I know exactly when it started.
June 23, 2014.
I was craving for the fresh lumpia I used to enjoy when I was in high school. A “garlic-smothered-must-have” fresh lumpia at a hole-in-the-wall stall in Quiapo… where I’d hang out while waiting for the next screening of a sexy movie at Palace theater – which would require me to present my fake cedula at the ticketing booth.
No cedula (to prove you’re 18 years old and above), no 3-second glimpse of a nipple on the screen – the allowed nudity in those puritanical days. Pre-YouPorn.
So I asked my office messenger to buy me the fresh lumpia offered by a nearby fastfood chain.
First bite… i hated it.
I wanted a savory treat – not dessert. The lumpia was sweet and bland and wrapped in some sissy crepe-like wrapper.
In my disappointment, I had my messenger drop everything he was doing and take the LRT to Quiapo to buy the real stuff.
The 2 1/2 hour wait was worth it.
The Quiapo fresh lumpia and its distinctive flavor exploded in my mouth… and heightened my resolve to never again entrust my cravings to any fastfood chain.
It also lit my desire to replicate the delicious experience for other people – in my own terms.
I went to my sister who has a Tesda-like test kitchen and explained my dilemma. (The same kitchen where she “invented” the now-famous Pepi Cubano.)
She felt my pain and promised to reverse-engineer the prized Quiapo lumpia.
She cautioned me however that my beloved lumpia had some ingredients that needed to be replaced because they spoil easily – as in, an ingredient like papaya will make the lumpia less desirable after 4 hours only.
Faster than you can say “panis”, 4000 times.
I said I trusted her explicitly and knew she would come up with something better.
Let the taste tests begin.
After the ingredients and formula were agreed upon, we had willing “respondents” take our informal taste tests.
People who never tasted that Quiapo fresh lumpia before.
People who hated fresh lumpia.
People who would eat anything that’s for free.
The formula kept changing… more of that, less of this… the months turned to years… but for me to agree to a “good enough” fresh lumpia was not good enough. The bar was raised to a level where our homegrown fresh lumpia had to be BETTER than the Quiapo peg.
On a bright sunny day in July, the lumpia gods looked kindly upon us.
We finally got everything right and had a winning product that can be eaten with gusto and will keep for at least 4 days.
The formula was a no-brainer:
- the right healthy ingredients (Baguio beans, tofu, cabbage, shrimps, bean sprouts, peanuts, lettuce and lots of garlic) – no papaya
- wrapped minutes before it is handed to the “consumer” to assure freshness
- endowed with a brand name full of imagery “Chinita Fresh Lumpia” – not fastfood, not quite Chinese
- a reasonable price tag (introductory P75/per extremely satisfactory piece)
- an endearing slogan “Isang kagat, ikaw limot pangalan mo…”
Since its introduction a few days ago, Chinita Fresh Lumpia has triggered a frenzy-like rush among fresh lumpia lovers to check out if it is the right stuff.
The verdict is still on deliberation mode and YOU can be part of the jury.
Just call 0977-7234315 for your Chinita Fresh Lumpia fix. You can pick up your orders at our Cocina or have it delivered (within Makati only).
Just make sure you have a post-it sticker (with your name on it) on your forehead while you enjoy your Chinita.
Just in case you forget your name.