THE ULTIMATE LIST: Our 5 Best Tikoy In Town
Chinese New Year isn’t Chinese New Year without the obligatory gift of tikoy in its familiar flat red carton. Also called niangao (nyen-gaoww), this seasonal dessert was initially used as a present in ceremonies before it eventually developed into a food staple during the Spring Festival. Niangao sounds like “year high” which signifies a higher income, a higher position, and generally the promise of a better year.
The Filipino word tikoy is adapted from the Hokkien/Fujian word ti (sweet) and ke (cake). Tikoy is made of glutinous rice, lard, water, and sugar, which is then pounded into a paste and usually formed into a round shape. Tikoy is typically cooked by dipping it in beaten eggs, then frying it in a little cooking oil, creating a slightly crispy coating with a soft, chewy, sticky center.
With Chinese New Year approaching, we wandered around town on the hunt for five worthy tikoy in town, in no particular order:
This popular upscale Cantonese restaurant offers tikoy in the classic brown sugar flavor, but what you should try is its unique date-ginger tikoy. Quite a new taste for Filipinos, this tikoy has a natural flavor, a refined texture, and smells quite aromatic. Choi Garden’s special tikoy is not sugary, even though dates are one of the sweetest fruits around.
12 Annapolis Street corner Purdue Street, Greenhills, San Juan, (02) 727-6042, 727-7489, 724-5343
Ho-Land Chinese Delicacies
This family-owned store is well known for its hopia, mooncakes, and special tikoy. It offers unusual flavors like sweet corn and pandan that is moderately sweet smelling. Not too tough nor soft, these flavored tikoy have absolute chewiness to them.551 Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila, (02) 242-9709, 242-9595, (0922) 815-8551
The special white tikoy at this 71-year-old Binondo institution—known for its breads and pastries at affordable prices—imparts a familiar taste with a tinge of sweetness. It has a fantastic texture, and is easy to slice, cook, and chew. Moreover, it goes well with coffee. Salazar Bakery offers other tikoy flavors as well, such as stuffed in peanuts and bean paste, or smothered in sesame seeds.Ongpin Street, Sta Cruz, Manila, (02) 733-1397
One of the earliest manufacturers of tikoy in the country, Sampaguita has long been a crowd favorite among food lovers. Known for its well-balanced flavor and moderate chew, this tikoy isn’t overpowered by an excess in sweetness. Moreover, Sampaguita offers custom-made gigantic tikoy up to 4 kilos in weight.44-C Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong, (02) 531-6961
Sweet Taste Bakeshop
This Quezon City bakeshop started selling its homemade tikoy back in 1991. What’s great about this tikoy is it stays soft even after it’s cooked, with just the right amount of chewiness. Unlike other more commercial tikoy, it’s not at all rubbery, nor does it feel too heavy. But it is a tad on the sweet side. Sweet Taste’s special tikoy is available in various sizes and in classic white and brown variants.
47-A Nicanor Roxas Street, Quezon City, (02) 731-7147
Photos by Deiniel Cuvin