Four of us gave Ihaw-Ihaw a try last Monday, on the recommendation of a couple of friends. We ordered crispy calamares, miki bihon (sauteed noodles), pinakbet (vegetable stew with shrimp paste), and crispy pata, of course. It may have been an off day, but we (Filipino women all) unanimously prefer Tribu*.
The calamares were decent, lightly crisp, but underseasoned. (We were going to order the sisig, until we found out that Ihaw-Ihaw makes it with pork butt, rather than the more authentic jowls and ears that Tribu uses.)
The pinakbet, loaded with shrimp, pork, and bagoong, all of which gave a rich flavor to the vegetables (kabocha, long beans, eggplants, tomatoes) was the best dish we had at Ihaw-Ihaw. I'd go back there and eat just that and rice, if I had a craving for pinakbet.
The miki bihon at Ihaw-ihaw was a big disappointment: soggy, and tasting of bouillon cubes. Very bad sign. Tribu's lighter, cleaner flavors in the same dish were definitely better, though nothing remarkable, either.
Lighter and cleaner tasting also describe the crispy pata at Tribu, compared with Ihaw-Ihaw's version. Not that Ihaw-Ihaw's was bad--it was a bigger portion of properly crisp-skinned pork knuckle--but the oil used for frying was not as fresh as I would have liked. Again, a unanimous vote in favor of Tribu's version.
*N.B., I used to post as Pia, and I still don't know how to link to earlier posts--or to anything else for that matter. So I'm reiterating that a couple of owners of Tribu are acquaintances of mine through our school alumnae association.
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