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Nov 18, 2011 10:06 PM

Calamansi Soda at Surepinoy Oriental Food Mart

Had a really nice meal at JnJ Turo Turo in Quincy the other night (kare-kare, pinakbet, and vegetable lumpia). They only had American sodas behind the counter, but the very nice lady suggested that we get something to drink at the Surepinoy Oriental Food Mart right next door.

Now an aside: I fell in love with calamansi, a Southeast Asian citrus fruit (with a unique taste, the closest I could describe is "like yuzu, but different"), in Singapore. Even the 7-11s in Singapore have fresh calamansi juice! But I have rarely been able to reproduce the experience in the US. Most easily available are two middling options: the Gina brand calamansi juice in the thin blue cans just doesn't do it for me, and the Citrus Farms calamansi concentrate tastes more like honey than calamansi. Other Filipino restaurants I've been to on the west coast have also only had canned juice that just doesn't taste right, and some fancy bars have made calamansi cocktails that always seem to just have the weakest hint of calamansi. I had a calamansi sorbet at Hung Ry in New York City recently that tasted almost entirely of mint, rather than calamansi! The only glimmer of my love stateside was a brief one --- Pino Maffeo's short-lived "Boston Public Meat" in Louis Boston made a divine calamansi cocktail.

Anyway, Surepinoy Oriental Food Market has that mediocore Gina's calamansi juice, and that overly sweet calamansi concentrate, but also has something I'd never seen before: Zesto brand Calamansi Fruit Soda with Honey. This is a sparkling calamansi soda with a very pale green color, and while it's a touch sweet and just a touch weaker than I would prefer, it's not ridiculously sweet and the taste of calamansi with which I fell in love is very much there. I also tried Zesto's Dalandan Fruit Soda --- another Southeast Asian citrus fruit. This one was much less good --- it tasted more like Fanta than anything special.

They say you can't buy love, but at $0.79 a can of really quite good calamansi soda, I'm not so sure.

Even beyond calamansi, I was really imrpessed with this market overall. That had lots of Filipino favorites (Maggi sauce, banana sauce, lots of snacks, halo-halo flavored ice cream, and more) and lots of items with which I must admit to being totally unfamilar (frozen shredded banana blossoms, bulaklak ng katuray, jute leaves, malunggay, horseradish leaves). I haven't tried everything I bought yet, but did try the hopia mongo (a bean filled pastry) that I found a bit dry. Can't wait to try everything and then go back!

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  1. hi sam, we never ever get to quincy but i've noted this to search for, as My Love is always looking for not very sweet fruit beverages. The 3 cases of Peach Normande we got for him a few yrs ago at TrJ's he is just now finishing, and he says they haven't sold it for a few yrs now. He has liked the mango juice in orange cans through China International, and a fizzy limeade fromTrJ i think.( btw, we had a wonderful kalamansi ice cream at Union Sq. bar and grill a few yrs ago....>>

    Awhile ago, after itaunas posted about them, we bought some goya and other frozen fruit purees

    in Union Sq.- for fruit beverage experimenting, but we haven't yet used them. i guess now that it's coming on winter, it's perfect timing :-} eh?

    p.s. it's funny, being a fan of vegetal sweets, i also just tried those Filipino filled cakes/ cookies, from an H Mart foray last week. my reaction was yours- too dry. I guess i'll stick w/ the Green tea mochi cakes filled w/ adzuki bean ( best price i've found is from Reliable; $1.50 vs more at HMart and little korean mart near MIT.)

      1. re: Nab

        Did you get any? The one time we tried getting balot from Sure Pinoy, they were... too far along. It might be quite variable, though! It's hard to tell when you pick them up off the tray.
        They also had some purple ones at that time, which may be some other nationality, maybe Vietnamese? (I usually think of purple ones as salty chicken eggs, but these were labelled as balot)

        1. re: another_adam

          I did not. I have not tried balut yet, and was kinda hoping to have my first one with you and a bottle of strong liquor. :)

        2. re: Nab

          you can also find balut (pong tea khon in khmer) at many of the cambodian markets in revere and lowell

          1. re: galangatron

            sometimes i feel like the asian-knowledgable CHs are a bit rarefied and it would be considerate if someone would make it easier for everyone to learn along. i.e.

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              We want you to learn self-reliance. And to do your homework! :D

            2. re: galangatron

              At least one of the markets in Dot has the Vietnamese variant too - do you recall which one ?

              1. re: Nab

                try truong thinh supermarket on dot ave. you could probably find them at lucky supermarket (formerly vien dong market) and phu cuong market too

          2. sam, you know how sometimes things seem to happen in 3's, or 2's or....
            Well, as of 2 wks ago, I knew not from jute leaves. Then you mentioned them being in the Egyptian 'national dish', mulukhiyah, at Garlic 'n Lemons on Thursdays. So we went and got the dish. And now i've just read your op here again and here are...jute leaves! ( Should i start calling you jute boy? ) IF they were what i was tasting in the mulukhiyah, i would compare them a bit to sorrel, a slightly lemony green. Did you buy jute at this place? i'd like to learn about it (and sure, i'll be going to wiki and CH Homecooking soon to do my homework!)

            1. BTW, not about calamansi, but the best hopia we've found in Boston was at HK Market (erstwhile Super88) in Allston, right after they set up shop and started stocking the shelves. There were two brands: Eng Bee Tin, in shiny foil packs, and Ho-Land, in white packs in the freezer. The Eng Bee Tin are not that great, but the Ho-Land is very good- neither too oily nor too dry. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that they ever restocked them, and the stock of Eng Bee Tin also eventually dwindled to the last few packages of pork + winter melon, which evidently nobody would buy. But I always keep my eyes open, in case they get more one day. They were in the freezer case, in a small filipino section, with the frozen leafs and frozen ube.

              1. Nice for the report on calamansi soda, thanks! I got hooked on calamansi in the Phils, where an old fashioned variant with Tanduay gold, calamansi, Ango bitters and simple syrup at the Pan Pacific in Manila was so so good.

                2 Replies
                1. re: marais

                  The Calamansi juice and concentrate at Surepinoy were impossible to resist. In Seltzer or a Manila Screwdriver it works well. While we did not venture into the balut this time, we did meet some gracious Filipina cooks who were happy to advise on the many cuisine and cultures converging on the shelves and frozen cases. Happier still was the discovery next door at Mina's Market of Paan, (پان) which is an Indian, Pakistani, Uttarvarshi and Southeast Asian chewing plug made of betel leaf with areca nut and slaked lime paste, and katha brown powder paste, with many regional and local variations. Mina had a bunch frozen in individual aluminum foil. After a few minutes defrosting the cold fragrant digestivo was a unique treat this side of Lahore.

                  1. re: EATTV

                    yep, just the kind of Ch post i was talking about above. Generous and educational, not exclusive. Thanks eattv, as usual. now i'm on a quest to find calamansi somewhere north of dorchester!