Señor Sisig at Powell & Ellis

I did not miss the Philippines when I was in San Francisco CA.  Aside from the copious presence of Filipinos everywhere in SF, there are bounteous existence of Filipino dishes around.  The mere fact that at the back of my mind there is a Filipino whom I can easily approach while in SF and there are Pinoy dishes around, I never have to suffer the looney craving for my home country.

During my early stay in San Francisco I had an unfaltering decision of not eating any Filipino dish during the whole length of my stay in the City by the Bay.  And at the same time will munch on a big and heavy burrito, a seem-to-be-staple for the locals.  This decision however was easily modified when I saw a food truck named Señor Sisig parked along the corner streets of Powell and Ellis at downtown San Francisco.

it must be the filipino in me that i just have to fall in line

pabili!

popular choices…

sisig burrito

gone in a couple of minutes

Since there is a queue of people on the said food truck, out of curiosity, I quietly fall in line and looked unto the menu board that the food truck offers.  To my surprise, Señor Sisig offers a variety of Filipino fusion dishes.  This therefore made me decide to violate what I have earlier promised yet will achieve what I intend to eat at the same time.

I ordered the surprisingly large and heavy “Señor Sisig Burrito” – a Filipino-cum-San Franciscan dish because it is a fusion of Sisig (a Kapampangan dish) presented in a San Francisco burrito way.  And what’s my verdict as to how this dish faired? Let me just say I gasped on my first bite and the large burrito was gone in a matter of minutes!

My experience of chomping on Senor Sisig Burrito can therefore be summarized as a promise that was broken yet a fantasy that came true wrapped into one.

Sarap!

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Pancit Batil Patung at Shallots-All-You-Can Joint

The usual main aim of an out of town adventure is to see and experience for yourself the scenic view of your planned destination.  While the food in your destination would usually come in as an additional perk to an already awesome adventure.

But this is not the case with my recent out of town adventure in Tuguegarao, Cagayan province.  I, MJ, JB and Willie (my officemates) went to Tuguegarao for a long weekend with two major aims in mind:  to visit the majestic Callo Cave and to take a bite of Tuguegarao’s unique noodle dish.

 

super special batil patung at jomar's

super special batil patung at jomar’s

Pancit Batil Patung on my first chomp was like an explosion of flavors in my palate.  The delicious mixture of ingredients was so awesome it will make your taste buds wanna grow hands for it to give a good round of applause.

But let me digress from the as-expected delicious taste of this dish to that of the surprising and unique experience we had when we went and ordered our Pancit Batil Patung at Jomar’s Panceteria (panceteria: English translation, noodle house).

Jomar’s Panceteria only serves Pancit Batil Patung and there’s nothing else in the menu.  Thus, you would really conclude that their noodle dish is one of the best since it’s the only dish that keeps their store alive.  Nevertheless, their pancit are of three varieties, i.e. regular, special and super special.  All four of us of course did not settle for less and opted for the Super Special which only costs eighty pesos (or less than US$ 2).

happy tummy...

happy tummy… (with mj, jb and willie)

Our astonishment in the restaurant was further driven when we noticed at one corner of the dining area was the presence of a ginormous chopping board, several knives and a huge sack full of pungent shallots.

While we were having the first bite of the pancit (egg noodle), we noticed people were actually proceeding to the monster chopping board and were actually peeling off and mincing the shallots.  After which they would place it on a small saucer and bring to their table.  We then saw them pour soy sauce and scooped a generous amount so as to top it on their Pancit Batil Patung.

We then asked our companion Willie to peel and chop red onions for us.  And when he could no longer take it he went back to our table serving a meager amount of minced shallots with uncontrollable tears in his eyes.  We on the other hand were laughing so hard!

big portions!!!

big portions!!!

extra challenge part of the adventure!

extra challenge part of the adventure!

pose muna

pose muna with the “cusinera

That’s when we realized that Jomar’s Pancit Batil Patung was a shallots-all-you-can panciteria!  I was actually telling my companions that Jomar’s should replace the knives and chopping board with a food processor so that it would be “no-more-tears” and would be easier for their guests.  But then again, I realized that if electric food processor would be installed, the odd extra-challenge, fun and uniqueness of the whole experience would be expunged.

Where in the world would you find a restaurant that has this kind of an offering?  Pancit Batil Patung at Jomar’s was definitely one unique, enjoyable and tummy-filling part of our adventure in Tuguegarao.

Sibuyas pa mor!

The Peanut Butter That Will Tantalize Your Tastebuds

nanay pacing, i was surprised that she was the one manning the store...

the lady on the label.  i was surprised that she was the one manning the store…

In some recent past, Philippine society got so crazed up by a food paste known as Speculoos Cookie Butter.  We were so wildly insane about it, it seem like a status symbol to own at least one jar.  As if possessing one jar is to have an insane bragging right.  Filipinos then would even post a photo of their cookie butter jar on their Facebook page!

