Siopao, Tamales and Kolaches at Arny's Bakery - Houston

I drove by this little Filipino bakery a few blocks from me a few days ago and was astonished to see a sign advertising tamales in the window. But yes, according to the Wikioracle, there are such things as Filipino tamales. They’re typically made from rice instead of corn masa and steamed in banana leaves with various fillings. I went back another day looking forward to a new culinary experience but the tamales they sell at Arny’s are Mexican. There were pork and chicken varieties; the pork was good, moist, with a generous ratio of meat to masa, but the chicken was dry and the meat overcooked. There was no salsa accompanying them.

They’ve offered kolaches since opening back around the first of the year but have never had them available when I’ve gone in. I was hoping for a Tex-Czech-Filipino version with some longganisa (they only do sausage ‘kolaches’). What I got was a small, pork, little smokie type sausage, not bad but totally lost inside a kolache the size of a hot dog bun. I’m not sure if it was a variety of longganisa or not.

The Siopao was a different story, however, the Filipino version of a steamed bun available with either chicken or pork. I got the Pork BBQ variety and it was excellent. They’re sold frozen, individually wrapped in plastic wrap for $1 a piece, and they are large. They’ll heat them for you on premises but I got a couple to go and steamed one at home. The lady said they could be zapped in the micro for a minute but I was leery of what that would do to the texture of the bread. I’m keeping a couple of these in the freezer for emergencies. I’ve only seen these in freezer sections of grocery stores (picked up some a few months ago at Viet Hoa with pollo asado filling, Binondo brand) but it seems they’re a common offering at Filipino bakeries around town.

The best thing I’ve gotten here previously was the Bibingka, a dense, moist rice cake made with coconut milk, traditionally steamed in banana leaves in a terra cotta pot.

I’ve also seen some of Arny’s products at Hong Kong Market.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2