Nostalgia Manila at Food Trip Ltd in Matamata

This will be my maiden post on the food category featuring a review of a food establishment. I want to deviate from the usual practice of reviewing the whole establishment in one go. I will give feedback on specific dishes. Personally, I do not want to review the restaurant and give an generalization just because I like/dislike a specific dish. Maybe some of you may have different dining experiences in the same location, maybe because you were served by different staff, or your favorite cook has already left and was replaced by someone else, or your preferred dish was not available when you went there and you tried a different dish that didn't taste right for you. This are just some of the reasons why I prefer to give a dish-level feedback.

So for my first food stop... FOOD TRIP LTD in Matamata. Since coming here in New Zealand, I always look forward to visit food shops that serve Filipno dishes. Not until a month ago, a colleague of mine, who's also a FIlipina, asked me if I know Food Trip in Matamata, which I said no. She said I should try it because it's Filipino street food. Used to be a food truck, they have taken a good location in the heart of town and have a restaurant-type setting. But still, the concept of street food is still the same. So just last weekend, my wife and I decided to take a drive to see if what people are saying is true. For the information of everyone, Food Trip is 110kms from where we live. Enough with the introductions... let's go straight to what we had during our visit.

This is the main reason of our visit here in this town. This is grilled pork intestine, more popularly known in the Philippines as isaw. In New Zealand, it used to be just 7 NZD a kilo a few years back but because of the growing popularity as the number of Filipino and Chinese migrants also increased, its price has risen dramatically to 18 NZD per kilo. So instead of doing the hardwork of preparing this dish, I rather buy it, already cooked, from somewhere which didn't disappoint. It was soft, delicious and brought me back the memories of eating them on the sidestreets of Manila. Their accompanying vinegar dip is a winner! It's a wonderful combination of sweetness and sourness which makes it a perfect match for any of their grilled products

This is siomai, a Filipino version of the Chinese dumpling. It is packed of flavors and the wrap melts in your mouth. It is delicious that you can compare it with the Chinese food takeaways here in New Zealand.

This is grilled pork liempo, or simply marinated pork belly that is also grilled. The meat is cooked just right and very tasty surprising to see vegetable salad (probably because it's in NZ) coming with the meal. It is not complete if it doesn't come with rice, which is perfectly steamed.

This last dish is pork hamonado which is basically pork cooked in pineapple. Surprisingly, my wife said it tasted more of an asado but it really tasted good. The meat is so soft that it literally melts in your mouth. While she thinks it is "not" the dish she's expecting, she said it was delicious, which I did agree with, since I also have a go on how it tasted.

Food prices are reasonable, though the most common mistake of Filipinos is to convert the New Zealand prices into Philippine pesos and then say that food (not just in Food Trip but also in other Filipino diners) are expensive. That comparison is wrong as the factors of producing that food and the costs associated with it are different in New Zealand. Sorry I am talking economics now... Going back to the food, I think they are well-priced and again, the food is delicious.

The diner is generally clean and the staff are so friendly and accommodating. I had that feeling of just being in a friends house back in the Philippines and being provided with a hospitable service Filipinos are known with. Overall, the food we had are exceptionally good and gave my Filipino palate a VIP treatment. My wife even bought a box of sylvanas for a take-away.

As I've said to Tatay (Filipino word for "Father" - the father of the family who owned the business), when he asked me how was the food... this is the only thing I said... "The food is so good that it is worth driving for".

Food Trip Ltd is located at 77 Broadway, Matamata, New Zealand.

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