the restaurant, on clinton street, was a little hard to find; the name on the glass front was difficult to read at night. i have to admit i was a little concerned when i saw no filipino faces when i walked in. see, i subscribe to the idea that you can tell right away if a restaurant is good if “locals” patronize it. but soon after we arrived, a couple other groups came in with filipinos. don’t know if they were regulars or first-timers like us but they looked excited enough to be there 😉
our server started us off with a couple bottles of san miguel beer and chicharon (fried pork rinds) sprinkled with five spice. points for serving chicharon with vinegar and fish sauce. E liked the combination of flavors. i, on the other hand, was disappointed because the chicharon was “bula” — the puffy kind that seems be made of air. growing up, we considered “bula” as cheap, second-rate. it’s the chicharon most often associated with the vendors who board the buses heading to and from manila. (chicharon connoisseurs know the best pork rinds have three layers: a thick layer of crunchy skin, a thick layer of creamy fat and a thin layer of meat.) the five spice put me off as well. just give me plain salt with my pork rind any day.
i really got excited when i saw sisig on the menu and promptly placed an order. i didn’t really “tout” it to E because i wasn’t sure what we were gonna get. i was pleasantly surprised. they got the part of the pig right: pork head, and it was spicy enough to make me reach for my san mig (that’s a good thing!). they also added a spice — i’m not sure what exactly … tasted like anise to me — that added a hint of sweetness. i really, really liked the sisig. and it went well with the delicious coconut rice (E called the rice “almost dessert”).
i also enjoyed the grilled sirloin, which as you can see was cooked medium rare and served with issan dipping sauce (kinda like a sweet and sour chili sauce). those brown things on top were garlic chips.
my favorite dish of the night, however, was the grilled pork jowl salad with watermelon, lime-chili sauce, herbs, chicharon (different from the puffy ones) and herbs. the flavor was reminiscent of the watermelon pickle and crispy pork belly i had at fatty crab. the pork was so tender.
i hope to go back and check out the other items on the menu, such as the crispy pata with pickled green mango and grilled curry lamb ribs. i might even bump into yankees captain derek jeter, who according to published reports, enjoyed the sisig recently 😉