Here’s some good news for you North kids out there. There’s a new international food hub at UP Village, Quezon City, and nope, you guessed wrong—it’s not at Maginhawa Street.
Located at Mayaman Street (surprise!), Merkanto: International Street Food Hall is a one-stop place where you can take a food trip around the world.
When I found out about this place, I asked my fellow friend Carlo to come with me so we can visit together. We took a cab getting there, and were surprised to realize that it was located inside a car wash place, but hey— the place was great, their music was awesome, and the food was superb, so I guess, yeah, it totally worked.
Allow us to tour you around the restaurant, or the world, rather, as we taste different flavors from six different places!
All photos taken by Carlo De Guzman.
If you’re up for something HOT, the tteokbokki is for you! It’s a Korean rice cake stew bathed in red sweet chili sauce.
Tteokbokki (korean rice cake stew)- PHP 170
Next up: my all time favorite!!!!! I looove love love love Korean fried chicken with so much passion (hehehe). It’s the perfect mix of crispy, savory, and sweet, and I may or may not have finished this whole plate by myself………..
Dakgangjeong (Korean fried chicken) – PHP160
“Di bale nang walang boy friend, may fried chicken naman.”
I love their booth! Isn’t it cute??
On to our next country: Vietnam. One thing I really like about this place is their attention to detail! Just look at this booth!
It was raining that night, so a hot bowl of braised beef soup was just what we needed. Yummm.
Pho Bo Kho (Braised Beef Pho)- PHP 160
Now on to Indonesia. We got three of their bestsellers, which were the nasi goreng, the beef rendang, and the satay.
The satay was something I was always familiar with, but the former two were new to me. I’m super glad Merkanto introduced these dishes to us cause I really liked the nasi goreng, tbh.
(L-R, counter clockwise) :
Nasi Goreng (Fried rice with chicken, shrimp, egg, and peanuts)- PHP 140
Beef rendang (spicy meat dish)- PHP 180
Satay (grilled meat)- PHP 50
Next stop: India, the land of scenic landscapes, Bollywood, and the Taj Mahal.
First things first, of course we just had to order roti. Roti never fails. Roti is life, and we enjoyed ours soft and warm.
Roti (flat bread)
What I love about Merkanto is that people get the chance to discover street foods from different cultures. It was our first time to try a lot of native delicacies that night, one of which was India’s samosa. It’s basically a fried dish filled with potatoes, peas, meat, etc, which kind of reminded me of our version of the empanada, but not quite. You guys should try it!
Samosa (fried dish)
Welcome to Morocco, the land of the setting sun. Oh, and meet their bestseller, the North African chicken tagine.
Isn’t it a beauty?
Chicken tagine-PHP 180
And now we’re down to our last stop: Brazil!
Ghoooddd, I’m still dreaming about this dish up til now. If you’re going to try the Brazilian dishes at Merkanto, make sure to try the Usda beef rib finder. Promise me that, ok???
Usda beef rib finger- PHP 180
For dessert, we had the tapioca cheese crepe! We recommend trying one with ice cream on top, too.
Tapioca cheese crepe- PHP 120
That night (luckily), I got to interview Brian, one of the owners of the restaurant, and I asked him the obvious: how did they come up with the name Merkanto? He told me a cute story about how this was a project that started among a group of childhood friends (they were classmates in kindergarten and grade school).
They were kidding around with possible names of the place, some of which were “CARenderia” (because of the car wash in front of it) and “Maykanto”, since they were located at the corner of Malumanay and Mahinhin streets (and customers could easily tell tricycle drivers to drop them off “doon sa may kanto”).
Eventually, the name Merkanto stuck because it was a combination of Merkato (the open air market) and kanto (Filipino word for corner).
He also asked me to post photos using the hashtag #NoMa, meaning Not On Maginhawa. They had friends from other restaurants at UP Village, and they’re helping each other spread the word that there are plenty of new hole-in-the-wall and start-up restos along different streets of the village, too.
Before I end this post, let me show you the restaurant’s pretty interiors!
The place is al fresco (duh, it’s a streetfood place), so I recommend you guys wear light clothing if you plan to drop by earlier.
Try not to fall in love with these pretty lights! ???? I mean, seriously. WOW.
The attention to detail is really amazing.
I mean, REALLY amazing. Could you read the word “Merkanto” in this photo?
I started joking around with Brian and told him how “Instagrammable” the place was. He laughed and said that was the whole point why they made sure they had good lighting inside (plus, they taught their staff to take photos for Instagram too, so that people could enjoy having their photos taken).
They have craft beers, too. This bottle of beer is mixed with coffee. Yum! #TitaOfManila
Overall, we totally enjoyed our Merkanto experience. We got to try new food and experience culture, too! I totally recommend you guys take your friends out here at night! Check their Facebook page out for updates cause sometimes, they invite live bands to perform, too!
Watch this short video for a virtual tour! Thank you to Carlo De Guzman for taking the videos, and to Kevin Martelino for editing.