Sample the Food (and Ice Cream) of the Philippines at VGM Market and Deli
I've been writing about food long enough to know that what I'm about to do isn't the best way to start a restaurant review, but in this case, it's the most honest way: I (mostly) have no idea what I ate at the VGM Market this afternoon, but I loved every single bit of it.
The VGM Market is a small Filipino grocery store with a restaurant and ice cream shop inside. As far as I can tell, it's Memphis' only Filipino food outlet.
The friendly woman behind the counter at VGM was completely sympathetic to me being a Filipino food newbie and she patiently explained what all of the hot dishes were: massive hunks of pork belly, noodles, pork and chicken on sticks, vegetables and beef, etc. Everything comes as a combo – you can get a meat, a side and either rice or noodles for about $9.
I ordered the chicken adobo (braised and browned chicken wings) and some creamy greens that were like a spicy, coconut milk version of creamed spinach. My friend John ordered two skewers, one of grilled pork and one grilled chicken and noodles, which tasted almost exactly like Chinese fried rice.
After lunch, we checked out the ice cream case, which had about ten flavors of brightly colored ice cream in flavors that I'd never heard of: mais queso, cashew, macapuno, halo halo, etc. After watching the woman behind the counter make a Halo Halo drink for someone else, I ordered it.
She produced a plastic cup with some jellied fruit, coconut and red beans floating in a red liquid at the bottom third of it, added crushed ice, poured condensed milk over it, then added a huge scoop of ice cream (in my case, cashew). She gave me a spoon and told me to mix it up.
It was sort of like a thin milkshake, about the texture of an iced latte. The ice cream, which is imported from the Philippines, has a lot of flavor, but is very light. We figured out that there were jellied strings of coconut, but never determined (even after asking) what the red chunks of fruit were. They kind of tasted like Jello, but had a thicker texture. Despite not knowing exactly what I was drinking, it was amazing – cool and refreshing and perfect for an afternoon as hot as this one.
The VGM market is open for lunch and dinner. There are plenty of tables if you want to eat there, and they take cash and credit cards (though, I don't think they take American Express). After you eat, check out the grocery section and the to-go pints of ice cream.
6195 Macon Road,
Memphis, TN 38134