Yesterday an article by food writer Ligaya Mishan positing that bagoong—a funky fermented shrimp paste—and other Filipino foods have entered the American mainstream dropped in New York Times Food. No doubt Mishan, who cut her teeth on Filipino food, knows more about it than I ever will, but bagoong being mainstream is a bit of a stretch. As for me, I’m still far too distracted by all of the cuisine’s glorious pork dishes. Which is exactly the position I found myself in on Sunday at Sariling Atin, a Filipino turo turo in Elmhurst.
My jaw dropped when I saw the twin cylinders of porcine goodness—encased in burnished crackling skin—sitting above the steam table. “How much,” I asked once I’d regained my composure. “Sixteen a pound,” the gal behind the counter responded as I stared transfixed at the rolled belly lechon whose inner folds held lemongrass and other aromatics. After forking over $15 for a combo platter—I chose laing, or taro leaves, from the steam table—I took a seat.
Rice and a generous cup of Mang Tomas All-Purpose Sauce completed my pinoy happy meal. Rich and tangy, the sauce is a perfect for fatty pork. The taro leaves stewed in coconut milk and enriched with bits of fish and ginger were also a nice complement. My one complaint, the microwave rendered what skin there was gummy, but this was easily remedied by asking for more skin right from the tray.
Sariling Atin only serves what I like to call pinoy porchetta on weekends, which is a good thing because I can’t eat like that everyday.
Sariling Atin, 89-12 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst, 718-397-1200