They say the “soul of the city” lies on its street food. I agree. Apart from the scenery, I remember each city that I visit (mostly through backpacking) with its streetfood scene. While I understand the risks involved with hygiene (or lack of) in some cities, but that is the charm that lures me every time. If the street food scene is vibrant, then I have high expectations that I will have a great time. Back home, street food culture is broad and pretty diverse. Exotic. Weird. So when Ezdan Hotel Doha invited me for their opening of Filipino Streetfood Night, it was an easy yes as I am excited to see how they will execute this bizarre concept.
Filipino Streetfood Night
Happening every Tuesday, from 6:30-10:30 PM, Al Thouraya Restaurant in Ezdan Hotel Doha welcomes everyone (even non-Filipinos) to try their buffet spread featuring Filipino dishes (mains, salads, and desserts) aside from the street food itself.
If you’re not familiar with Filipino dishes at all, the spread might overwhelm you as most dishes use an uncommon flavor combination or even ingredients. Kare-Kare, for example, is a stew made from oxtail and tripe mixed with vegetables and peanut sauce and usually served with shrimp paste. Sounds weird? I told you. But as weird as it may sound, Kare-kare remains one of the popular Filipino dishes (next to Adobo and Sinigang).
Among the items worth-mentioning that night that you won’t typically find elsewhere in other Filipino restaurants around Doha were:
Now the Real Street Food
The highlight, of course, is the array of Filipino street food hence the name. Are you ready? [Spoiler: Balut (unfertilized duck embryo) is not included]
Filipino Streetfood Night: Go or No Go?
Ezdan’s Filipino Streetfood Night, I must say, is a bold departure from the typical Filipino themed nights that I’ve seen in Doha so far. While most restaurants will serve traditional Filipino main courses or even some regional dishes, they opted to highlight the street food. Such novelty should be a hit for any Filipino who have been craving for such “delicacies” which are not often found in the city.
Overall, the menu looks impressive and the selection is decent. I appreciate the tiny details of the presentation (salads are served in palayok/ clay pots, the street food are served in bilao/round woven baskets which are both very Filipino). The crew are also dressed in traditional Filipino dresses (I choose not to use the term costume), and there are Filipino phases posted on the wall that adds humor to mostly Pinoy customers they are targetting.
But despite the quirky concept that I highly commend, it pales in execution. Since it is a street food night, I will focus on the street foods being offered. The Tukneneng, Adidas, and Isaw were spot on. The inclusion of vinegar dip adds authenticity to the dish. On the other hand, the other dishes tasted completely different. The chicken barbecue didn’t taste like real grilled chicken. It lacks that authentic smoky flavor had it been properly grilled. Instead, it is smothered with barbecue sauce which is a bit disappointing. The halo-halo substantially lacks the major ingredients of a halo-halo from back home. It was more like a snow cone drizzled with milk as there were very few “halo”/ingredients to mix it with. Not even a leche flan on top. (Note: I took a slice of the leche flan from the buffet spread and placed on the halo-halo before taking the photo.)
Since most of the street foods (except for barbecue) are fried, I hope they consider cooking them in small batches to retain the texture, proper temperature, and of course taste. While they could have been a lot tastier had it been hot, what I got were cold pieces and to an extent stale.
But despite the minor tweaks that it needs, I’ll still give it a go and recommend it to Filipinos and other foodies who would like to experience such dishes that the global culinary scene is not really familiar with. For QAR79, it is a good value for money as it includes the mains and unlimited drinks too.
And oh, if you are a fan of karaoke, sign up for free for the Karaoke Challenge and stand a chance to win prizes from Ezdan Hotel.
Are you brave enough to take the Filipino Streetfood Night challenge?
I was a guest at Filipino Streetfood Night at Ezdan Hotel Doha on this occasion. However, all photos (otherwise stated) and opinions are mine.