Food & Spirits: A Bloody Good Birthday Lunch


Will asked me where I wanted to go for lunch on my birthday, and my first instinct was to grab Filipino food at Phil-Am in Colonia. We had been there several times before, but I was just feeling like some hearty, meaty, no frills ethnic food. It was at this same place where I first tried Dinuguan, something which caused all the workers behind the counter to stop and turn around. I was told no non-Filipino had ever ordered it. Not surprising, considering it is too adventurous for most small-minded Americans. Dinuguan is a mixture of offal (which depending on the restaurant can include pork organ meat like liver, kidneys, lungs, intestines, etc) cooked in a very rich sauce of pig’s blood and spices. Also not surprising is how oddly wonderful this dish is. What is peasant food in the mother country, a dish derived from needing to stretch out the entire animal to feed your family, is a delicacy (at least to me) here in America.

While I already reviewed this restaurant and don’t want to rehash earlier sentiments, Dinuguan is something that would cause any pork lover (and there are quite a lot of them) to be in heaven. I’ll be the first to say that it doesn’t look great, almost like black slime. If you can get  past that, the flavor is super rich, almost luxurious. The heartiness ensures you will be full for a while. Just pour that over the mounds of white rice the restaurant gives you, and it just might be one of the best meals you have had. The bits of meat just melt in your mouth and pop with a strong pork flavor, and you quickly forget what you’re eating. There is also white vinegar available which you can use to help cut through that richness with some welcomed acidity.

I never understood the hesitancy of people who won’t try new things. There’s a whole world out there, and if you cannot afford to physically travel it, eating ethnic and cultural foods out of your comfort zone will put you somewhere else. Nevertheless, for the non-adventurous, Phil-Am also serves up other rice and noodle dishes, spring rolls and egg rolls, chicken on a stick, and more safe bets. Also pictured above is something which was described to me as a bun/dumpling, but was almost like a meat pie. The dough was light and you could almost taste the yeast used in the baking process. The inside was meat (I’m not sure whether pork or chicken) in a savory blend of sauce and spices. It was amazing.  There was also some longganisa sausage which will burst with flavor in your mouth, and a cold vegetable spring roll (to add some modest health qualities to this meal).

There was no other place I wanted to be for lunch on my birthday. That entire tray of food you see at the top of this article came to around $8. They also have a separate room with a buffet for $8.50, with slightly fewer options even though the deal is unbeatable. Get out of your comfort zone and give this place a try. You never know what might turn you on to something new.

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