The Skinny: Went to a Filipino birthday out in Hemet, California. When I arrived, on the dining table was Lechón which is a whole roasted pig that was cooked over an open fire. Like a Rotisserie Chicken, the Pig is roasted on all sides for several hours until finish. The process involves basting it while it cooks so the skin crisps up and the color becomes a reddish golden brown.
Rod Carbajal, the Lechón man of mystery, roasted the pig for us and from the comfort of his own home.
The Good: The skin was crispy on one side and fatty on the other, it was pretty much like eating hard meat candy. I was actually surprised that the crispness of the skin survived 30 minutes in a car as the pig steamed itself up in a closed up box. I guess that’s a testament to Rod Carbajal’s handiwork. I’ve had Lechón at least twice beforehand and Rod’s version was the best so far. He really captured the essence of the pork and maintained the integrity of the skin and fat.
The Bad: The Lechón went from piping hot to cold and then lukewarm throughout the day. Because of that, the meat became really dry as the dinner progressed. Despite that, most of the skin was still crispy by the end of day.
Would you eat it again? Sure! You buying?
More Info: Rod Carbajal is the man that made the Lechón & his house is 30 minutes away from Hemet, which is pretty much in the middle of no where. Other than that, I have no idea who he is and how anyone can contact him for his services, but I’ll find out sooner or later.
The Skinny: Salakot is a Filipino restaurant found in the heart of Los Angeles’s own Historic Filipinotown. The place serves popular Filipino dishes like Adobo, Sinigang, Lumpia, and Pancit. They even have a 2nd floor dedicated to those who love to eat and party with a karaoke machine.
I actually discovered Salakot when I went to go see the indie folk-rock band The Steelwells, a great live act with 2.5 kick ass drummers, at the Bootleg Theater. The restaurant itself is about a block away from the venue and I took a mental note of it because one of my co-workers was looking for a Filipino one. It turns out, he had already discovered the place on Yelp, so we went there for lunch along with a few other colleagues.
The High: Of the 5 things we ordered and shared, the Spicy Sisig and Chicken Adobo were the best. The Adobe was unapologetic about the strong Filipino flavors and ingredients it had in it. The chicken was cooked on the bone and tender enough to use a spoon and fork to peel the flesh right off. The smell of vinegar was strong, but it hardly bothered me in terms of flavor. It did however repel one of my co-workers who couldn’t even hold the dish due to the sour pungency. I don’t really have a gauge on what is a really good adobe, and although it was complex, the chicken Adobe tasted fine to me.
The Sisig was what I was anticipating but it wasn’t what I was expected. The first time I saw the dish was on TV during the travel show No Reservations. The host Anthony Bourdain went to the Philippines and had the popular Sisig at a late night pub. It was suppose to be made out of crispy gelatinous pig ears and snout mixed with fat and pieces of actual meat and potatoes. I was hoping to get that but instead received salty vinegary steak-ish pork bits with green peppers and onions. It wasn’t bad, but if I didn’t have rice to eat it with, I’d have a hard time enjoying it. It was tasty though, maybe a little bit too tasty.
The Low: We also ordered shrimp fried rice, Pancit, and Lumpia. The fried rice, with just 5 pieces of shrimp, was whatever. I only appreciated it because it helped mellow out the saltiness of the Sisig. The Lumpia was filled with a rather bland pork filling that only picked up flavors once you dipped it into a sweet chili dipping sauce. I’m sure it would taste even better during a drunken state of mind.
With Pancit, I’ve always found it a bit bland whenever I eat it. Salakot’s version of it didn’t make me think otherwise either. At first, all it’s flavors were found at the bottom of the plate because we didn’t mix the noodles and condiments together well enough. However, when we did mix it properly, it still didn’t make a difference. The Panci was just an one note dish of blandness with only a few hints of citrus to break up the monotony of it all.
Would you come back again? Yes! Even though some of the dishes were more misses than hits, the Crispy Pata looks really good.
More Info: Yelp it!
Boxes by The Steelwells
I think The Steelwells should have named themselves Beards Papa since they all have full on facial hair, well except for the Korean keyboardist who has a peach fuzz pornstache thing going on. It’s also so they can get sponsored by Beards Papa, the Japanese cream puffs store, and make it rain pastries on the crowd!
Anyways, even though the Rolling Stones magazine did put the ever so annoying Justin Bieber on their cover and asked him douchie questions about rape and abortion, it would be nice to see these talented bearded kids on it instead. So rate them with 5 stars at the Rolling Stones website. Link