Top Food Picks at the Ultimate Taste Test 9.0

The 9th Ultimate Taste Test kicked off last Sunday, July 29, 2012. The annual food event was held at the Soderno food market in the Molito Complex in Alabang, and featured over 30 different dishes from family-owned food vendors and local restaurants in Manila. Food lovers from the south of Manila grabbed the opportunity to sample different foods and drinks from local restaurants, bakeshops and vendors from across the city.

Ultimate Taste Test Food Picks

What made the Ultimate Taste Test a unique food event was that the people were not just treated to a wide variety of dishes. They were also given the opportunity to rate the food of each of the vendors participating in the event. Not wanting to miss this, I decided to head over to the Ultimate Taste Test, and take part in both the sampling and the judging.

For the next few hours, I went through the different stalls, sampling each of their foods and drinks. They were some that were really delicious, and there were some that were doable to say the least.

So out of the over 30 different dishes I’ve tried during the Ultimate Taste Test, here are my top food picks, in no particular order:

Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen’s Panzarotti

Mama Lou's Panzarotti at the Ultimate Taste TestFirst on my Ultimate Taste Test food picks is the is the panzarotti from Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen.  Panzarotti is a deep-fried savory pastry popular in the central and southern Italy. It is one of those kinds of food that you don’t need to sit down to enjoy it. You can eat it while you’re on the go–a plus if you’re in a food market like Soderno.

I was quite pleased with the amount of the meat filling inside the panzarotti. The blue cheese sauce complemented it really well. But what sealed the deal for me was the pastry shell. I’m pretty picky when it comes to pastry shells. I easily get turned off if it’s bland and dry. The pastry Mama Lou’s used in their panzarotti was crunchy on the outside, yet moist and soft on the inside. It has a slight sweet taste, which blended perfectly well with the saltiness of the cured meats in the filling, and peppery taste of the fresh arugula.

Bread Winner’s Pulled Pork Sandwich

pulled pork burger Ultimate Taste TestThe last time I’ve ever had a pulled pork sandwich was when I was in Houston a few years back. Having tasted it from one of the BBQ capitals in the US, I have to admit my expectations were quite high when I tried this during the Ultimate Taste Test food event.

I must say, it was a tad different from the ones that I had in the US, but it was a close second. The amount of pulled pork in each sandwich was quite generous. The BBQ sauce drizzled over the pulled pork had a tangy sweet-sour taste which, for me, could have been better if there was a slight tinge of chili heat in it.

The addition of the shredded cabbage on the top may be something that pulled pork sandwich purists may frown upon, but I found it a welcome addition. Aside from giving you a bit of fiber (which is always a good thing), it adds a bit of crunch and dimension to the entire sandwich.

Polland’s Fresh Chinese Lumpia

fresh chinese lumpia ultimate taste test

Next in my Ultimate Taste Test food picks list is the Fresh Chinese lumpia (Filipino word for spring roll) from Polland’s. This is what I would consider to be the healthiest of all the foods I’ve tried and really loved during the Ultimate Taste Test (as you will see in a bit).

The fresh spring roll was generously filled with all sorts of vegetables and fresh herbs, with just a little bit of meat to balance everything out. It was very light and refreshing on the palate, but quite filling at the same time.

I particularly liked the fact that instead of pouring the sauce over the fresh lumpia like they normally do, Polland’s drizzles the sauce on the filling before it is rolled. This slight change makes it easier to eat, but it can still be quite messy with all the sauce oozing out; so make sure that you arm yourself with napkins before you eat this, and lots of it.

Dads and Moms Kitchen’s Squid Sisig

sisig Ultimate Taste TestSisig is a popular Filipino food enjoyed as a bar chow, or eaten as a main dish with rice. But while it’s tasty, it’s also considered as a health hazard. Sisig is quite high in cholesterol so it should be eaten in moderation. Many have tried to provide alternatives to the original sisig recipe so that you can enjoy it without the potential spike in your blood pressure. Dads and Moms Kitchen’s squid variety is one of them.

