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Where are the Pinoy food stalls in big shopping centers?

By Willie Jose
November 11, 2017


In going around some big malls in Toronto, I’ve not seen a single Filipino food stall in these shopping centers.

What’s the reason for virtual non-existence of the Pinoy food stalls in the malls? 

I’ve been asking myself why we couldn’t put up food outlets in these modern and big malls where thousands of people come and go; these are the best places we can truly showcase the Filipino culture through our delicious and authentic dishes.

Why are our businessmen shying away from doing business in shopping centers such the Scarborough Town Center, Eglinton Square Mall or even at the Eaton Centre in the heart of the city?

While the food stalls of the Chinese, Malay, Japanese, Korean, Jamaican, Thai, Mexican, European and some Middle Eastern groups are having their heyday in reaching out the rest of the communities by serving them with their respective cuisines, the Filipino food stalls are nowhere to be found.

 What a missed opportunities for us to bring our one-of-a-kind and delicious dishes to the mainstream.

At present, we are numbering about 300,000 living in Toronto—and because we are the fastest-growing immigrant group in this country, we have all the reason to believe that we have enough numbers and clientele who can fully support these Pinoy food outlets.

 With the much- vaunted “Bayanihan Spirit”, coupled with the huge population, we have the market; we can surely bank on our kababayans to support this kind of endeavor.

Although we have a good number of Filipino restaurants and some little eateries that have mushroomed in the metropolis but by branching out to these big malls, we can make these Pinoy dishes visible to the rest of the community.

Toronto is the right place to showcase the Filipino cuisine because of its immense cultural diversity.

Our dishes are actually a fusion of different cultures: Spanish, American, Chinese and Malay; and they have been influenced both by the East and the West: 500 long years under Spain as a colony and another 100 years under the Americans.

No wonder, these unique and authentic Pinoy dishes such as Adobo, Lechon Kawali, Beef Caldereta, Laing, Pochero, Morcon, Chicken Inasal, Sisig, Paksiw Na Pata, Pork Asado, Kare-Kare, Inihaw Na Panga will surely whet the appetite of other non-Filipinos who want to try them.

Aside from these dishes, we can also offer them our very own desserts such as Halo- Halo, Suman and Puto’t Kutsinta, Ube cake, Maruya, Banana Cue Leche Plan, Taho and Sago.

Most people go to these malls not only to shop and loaf but also to dine and snack --and with these Pinoy food stalls strategically set up at these shopping malls, we have the best chance to show off the culture through these mouth-watering dishes.

And in this fast-paced society like Toronto, most people would prefer to have their meals at food stalls in malls and go off immediately to their respective offices and worksites.

Is it because of the high rental cost in these malls that prevents us from setting up food outlet in these malls?

Or is it because of our culture that prevents us from thinking big.

Our foremost writer, Nick Joaquin says something in one of his essays about our  ” heritage of smallness “… our native aversion to the large venture, the big risk, the bold extensive enterprise”.

 “Is that the explanation for our continuing failure to rise—that we buy small and sell small, that we aim small and try small, that we think small and do small?” Joaquin adds.

Well, we all join hands in making it a reality--the dream of putting up these Pinoy food stalls in some big malls and shopping centers.

Let’s show to the whole world that our cuisine is unique in many ways—and once they have tasted these dishes, they would surely say “they are like foods for kings “

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