Newfound favorites: chili-garlic ‘lechon,’ oyster cake and empanada–a different take on old-time classics
General’s was one of the first to offer lechon in different flavors.
My memory of its garlic variant is vivid. I recall how the whole room smelled of it when the knife pierced through the lechon. It made us very hungry!
Apart from the cavity stuffed generously with garlic, the pig’s skin is rubbed with more garlic before roasting. This step gives the crisp skin a distinct quality.
Another creation by General’s is the curry lechon, infused with yellow Thai curry and coconut milk. Clearly not for everyone, this variant is unique.
Aromatic and made sweet by adding coconut milk, it is complex yet subtle compared to the garlic and the chili-garlic variants. In 2013, I was told that though not as popular as the garlic, the curry lechon has gained followers who repeatedly request for it.
Rightfully so, as it pairs perfectly with bold-flavored viands.
This time, I was pleased to have tasted the chili-garlic. I was in awe when I unraveled it, impressed by the level of skill of the lechonero. I was happy to see how lechon has evolved over the years for the better.
What I had before me was sheer perfection—glistening, evenly browned and a feast for the eyes. I was euphoric. It looked terribly delicious!
As my guests and I dug in, we were even more pleased. Our tastes buds came alive. On the palate it was vibrant, fragrant, garlicky, spicy, tart, salted to perfection.
Not only was the skin very crisp, the meat was flavorful, too. The rib portion was to-die-for. I collected the drippings to spoon over the meat.
It is the type of lechon that is good for lunch, dinner, after-dinner and most perfect for happy hour!
General’s Lechon owners Bryan and Lynn Ong claim the pigs they roast are free range, of the native black variety, and given no injections nor boosters.
I was most amused by its logo, which is attached to the snout. It caught everyone’s attention. A novel marketing strategy!
Call General’s Lechon at 09178532466.
As a huge fan of oyster cakes, I’m glad to report that I’ve tried a really good one at Shi Wei Jie Fang Cai restaurant.
It was simply delicious.
Served on a sizzling plate, the omelette had a crunchy bottom and a gooey top. It teemed with plump, fresh off-the-sea-tasting oysters.
Another dish worthy to mention is its pork vinegar—a deconstructed, colorless, variation of sweet-and-sour pork.
Thin strips of tender pork, lightly battered and fried to golden are tossed in a thin sweet vinegar glaze, served with fruits on the side—an interestingly delicate dish. It was good with mustard rice.
The mustard fried rice was given texture by its ingredients—ground meat, pork floss and preserved mustard greens. It was rounded in flavor, mildly salted and spiced.
Shi Wei Jie Fang Cai is worth a visit. Its menu is an interesting mix. Many of its offerings are familiar yet interpreted in their own style. There are many other dishes that are foreign and waiting to be savored.
Apart from the food, the restaurant’s ambiance was impressive. It was designed by one of the partners, Wang Liang Ting, who was inspired by “The Dream of the Red Chamber,” also known as “The Story of the Stone.” I didn’t expect to walk into such a plush place in Binondo. I was pleasantly surprised.
Shi Wei Jie Fang Cai, 1080 One Soler Building, Soler St.
Binondo, Manila. Call 2756666.
Sweet Taste, makers of tikoy, now makes empanada, too.
According to Jocelyn de Joya, “our tikoy sells well during Chinese New Year, but in between, I developed a product that will sell throughout the year.”
Her baked empanada were first made solely for family and friends, before gaining popularity for its distinct, homemade appeal. Simple, easy to eat, yet satisfying. Each bite, for some reason, reminded me of cheese pimiento with chunks of chicken.
“Our humble empanada are all home-baked and made from the choicest ingredients. No preservatives or additives have been added,” said Jocelyn.
Sweet Taste has chicken and tuna empanada; call 09178370529, 7317147.
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