Filipino Fiestas Begin with Adobo!
Mabuhay! Have you been to a Filipino gathering lately? Well, if not, you’re missing out — big time! Whether it be a birthday party or a dinner with family and friends, expect a feast. First and foremost, the spotlight shines on the cuisine, and that’s the only way to go about it!
Culinary styles of China, Spain, Mexico and the U.S. have greatly influenced Filipino cuisine, and it’s the distinct sourness of Filipino fare that woos me, as I like to taste generous portions of vinegar and citrus juices in every bite — especially when it comes to adobo.
You could say that adobo is the national dish of the Philippines, and to dispel a popular belief, adobo is a particular cooking method more than it is a dish. Meat, seafood, fruit or vegetables can be cooked adobo style in a mixture of vinegar, salt/soy sauce, bay leaves, black pepper and garlic. It’s said the earliest adobos were made with sea salt.
There’s a popular saying by the Philippines Department of Tourism, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” and while that may be true, coming from a food enthusiast standpoint, I like to say, “It’s also a feast in the Philippines!” However, thanks to the following Ono, You Know establishments, we can enjoy these Filipino feasts right here at home. Pass the adobo, please!
People’s Cafe on Pali Highway brings power to the people with its superlative Hawaiian and Filipino fare. These ono grinds run the gamut from lau lau, kalua pig, corned beef, royal bibinka and more. Ah, yes, mouths are starting to water.
Having been in business for 80 years, People’s Cafe has its fanatics, me being one of them. Why? Let me tell you, head chef Tomas Ventura makes pork adobo that is out of this world! Priced at $9.50 for a regular and $6.50 for a mini, People’s Cafe’s Pork Adobo is made from a rather simple recipe.
“I marinate the pork overnight in soy sauce and vinegar until it’s tender,” says Ventura, noting that red and green bell peppers along with
sauteed onions are added to the mix.
And when we’re talking adobo, you gotta have the rice, because it’s just not the same without this starchy staple. I’m hungry!
Adobo lovers, be sure to hit up People’s Cafe Wednesdays — that’s when Pork Adobo is on special for $8.50 regular. Score! I’ll be there, going to town, crazy about adobo!
1310 Pali Hwy.
Max’s of Manila
The best Filipino fiestas always begin at Max’s of Manila! As soon as you walk through the doors, you are greeted by a friendly staff, and the fact that my favorite Filipino tunes permeate through the restaurant is just an added bonus — it gives me something to sing along to as I wait for my meal.
A word of advice: Max’s diners, come hungry! You’ll want to splurge on anything and everything under the sun. Say hello to kare-kare, lumpiang Shanghai, Max’s famous fried chicken, pancit bihon, sago’t gulaman, leche flan and … drum roll, please, … pork and chicken adobo!
Max’s Classic Chicken Adobo ($9.95) is a Filipino take on chicken stew. Morsels of chicken are richly marinated in soy sauce and vinegar, enhanced with flavors of garlic, bay leaves and whole peppercorns, and garnished with green onions and egg. If pork is more to your liking, save your appetite for Pinatuyong Adobo ($11.95), which features marinated pork chunks braised in vinegar and a soy sauce reduction. Garlic, bay leaves and whole pepper-corn also accentuate the dish, while it’s finally garnished with green onions and served with diced tomatoes and onions.
So, without further ado, let’s get our eat on! Masarap (very delicious)!
Max’s of Manila
801 Dillingham Blvd.
Shiro’s Saimin Haven
Oodles for noodles? Shiro’s Saimin Haven in Waimalu Shopping Center can satisfy all your noodle cravings. Trust me, the menu is abundant with saimin specialties that you’ll only find at Shiro’s.
And this local hot spot takes pork adobo, a traditional Filipino dish, and pairs it with local favorites, such as fried rice and saimin. Together, these combinations are brilliant.
First off, a breakfast favorite (available from 7 a.m. to noon) is Fried Rice Omelette Adobo ($8.50), which presents you with a gigantic omelette filled to the brim with fried rice with hints of char siu, luncheon meat and green onions. A side of sumptuous pork adobo completes the dish. Totally broke da mouth delicious! Then, get ready for another helping of Shiro’s adobo with Filipino Saimin with
Pork Adobo ($9.55), featuring a bowl of Shiro’s famous saimin with won ton and vegetables, along with four pieces of pork adobo on the side.
According to chef Warlie Aguarin, perfect preparation of adobo is priority.
“We marinate the pieces of pork for two hours in a blend of vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and garlic. We braise it until its tender, and then garnish it with onions and bay leaves.”
The result: Melt-in-your mouth goodness! And that extra kick of flavor from the vinegar and fish sauce is what I absolutely love.
Adobo shines at Shiro’s Saimin Haven!
Shiro’s Saimin Haven
Waimalu Shopping Center
98-020 Kamehameha Hwy.