Ghetto Grub: Yakitate Pork Chop HouseJanuary 25, 2019
- Nico GocoWords
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.
Every time I make my way to the Pepper studio, I see this small eatery along P. Guevarra, in San Juan. The huge “Yakitate Pork Chop House” sign always catches my attention, mostly because this is what flashes through my brain:
In the secret hope that the pork chop they serve is an authentic Japanese specialty (either that or a magic snack that turns me into an anime character), I made a promise that I’d try it out one day. Recently, I had the chance to do just that.
Frankly, I was a bit disappointed that the menu wasn’t an assortment of different katsu or pork chop dishes. Neither was the cook a Japanese expat or even a former Japayuki (which I would have been pretty okay with). Instead, all I got was the usual silog fare. But seeing that the place was still packed, even well after the lunch hour, I figured that there must be something special about what they offer.
It didn’t surprise me when I saw several plastic bags with kilos upon kilos of pork chops inside their kitchen. It would probably the first thing anyone would order here, too, since the sign does say (in big, bold letters) PORK CHOP HOUSE.
The porksilog is obviously their bestseller.
For PHP 55, the porksilog is their best-seller. It’s a pretty good meal. One of the better things about the chop was the unusual way they cooked it. After it was first fried, they would then place the chop on the hot griddle to toast it a bit more. This helps drain more oil away, and gives the pork chop a less greasy feel.
The chop itself is marinated for flavor. Unlike what you might expect from such a humble eatery, it isn’t that salty at all. In fact, you’d probably be inclined to copy the rest of the regulars, and dip your pork into the soy sauce-calamansi-chili mix they serve to everyone. The egg is cooked perfectly over easy (which is no mean feat), and the rice is all toasty and garlicky.
Yakitate has become quite the institution, and for good reason. It’s the cheapest and nearest eatery for those coming from the Flying V Arena in San Juan, making it a haven for athletes, coaching staff, and referees looking for an affordable and filling meal. It has also found regulars among the many cabbies plying the area, as well as drivers waiting to pick up their wards from school.
Yakitate Pork Chop House is always packed with customers.
Obviously, it’s not a fancy place, and the menu is nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s almost always packed with customers. Judging from the throng of people stuffing themselves with pork chops and rice, I’d say this little pork chop house is doing a pretty good job.
Is Yakitate Pork Chop House a place you’d visit soon? Let’s See.
GHETTO FACTOR: 7/10
It’s next to a busy street, and a police station is just a hundred meters away, so it’s not like you’d get mugged in broad daylight here. But when you step inside the restaurant you can’t help but feel slummy. It looks like someone put up a shack around an old abandoned diner, so it gets high marks for the ghetto factor.
No aircon here, not even an electric fan, and there doesn’t even seem to be any electrical lighting either. Calling the place run-down would be like calling this fight scene unrealistic. I’m guessing this explains the long line of drivers picking up take out orders from the store, lest their sundo loses his or her appetite while dining here.
HEALTH HAZARD: 4.5/10
I haven’t heard anybody actually getting sick here, but the place does not look clean. I’d highly recommend bringing your own spoon and fork when you eat here if your tummy is sensitive. Also, as a friendly warning, I’d advise you to buy a soda or something bottled and sealed instead of the free water they offer whenever you dine here.