Bring On The AdoboOno, You Know
May 27, 2018
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
Considered the unofficial “official” dish of the Philippines, adobo can only be described as a classic comfort food. Ready to add some tang to your day with its vinegary bite, this specialty typically features the meat of your choice — chicken and pork being the most popular, of course — slow cooked in a shoyu-vinegar sauce infused with garlic, black peppercorns and bay leaves.
Adobo has become a staple here in Hawaii too, where Filipino cuisine is woven into the fabric of local-style fare. From the menus of neighborhood restaurants to potlucks on the beach, you’ll see adobo popping up on kamaaina plates everywhere. In celebration of the dish, The Philippine Consulate General, in partnership with the Philippine Celebrations Coordinating Committee of Hawaii, even hosted a Great Adobo Cook Off last year, with the winning bite going to a veal shank adobo cooked up by Tante’s Island Cuisine, based on Maui.
Well, Ono, You Know has decided to keep the adobo party going right here with some of the yummiest bites you’ll find on Oahu — and let me tell you, these are all among the competition’s best.
BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
It comes as no surprise that Shiro’s Saimin Haven is home to more than 60 bowls of sizzling saimin, but its first-time customers may not know that the local mainstay also offers burgers, a breakfast menu and a melting pot of island flavors, including Filipino-inspired comfort foods.
In the adobo department, start your day on the right foot with Fried Rice Omelet with Pork Adobo ($10.05), featuring a whopping omelet filled with Shiro’s own char siu fried rice, as well as a heaping portion of saucy pork adobo on the side. The star of the dish is the adobo, of course, which is marinated and slow cooked in accordance with kitchen manager Warlie Aguarin’s personal recipe.
“This is definitely one of our more popular breakfast items,” explains vice president Bryce Fujimoto. “At our Ewa Beach location, this is the top-seller for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it sells all day long. Here at our Waimalu restaurant, we sell it until noon, or when our fried rice runs out.”
Customers will be glad to know that while the portions have never been skimpy, this dish is now even heftier than before. “We’re working on increasing all our portions in general,” shares Fujimoto.
He adds that now is the perfect time to put in orders for graduation shindigs — including for a pork adobo party tray — and be sure to give advanced notice. If you still want more adobo, don’t forget to try the Filipino Saimin served with pork adobo, wonton, vegetables and garnishes ($10.70).
ADOBO TO THE ‘MAX’
Filipino flavors are alive and well at Max’s of Manila, the dining chain that pleases appetites locally out of its Waipahu and Dillingham Boulevard locations. There, general manager Maly San Luis is a treasure trove of knowledge when it comes to classic Filipino cooking, and she recently shared her tips for dining on adobo with yours truly.
“Adobo is the most well-known Filipino dish,” she says. “(In the Philippines), there are various versions of adobo, depending on the local tastes and regional ingredients. For example, in the South, where there is a lot of coconut, they will have coconut milk in their adobo.”
At Max’s of Manila, San Luis recommends diving into Pinatuyong Adobo ($11.95), also known as Marinated Braised Pork Adobo. To make the dish, the sauce is fully reduced, making the meat pop with flavor. It’s served with seasoned chopped tomato and onion on the side.
You also can’t go wrong with Classic Chicken Adobo ($11.25) crowned with a hard boiled egg. This variation comes with plenty of sauce to soak up the traditional adobo flavors with your rice.
Last, but not least, Max’s has its own unique twist on adobo: Adobo Fried Rice ($11.50). It was introduced as a branch special last year, but became so popular that it has since been added to the regular menu. Diners love every last grain of the sweet-and-salty adobo rice mixed with shredded adobo pork, crushed black peppercorns, garlic bits and a salted duck egg on top.
San Luis reminds diners that Max’s of Manila is another hot spot for catering and private parties during graduation season, so don’t miss out on its private-room and catering-tray amenities.