Palawan Chronicles VI: Perfect Match- French Bread & Vietnamese Noodles
August 2008: I can still remember that I saw some street vendors selling French bread in Vietnam as I board the bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I find it weird when some Europeans get off the bus to buy those. Quite amusing to see.
October 2008: After just 2 months, I saw these French bread in Palawan. Not only that- it is now paired with rice noodles called Chaolong. Hmmmm….I’m doubly amused!
French Bread’s “Asian Tour”
Even before France colonized Vietnam in the 19th, these two countries have been in contact already. France influenced Vietnam with their religion, architecture and of course food. That explains why there are French breads being sold in Vietnam.
Fast forward to 1970-80’s at the height of Communism in Vietnam and surrounding countries- some Vietnamese tried to escape their country and fled by boats and was later found in the Philippines. The government gave them refuge in Bataan and Palawan. No, they didn’t bring French bread with them. But how did French bread came to the Philippines? Read on…
Chaolong. Favorite noodles among the Palaweños especially during merienda or as midnight snack. This is rice noodles and beef stew (can be pork or chicken) with soup from either pork or beef stock. Top with boiled egg (special), monggo sprouts and mint leaves, seasoned with chili sauce, pepper and calamansi. Its soup is reddish because of the atchuete. I really don’t know why they call this Chaolong because when I ordered Chaolong in Vietnam, it was a rice porridge. Ivan Henares says the right term is pho. Anyway, locals call this Chaolong and so when in Puerto Princesa City, please do order Chaolong. But wait, don’t forget to order its pair-
French Bread. Going back to the “Asian Tour” of the French bread, the Vietnamese brought with them their love for French bread and so along with rice noodles, they also introduced this humble bread (Asian size), half the size of the real thing. And because Filipinos want to eat Chaolong and French bread their own way, they paired it like how they eat pandesal and kape (bread and coffee). Maybe the Oreo cookie being dunked into a glass of milk would be an American comparison.
Anyway, this French bread is sliced lengthwise and is spread with catsup, soy sauce, mayonnaise (chili sauce optional), laden with beef strips (pork and chicken can also used) and cucumber. It will be reheated on a oven toaster and viola! A perfect pair to the steamy Chaolong!
After feasting on these, only one word would go out of my mouth: MASABOR! (yummy, delicious, masarap!)
Whenever I’m in Puerto Princesa City, I always have Chaolong and French Bread. It is like tasting three countries- France, Vietnam and Philippines. Sometimes I just want to go to Palawan just to eat Chaolong. Once, I even took out Chaolong and brought with me in Laguna.
Bon appetit! Chúng ta hãy ăn! Kain na tayo!
Can’t get enough of foods in Palawan, check my Top 10 Must-Taste foods (and drinks) while in Puerto Princesa City. One day is not enough to try all of this. Actually, your whole weekend can revolve around these foods.
Recommended Chaolong and French bread corner:
Bona’s Chaolong (Manalo St. Extension). Ask any local where the best Chaolong is, they would definitely answer “Bona’s.” Wherever you are coming from you can tell the tricycle driver to bring you to Bona’s. You can also walk from the Provincial Capitol, its about 600meters. Price: Php40-45
Pham Chaolong House (Rizal Ave., beside Mang Inasal). I always eat here because it is just walking distance from Baywalk and from where I buy my French bread. Please don’t expect too much from the ambiance. Price: Php40
Breads Corner (in front on Palawan National Highschool, PNS, very near Mendoza Park in Rizal Ave.) So far they have the best tasting French bread. Available in pork or chicken. Oh, its just a small corner and they don’t sell Chaolong. Very cheap too. Price: Php20
The Palawan Chronicles is a 6-part series of unforgettable moments I experienced during my 7-day escapade (December 2010) in Palawan. Some sights have become familiar and common because I stayed in Puerto Princesa City for almost a year but most are seen with fresh insight- rediscovering the beauty of simple life.
Join the adventure and let’s walk among throngs and throngs of Palawenos in Baybay (Baywalk), tour some city spots, survive a 2-day island challenge; visit a vanishing Batac tribe and taste French and Vietnamese influence in this beautiful island paradise. I will also add how much I spent to guide you should you plan to do a Palawan escapade.
Baywalk Christmas Tree Madness / Puerto Princesa City Tour / Solo Beach Camping in El Nido (Part 1) /Solo Beach Camping in El Nido (Part 2) / A Visit to the Vanishing Tribe of Batak / Perfect Match- French Bread & Vietnamese Noodles