Philippine Bread House – The Lovely Breads

Friday, March 5th, 2010 | bakeries

Continuing my theme of going to close-by, yet unknown (to me) towns in the Garden State, I kicked it in Jersey City this past weekend. There is a sizable Filipino population, so I naturally wanted to see what folks have for dessert:

Sapin-sapin is an egg-yellow, white, and purple layered jello-like “pie” made from rice flour and coconut milk. I like how PBH has a separate packet of crunchy coconut bits to sprinkle on top. This way, they don’t get soggy– good thinking. The dessert itself, alas, was fairly bland. Its presentation and nice chew were its strongest features. The Kalamayhati, or glutinous rice, however, had no strengths other than the novelty of its (to quote a friend) La Brea Tar Pits-like consistency. You can see in the pictures that there were obviously bubbles while it was being made, which burst, but then retained their circular pock-marks. That, along with the pics of folk trying to fork some up, should be all you need to tell you that this was thick, gooberous stuff. I did not like! The Ube halaya, or purple yam jam (now THAT’s a good band name), was also bland, but at least had a pleasant vegetable purée texture. But the Polvoron, or powder candy, was my least favorite. Don’t let the term “powder candy” trick you. This was basically a hard, short (as in crumbly) cookie that tasted like lard. Not Crisco– animal fat. Animal fat and sugar. I shudder at the thought. Nothing wrong with lard in a Christmas pudding– it seems decadent and fitting with the season. But in an innocent cookie? Blasphemy.

PHB’s best offerings, unsurprisingly, are its breads. And oh, such breads! The Taisan mini, like a cross between chiffon cake and brioche, was so moist and light, with a wonderful spongy mouth-feel. It had butter and finely granulated sugar on top, which leant a lovely sweetness and hint of crunch. The Pan de sal, or salt bread, was not really salty at all, but rather vaguely sweet. It was soft and warm and delicious. Apparently, this bread came over to the Philippines from Spain long ago and used to resemble a French baguette, but due to a decline in the quality of wheat, it eventually became soft and poofy. I guess I like weak wheat! The Ensaymada ube, or purple yam brioche, was also excellent. It also had the fine sugar on top, but with the addition of grated cheddar-like cheese. Weird, I know. You’ve got this sweet, doughy, squishy roll filled with purple yam jam, and then you’ve got this cheesy bite. I will dream about these breads.

On a totally non-dessert note, if you’ve never been to a real old-school movie palace before, do yourself a favor and hit up the Jersey City Loews, which is surprisingly easy to get to off the Journal Square Path Train stop. I recently saw “The Third Man” there and can’t wait to return on March 27th, when they fire up “On the Waterfront.” Oh, the heartbreak when Marlon Brando famously says, “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.”  Happy Friday!

Philippine Bread House
530 Newark Ave.
Jersey City, NJ  07306


2 Comments to Philippine Bread House – The Lovely Breads

March 5, 2010

Ube = new favorite dessert ingredient!

Jason Lam
March 5, 2010

Sweet! I forgot about Jersey City’s Filipino community.

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