Street Hits and Magic

By Michael Karlo Lim

 

I EAT more than I should be on a regular basis and I conveniently chalk it up to occupational hazards. I’ll admit — no, as it is actually obvious, I enjoy food and, all the rituals and practices involved in its enjoyment. This is especially true when amongst kindred spirits. Our favorite twins, social media darlings, practical feminists and body positivity (and positivity, in general) advocates, Danah and Stacy Gutierrez are two of such whose company we greatly enjoy whenever we are in Manila.

Manila Chew Crew: this writer, Vanessa East, and Danah and Stacy Gutierrez

The Capital is both my boon and bane: variety, elevated at that, and the latter for the sheer volumes and incidences of eats that I end up tackling. This one’s a trackback earlier in the year to the last two of what was literally all-day eats. There was brunch at Hustle Cafe (https://weekend.sunstar.com.ph/blog/2018/05/20/respect-the-hustle/), post-brunch lunch at Bench Cafe, and pre-dinner aperitifs at Nikkei. I’ve just eaten through the entire Corner Market at the Podium (https://weekend.sunstar.com.ph/blog/2018/06/03/good-food-just-around-corner/), and my homegirls were not letting me tap out just yet. My protestations and those from my distended belly were countered by their recommendations, and the drive did allow for some digestion. First stop, Lime – Street Food Na Pina-Sosyal.

The setup outside a 70’s-style bungalow seemed more house party than a restaurant and lent it a relaxed and homey feel. All three of us keto-fiends in our informal support group declared it a definite cheat day.

Caldereta Pasta
Thrice-cooked Bagnet
Sizzling Cheezy Caldereta

Your kanto-kiosk kwek-kwek levels up with a tempura batter treatment and assorted dipping sauces. The distinctively gamey taste of goat stewed in the robust, buttery and spicy flavors of the classic Caldereta figure with fettuccini in their Caldereta Pasta. What first comes across as highly unusual is later no stranger than your Italian Osso Bucco. The Three Billy Goats Gruff again came out to play, this time on a hot plate and smothered with melty cheese in the, well Sizzling Cheezy Caldereta. Shanghai takes a backseat Vietnam when the classic spring roll includes shrimp with pork and assorted veg in a crisp, deep-fried wrap in their Vietnamese Fried Lumpia. Plum sauce, think savory Kiamoy flavor, makes a case for multiple dipping instead of the plebeian from-bottle ketchup or sweet-and-sour sauce. An incredibly crunchy crusts yield to soft and succulent meat centers of their Thrice-Cooked Lechon Bagnet. There might have been some Blumenthal in the cooking process but happily resign to dissecting the dish only by chewing through the porky pieces. We finished with a dessert cocktail, Chocnut Martini — your classic, gin-based drink laced with the nutty flavor of the Pinoy childhood and punctuated by sweet swirls of, I’d imagine the local Ricoa brand, chocolate syrup.

Chocnut Martini
Goto Heaven

The Filipino language and its transliterations make it rife for puns, and local establishment names are often a deadly combination of bad jokes and brilliant branding. Just a stone’s throw away from Lime is the lovechild of lugaw and David Pomeranz, Goto Believe. Here the Pinoy take on congee allows for more than the usual add-ons and are all served with a good dose of irreverence. Already bursting at my seams, I left the ordering to Danah’s experience and expertise. Our shared order was a “wet” Goto Heaven — “may kasamang twalya (beef tripe), aw ng baka (beef entrails), taba ng baka (beef fat).” Thrown in were some grilled bituka ng baboy (pork entrails), chicharon bulaklak (fried pork intestinal lining) and Century egg to intensify that offal riot. As if the meaty flavors were not enough, we also had a ka-partner (side-order) of Tokwa’t Baboy (tofu and pork).

Mouthfuls were met with mouthfuls our own. In a matter of a few hours, we’ve already picked up where we left off from a stretch of a few months. It is in the sharing of food with others that keeps us connected and it definitely helps that everything we’ve had so far was insanely good.

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