Mezza Norte: a nighttime food adventure in the northern metropolis

Posted on August 2, 2012

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From classic lutong bahay to tequila rose ice cream – a night festival of flavors had just arrived to tickle the taste buds of Quezon City. Last July 26, the Mezza Norte food bazaar was officially launched at the U.P.-AyalaLand TechnoHub. With over 40 stalls offering a unique selection of food and beverages, Mezza Norte is definitely a must-see in nighttime Quezon City.

The evening of Mezza Norte’s opening was rainy. It was almost opening time, and people continued to arrive at TechnoHub’s open-air area where Mezza Norte’s big white tents were located. Even before opening time, the scent of indistinguishable grilled food hung in the air.

Like appetizers for the main course, the street food stalls were among the first to open in the bazaar. Young people, mostly students, gathered around the four long tables of street food. There were chicken intestines, locally known as isaw, and barbeque. There were also fishballs, squidballs, and chicken balls. There were the popular Pinoy street delicacies such as kwek-kwek (hard-boiled eggs coated with a thick orange coating) and betamax (blocks of pig’s blood). It was like a fiesta of street food kebabs, and it was hard to keep track of them all.

Moving around the crowded and steamy place is hard enough to begin with. It’s even harder to walk around with food that would easily fall apart and leave a mess. Take tacos, for example. Even while sitting down, tacos are hard to eat. In Mezza Norte, one is sure to stumble upon the solution: bite-sized tacos! These taco dumplings, served in carton egg containers, are pretty much just compressed tacos. At first glance they could be siomai or cupcakes, but they really do taste like tacos. They look pretty, too.

Japanese takoyaki was also a favorite among the young people. Takoyaki is made of crab sticks, vegetables, and dressing rolled into a ball, topped with a variety of sauces and herbs. Besides the popular Japanese delicacy, there was also the Korean bibimbap and bulgogi. Bibimbap is mostly a rice dish, mixed with kimchi and different kinds of meat. Bulgogi is marinated meat cut into strips.

Local delicacies were also showcased in the bazaar. There was this stall that sold different kinds of sisig – veggie, tuna, crispy pork, pusit, and chicken- different takes on Pampanga’s trademark pork dish. There were also stalls selling assorted Filipino food, carinderia style. There was also Maria’s Ilocos empanada, and a stall selling the Ilocano bagnet as a substitute for bacon. Their advertisement had it right: bacon is more fun in the Philippines.

And of course, there were charcoal-grilled food. There was also a stall selling steak cooked in different ways, paired with different kinds of food. You can have steak with rice, with carbonara, with ensalada…the possibilities are endless.

For the beverages, there were a lot of fruit juices and milk teas. What really stood out were the non-alcoholic cocktails or “mocktails” as the owners called them. They offer flavors such as lemon drop, apple mojito, and tropical punch. The owners said that the apple mojito was their bestseller, while the tropical punch was the most addictive. They look like cocktails, prepared and served like cocktails, and taste like cocktails minus the alcohol content. If it’s hard to imagine the taste, then it’s time to try it.

There were so many stalls of pastries and ice cream that it quite easy to find something for dessert. Merry Moo offered a variety of ice cream flavors, from classic chocolate to sea salt caramel. There was also another ice cream stall with an even wider (and mature) selection with flavors like tequila rose, Bailey’s, and Cali. There were also ice cream-filled mochi balls in Mochiko.

As for pastries, there were a lot of mini cakes and cupcakes that look too pretty to eat. One of the cake stalls showed the process of preparing one of the cakes for a customer. The vendor was burning (yes, burning) the surface of a chocolate mousse. She said it was for taste, as well as “for decoration”.

The area will soon be expanded to accommodate more stalls, tables, and chairs. And they should, Mezza Norte was so full of people during the opening that it was difficult to move around. It was also hard to find a spot to eat food, especially since it was raining that time and everybody was cramped inside the tents.

A night of food, music, and free WiFi. Food junkies are not the only ones who can enjoy the nocturnal food bazaar of the northern metro.  Mezza Norte is open from Thursday to Saturday, 6 PM to 3 AM. For those out there looking for a gastronomic adventure, or just simply looking for fun, make sure to check out Mezza Norte. Also, it would be wise to bring a lot of cash – the food honestly does not come cheap.

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