After tasting their squid sisig here at the Ultimate Taste Test, I realized that they are on to something. The chewy consistency of the squid is very close to the texture of the original version, which uses the different parts of a pig’s head. And because squid has a very neutral flavor, it absorbs all the flavors of the original sisig recipe without lending its own flavor. I still prefer the original sisig, though, but if I need to find a “healthier” alternative, I’d go with Dads and Moms squid sisig.

Nina’s Grill’s Fried Pork Isaw

pork isaw ultimate taste testI have a special place in my heart (and stomach) for certain exotic foods. Pork isaw is one of them; so when I saw this at the Ultimate Taste Test, I knew I just had to have some.

Isaw is a popular Filipino street food. It’s basically the small intestines of the pig or chicken which is marinated and then grilled over some hot coals. Nina’s Grill did things a little bit different. The intestines are cut into bit-size pieces, marinated with vinegar and salt, and then deep fried until they are really crunchy.

Just like the sisig from DadsMoms Kitchen, I found this variation of a popular Filipino dish to be a great idea. Because they are bit-sized, Nina’s Grill’s deep-fried pork isaw can be eaten as a snack with your favorite alcoholic beverage, and a bit of vinegar infused with garlic and chili, or as a crunchy main course with a bit of garlic rice.


Frisch Liquor Ice Cream

ice cream ultimate taste testThis was a real treat for those at the Ultimate Taste Test looking something sweet with a grown up twist. Frisch offered four different flavors of ice cream. Each ice cream was infused with different liquors and spirits carefully chosen to complement the ice cream’s base flavor.

I particularly liked two of the flavors they offered during the Ultimate Taste Test. The first was their Wine Berries ice cream. This is a strawberry-based ice cream infused with red wine (I’m guessing to be either a Shiraz or Merlot), and dotted with fresh strawberries. The slightly acidic taste from the berries gave this a really tangy flavor that leaves this fresh feeling in the palate, almost like a palate cleanser. The alcoholic content was a bit strong, giving you just that kick with every spoonful.

The second one that I liked was the Choco Rumboozle. This one used chocolate ice cream for the base, infused with rum, and filled with bittersweet chocolate. I actually enjoyed this one over the Wine Berries. Aside from the fact I’m partial to chocolate, the taste of the alcohol in the Choco Rumboozle was more mellow than the one in the Wine Berries. The presence of the dark chocolate chips in the ice cream added bit of a crunch to the ice cream, and a tad bit more caffeine to keep you awake.

Bambi’s House of Desserts’ Vanilla Cupcakes

cupcakes ultimate taste testLast, but certainly not the least, in my Ultimate Taste Test food picks list are the cute little vanilla cupcakes from Bambi’s House of Desserts.

I liked the clean and straightforward way how they displayed the cupcakes. No fancy cake designs. Just bite-size sponge vanilla sponge cupcakes with a bit of buttercream frosting piped in the center. The simplicity of the presentation gave me this confident message from the bakers: our cakes speak for themselves.

True enough, they did. There was just enough icing so you get the taste of both the cake and the frosting. The light and fluffy cake balanced out the otherwise rich and smooth buttercream frosting. The petite size makes this a really handy way to end a meal sweetly without feeling too guilty, especially if you’re on a diet. Just make sure that you keep an eye on how much you’re popping in your mouth.

So that concludes my top picks for this year’s Ultimate Taste Test event at Soderno. Have you found any particular favorites from the list? Share your thoughts below.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)
Top Food Picks at the Ultimate Taste Test 9.0, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings
About Adeline Yuboco

A natural-born foodie with an eye for detail, I started Life and Leisure to be a place where I can share on how to travel and live in style within your means. At the same time, I cover various events for DigitalJournal.com where I'm a contributing journalist. If you got a great story idea or have an event you'd like me to cover, drop me an email at the Contact page, message me on Twitter, or Connect with me on


  1. Hi, Ms. Adeline! Thank you for choosing Frisch Liquor Ice Cream as one of your top picks at the Ultimate Taste Test 9.0. Can we re-post your review in our Facebook page?

