Patio Filipino pretty much redefined what Filipino food can be for me. I’ve mostly had home-cooked Filipino food, which I’ve enjoyed, but always found a little too fatty and one-dimensional. At PF, flavors lean more Malaysian than Chinese, with a heavy use of shrimp paste, to excellent effect.
This restaurant garnered a mention in the 2009 Saveur reader-generated Top 100 list for its crispy pata. To be honest, I think the crispy pata at Bistro Luneta is better – it’s fried so expertly that the result tastes and feels like confit wrapped in chicharrones. Patio Filipino’s version is good, but parts of it were a bit tough and chewy for me.
On the other hand, their pancit and pork adobo left every other version I’ve had in the dust. I was surprised when my (Filipino-American) friends ordered it – I know they make it at home regularly, and I assumed home-style dishes like these were hard to improve on in a restaurant setting.
The pancit was so rich with shrimp paste it was flecked with black, its richness lightened with a generous squeeze of lemon. It was way more flavorful and satisfying than any version I’ve had before – I couldn’t stop eating it.
The pork adobo was a dark mahogany color, velvety soft, and had a flavor I couldn’t place – a subtle muskiness that I haven’t tasted before (I’m usually just conscious of vinegar, soy and garlic).
The seafood sinigang was very good as well – a sweet and sour seafood soup that reminded me of a Cambodian tamarind-based seafood soup I love.
I was somewhat less impressed with a coconut curry of string beans, squash, pork and shrimp, which tasted bland compared to the other dishes. The mixed appetizer plate was a good value (with 5 lumpianita, fried calamari, fried shrimp, and a giant pile of chicharrones, with 4 dipping sauces, it cost less than just an order of lumpianita plus an order of chicharrones, which had been our original plan) but I think the frying temperature was just a little low – everything was just a bit greasier than I’d like.
Overall, it was a really good meal, and inexpensive – with an enormous amount of leftovers, the tab came to $25/pp.