What We’re Loving Now: Patricio’s Cevicheria Spearheads Ceviche Trend in ManilaJuly 13, 2014
I really enjoy eating in places where the cook’s passion for the food is translated onto the plate. Patricio’s Cevicheria may be located off the restaurant hotspot grid, but it serves the best ceviche I’ve had in Manila. Pat Roa, co-owner and ceviche geek (as I’d like to call him), is a man who knows what he’s doing—and does it pretty damn well, too. His wife, Pia Roa, focuses on Patricio’s Cevicheria’s meatier half and has other creative food ideas up her sleeve that the local food scene should brace itself for in the coming months.
Patricio’s Cevicheria serves the best ceviche I’ve had in Manila.
If you find him in the restaurant, which is most likely to be the case, chat with him about ceviche, poke, and kinilaw, and I swear, you’ll leave the restaurant a more educated person. He takes a suwa—a lime-like fruit that they use for their Kinilaw de Oro—slices it in half, and hands it over to me. “Smell it,” he urges. And gosh, if only they grew these in Manila, we’d have more than just calamansi and dalandan as our favorite local citrus.
“Looking for vinegar is like looking for truffles.”
His knowledge about vinegar is comparable to that of a wine connoisseur’s. “Looking for vinegar is like looking for truffles,” he says. It needs to reach the right fermentation level that results in certain tangy notes. As Pat likes to say, “the nose knows”. Every part of the country has its own different take on kinilaw with vinegars tasting strongest towards the north (Ilocos), and mildest down south (Zamboanga). At Patricio’s, you also have the choice to upgrade your Kinilaw to a Sinuglaw, where freshly chargrilled pork is thrown into the kinilaw, adding more texture and a smoky finish.
Every part of the country has its own different take on kinilaw.
Pat also makes his own vinegar, which I drank like soup. Tuba is spiced with coconut, ginger, onion, and Birdseye chili, to give it its signature acidity. It pairs perfectly with their Chicharrones, Patricio’s version of lechon kawali that’s fried to a crisp identical to chicharon’s. Another item worth trying is their Lomo Saltado, which is a well-spiced stir-fried beef dish seasoned with Aji Amarillo peppers.
If you want chicken, order Patricio’s Pollo Frito. Comprised of lightly fried chicken that’s subtly crisp, it’s paired with a sweet and spicy Peruvian Aji Panca sauce, a flavor that speaks volumes about South American cuisine. Another menu item that also goes great with Pat’s house spiced vinegar is their bowl of Lechon Flakes served with a hefty portion of rice. Think adobo flakes replaced by shredded, deep-fried lechon, which you can opt to have spicy as well. The spicier version has more of a punch to it, with traces of ginger and Palawan honey.
I love the Hawaiian Poke—with flavors a shade more Japanese, fresh chunks of tuna are tossed in sesame-soy dressing and topped with nori flakes. The dish may be a healthy, protein-rich alternative, but it is best eaten when mixed with the Chicharrones, lechon sauce, spiced vinegar, and eaten with rice—lots of it.
If the seafood’s quality goes down a notch once it reaches the kitchen, it’s out.
Patricio’s ceviche is meticulously crafted, made with keen attention to the ingredients used. If the seafood’s quality goes down a notch once it reaches the kitchen, it’s out. Just like kilawin, the seafood used in ceviche also varies depending on the location. Peru makes good use of fish, while lobster is the choice meat in Ecuador. Mexico uses crab, but in Patricio’s, shrimp is my favorite.
Ceviche has a fighting chance to be the next talk of the town. Especially if paired with good mixology.
With all these gastropubs opening to and fro, Patricio’s sticks out as a refreshing, clean-tasting alternative to all the tapas and deep-fried anything that diners settle for. Ironically, there is hardly a choice these days despite the metro spewing out new restaurants every week. Patricio’s Cevicheria gives us hope, as it has so much potential to heighten the raw fish experience, bringing in yet another new concept. When paired with good mixology, ceviche has a fighting chance to be the next talk of the town—proof that Metro Manila’s food scene still has room for more.