For the longest time, Filipino cuisine has been sitting in the wings, poised to hit it big in the international food scene. Fortunately, this break may come sooner than we think, with our food getting more attention than usual. Non-Filipinos are championing the cause, dishes other than adobo are becoming more popular, and the most chichi restaurants are serving up breathtaking approaches to Filipino fusion.
Nevertheless, despite the glamorization of Pinoy cuisine, it’s also important to give credit to the grassroots movement. After all, the Filipino dishes that’s closest to the ones we serve on our own dining tables aren’t the ones served up as dainty amuse bouches in elegant restaurants, but the ones ladled on chipped crockery in hole-in-the-wall carinderias and eateries.
Among these old school eateries, Lola Idang’s stands proud. Despite the absence of tell-tale soy sauce stains rings on their tablecloth, Lola Idang’s is as Pinoy as Pinoy can get. Honoring the legacy of the owners’ grandmother, Lola Idang, this unassuming pancitan offers delicious Filipino food not unlike what your own Lola would feed you during weekend brunches at her home.
Hearing good things about their Crispy Pata, we immediately try to order it, but it had sold out. Testament to its goodness? We opted to get the Lechon Kawali instead. It was a good choice and a more than satisfactory replacement. Lightly fried and well-seasoned, the meat was crisp and tender while the skin was light and crunchy. It’s a combination that’s not that easy to get since a lot of places tend to overcook this.
Lola Idang’s is also known for Kare-Kare, so we order a palayok of it as well. Rich and peanutty, the tripe was tender and gelatinous, giving easily against the edge of a spoon. No knives were on the table; we were eating Pinoy carinderia-style after all. Dabbed with a bit of bagoong, each bite, paired with rice of course, was a decadent throwback to summer fiestas.
Perusing the menu, the dinuguan also caught my eye. Their version of the ubiquitous blood stew had pig innards, something my mother approved of greatly. It was a bit soupy, which I prefer in dinuguan; more of the thick, sour broth to dip your puto in, or in this case, to pour over the rice.
Rounding off our lunchtime feast was a plateful of Lola Idang’s Pancit Malabon. Wonderfully chewy noodles coated by a rich and flavorful sauce, then topped by shrimp, eggs, squid and chicharon. One bite and it’s easy to see how this was enough to build Lola Idang’s name.
Eating at Lola Idang’s is a wonderful experience. It’s a perfect example of how unassuming yet totally unforgettable Filipino cuisine is. It touches the heart and embraces you, claiming you for its own, no matter what your nationality is. With food as good as this, how can we not conquer the world?