Now that the hype has calmed down  and that Trader Joe’s in California (where this spread is sold) are no longer infested with Filipinos lining up to buy jars of it, there has yet to have another food paste that Pinoy society would have to be crazy about.

While waiting for the re-emergence of such phenomenon, let me introduce you to a locally-made food spread that will tantalize your tastebuds. It’s the Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter!

Buying two jars of this spread was the best purchase I made when I recently been to Baler in Aurora Province.  This peanut butter, my goodness, is evil!

one rare source of gastronomic happiness

warning! highly addictive…

glad to have discovered it in baler

glad to have discovered it in baler

In case you got hold of this creamy peanut butter and tried it for yourself, and you think you did not like it, then perhaps there must be no joy in your life and I hope things would get better soon.

There are few things in this world that deserves some great recognition, Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter is one of them!  And because of its magical taste which emanates the secretion of happy chemical compounds in the brain, I will then submit a formal nomination of Nanay Pacing to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Chemistry and Physiology.

Maning may mantikilya o mantikilyang may mani? Basta yami!

The Best and Most Favorite Filipino Restaurant

It is a common notion and a customary aspiration that if you are in a foreign land, you would want to taste the best and most favorite that such locale or country has to offer.  Meaning, if you are in France you would normally want to dine in the best or most preferred French restaurant.  Or if you are in Italy you would of course aspire to eat at the best or most popular Italian restaurant.  But when in the Philippines, has it been determined which would be the restaurant where to taste the best and most preferred Filipino cuisine?

The Filipino cuisine is experiencing a renaissance in the world cuisine stage. The world is now discovering that the Filipino cuisine is not just the exotic “balut”.  Thus, it is essential to determine in today’s generation which Filipino restaurant in the Philippines is the best and the most favorite.  Here are two trusty basis for this.  One for being the best while the other for being the most favorite.

One would be based on the selection made by MBKRS which is short for Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secret award.  MBKRS is a biennial awarding body considered by a lot of Filipino foodies and food establishments as the most prestigious award that recognizes excellence in city dining scene.

Two would be based on the honor given by the recently concluded Choice Awards 2015.  A new food-scene recognizing body which was established and organized by popular and “powerful” food bloggers in the Philippines.  This award does not recognizes the best of the country’s food and food establishments but instead honors the most commonly preferred and most favorites.

These two recognizing bodies has bestowed honors to food establishments in various categories – best or most favorite: buffet, Italian resto, Spanish resto, burger joint, coffee shop, steakhouse, Chinese resto, and a lot more.  But these recognizing bodies being based in the Philippines, I would personally consider their choice or their award for being the best and most favorite Filipino Restaurant would be the most prestigious.  It’s like bestowing the Best Picture award during the Oscars or the Golden Globes of Philippine dining scene!

Few people I guess knows that there is one Filipino restaurant (in the Philippines) which has received and has been awarded by both these recognizing bodies.  MBKRS in 2012 awarded it as the “Best Filipino Restaurant” while the first Choice Awards held this year (2015) chose it as the “Most Favorite Filipino Restaurant”.

That restaurant is Abe.

at the trinoma branch

at the trinoma branch

at the serendra branch

at the serendra branch

Award wining!

Keeping, Serving, Enjoying The Traditional Kare-Kare

kare-kare overload

kare-kare overload

The Filipino cuisine is at its renaissance in the present generation.  And because of this global upwelling, it is frustrating to note that there have been lots of Filipino restaurants popping up in the metro that has gone modifying and fusing the tasty traditional Filipino dishes with the western or other Asian cuisines.

The grassroots and nature of the Filipino cuisine is about being economical.  Ingredients were based on what the environment offers.  Filipino dish is not about just taking, using and eating the best part of an edible fruit, plant or animal.  It is about the development of dishes utilizing every edible part of an edible element present in the environment may it be a fruit, a plant or an animal.  That is why western world would often perceive Filipino dishes to be bizarre and outright disgusting.

Because of this perception, to tweak Filipino dishes in terms of plating and visual presentation so as to not scare people and achieve global marketability is okay for me.  But the complex taste and palatal balance of the traditional recipe that Filipinos of the past has concocted and developed must remain.

the chosen one!!! the authentic good old kare-kare

the chosen one!!! the good old traditional  kare-kare (i obviously erased the labels…)

It is good to know then that the LJC Restaurant Group, a leading group of restaurants in the country continues to serve traditional Filipino dishes.  Though I am not the final authority regarding the taste of traditional Filipino dishes, I have been fortunate to be chosen as one of the lucky Filipinos to taste and determine which among their Kare-Kare is the best!  Aside from adopting the chosen best Kare-Kare for all their outlets, this project by the LJC Group in way ensures that the good old Kare-Kare (stewed oxtail in peanut-based sauce) is available for the present generation to enjoy.

