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Mar 19, 2001 03:21 AM

Filipino Food

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I'd like to know where to go for it, what to order and how to fake being knowledgeable on this. I'm ashamed to say I've never had it but have a NYC friend who raves. He's coming into town and wants to try Chicago Filipino. If there's a whole lot of offal going on, I'm in BIG trouble. Help! Thanks in advance.

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  1. Try Rambutan

    5 Replies
    1. re: Cliff Abrams

      Not to be contrary, but I tried Rambutan and wasn't blown away. I had oxtail, and a strange salad with papaya, candied walnuts, and jicama, and an anise scented ceviche type dish. It was a nice atmosphere, and affordable, but had a strange fusiony pretentiousness that was a little unpleasant. I've been inquiring of my filipino chicago buddies, but have been unable to get a straight answer. There are some resources on the web -- do a search on google for filipino chicago. And I will try toget specific recommendations for you. I may be wrong, It's not my impression that you need to worry muich about awful offal.

      1. re: Seth Zurer

        Rambutan food is very trendy (i.e tasty, somewhat authentic, smallish portions), where as Authentic Filipino food is very hearty and you get heaping portions.

        Rambutan is to Filipino food as P.F Changs/Ben Pao is to Chinese food. You're better off with authenticity.

        1. re: Randy L

          Whoops. Sorry about the miscue on Rambutan. I've not been there myself but was going on the recommendation of people whose opinions i respect (some re-evaluation may be in order). Look forward to getting recommendations for Real Philippine places.

        2. re: Seth Zurer

          Seth's description of what he had at Rambutan is definitely not Filipino. There is a popular Filino dish made with oxtails that most people like. It's called kare-kare and it's oxtails or other beef parts (not offal) and vegetables in a peanut-based soup.

          1. re: Risa

            for Authenticity: Several places in the Niles/Morton Grove area:

            A small restaurant in the plaza with the Drivers' license facility on Golf west of Milwaukee
            Unimart (big filipino grocery)
            another take-out only place (adjacent to Jacobsen's lighting) on Dempster.

            Also in the wester part of the city ?(on Sacramento) Barrio Fiesta-I think it is part of a big chain based in the Manila.

      2. Try NN Smokehouse on Irving Park. It's owned by a couple: he is African-American and she is Filipino, and that combination is reflected in the menu--lots of good bbq plus some good filipino dishes, including the old standby, Pancit Noodles. It's a fun place, very casual "neighborhood joint" atmosphere, and the food is pretty tasty. They have different specials each day of the week, ie, soul food on Tuesdays, etc. It would definitely be a different take on a Filipino dining experience!

        4 Replies
        1. re: liz

          NN Smokehouse's old location at 14xx Irving Park closed some months ago. They were supposed to reopen further west (about 3000 or 3100) but as far as I know, they're not open yet.

          1. re: Jamie

            They have a newish place called NN Spice Island 3100-3300 W. Foster. Had a fine meal there on Saturday.


            1. re: Efrain

              Here are the results of my inquiries. The summary is that my filipino friend suggests you try Fishpond near Clark and Montrose.

              Here's what she said:
              although i think it is just "ok", my friend and i both agree that so far fishpond would be the best. try the sinigang (sour fish/ shrimp soup), adobo (chicken or pork in vinegar soy and bay leaves sauce), lumpia (fresh lumpia if they have it or deep fried egg roll), kare-kare (pork in a peanut sauce), pansit palabok (noodles in shrimp sauce), get the halo-halo, cassava cake or leche flan.


              let's see... barrio fiesta would be a good place since may "ambience" kahit papano... pero dahil malayo, fishpond should do... i wouldn't recommend rambutan or little quiapo... and since i didn't get to try spice islands, ewan ko lang don... but i did hear good things about for the dishes, pancit i think is over rated... i think palabok is amuch better noodle dish... you can't go wrong with lechon but i'd rather
              have the crispy pata... the fact that it is a whole foot should freak out novices... but with fmd, i'm not sure that would be safe - for now... but when that disease clears up, definitely crispy pata!!! lechon kawali is also good... caldereta, sinigang and although i don't like this one -kare-kare, i think that is a tried and true pinoy dish... you could tell
              your friend that the test of authentic filipino cooking is the need for additional spices... you really should not need to add anything to it once
              it is cooked (with the exception of the sauces talaga - like the lechonsauce, patis and kalamansi, the suka dip for seafood... you get what i mean)... because no dish is served bland... so if they come across something that needs additional salt because it has no taste, then she should declare that dish and the restaurant to be should probably also stress to her the use of a spoon... she has to use
              it with her meal... she does want to appear "knowledgeable" right? plus, dessert!!! no pinoy leaves the table without having dessert...

