Jan. 02, 2013 - Issue #898: Apocalypse Not?
Big on flavour, easy on the wallet
Filipino hot spot offers a little something different
But this particular inspired and erratic noodle house was like a shooting star flashing across the horizon and, scant months after I learned of his establishment, the avuncular Mr Noodle Maker took down his shingle, perhaps for a well-earned rest after four decades of feeding Edmontonians. If there's any consolation to be taken, it might be in the advent of the Panciteria de Manila in the former Noodle Maker location. If not as ambitious as its predecessor, Panciteria is a friendly, family-run operation where you can grab a quick, nourishing, fresh-made bite at fast-food prices. Downtown lunch-baggers take heed.
The Alcantara family has certainly improved on NM's haphazard ambiance with bright yellow and orange paint, lively travel posters of the homeland and the application of Panciteria decals on the backs of the chairs to partially obscure their provenance at a now-defunct donut chain —not to mention a taste in seasonal ornamentation that runs toward the psychedelic.
(You can also sample Filipino TV while you wait for your food to cook, thanks to the requisite dining-room flat-screen. Unfortunately, my favourite variety show, the surreal and motley Eat Bulaga!, was pre-empted for the holidays by alleged Pinoy blockbuster Iputok mo… Dadapa ako! (aka Hard to Die), which looked more like a cheap, shabby comedy set at a beauty pageant in a motel conference room. Judging from the guffaws issuing from an adjacent table, and contrary to the evidence of my own eyes, it was very funny.)
The restaurant's eponym is, you guessed it, pancit, a dish made with thin rice noodles and various meaty and vegetable-y morsels that can be served as a stir-fry or a soup. Like most of the items on the menu, the bihon pancit costs around $7, and is commensurate to the average lunch-time appetite, though you can always arrange for a side of skinny Filipino spring rolls (lumpia) to round things out. The noodles are stirfried with soy sauce, then tossed with small shrimp, slices of chicken and pork, and topped with just-cooked bits of cabbage, carrot and broccoli. I added seasoned vinegar and hot sauce to liven things up, but I think it was the considerable thermal heat of the dish that filled my eyebrows with condensation.
If it were up to me, the restaurant would be called the Silogeteria, because the -silog portion of the menu is by far my favourite. A friend of mine who is of Philippine descent avers that this variety of dish makes the best breakfast ever, a view I respect but don't espouse owing to the existence of pho, which is the best breakfast ever. That said, I'm prepared to endorse tapsilog and longsilog based on their own merits.
What the -silogs have in common is a big heap of garlicky rice with a fried egg glistening and jiggling provocatively on top. The difference is in the choice of meats and/or fish you can enjoy with alongside your heap; tapsilog, for instance, features thin-sliced beef marinated in soy and oyster sauce and grilled so that it develops a crispy crust, while longsilog comes with spicy-sweet pork sausage. I don't know what you're supposed to do, but I mash up the creamy, yolky egg in the potent garlic rice and pour on a bit of the seasoned vinegar that comes with the dish, then shovel in whichever sorts of savoury-sweet meat appear alongside. It ain't fancy, but man, is it delicious, and the provided slices of tomato and cucumber comprise a simple, mouth-refreshing salad.
My one wish to improve the experience of tapsilog is that the Panciteria would abandon those little plastic envelopes of hot sauce—you know, the kind that fire their livid contents in unexpected directions when squeezed—and step up to bottles of the beloved sriracha (aka Rooster Sauce) that is the spicy standard at so many noodle houses. All the same, I will make a resolution to visit the Panciteria more often in 2013 that they may stick around and provide us all with tapsilog for many new years to come.
Panciteria de Manila
9653 – 102 Ave
780.425.5757 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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