When I was a kid (that means ages ago), the sight of puto bumbong being sold on the streets heralded the beginning of the Yuletide. This Filipino delicacy used to be a seasonal treat as it was traditionally enjoyed only around Christmas time, but nowadays it’s not hard to find it all year round. Made from a special variety of ground glutinous rice — dried and colored a distinct purple — puto bumbong is cooked inside bamboo tubes in a special Pinoy-style steamer. It is then slathered with butter or margarine and served with muscovado sugar and grated coconut.
I’ve rounded up 4 restaurants where one can savor puto bumbong in the metro, but I counted out hotel dining outlets that serve this Pinoy favorite:
1. Cafe Via Mare can be relied upon to serve puto bumbong any time of the year in all of its branches. For P65 for two pieces, it’s a perfect afternoon snack treat that can already satisfy a purple craving.
2. Mangan, the Kapampangan specialty restaurant, also offers this delicacy and is very generous with its serving. One order of puto bumbong has 5 chewy pieces at only P95.
3. DADS World Buffet has people lining up for its puto bumbong as part of its Filipino dessert spread as well as its Merienda Buffet selection. The person in charge of cooking it couldn’t seem to keep up with the demand for this beloved delicacy — his tray always runs out of puto bumbong in the blink of an eye. I actually waited about 10 minutes to get my portion and, yes, it was worth waiting for.
4. Dekada Historic Filipino Cuisine in Glorietta proudly lists puto bumbong on its menu. However, it took me 4 attempts to order it before I could finally taste it. The first 3 attempts were met with “Sorry, Ma’am, not available po.” The fourth time was the charm… or was it? My friend Steffi and I had to wait for almost an hour with constant follow-ups before this plate of puto bumbong was served on our table. For the price of P148 for 4 pieces, I really wouldn’t recommend it. It’s served with cheese, by the way, but I still don’t think it’s worth the long wait.
I believe puto bumbong is something that we don’t really crave for its taste but for the nostalgia it brings: the innocent years, going to early-morning mass at Christmas, the cool December breeze. I bet the younger generation can’t fully appreciate it. Only the oldies like me can understand what I’m talking about.