Friday, May 9, 2014

Pampanga Eats: Mila's Tokwa't Baboy & Sisig

I had made plans to hit the beach for a week and just forget about the world this month - but life got in the way. So, I went up to Pampanga for a whole day of eating instead. Haha! Spanky Enriquez, the full fledged Pampanggeno in our foodie fampack, organized a trip up to the culinary capital of the Philippines to sample some of the harder to find and newer spots in the province. Honestly, the only thing I've only really known about Pampanga was the Duty Free shopping place, so I was thrilled to be going there to do something other than shop. My foodie mom, Jane Go, adopted me for the day, and I spent most of the day with her and her super fun teens!

We were all up pretty early and made good time on our way up north, stopping by a Starbucks and Cinnabon for a much needed jolt of caffeine and sugar. The sun was beating down on us, and we were really feeling the intense summer weather the higher up north we climbed.

Our first stop for lunch was Mila's Tokwa't Baboy & Sisig, an institution in Angeles City that even Anthony Bourdain stopped to pay a visit at when he toured some of the Philippines' foodie spots. He's way more adventurous than me, diging into the kambing papaitan like it was a bowl of pho.

Don't expect to find a hostess station or white-gloved waiters at this joint. Nope. I'm guessing this must've been Mila's backyard once upon a time that she converted into a barbecue place that eventually turned into what we have now. And I doubt she would have wanted it any other way. The place is a humid hole-in-the-wall, but it does lend a certain character to the place.

Before going into the restaurant, one would pass by the side of Mila's house, with a simple gallery that displays some of the prominent figures that have visited her popular establishment. Can you imagine Imelda Marcos ordering and eating kalderetang kambing here? I certainly can't.

Check out everyone looking so downright serious when the food arrived. Haha! Jane's teens, Gowapo, Ate Fitspiration, and the Baby Unicorn all look so happy, don't they? And then there's Spanky in the background with his new haircut, his brow all furrowed and looking like he just snorted cat poop. He was probably thinking whether or not to order triple of everything instead of just double, being surrounded by hungry foodies.

The Tokwa't Baboy (P200) looked really pretty, with a handful of herbs giving the whole plate a pop of color. The porcine element in the mix is chopped pig ear, and although I enjoy my tengga ng baboy chopped up in itty bitty pieces that I can't tell what it was to begin with, this was a bit too much bite for my taste.

I ended up scooping everything sans the pig ear onto my plate, enjoying the very Pinoy flavor minus the ears.

One dish I stayed very far away from was the Chicharon Bulaklak (P200). Normally I'd love me some salty chicharon, but I have never been a fan of chicken intestines. Although one of my friends, Gerry of Dude 4 Food, did say this was one of the "cleanest" chicharon of the chicken innards variety that he's tasted/ I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.

What I really took to at Mila's that afternoon was the BBQ Tocino (P170)! Holy shiz, what a revelation! This was soft without being chewy, and the best bits were the crisp pieces of tocino, which is even more addicting than the tocino done straight up in a frying pan since it's kind of oil-free. Gowapo and I fought over the last stick - he won.

Mila's is also a popular for their Sizzling Sisig (P200) - and I can see why! Their sisig is crispy with a lot of crunch from both the pork and the crunchy, crunchy pork skin. A splash of soy sauce and a dash of hot sauce and I was in business! I'd come back for just this and the tocino bbq.

I was wondering what the heck Paldeot (P50) was when Gerry told me it was actually chicken ass. I have to say, these are the biggest chicken asses I've ever seen. What do they feed the chickens up in Pampanga? They looked like Beyoncé butts - for chickens. I passed on this, too, mostly because I couldn't get the image of Beyoncé's behind on a stick out of my head.

I was surprised at just how affordable the food was. Take this small platter of Litson Kawali (P160) for example. With just the right balance of tender meat, fat, and crispy skin, this is one of those Pinoy dishes that are oh so bad yet taste oh so good. Oh, my arteries and cholesterol levels.

If you're looking for a pork dish with more meat, the Pork Steak (P350) is a pretty good place to start. Slapped on the barbie and grilled 'til it develops a nice black crust from the soy-based marinade, it is then cut up into manageable pieces that makes it good for sharing.

All porked out, the Inihaw na Bangus (P150) was a nice respite for the palate. This was a pretty big piece of fish that would definitely be priced a lot higher if we had the same thing in Metro Manila. This was very fresh and the meat was moist and flaky. A bit of soy and calamansi was all I needed to pick this clean.

Nanay Mila came out to say hello after we were done with lunch. She is such a sweet lady. Also, I was surprised how young she looked! The tokwa't baboy business must be doing her a lot of good!

When mucking around Pampanga, Mila's Tokwa't Baboy is a foodie heritage site you shouldn't miss out on! Sure, it isn't the swankiest joint in the city, but the food is good, the beer is cold, and everyone gets their money's worth. And at the end of the day, that's all that really matters.

Just mucking around Manila,
Follow @_muckingaround on Twitter and Instagram.
Like the Mucking Around Manila fan page.

Mila's Tokwa't Baboy & Sisig
+63 2 888 6727
San Andres Street, Brgy. Sto Domingo
Angeles City, Pampanga
Monday - Saturday: 8am - 9pm