Ghetto Grub: O’ini Taste of KapampanganMarch 25, 2019
- Diana CamachoWords
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.
In keeping with Nico’s recent Ghetto Grub featuring
kuhol escargot, I decided to try another dish that’s also associated with French cuisine, frog legs.
Like the French, Kapampangans love to eat frog legs. In fact, they not only eat its legs, but the entire frog. Admittedly, I didn’t think I’d like this dish. I’m not really into eating insects, mountain rats, worms, or any other kind of food that may be featured in Fear Factor (well, I guess except Papaitan), but when I was offered to eat a plate of pritong palaka, or as the owner called it Betute Tugak, the food lover in me couldn’t resist.
O’ini, Taste of Kapampangan, located along Xavierville Avenue, offers palaka cooked in three ways, either fried, as adobo, or in tinola. Because I wanted to try the frog in all its amphibious glory, without any sauce to mask its taste, I opted to eat it fried.
When the plate arrived, I was mildly appalled at the sight of three whole frogs lying spread-eagled on their backs. I take back all the times I said I wasn’t squeamish because, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t force myself to touch the things, let alone break off their legs to put in my mouth. My companion had to break off a piece for me, making sure that it didn’t resemble an identifiable frog part, just so I could eat it.
You know all the times people would say that frog legs taste like chicken? I can now confirm that it does taste like chicken. To me, the meat is actually slightly more flavorful, and, though I don’t know if it’s because of its frog-ness or the way it was fried, the flesh was also very moist. However, some parts of the frog tasted a bit more like fish, especially towards the head. I guess this is to be expected because of the frog’s amphibian nature (but don’t make me explain the science behind my reasoning). Nevertheless, the meat’s texture throughout was unmistakably chicken-like.
Wild frogs are supposedly tastier than those raised in a farm.
The owner said that they source their frogs from those caught in rice fields. Supposedly, the wild ones are tastier than the farmed variety. She also claims that frog meat is healthier than chicken. Although I am not yet ready to give up eating Chickenjoy, I could see myself go for the occasional fried palaka. I am guessing it would taste great with a bottle of beer. I am sure once the alcohol kicks in, I wouldn’t be so fussy about tearing off the frog limbs and stripping the meat off Kermit’s carcass.
Son of a Tofu is another O’ini dish that’s worth a try.
Another dish worth trying here is their fried tofu. Called Son of a Tofu, the dish seems simple enough, just diced tofu with vinegar and onions, but I swear, there was a week that I only ate this dish and rice and I wasn’t even on a diet. I liked it that much.Their Bulalo and Crispy Binangoonan are also popular favorites.
Is the Betuteng Tugak at O’ini for you? Let’s find out!
Ghetto Factor 6/10
The place is clean and located in a decent neighborhood. Nevertheless, there is a turo-turo vibe because of the food under a sneeze guard set-up.
Health Hazard 2/10
The place offers a clear view of the kitchen and everything looks spic and span. It looks like the average Pinoy kitchen.
The place is good enough for Mikael Daez. Mikael. Daez.