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Lutong Pinoy Filipino Cuisine in Madison Hts [DTW]

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The Philippines once was very next on my travel list (exciting!); then, I got married and had a kid. So, I’ll probably never deeply come to know much about the country or, specifically, about Filipino food on its home ground. Regardless, and despite my wishfulness, I’ve not yet been given reason to think Filipino food would be particularly delicious for anyone other than its own. No offense intended---I hope someone/place shows me otherwise. It’s unlikely that 105 million people could be wrong.

My latest attempt at having my mind changed was during this eve’s visit to new arrival Lutong Pinoy, across the street from Pho Hang. It started off well. The place was spacious and gleaming. It was relatively packed with Filipino families and they seemed to be digging it. I was greeted by a woman who carried herself as if she was the manager/owner (albeit…thankfully…wearing short shorts) and she pointed me towards a table with an experienced server. Both were very personable and very charming.

The menu is large and bears many dishes with which I’m not familiar. Take pork for example. They have fried pork skin with ginger sauce on a sizzling plate, pork simmered in beef blood, pork and veggies in a tangy tamarind broth, menudo, pork belly something, etc.. Encouraging. But, I limited my adventurousness to things I thought my wife would let my kid eat: chicken adobo, fried pork skin, stir fried egg noodles with mixed meats and veggies. A la carte plates are $10-$12.

I won’t make myself look more ignorant by attempting to analyze Lutong Pinoy’s execution on these limited selections. I’ll just say that our table seemingly enjoyed the dishes less enthusiastically than did the Filipino tables. (I will comment that the chicken had been broken down with a cleaver, Asian style, and even I can recognize that as a good sign.)

Intrigued by the country, impressed by its people’s world-wide accomplishments, still not personally won over by the food. www.newlutongpinoy.com (site in progress...also Facebook pg of same name) Maybe Erin will have a different take?

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Pho Hang Restaurant
30921 Dequindre Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071

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  1. Fantastic writeup, Vince! You have a real way with words. :-)

    Do you recall if they had a fried chicken skin dish? That was one of my favorites at the old Lutong location.

    But in general, I tend to have a very similar take on Filipino food as you do. I want to love it, but it always seems to be just "good enough" and never knocks my socks off. Filipino is definitely a cuisines that's difficult for outsiders appreciate--unlike, say, Thai or Indian, which seem to have flavors and textures that appeal to many. Perhaps one of the challenges with Filipino food is that it doesn't have a real vibrant, clean, fresh taste to it--instead it has heavy, earthy flavors; tends to slow-cook tougher proteins; and doesn't take advantage of fresh veg/herbs, even as garnish, to the extent that many other cuisines do.

    7 Replies
    1. re: jjspw

      well, its hard to go wrong with pork skin isn't it? Will definitely try this place out or the flipinas cafeteria out soon...i haven't had filipino food in 4 years (glendale, ca was the last place i knew that had restos)

      I think i'd prefer filipino food over korean food any day of the week. there seems to be more depth of flavor and complexity to filipino dishes...Korean dishes, aside from korean bbq, circles around kimchi, garlic, onions, some type of broth usually - usually lack of texture and brightness doom the dishes.

      1. re: gan911

        Gan, Wow!, Filipino food over Korean food? I knew I was missing something, because I love Korean food, but I just haven't yet "gotten" the Filipino food I've tried.

        I don't even recall seeing Filipino food in Glendale. Not surprising, since I was so distracted by the Armenian offerings. :-)

        ---
        jjspw, You're too kind. Actually, my memory doesn't serve me regarding an original Lutong location. Looks like I missed out. The new location's menu does not list fried chicken skin. It emphasizes pork and fish (and smiles and cover band music). Cheers.

        1. re: VTB

          LOL @ "smiles and cover band music"

          My table at Trizest the other night was talking about the original Lutong. It was on NW corner of 13 & John R, basically where Natalie's Bakery is now. It closed about 1-1.5 year ago. Brother of the owner of the original location is the guy behind this new Lutong.

          And Gan, good call on the Filipino over Korean choice. You can add "monotony" to "lack of texture and brightness" on the list of things that doom dishes.

          1. re: jjspw

            VTB, it's not that I think Korean food is terrible, but I've had some of the best this country has to offer-in ktown and atl-and it just all feels the same ol same ol. Big heated bowl, insert soup/stew/rice, add garlic, onions, bony meat, egg, and red colored semi-spicy kimchi or paste. Done....
            Panchan is interesting, but it's nothing compare to Chinese pickled vegetables - Beijing reportedly has over 3k varieties.
            Korean fried chicken is good, and I've had the kyochon/princes/love letter chicken in la and atl...crispy double fried deliciousness, no complaints there
            Korean BBQ..,good stuff. Can't go wrong with fatty meat, brown sugar, soy sauce, and spices. But would you rather have a perfectly crispy lechon and sides or a piece of bulogi?

            So overall, I keep wanting to love Korean food like other ppl that rave about it endlessly, but in my view, it's no better than the 6th or 7th best cuisine in Asia...Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, and Filipino all ahead of it

            1. re: gan911

              Got it. Well, I'll be in Glendale in a few months, so I'll be in touch in advance, to get Filipino restaurant recs from you. Going with an open mind.

              1. re: VTB

                Things to checkout in Glendale, ca....portos bakery, zankou chicken, Salo Salo (Filipino), goto sgv for Chinese...chung king for best Sichuan food

              2. re: gan911

                I guess I need to check this place out because , besides a meal I had at the old location, nothing I've tried in the way of Filipino food in this area touches a good Korean JIgae stew or BBQ IMO.