              1. re: Efrain

                I had pancit a few days ago at a barbeque. It was very delicious. I never used to like it until now.

          2. hey, I was doing a web search to see if i could find the menu of Sun Wah BBQ on argyle online and unexpectedly came across a full listing of filipino restaurants in chicago (actually the US - but I'll keep it to our local area for the post)I'll attach the link for those interested.

            Chicago, Illinois
            Manila, Manila - Corner Roscoe and Western, Northside Chicago
            ..... cultural show and seafood buffet on Fridays

            Little Quiapo - N. Clark St. just north of the cemetery -
            . excellent food (the ampalaya con carne is heavenly), atmosphere is a little bit depressing though, no windows,leatherette red table coverings, friendly waiters/waitresses who speak in accented Tagalog, video rentals, komiks, and of course, an adjoining gift shop

            Filipiniana - Clark and Addison (close to Wrigley Field)

            D'Manilans - opposite Little Quiapo near Clark and Montrose

            Tipanan - N. Clark area

            Sulo - 3510 W Irving Park Road

            Manila Sunset - 6395 W. Belmont (near Narraganssett) - pancit Malabon especial

            Gabriel and Gabriel - 4000 block of N. Clark, opposite McDonalds not a restaurant but a Filipino grocery store, sells bibingka,puto kutsinta, balut, itlog na maalat (salted eggs) and lots of other stuffs (including Ligo Sardines) from the Philippines. San Miguel Beer too in brown bottles.

            Philhouse (just about 3 blocks north of Gabriel and Gabriel) - a humungous Philippine supermarket

            Phoenix Bakery - Argyle St. just below the 'L' in New Chinatown - A Chinese bakery which sells Philippine delicacies like those we usually find in Chinese bakeries in Ongpin and Avenida, e.g. buchi, hopia baboy, hopia mungo, siopao asado, tikoy, etc., also putong puti

            Sun Wah BBQ in Argyle - serves lechon

            Hong Kee in Argyle (this entry 1-7-93) - Vietnamese restaurant but serves Filipino noodle favorites such as Pancit Canton, Mami, and also lechon de leche and ordinary lechon. The lugaos are also good. Hang out of a lot of Pinoys.


            3 Replies
            1. re: zim

              Have you tried Rambutan on Division? Jennifer Aranus is Chef/owner and extremely talented. I worked with her at Pinot Blanc in the Napa Valley.

              1. re: zim

                Have you been in Rambutan? What can you say about that place? I am here in Indiana and i never been in any filipino Restaurant. What can you recommend me to go anyhting closer? Cincinatti or chicago would be fine. Please help me where to go and to taste filipino cuisine again. Thank you!!


                1. re: Faith
                  Robert Sparkman

                  There is a Filipino restaurant called "Manila Grill" in Fort is in the White Swan plaza on Lima Road...their number is 219-497-9737.


              2. This reply is a bit late but in case anyone ever goes to a Filipino restaurant, here are some suggestions. Lumpia -- either deep-fried and looks and tastes somewhat like a Chinese eggroll or "fresh" which is usually a very thin crepe wrapped around veggies and some meat and served with a delicious garlicky sauce. Pancit -- rice stick noodles with sauteed veggies and meat. Kare-Kare -- oxtail stew in a peanut-based sauce. Chicken or pork adobo -- most people love this. It's basically chicken or pork (or both) cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black pepper and bay leaves. There are also paella-type dishes as well as all sorts of stuff cooked in coconut milk.

                1. You might want to try a more traditional restaurant on Devon Avenue and Caldwell. It's a small place that is very traditional. It's so traditional that I can't stand the atmosphere. It just reminds me of big meals in the Philippines.
                  I usually eat by myself for a nice quite restaurant meal. Rambutan is an experimental Filipino Restaurant that goes beyond the peasant cuisine of the Philippines. If you're a hungry Joe, who wants to eat like a farmer, then Rambutan is not the place for you.
                  Rambutan are memories of Filipino Cuisines without intimidating Americans.
                  Many Filipino Restaurateurs don't consider food hygiene a requirement for running a shabby food stall. I literally walked into Filipino Restaurants with dogs and cats inside the kitchen and inside the dining area.
                  Anyway, a large serving from a decent Filipino Restaurant will fill your belly until you scream...heart attack!
                  Rambutan Restaurant is a concept that caters to people with artistic taste in food. If you want a large amount of food with a decent quality for taste, try The Happy Chef in China Town.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: albierte

                    Um, Rambutan has been closed for many years.