New Food Now: Salo BGC, the Answer to Early Morning Sobriety and Weekday Wallet WoesJuly 3, 2014
It’s 10:30 pm and your friends are either suffering the tail end of Friday traffic, or waiting for the clogged roads to clear at the office. You and the lucky few happen to arrive at BGC earlier than usual, but are left with two hours to kill before the party starts at midnight. Your last meal was four hours ago, and you’re looking to fill that void to restock on energy. A similar situation is likely to happen at 2 am or 4 am—only with everyone present and glasses of alcohol to clear before you head out to the traffic-free roads. You’re after enough food to share or perhaps a plate to pig out on your own, but your wallet is screaming to have at least a few hundreds left for the rest of the week. Enter Salo, an affordable alternative to the sometimes overpriced lunch and dinner establishments in the BGC area.
Salo, the Filipino word that translates to “gathering” or “celebration”, is a modest-sized but cozy restaurant that serves comfort Filipino dishes. The items in the menu are generous enough both in flavor and oil to prepare your body for more drinks or to soak up those last few glasses of alcohol. Their rice bowl options include Tapsilog (PHP 140), Tuyosilog (PHP 145), and Bicol Express (PHP 130).The Tapsilog offers a good balance between the rice and ulam, and would satisfy both those after extra rice, and the ones after more meat. The Tuyosilog was a salty surprise that not only saves you the hassle of deboning the fish, but also keeps you going for extra spoonfuls. Most tuyo dishes force me to leave the plate unfinished from the excess saltiness, but Salo’s rendition delivered tuyo’s savoriness without overwhelming the palate. The Bicol Express’s gata made the pork extra tender in the mouth. There were also a few tears shed after spoonfuls of the Bicolano delicacy, so anyone after the spice won’t be disappointed.
Salo’s Chef Benjo Tuason shared that the dishes were inspired by what he and his staff had growing up. Their research and development process involved each chef and cook serving what they ate back home, then choosing the best of the lot. The Bistek Tagalog (PHP 150), for example, was inspired by the recipe of Tuason’s aunt.
Other Filipino staples in Salo’s menu are the street food items in the Pulutan Platter (PHP 200). Your mouth will find itself busy munching on the chicken skin, crispy kangkong, and kamote chips. The chicken skin wasn’t too hard in the mouth or, too soft to the bite, but provided that crispy crunch. The kangkong chips’ batter did not fall off the leaves, and only broke off with each bite. The kamote chips are made from scratch, then coated in cheese to give it that junk food feel. The platter also includes squid balls and kikiam, without the flavor of old oil, which often happens when you grab some on a busy street. Aficionados may opt to drown the pieces in the sweet sauce, but the platter is a decent introduction for visiting foreigners and a safe reintroduction to not-so-immune balikbayan stomachs.
The star on Salo’s menu is the Sinuglaw (PHP 180), a popular pulutan dish in Cebu and Davao that combines blue marlin kilawin, and inihaw na liempo. The smoky flavor from the pork does not clash with the strong punch of the kilawin. Both flavors stand out simultaneously, but dance together on the tongue. The Sinuglaw works as both an appetizer to any of the rice bowls, or as a tasty snack to go with beer.
Some of Salo’s items include fatty Filipino favorites that are perfect for that post-work night cap. Fridays can be celebrated with some Aligue Rice (PHP 200) and Lechon Belly (250g at PHP 220; 500g at PHP 400). If it’s been a long week at work, the Longgaburger Extra packs in a thick slab of longganisa and egg within two buns. However if you aren’t a fan of longganisa’s sweetness, I suggest opting for the longsilog so there’s enough rice to contrast the sugary meat. Of course, no Filipino drinking session is complete without Sisig, one of Salo’s best sellers. The sisig sizzles in oil, is garnished with chicharon bits, and each pork bit is crisp upon serving.
All these drunk or pre-drunk eats can also be enjoyed sober, as Salo is open daily from 11am to 4am. They also have a takeout counter outside for office workers looking for a cheaper alternative to the pricey restaurants in the area. Call center agents, party goers, and night owls can also enjoy a few items exclusive to the menu’s “Anti-Hangover” portion, which is available from 11 pm to 3 am. This part of the menu includes the Longgaburger (PHP 90) or Longgaburger extra (PHP 160), Batchoy (PHP 140), and Goto (PHP 95). Whether you’re looking for your favorite Filipino dish, some extra fat and oil to avoid a hangover, or cocktails at an incredibly cheap price, Salo is sure to provide all sorts of affordable alternatives.