The Sunday Market at the sprawling Philippine Lung Center compound near Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City is fantastic! A reincarnation of the Sunday market located at the Sidcor parking lot on Edsa near Cubao, it has grown tremendously and offers an impressive selection of vegetables, fruit, seafood, meat, plants, dry goods, native delicacies, cooked food and even pets! I used to frequent the Sidcor market several years back and wasnâ€™t really sure where they had relocated to until I read an article several months ago that they were now at the Lung Center. Since I have to drive from way across town to get there I kept putting off a visit until early last Sunday. The drive was actually painlessâ€¦ it took just 15 minutes to get from the South Superhighway to Quezon circle at 6ish in the morning with no traffic at all. I proceeded to get lost and circled the circle twice until I saw a traffic aide who then pointed me in the right direction. The market actually has an entrance facing Quezon Circle but itâ€™s best to park inside the compound, entering through gates on Quezon Avenue.
The market has several hundred vendors, probably over 200 at least, and the selection is really extensive. My photos on this post are of all the really neat things I found and while that may portray the market as a bit esoteric, that is not the case at all. First up, is produce. There is an extensive selection of vegetables from all over, including several vendors who are my sukiâ€™s in the Taguig and Makati area. Seems they bring their vegetables from Baguio, Tagaytay and elsewhere and set up in two markets every weekend. I even spied some of my market regulars who have stalls at the Market!Market! Mall in Fort Bonifacio selling at the Lung Center. While a lot of the produce looked great, I have this one nagging negative feeling that they are second picks in that they probably arrived from the province on Friday, had already been partially sold on Saturday at other outdoor markets then the remainder makes it to the Lung Center. That may be only partially true for some of the vendors, but other vendors clearly brought the freshest stuff to sell that Sundayâ€¦ great finds included truly abundant pako (fiddlehead fern) which is really unusual at the height of summer as they generally like the damp rainy season, terrific tasting mangoes, delicious native bell peppers, etc.
What really floored me were the “exotics” (to me, at leastâ€¦). I stopped and did a double take on a vendor who was skinning a fat frog! Yes, a frog! I looked down and saw two nets or sacks filled with fat Kermits. My photo isnâ€™t great (they werenâ€™t terribly photogenic in their monochromatic skins smushed side by side) but I did capture their unusually colored eyes. I enjoy deep fried battered (as in flour, not abused, silly) frogs legs but seeing the buggers alive and getting skinned is another story. I mean how many people shopping at SM Grocery have seen a headless chicken running around bleeding before its feathers were plucked? The vendor was insisting that I photograph him skinning a live frog but I declinedâ€¦ too early in the morning for blood and gore. Hadnâ€™t even had my first Diet Coke! Along with the frogs was an abundance of kuhol (black river snails) which apparently often come from rice fields and not rivers. Itâ€™s a dish (kuhol sa gata) that is omnipresent in Filipino restaurants but not something I have ever cooked at home. Apparently you have to puncture the tip of the shells before cooking so that the meat inside is easily extractable. It was great to see these offerings in the market.
The market also had a large selection of seafood, including some spectacular looking lobsters â€“ the rock lobsters with bluish shells rather than the shallower dwelling mud variety. The same vendor also had ulang (giant freshwater shrimp) complete with its long thin claws (see my earlier entry on ulang) and alimasag (blue crabs). They had several types of seaweed on offer along with live tilapia, hito (cat fish) and deep sea fish such as tanguige and blue marlin. One vendor was roasting large tilapia on a grill that looked really enticingâ€¦
The market also had a smattering of cooked delicacies, including breads and cakes, sweets and kakanin (rice cakes), carinderia style eateries, leche flans (crÃ¨me caramel) and sumans on offer. In fact, the mix of vendors was a little unique and aimed at a wide audience of buyers. The people who go to this market must represent a relatively broad cross-section of society, though that may be a stretch as most probably came in cars while some were definitely commuters. I also found a vendor who was selling freshly made bagoong (shrimp paste) from enormous pails without a heavy dose of food coloring, bottled patis (fish sauce) and guinamos (fermented fish fry). One vendor also had longganisa hanging by the dozen from ropes above her stall…
I didnâ€™t get a chance to stray into the plant section but I did see a lot of people leaving with pots of flowering plants, small trees and other garden ornamentals. There were several bird vendors and got this nice photo of a colorful bird on offer, hoping some kind person would take him or her home, keep it locked up but fed with birdseed, fruit and water on a daily basisâ€¦ Overall, I was really impressed. What a terrific Sunday market for the residents of Quezon City and anyone else who wants to drive or commute to get there. Though the market is a bit more disorganized than others I have been to, the breadth and depth of its offerings easily makes up for the slight chaos that greets you when you get there. Arrive early if you want to get the best picks. I got there at 630a.m. and it was already bustling.