Yes, Melanie, I do keep my promises--when I remember them. So today, I dutifully made my way over to Ongpin to check out the crispy pata. Being Filipino, I had to have the version with garlic. ($12.95--enough for 2)
Well, the pata was tasty, and the meat properly prepared, tender, readily removed from the bone, crisp in the areas exposed to the frying oil, but still moist within. The minced garlic, with its mildly spiced frying oil, had been slathered generously all over the 2 pieces of pata, giving it even more flavor, not to mention fat. Most of my family would have been spooning the garlic and oil over their rice--calories be damned. (Which is really the only way to enjoy Filipino food, I'm afraid.)
While the meat was very good, the skin, usually the dish's crowning glory, was crisp only in parts--usually around the edges. It didn't puff up into the desired bubbly-crunchy exterior--similar to chicharon, or pork cracklings--that is the hallmark of a really good pata. Perhaps I caught them on an off day.
This is the first pata I've had in the Bay Area, so I can only compare it with those I've had in the Philippines. Had this been served in a Manila restaurant, the meat would have been considered very good, but the skin would have been considered mediocre.
On the other hand, the one other time I was at Ongpin, over a year ago, I do remember that the daing na bangus (fried marinated milkfish) was unequivocally delicious. In fact, I'd have ordered it again, had I not promised to try the pata.
Ongpin Noodle is just off the corner of Camaritas and Westborough Blvd., about a block from El Camino in South San Francisco. "Basic" is a kind way to describe the place.