For a peek inside the proverbial pantry of top chefs and passionate home cooks, set out early one morning to the daily Cubao Farmers Market. While this vibrant marketplace is as authentic as they come, it’s also impressively clean and well-organized. You’ll find rickety stalls displaying colorful pyramids of produce, and butcher counters offering dried sausages and whole chickens with ink-black skin. Try not to get distracted—it’s the just-reeled-in seafood that you’re here for. Ogle the massive tuna and marlin, the still-clattering Manila clams, the plump mud crabs that just might bite if you’re not careful. Choose your catch and carry it over to the food court, where any one of the restaurants will cook your prize while you wait. Look for the Aling Cadiang stall with the terracotta-tile roof if you have a taste for gingery clam soup or crabs cooked in garlic. (Trust us, you’ll want to try both.) After your meal, wander through row after explosive row of mums and delicate orchids at the adjacent flower market, and pick up some fresh blooms for your room.
The Cubao Farmers Market is at the north end of Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue (commonly known as EDSA), about 9 miles from Conrad Manila. The route is often congested, so expect a 40- to 60-minute drive. Theoretically the market is open 24 hours a day, every day, but not all vendors stay open 24/7. The restaurants and kitchen stalls are open only from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.