“It’s bigger and better,” boasts founder KF Seetoh, of this year’s World Street Food Congress in Manila, an event that puts the spotlight on street food as a tourism driver and global enterprise.
For five days from May 31 to June 4, hawkers from 13 countries and influencers from around the world will fill the festival venue the size of two football fields at the new SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, a fabulous location by the sea.
This is the second consecutive year the event, started in Singapore by Seetoh’s company Makansutra in 2013, is being hosted in Manila.
Organisers consider last year’s event a success; it attracted some 300 international delegates and 24 hawkers from nine countries.
This year’s event is expected to draw a crowd of 120,000, up from last year’s 75,000, to its three main events: a street food fest, a series of dialogues with heritage food advocates and industry think tanks, and a Street Food Awards.
Across both traditional and social media platforms, the event reached a tracked audience of 41 million, according to figures released by the organisers.
Most stalls sold upward of 1,000 portions per day, with one clocking 1,920. Here are eight of the most popular:
1. Malaysia: Assam Laksa
Assam Laksa is a spicy seafood and tamarind soup -- serious business in Malaysia, nowhere more so than in one of street food's great centers of Penang.
The secret heirloom recipe for the sambal -- spice mix -- is key in the dangerously good dish which won her the coveted Assam Laksa award in the battle of Penang Hawkers.
2. Indonesia: Sate Maranggi
During the Congress, the team from Sate Marrangi in Indonesia skewered a mind-blowing 125,000 sticks of satay over five days.
The region's signature dish involves marinated, diced beef grilled over charcoal and served with a deceptively fiery salad of chilli, vinegar and tomato.
3. Thailand: Hoy Tord
5. United States: Churros Sundae
The Churros Locos food truck from Portland, Oregon, was set up by Mexican-Americans Daniel Huerta and Isabel Sanchez. The owners maintain corporate day jobs alongside their passion for deep-fried dough sticks under ice cream, nuts and sprinkles.
6. Vietnam: Banh Xeo
It is a seafood pancakes with herbs and dip. Making Ban Xeo involves 100-year-old technique, which has been recognized by UNESCO, clay pots over a wood-burning fire.
7. Singapore: Kway Chap
8. China: Zhu Hou Chicken