  2. Oh my, all these look so yummy! I still haven’t attended UTT even though I’ve got plans to check the past 2 UTTs.. >.< Di bale, I'll make sure to watch out for UTT 10. I'll make sure not to miss that one! :)
    Be sure to check out Sumi’s most recent post…7 Corners: Eat-All-You-Can Buffet at Crowne Plaza GalleriaMy Profile

  3. OK, now I’m really jealous I don’t live close enough to have gone to this. My favorites from your post are Dads and Moms Kitchen’s Squid Sisig, the Frisch Liquor Ice Cream and the Bambi’s House of Desserts’ Vanilla Cupcakes. Thanks for the mouth watering post. Now I’m hungry… sigh!!! LOL
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  4. that squid sisig looks so yummy! I might try to do that dish one of these days. lol, by the way, do you have any recipes for that? I’m searching in the internet but can’t find a good one. Thanks in advance.
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  5. I shouldn’t have read this post just before eating dinner. Everything sounds delicious — especially the Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen’s Panzarotti. I wish I had the recipes for these or could actually taste them. Alas, geography gets in the way. Lovely posts and beautiful images.
    Be sure to check out Jeannette Paladino’s most recent post…Why You Need to Raise Your Clout With KloutMy Profile

  6. This made me hungrier. Great food photos I would really want to try them all from the Panzarotii, Pork Sandwhich, Lumpia, Sisig, Fried Pork Isaw, Ice Cream and cupcakes. Such a feast.
    Be sure to check out Franc Ramon’s most recent post…The Zombie Journals: Outbreak BGCMy Profile

  7. awesome Mam Adel, your shot are very nice.I want to try the Squid Sisig and the Fried Pork Isaw, now im hungry.. thanks for sharing this..

  8. sad that i’ve missed this event :(

    your picks look delish, i already have tasted the Polland’s Chinese Fresh Lumpia in one of the Trade exhibits my husband and I have attended, and I love it though quite messy to eat hehe
    Be sure to check out joy’s most recent post…Coconut water the fluid of lifeMy Profile

    • Awww! Don’t worry, Joy! There is always next year. Yes, the fresh lumpia gets messier to eat the more you make your way through it. Nice thing about it is that the messy stuff begins when you’re sitting down. You don’t have to worry about it as you make your way through the crowd.

  9. The fried pork isaw seem so yummy. I do eat those on the street before and they are really good with a little bit of vinegar and salt.
    Be sure to check out Franc Ramon’s most recent post…The Zombie Journals: Outbreak BGCMy Profile

  10. Always an avid fan of Filipino food, so I go for the fresh lumpia, sisig and the sitcharon coz I like crunchy food.. I would also love to try the Frisch Liquor Ice cream :)
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  11. wow! an “eat all you can” event! I should have attended this, I just love to eat.. hehe. I love the sisig! and the fresh chinese lumpia… send some please for me.. please! ;)
    Be sure to check out violy’s most recent post…Vigan Heritage Walk at Calle CrisologoMy Profile

    • Well, the Ultimate Taste Test wasn’t really an “Eat All You Can” event. We were given some free samples to try by each of the stall owners. If you still want more, you will need to buy from them.