This project only shows how the LJC Restaurant Group is serious is keeping the traditional Filipino cuisine.  No wonder the LJC Restaurant Group operates the leading and best Filipino restaurants in the country, i.e. Abe (which now has 6 branches) and Bistro Remedios located in Malate, Manila.

With the rousing global interest about the Filipino cuisine nowadays, it would be sad to know and would be hard to imagine in case the best Kare-Kare would not be found in the Philippines.  So, good job LJC Group!  At least for now, the best Kare-Kare is still found in the Philippines!

Yami parang ako!

TED Talk about a New York Style Pork Adobo

I don’t cook but if I am to give a TED talk, one possible topic that I would discuss would be the event when I cooked Adobo.  A pork adobo for that matter.  It is because this is the first time ever that I cooked such a Filipino dish and this happened not in the Philippines but no less than the high-end, well-heeled and sophisticated New York.

I would talk about the feelings of anxiety on how such ingredients would end up being edible and be fit for human consumption.  I would talk about the various moods I felt when I was being instructed to the point of being obligated by my friend (Jhong) on what to do as well as the tips on how a perfect adobo would be like.

jhong at times square, my preferred venue for my pork adobo TED talk

jhong at times square, my preferred venue in case my TED Talk talk will become a reality

 

Super Sid and the secret ingredient

Super Sid and the secret ingredient

me at jhong's crib, the birthplace of "new york style pork adobo"

me at jhong’s crib, the birthplace of “new york style pork adobo”

I would talk about the joys of learning how supportive another friend (Sid) became and gave a cooking-adjustment-advise during the duration of my cooking when the dish is turning to become salty and tough to the bite.  I would talk about the pleasures of slow cooking and low-fire culinary technique as well as the innuendos of having to wash the dishes while waiting for this amazing dish to cook. I would talk about the thrill of discovering the secret ingredients that I learned so that the dish would be considered the best adobo ever.

hilaw pa

hilaw pa

 

luto na. tadah! new york style pork adobo

luto na. tadah!
new york style pork adobo

I would talk about the ecstasies, the bliss and the delight when friends considered my first time Adobo to be such a great adobo dish!  We all finished it!  Jhong even brought some to his office as a “baon” (packed lunch).

And by the way, I’ve tagged this adobo as the New York Style Pork Adobo.  I’m pretty sure, I would gain standing ovations and be invited to various TED talk events and venues if I would talk about it.  Even Mr. TED of TED talk, whoever he may be, for sure would love my pork adobo.

Naka-tsamba lang ng masarap na luto gusto na kagad mag-TED tok. Hahaha!

Kick Cancer’s Ass

Cancer (not the horoscope but the ailment) in which ever form, type, category or origin it is has gained the reputation of being a deadly and dreaded disease.  It has claimed a considerable percentage of the human population.  This disease is so deadly, it does not only attack the physical being, it also plagues the human emotion as well as drain a family’s bank account.  Cancer nowadays is so prevalent everybody seem to know someone who had or have it.

Because of this, people in groups – may it be a foundation, an organization or a company – has come up with noble and novel ideas on how to help those affected.  Case in point are the two ongoing projects situated at two ends of the planet.  Their strategies may vary but their aim is the same.  To kick cancer’s ass.

One is located in Manila, particularly the LJC Restaurants’ ‘Good to Dine’ promo.  It is a strategy that lets you donate to the needy yet at the same time let you enjoy a penchant palatal experience.  It is because for every ordered special dish included in the campaign, the patron gets to donate ten (10) pesos of his payment to the Philippine General Hospital’s Cancer Institute.

The campaign will run until the end of the year (2014) and the accumulated fund will be used to finance treatments of cancer patients.  So when you plan to dine in a restaurant, might as well settle for these restaurants and order for these items…

order na!  (photo grabbed from ljc restaurants webpage)

order na!
(photo grabbed from ljc restaurants webpage)

The other is located in New York.  That is Hoda Kotb’s (host of The Today Show) direct-to-the-point fundraising and donation campaign. Usually quirky Hoda and her group tickle viewers’ sentiments and emotion by letting them watch and listen to a beautiful mashed up songs of two of pop superstars Sara Bareilles’ ‘Brave‘ and Cindy Lauper’s ‘True Colors‘.

Indeed, the song and the music video touches the heart.  It will make you realize that you haven’t seen what a true character of ‘brave’ is until you’ve seen kids kick cancer’s ass.

All proceeds of Hoda’s campaign will go to grants for pediatric cancer research via the American Cancer Society.  Click HERE if you wish to donate.

Kip dis gowing… Doneyt doneyt ang peg!