Every once in a long while, I eat something that makes me say â€œomigod, omigod, omigod,â€ over and over again. My dad frowns upon me using the Lordâ€™s name in vain, but omigod (whoops, there I go again), this is more like culinary rapture.
I was blessed to experience such an epiphany at this new spot that my fellow food lover, K chanced upon. Sheâ€™s an expert at sniffing out gems such as this one. Anyway, places like these are usually out of the way (which it isnâ€™t), flirt on this side of pricey (which it doesnâ€™t), and are small (hmm, okay).
Itâ€™s called HalfMoon, and they specialize in something called a bibingcrepe, a play on the words â€œbibingkaâ€ and â€œcrepe.â€ Bibingka (pronounced bih-BING-ka) is yet another Filipino rice cake made from ground rice, sugar, eggs, and butter. Itâ€™s cooked on a banana leaf in an earthenware pot (see photo for better visual aid), and when cooked is slapped with more butter, a sprinkle of sugar and grated coconut on the side. Special versions have salted duck eggs (itlog na maalat) and/or unripened native soft cheese (kesong puti) cooked on top. Crepes are of course, large thin pancakes.
The geniuses at HalfMoon have married the two together into something unique, the fruit of truly inspired food minds: a food that has the fluffiness of a bibingka, its exterior possessing the outside crunch of a well-made crepe. This little glory encases a filling that positively oozes in its deliciousness. Is it a pancake? a cake? a thick crepe? A little of all, perhaps?
While being cooked, the bibingcrepe (again, see photo) rises slowly and develops a pocked exterior, an indicator of its interiorâ€™s fine crumb. This is actually the result of the leavener being used, (I take my chances and say itâ€™s baking powder). As you can see from the photo, thereâ€™s a thin crispy coating that forms on the edges of the pan, the â€œcrepeâ€ that makes up this bibingcrepe.
When cooked, the bibingka has a fluffy middle with raised, crispy sides. The desired filling is smeared and slathered on, drizzled with a white cream (I venture to say itâ€™s a combination of confectionerâ€™s sugar and milk), cut in half, piled on top of each other, and then smacked with one last swipe of butter.
The result? A definitive crunch as teeth bite into thin crispy crepe, followed by silence as they sink deeper into a pillow of softness, sticky, drippy, and omigod. This bibingcrepe holds its eater captive, locking him/her into a state of pleasure that is his (or hers) alone. It cannot be replicated by anyone else. It is oneâ€™s own individual bliss. A little rice cake-crepe that speaks to its name in every sense: bibingcrepe.
Bin and I shared (okay fine, I hogged) the choco cheese (P80), which is their bestseller, and the choco banana peanut (P90). Other choice fillings include chocolate, cheese, corn, peanut, banana, and other permutations of those ingredients. Itâ€™s only P75-P90 per bibingcrepe, each of which has six substantial slices. There are also a few select drinks like bottled water and assorted iced teas.
HalfMoon (the place itself) is an al fresco affair with plenty of electric fans, which were no match for the torrid summer heat. But itâ€™s not unpleasant, so concentrated was I on keeping my mouth busy. The only thing that marred my experience was biting into some parts of cake that had a slightly metallic taste â€“ the product of too much baking powder. I made sure to tell the chefs to consider sifting their dry ingredients together for proper incorporation. I may understand where that metallic taste comes from, but some other unforgiving customer may not. What a shame that would be.
This place is open early (10 am) and closes late (1 am). The chefs say that the bulk of their business is done at night when itâ€™s not as hot. Makes sense.
238 T. Morato corner Scout Bayoran,
They even have a blog!