      As for the delivery, would FedEx allow food deliveries? ;)

  12. Everything looks so yummy!!! Im starving! I wanna eat! haha! The burger and that sisig makes me wanna go out at this time (12am) and eat. lol
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  13. fried pork isaw? i want to try that.. the photo of Bread Winner’s Pulled Pork Sandwich is so tempting and the squid sisig too.. now im hungry..great post!
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  14. Im drooling right now. All the foods looks soooooooooooo delicious. *sigh* though im full right now, I felt a sudden hunger just by looking at these dishes. Arghhh…. really cant help it, I love eating
    Be sure to check out Herbert’s most recent post…Five Reasons Nobody Likes You AnymoreMy Profile

  15. Yum! I like all of the above especially the Fresh Chinese Lumpia. Looks like Polland’s Fresh Chinese Lumpia has tasteful ingredients. I have tried the liquor ice cream once, it has a unique flavor combination and quite expensive.
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  16. the pics just made me so hungry even though i had some snacks just a while ago. thanks for sharing. craving for sisig just now….
    Be sure to check out Sheryl Georylcom’s most recent post…A Lazy DayMy Profile

  17. great food selection you have here. thanks for giving us a foresight of what to expect for each delicacy from the following resto/ brand. you detailed it deliciously, it tickled my imagination… love to try them all. Yahweh bless.
    Be sure to check out ralph’s most recent post…My PMA Cadet Years (Fourth Class) – Countdown To Becoming YearlingsMy Profile

  18. Lots of great choices here. I love pulled pork — and ice-cream.

    But there is no chocolate in your selections! We’ll have to do something about that!
    Be sure to check out Doreen Pendgracs’s most recent post…ex-pat discovers the world of chocolate in EcuadorMy Profile

    • Actually, Frisch had a chocolate ice cream infused with rum with dark chocolate bits the called Choco Rumboozle. I’m actually writing up a choco-filled article I’m uploading on my blog next week. Hope you’ll drop by again for that, Doreen.

  19. I must admit that the food that caught my attention the most were the sweet offerings although the fresh lumpia looks quite inviting.
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  20. This post sums up my gastronomic shortcomings except perhaps for the panzarotti…I miss our food! I think I have to scoot now and scout our kitchen for something to munch on :( Those photos are all yummy!
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  21. Really yummy food! There is a special kind of isaw that I had when I visited Singapore. It was extremely delicious, and I love pork anyways:)

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  22. the pull pork sandwich looks really unique and the fried por isaw doesn’t look like isaw at all. pero wow, checking this blog post at this time of the morning makes me hungry. :>
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  23. Woud have loved to go to the Ultimate Taste Test! The dishes you describe and feature seem absolutely delicious! Pity I wasn’t in Manila!

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  24. “Oh My Goodness!!” I’m already salivating like crazy just reading this post. As a Texan, I was curious about the Pulled-Pork Sandwich…but everything you described sounded delicious. I think I’m gonna go get me some chow right now actually. :)
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  25. Hi Adeline,

    How nice to get introduced to your blog thanks to our networking superstar group. As a matter of fact you will notice that the link on this comment is not the blog you know about. Ahahah I have three blogs so I usually link the one that is most appropriate to the blog that I visit.

    I Love food because I am from France, dear, and I am also Italian on my father’s side which make me love both Italian and French food.

    I didn’t know abou this event which you are mentioning here and all the various foods sounds delicious.
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  26. I love sisig but haven’t tried one made from squid. Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen’s Panzarotti looks looks delicious and so is Nina’s Grill’s fried pork isaw.

  27. the Dads and Moms Kitchen’s Squid Sisig looks mouth watering. I want to try it, together with the Bambi’s House of Desserts’ Vanilla Cupcakes.
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  28. BambisHD says:

    Hi, Miss Adeline. :) Thank you for featuring Bambi’s House of Desserts as one of your top picks among the many entries at the Ultimate Taste Test 9.0 in your blog! May we Re-post your review in our Facebook page?

  29. A very tempting food round-up Adeline. The squid sisig looks fantastic. Though I did enjoy sisig in the Philippines, I just couldn’t handle the oiliness and unhealthiness of it too often, so squid would make a great alternative!
    Be sure to check out Mark Wiens’s most recent post…Traveling to Southeast Asia? Be Aware of These Infectious DiseasesMy Profile

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