Ghetto Grub: Ate Fe’s KitchenSeptember 30, 2013
- Lars RoxasWords
From food carts to hole-in-the wall joints, we try out meals that literally test your intestinal fortitude. There may be flies on the counter, and the dishes aren’t always clean, but that big, hot bowl of what’s presumably food just looks so good. Yes, these are the places your mom warned you about. But it’s okay, we won’t tell if you won’t. Welcome to Ghetto Grub.
Today, I’m tagging in for our Resident Luchador to bring you this week’s edition of Ghetto Grub. We’ve travelled to Diliman to visit a place that’s near and dear the hearts of the many many students who loiter (I’m old, I think anyone under the age of 21 is loitering. Also, I use the word loitering) around the area, Ate Fe’s Kitchen.
I’m somewhat ashamed that I’ve only become a semi-regular customer of Ate Fe’s Kitchen in the last year and a half. When I was still a college student, I would often pass by this tiny, unassuming establishment whenever I wandered through Maginhawa Street. I never stopped to check it out for myself, though. It just didn’t look particularly interesting to me.
Nestled in between an illegal tricycle terminal and the stump of what must’ve been a really really large tree (think kapre-housing big), the modest place was almost always filled with patrons no matter how late in the day it was. I guess that should’ve been my first clue.
Inside, the place holds four tables with either monobloc chairs or long wooden benches for seating. When the place is particularly crowded, they pull apart the four table and add more plastic chairs from the back. This effectively doubles the capacity of the place.
The interiors are always kept relatively clean. There might be a stray drop or two of soy sauce on your table occasionally, but that’s nothing a quick wipe with a napkin can’t fix. Do be aware that their comfort room has never been not out-of-order. I’ve probably eaten at the place at least thirty or so times by now, and I’m beginning to suspect there’s no actual toilet bowl hiding behind that dilapidated white door.
I don’t know, maybe it’s a marketing thing? “Our food is so safe, you’ll never get diarrhea.” Yeah, maybe not.
They have an extensive selection of simple, no-frills food.
Ate Fe’s Kitchen spoils you for choice. They have an extensive, and cheap, selection of simple, no-frills food. Almost nothing on it is over a hundred bucks. The servings are also always generous. They also, somehow, escape the dreaded “iba iba tawag at kulay pero iisa lasa” bug that seems to afflict every other karinderya.
That printed tarp on the wall is actually new. They used to have ancient painted wooden boards on the wall, with all the old prices masked and sharpied over to mark increasing costs. That they chose to retain all those menu items when they upgraded just goes to show that they really are serious about serving all those different dishes.
I’ve never actually had the chance to test all the other stuff they serve. When I’m at Ate Fe’s, nine times out of ten, I order sisig.
Ordering Ate Fe’s Sizzling Sisig is a must for any first (or second or third or fifty-second) time visitor. It’s served to you hotter than lava, oil bubbling and boiling and making all sorts of angry noises at the world. It’s almost as if the dish knows it’s going to be eaten, and so vents its rage by trying the burn the hell out of anyone who comes within five feet of it.
Ate Fe’s sizzling sisig is one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
I honestly feel sorry for the guy who has to bring it to my table. His forearms are covered with burns and scar tissue, stark evidence of how evil this sisig is. Their recipe is far from traditional, and is so unhealthy that just looking at it raises your insurance premiums. Still, I think the danger is worth it. Ate Fe’s version of this modern classic is possibly the best I’ve ever tasted. At the very least, it’s in the top 2.
Judging from the high demand for it, I’m not alone in my praise. Ate Fe’s frequently runs out of the dish. In fact, when I was researching for this article, it took me three visits before I was able to beat the lunchtime sisig rush.
Another bestseller at Ate Fe’s Kitchen is their pancit. They have four varieties: bihon con lechon, miki-bihon con lechon, canton con lechon, and canton-bihon con lechon. They sell them by the bilao, in either 10, 15, or 20-inch diameters.
One large bilao, enough for at least 30-35 people, will only run you around PHP 650.
During the holiday season, it’s best to call ahead to reserve your pancit in advance. They often get inundated with orders at Christmas time and New Year, and for good reason. One large bilao, enough for at least 30-35 people, will only run you around 650php. That’s a great price, especially if you have multiple potluck Christmas parties to attend.
Should you pay Ate Fe’s Kitchen a visit? Let’s find out.
Ghetto Factor: 3/10
The place is pretty safe. Most of the people you’ll encounter are either students or faculty at one of the many nearby schools and universities. It’s also right next to a tricycle terminal and is across the street from a Mini-stop, so there are always people around. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll get stabbed in the dark no matter how late it is.
Health Hazard: 1/10
I seriously doubt any multi-celled organism, let alone some wimpy bacteria, can survive prolonged contact with the burning plate of fury that is Ate Fe’s (sinfully delicious) sisig.
I’m giving the place a really high Conyopatibility score solely because of the fact that the cars I see picking up the 20-inch orders of miki-bihon con lechon are often Audis, BMWs, and F150s. I guess that means rich folk are cool with Ate Fe’s food.