Always on the look out for new cuisines to try (new = unfamiliar to me), I very recently had my first Filipino food experience (went to a restaurant that was popular amongst the Filipino community).
I would have dabbled in a bit of everything from the menu but alas, there was only myself and a single other friend. I had chicken adobo, something similar to crispy pata (I forget the name...basically, I ordered pata but we were told they ran out and that we could have something very similar, the only difference being the pork piece was ribs instead of leg), lumpia and halo halo.
Sorry for the poor quality pictures...my phone isn't capable of taking clear photos and doesn't have flash (note to self: next phone must meet the requirements of the Code of Food Photography)!
Now this was interesting. I've read lumpia is basically the same/similar to popiah. I eat popiah at home (and boy is it good) and so I was half expecting lumpia to be very similar, yet the other half was very excited to see how the Filipinos served it differently.
Seeing as lumpia (as is popiah) is in fact Chinese in origin, I was surprised at how 'un-Chinese' it tasted!
The main difference being the filling...and sauce...and skin.
I'm used to the drier form -not even dry, just not moist the way this was! Not that it was a bad thing, I just wasn't prepared for an extremely soft-wet, almost mushy texture. But that could have been due to the sauce on top...someone please enlighten me on how lumpia skin is supposed to be like...
The sauce was more like a gravy -a slurry almost. It was sweet and cornstarch-y.
The fillings I have forgotten by now due to my goldfish memory but I do distinctly remember (by remember, I mean analysing the picture) there being julienned carrots, a variety of vegetables and I recall prawns (minced or something like that). Anyhow, I'm sure like popiah, lumpia fillings differs from restaurant to restaurant to family to family (and what's 'best' is always debateable).
Ooohh! I say to my friend. This sort of tastes like the Vietnamese banh cuon (if you could imagine banh cuon with a different sauce and without the Vietnamese ham).
This came as a surprise to me...even the lumpia skin reminded me of the rice wrapper for banh cuon. Maybe it's also the way the sauce is poured on top instead of either dipped or spread inside (like I do with popiah at home).
I'd have to say I much prefer my home version of popiah.
Next up, chicken adobo
Upon hearing about this famed dish from the Phillipines, I was extremely excited.
The verdict? Yummy! Admittedly, the chicken could have been of better quality (which meant the dish would have been improved in that sense) but hey, I'm at a casual local sort of restuarant where food is simple and cheap. This isn't fine dining and the chicken was tender enough.
Anyway, the sauce was delicious and not at all too foreign for my palette. It tasted like good ol' homestyle Asian food and could easily fit into the daily cooking of my home. I detected some vinegar, which I looove, and I saw some crushed peppercorns floating in the sauce (not clear in photo). I eagerly spooned the sauce over my rice.
Mmm! What can I say, I love sauces of almost every kind and this particular one served with the crisp skinned pork was decidedly addictive! The letdown was that a few pieces were sort of stringy and tough (which meant I had to fish out some 'meat floss' from my teeth *ahem*) and were thus left untouched.
Oh and...fat is good!
Well with all the rave I hear about this Filipino dessert, how could I miss it (even knowing that I would be unable to finish it)!
I suppose I was awaiting a taste of exotica but to me, it was rather similar to alot of South East Asian dessert drinks I've tried but with the added vanilla ice cream. It reminded me a bit of the Burmese faloda I once had (which, ironically, was an acquired taste). There was probably too much ice cream and not enough of the ube. Also, I prefer coconut cream/milk in my Asian dessert drinks, rather than condensed milk (as it was in my halo-halo). I do, however, really enjoy the addition of the palm seeds. There's a bite to it that I find so alluring.
Hmm...I think I prefer the Chinese tin bo leung and Vietnamese 3 colour drink.
All on all, it was a good experience and I appreciated watching Filipino cable tv as I ate my way through a very very tiny piece of the Phillipines.
I'm sure though, that I enjoyed my meal much more than my friend did as she mentioned that we should have went to Korean instead (which because of my greed and random cravings, I went to straight afterwards anyway).
By the way, when we entered the restaurant, we were slightly disappointed that there was only one other table full but never fear, 5 minutes later, family after family of Filipinos started arriving and the place was buzzing.
It's kind of funny (abeit slightly awkward) how many of the Filipinos were looking at my friend and I in blatant curiosity (much like how my aunts would when somebody takes home a new bf now that I think about it). Did I sprout a hairy mole on my nose?
Edited by Ce'nedra, 30 July 2008 - 12:44 AM.