For all the talk earlier this year about a bill proposing that adobo be the Philippines’ national dish, you could argue that while it’s the food that has come to define our table internationally, it’s not the quintessential dish of the average Filipino. True, adobo is as iconic as the jeepney or the Banaue Rice Terraces, but how often do you see it served at home, much less in turo-turo? I don’t know about you, but the only times I see adobo prepared outside fancy restaurants nowadays are during family outings, when the ability of the dish to not get spoiled easily is more of the point.
What, then, is the “real” Filipino dish? It depends on who you ask. But you could argue that sisig is the hands-down favorite. Nothing complements a drinking session or just a good, ol’ food trip quite like a sizzling plate of this caloric bomb.
For that we owe the Kapampangans, who are often credited with inventing the dish by cooking the pig heads left unused for the Americans at nearby military bases. But it was Tarlac-born Lucia Cunanan who turned the sisig into an icon by including a supposed reinvention of the dish in her restaurant. Her version quickly gained fame and helped establish Angeles as a culinary mecca among Filipinos.
Today, almost every Filipino restaurant worth its salt features sisig and some go the “healthy” route by replacing pork with chicken, milkfish, squid, or even tofu. One of the best places to have your fill of the dish is at Sisig Hooray, a chain of eatery where the only items on the menu are sisig (duh). It’s also one the best-value, with no single rice meal going higher than PHP 100.
The establishment got its start in 2005, when Immanuel D. Balce came up wih the idea to innovate the dish. The establishment, which opened as single stall at Ever Gotesco Ortigas, is now a successful franchise, with branches around Metro Manila, most notably in Landmark and SM foodcourts. The counter staff are quick and usually friendly, although once during lunch hour, I got my order mixed up with another customer.
You can’t go wrong with the classic, and Sisig Hooray’s Pork Sisig is a simple yet satisfying concoction of crispy pork strips and minced pork rind.
For a different take, try the Smokey Steak Sisig. It’s a nice attempt at a modern interpretation, with the meat perfectly seasoned. Whatever, it just tastes darn good.
If you want to go the less fattening route, there’s either Bangus Sisig or Chicken Sisig.
If you’re with a small group, you can order the Sisig Barkada and have a serving each of all the variants.
Unit 203 Prudential Bldg.
Riverside Drive, Ortigas Ext.,
Pasig City (main office)
branches in several food courts in Metro Manila
(02) 400 6032