Ghetto Grub: Vincent’s PlaceFebruary 14, 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.
When it comes to food, I am hardly squeamish. I could wolf down an entire bowl of offal prepared at the most dubious of places with the most questionable of methods and not mind the fact that I might catch hepatitis or some other horrible sickness. For my first stab at a Ghetto Grub assignment, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I am taking on an inuman classic, papaitan.
Papaitan is a stew hailing from the Ilocos region. It is usually made from goat innards like the intestines, tripe, heart, lungs, pancreas, liver, and kidney. What makes it special is the use of apdo or goat/beef bile as the key flavor component of the dish. If I remember my biology correctly, bile is the greenish liquid found in the liver which helps break down fat during digestion. While this all seems a bit too Hannibal Lecter, I swear the result yields an awfully good stew.
Vincent’s Place along Concepcion Aguila, Manila (near the entrance to the Malacanang complex) is a well-known drinking joint that caters to all sorts of people—from former presidents, congressmen, hired assassins, news reporters, to priests and campus heartthrobs who have Mr. and Ms. *insert course here* titles under their belts.
Vincent’s wall is covered by framed and signed pictures of famous celebrity customers.
From the outside, there is nothing extraordinary about Vincent’s. In fact, I think the place is too small for its sizeable customer base. If not for the picture of Manny Pacquaio plastered on one of its walls, I would not have given the place a second glance. Upon entering, however, it is immediately apparent that the Pambansang Kamao isn’t the only famous person who has had a taste of their specialty dish. Vincent’s wall is covered by framed and signed pictures of other famous personalities, mostly political types and NBI agents who, I’d like to imagine, had just come from some super top secret, classified, and confidential meeting with the President and need a good hot stew to relax.
Despite the fact that they cater to celebrities and political types, the place is very laid-back and unassuming. The dishes for the day are laid out behind a sneeze guard by the entrance which gives the place a turo-turo vibe. In the evenings, the place turns into a busy drinking spot for all (legal) ages. While they have an array of the usual turo-turo favorites like adobo, kaldereta, and lechon paksiw, they also have popular house specials like their Sizzling Adobo and Papaitan.
I love the combination of the sour and bitter notes in the Papaitan.
The yellow-green apdo gives Vincent’s Papaitan its distinct bitter taste, although I admit that I hate to eat ampalaya because of its bitter flavor, here, I love the combination of the sour and bitter notes in the broth. The ginger took away any lansa from the innards and made the soup taste light and fresh. The serving was also very generous, each bowl brimming with sliced intestines, tripe, liver, kidney, heart, and lungs. You name it, it’s probably in the stew. They were chopped small enough that you get different bits and pieces of the goat’s anatomy with each spoonful.
Vincent’s Sizzling Adobo has ruined normal adobo for me forever.
According to the owner, the star of their menu is the Sizzling Adobo made with (what else?) goat meat. Each order is huge (the photo above is only half an order), appropriate pulutan for even large groups there to drink. But, since it was lunch time when I visited and I had a class in the afternoon, I opted to eat it with rice instead. The meat was tender and flavorful. A tiny piece is enough for at least two spoons of rice. The sukang ilokos, which they serve with the dish, effectively cut through all the richness. It would have been perfect with a bottle of beer, but alas, I couldn’t indulge myself. I swear, this version has ruined normal adobo for me forever.
Whether you’re bold or not, Vincent’s Place is worth a visit. They have unique fare that range from high (Papaitan) to low (Sizzling goat adobo) in the adventurous meter.
Ghetto Factor 5/10
The street where Vincent’s Place is located is lined with dormitories catering to the students of the numerous schools in the area. Plus, the fact that NBI agents seem to frequent the place often made me feel confident about taking out my phone to snap the requisite foodstagram photos I needed.
Health Hazard 3/10
Being in business since 1980, I think it is a good assumption that their food is safe to eat. The only health hazard here is in overeating.
The place has no air conditioning, just some ceiling fans and a couple of stand fans. But since political types with fancy shmancy cars and my rich ass law school crush eat here on the regular, I’m assuming that this place would pass the average conyo kid’s ghetto meter.