When friends said to meet them in Eagle Rock for brunch yesterday I just assumed they meant Auntie 'Em's. I'd been introduced to it by this Board and along with the Colorado Wine Co. and Casa Bianca, it's one of the few places in the area that I've paid repeat visits. But they directed me to a section of Verdugo Road just beyond where it crosses Eagle Rock Blvd. (not knowing it crosses it more than once) to Alejandro's, a Filipino restaurant open barely three weeks right next to Polka in what is basically a residential area. The place has an institutional feel but with a small tiki like bar and open kitchen; and a family run staff that exude both pride and goodwill. I arrived a little early but by 12:30 the room had a nice crowd that made it feel they'd been open much longer.
I'm not sure how to describe the food but everything was either fried or stewed, a kind of mixture of Thai and Spanish influence. Certainly, it may be the most colorful cuisine I've ever seen. I started with a green mango shake for $2.75 that would bring me back on its own while the others had Buko juice in whole coconuts and sago guleman, a kind of tapioca smoothie. All of this went well with the fried lumpia that lacked the delicateness of a version I had at Max in Studio City not too long ago but delicious nonetheless. A bright yellow chicken and squash stew was thickened with peanut butter and crispy pata (deep fried pork knuckle) had the appeal of good carnitas, if a bit more labor intensive. Green beans were served in a thickened coconut broth with pork and shrimp and stewed bitter melon more than lived up to its name. Accompanied with an achovy like shrimp paste it was hands down the most unusual taste of the day.
Dessert included a vibrant purple squash ice cream that would make Mashti Malone proud. Amazing really. Warm coconut on a banana leaf drizzled with honey and bits of fried coconut was like eating a Mound's bar with baklava. But Halo-Halo is the house specialty, a kind of fruit cocktail sundae with coconut ice milk and topped with mango ice cream. I'm not sure what everything cost but the whole meal couldn't have been more than what it took to fill the gas tank earlier in the morning. Auntie Em's will never be the same.