its makeup in Laoag (here). Pares is a Filipino word for paring or combo, so it consists of beef stew, fried rice and soup. Whoever invented it, pares has come a long way. If you are not yet acquainted with its bold flavors, you should give it a try. There’s this new carinderia, Fonso’s, situated on Paoay Road in the Northwestern University neighborhood, which serves beef pares and pares mami. Their version is very Asian, what with the distinctive star anise element and dusting of sesame seeds, giving it a bit of teriyaki-like savor. You get a good deal for just 60 pesos (pares mami is only 40 pesos).
You will also find Ilocano favorites such as hi-bol and paksiw, as well as budget meals, perfect for students and sales reps living in the vicinity. But they’ve also introduced another street food phenomenon, the pigar-pigar, a Pangasinenses dish made with carabeef, cabbage and thick slices of onions. For those with an aversion to carabeef like me, Fonso’s uses only beef. Pigar-pigar may look simple, but it’s packed with relatable audacious flavors, ideal for rice. There’s always a first time for everything. Ate everything in the photos and ended the carinderia meal with a bottle of Sparkle.
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