Aling Mary’s Filipino Store
2656 Main Street
Pillowy-soft little packets of sweet-savory goodness. That’s my shorthand description of what you can get at Aling Mary’s Store on Main Street in Vancouver, just off the busy Broadway zone. I can still remember the first time I wandered in here randomly and getting engulfed in the fabulous smells that only a fresh bakery can provide, and walking out with two dozen of their popular Pan de Sal. I’ve heard them referred to as Filipino bread rolls, not sure if that’s 100% accurate, but regardless, they are something every Vancouverite should try once in their lifetime.
Honestly, I’ve been back at least a half dozen times since that virgin visit, and even found them being sold in Richmond of all places too. White flour, whole wheat, tried them both. Nothing better though then getting then right out of the oven, timing is important, and I’ve had hits and misses when I’ve gone inside here, depending on their baking schedule and how voracious other customers are in walking out with batches of them. On my last weekend morning stop, I got lucky.
Okay, on first glance they looked pretty normal don’t they? Not much different from say those commercially-made bread rolls you get in places like Safeway perhaps (some times, they’ve had more of what appeared to be a fine dusting of breadcrumbs on the top and were more browned off in the oven). Well maybe the main difference is that slightly rounded shape that is derived from the way they are baked apparently. Loaded no doubt with fattening sugar, butter/lard, but that must be what gives it its amazing flavor that keeps me coming back again and again. Any bakers out there that can verify just how ‘bad’ these things are for me? :) Curious to know if they are up there with these delicious malasadas…
Tearing them open to release the residual heat and its easy to see why the natives like to eat them with various condiments or with other breakfast items. But for me, I love them straight up au natural. Perhaps with a cup of hot coffee. Its a Sunday morning favorite for me. Lastly, if you go, make sure to be able to pay in cash and in small denominations – there’s one older lady there who is kind of scary if you whip out a large bill and try to pay. The petite younger girl who I’ve run into there is more accommodating. I guess I just can’t charm older women.