Aling Mary’s Store is a little convenience shop on Main Street that sells a bit of everything, from Filipino video rentals, to groceries, to fast food. Most importantly, they carry the ever so popular Pan del sal (or salt bread).
Pan del sal are Filipino rolls that have been lightly dusted with bread crumbs and then baked. They are enjoyed dunked in tea or coffee and eaten in the morning for breakfast. Despite the name, the rolls are not so much salty as they are slightly sweet.
Our friends, Virg and Mike tipped us off to Aling’s, describing the hot rolls being served fresh out of the oven. Inside, Aling’s is tiny and crammed with groceries. A few tables are situated in the middle for people to eat. A line up has formed and I’m ready to battle for our buns. Forget courtesies, similar to Chinese bakeries or dim sum, you can’t be too polite and need to be a little aggressive to get what you want.
There’s an informal ordering system in place. You stand on one side and call out the rolls by the dozens and wait. People are calling out 2, 3 and 5 dozen at a time. The lady behind the counter then packs them in a paper bag held by a plastic bag. She then repeats the orders back before handing them to you. A kind lady lets me go ahead of her. She probably sensed we were new at this.
The Pan del sal was hot, fresh and perfectly golden. The light dusting of bread crumbs added a nice touch to the outer crust giving it a deliciously light, crumbly texture. Inside, the roll was soft and pillowy, slightly sweet with a melt in your mouth type texture.
A dozen rolls was only $3.50. Although a sign states by the dozen, we saw someone order half a dozen. The rolls taste best hot. If you haven’t eaten the entire dozen there, you can take them home and nuke them for 20 seconds or wrap them in tin foil and throw it in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
Perfect for: tea, coffee, dinner, snack… whatever.
2656 Main Street, Vancouver