Dear Food Diary:
I’ve only had Filipino food a handful of times, so when my one and only Filipino friend (pictured above, overly ecstatic while browsing the menu, actually he was just shy about speaking his native tongue, first time we heard him) organized a feast at Engeline’s, we took out our metrocard and rushed over to Woodside, on a Monday night.
As if a human Filipino food dictionary wasn’t enough, I wrote down a list of must try popular dishes. The Melon Drink had strings of fresh cantaloupe in a sweet fruity water.
This meal is NOT meant for the faint of heart. Check your cholesterol levels at the door, and let the feast begin…
Oh yeah, before we begin… according to our Filipino guide of the night, the correct way to eat is holding the fork on your left and spoon on your right. Pushing bites of perfectly proportioned rice, combining it with the rest, and sending it towards mouth via spoon… chew and repeat.
SIZZLING SISIG (sounds like seasick) was the dish I was most looking fwd to. My friends have talked about this for weeks. It’s a mixture of finely chopped pork belly, ear, marinated in lemon and hot pepper. It comes on a hot plate, so the sides get crispy which is what you want. It wasn’t as crispy as I expected, next time I’m requesting no egg, maybe then, it would achieve the level of crispiness my friends keep raving about. But regardless, this was one of my favorite dishes of the night. Oniony, crispy, crunchy and fatty, with a hint of the freshly squeezed lemon. Loved it. If you know another place with better Sisig, please pass it along, this was a pretty amazing first taste for me.
GARLIC FRIED RICE, wasn’t on the menu, but our friend hooked us up. Everything with garlic is just so much better, and rice is no exception.
TOKWA AT BABOY, most of our dishes had pork, this one had deep fried pieces, it said ear on the menu, but it turned out to be meat instead, with fried bean curd, onions and a tangy sauce. Soft and crispy, very tasty.
BICOL EXPRESS, is of course more pork, with shrimp cooked in a coconut milk and red chili sauce. Either my tolerance for spicy food skyrocketed without my knowledge or this just lacked heat. I suspect the latter. My Filipino coworker confirmed, this dish should of been so spicy, a spoonful would of been sufficient for a whole bowl of rice. But I didn’t mind the lack of tongue burning sensation, the sweet and wimpy spiciness went really well with the thick and creamy coconut, very strong flavors, the rich sauce was great with rice.
SINIGANG NA BABOY, keeping up with the theme of the night, we had pork belly and vegetable in a tamarind broth. I usually like my soups very simple, and it took some getting use to the level of sourness, but after a couple sips, I wanted more. The daikons were great since they soaked up all the flavors.
CHICKEN ADOBO, garlicky and simmered in vinegar and soy sauce. It was a nice change of protein and it had very deep flavors. The chicken was tender and well integrated into the sauce.
PANCIT PALABOK, a soft clear noodle with shrimp, egg, red sauce and crispy crunchy bits. I thought the noodles were undercooked, but the red sauce (I’m guessing a hint of tomato) was a little tangy and interesting.
At this point, one of the owners started cutting 5 pieces of free Barney colored cake for our “dessert” but little did he know we had one more thing to order. They looked at us in awe, 4 chicks and one Filipino speaking dude who gobbled up every single dish put in front of us.
The purple cake was ok, soft, spongy and a “purple yam” center, not much yam flavor, but it was creamy and thick. I only took a couple forkfuls.
OUR GRAND FINALLY
Since we had no self control, or group control in this case, ordering the deadly CHICHARON BULAKLAK was naturally the best way to end the savory part of our pork-a-licious dinner. Deep fried large intestine, super duper crunchy and fatty, balanced out with a oniony, chili vinegar sauce, it helped cut the fat I guess, ok… who am I kidding here, it didn’t cut anything, this was as heart attack waiting to happen. As fatty as anything edible comes, so bad for you, yet oh soooo good. On the menu it says crispy ruffle fat, but it’s the large intestines, I’m pretty sure of that. It reminded me of being a kid, back in Shanghai, I use to eat deep fried little pieces of pork fat, just as crunchy, with powered sugar, don’t ask why, that’s just how this Chubby rolled as a kid (I guess we didn’t have any extra yuan for candy?! or my parents were trying to kill me slowly LOL)
To end this whole feast on a sweet note, we shared a HALO-HALO, sort of like a Taiwanese meet Vietnamese and Thai icy desserts in one. The colors were cool, crushed ice, purple yam, tropical fruits, white and red beans, milk and flan, the flan was so dense and thick. It was a party in every little spoonful, very playful textures, cold and sweet.
Just when they thought they’ve fed us, we stopped at the bakery counter, to get some pastries for breakfast. I got a ENSAYMADA with a purple yam center. Soft and covered in sugar, with that thick yam filling, it was ok, a little sweet for my taste, I got a sugar high this morning.
Filipino food just moved up a couple ranks on my list, I have to come back for more, winter is ideal for having comfort food like this.
P.S. Chubby’s RATING:
58-28 Roosevelt Ave