Ongpin or Tribu Grill?
We have no experience with Filipino food, but want to try one of these places. We are especially interested in crispy pata and lechon. Any input?
You will be better off at Tribu Grill than at Ongpin. Tribu is not fancy at all, but it is a bit more comfortable than Ongpin, and the owners of Tribu are almost always there doing the cooking and the serving along with their staff, who are mostly young people who are happy to help and to explain the food.
They have a very good crispy pata (fried pork knuckles) and lechon kawali (fried pork belly). I wouldn't order both in the same meal, unless there are many of you sharing lots of dishes. Ongpin has the traditional lechon, but only on weekends for lunch, I think. Lech Go ( a real dive) in Daly City's St. Francis Square has lechon every day, but it's roasted in their oven, not over coals.
Since you're a beginner as far as Filipino cuisine goes, I suggest going to Tribu Grill. Ongpin is more of a hole-in-the-wall type, and I'd rather you go someplace a little more comfortable (like pilinut said). You can't go wrong with the crispy pata. Soo good! The binagoongan fried rice is really good.
We ended up going to Ongpin. We ordered ALOT because we were doing a little research on FIlipino food. We got pancit polabok (love the shirmp paste flavor, the eggs and shrimp on top were mediocre at best), grilled shortribs (tender and delicious), chicken adobo (great flavor, meat was a little dry), crispy pata (AWESOME), and pinakabet (good). Neither of us had ever had bitter melon, so we wanted to try the last item. Boy, there is a reason it's called bitter melon. Interesting flavor to say the least. We still have some pata in the fridge. I think it's going to flavor some beans for dinner.
I'm glad you liked the food! The only bad thing about crispy pata is that it's never as good as it is once it's served the first time. It loses that crispness. I hope you can check out other Filipino places. There's a place called Patio Filipino a few miles down from Ongpin on El Camino Real that has really good food. They're kinda expensive compared to Ongpin, though, but the quality makes up for it.
1770 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066
235 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066
73 Camaritas Ave, South San Francisco, CA 94080