The Quirky Bacon: Creative and Local with a Twist
Curiosity Got the Chef’s Sharwin Tee has quite the imagination. One could not imagine how excited I was to walk into a restaurant so easily identifiable thanks to its bright purple pig street sign. Another contributing factor to my mounting intrigue was the mere mention of the name itself; anything with the word ‘bacon’ in it is music to my ears. Coupled with one of my favourite adjectives, this easily qualifies as one of the mouth-watering, curiosity-inducing restaurant names I have ever chanced upon.
Most of the items on The Quirky Bacon’s menu are familiar with a unique twist. “One of the things that we do in the restaurant is source what we can locally,” shares Tee. “I want to showcase the best products that the Philippines has to offer. If the local product can match up to or even eclipse the imported product, then that’s what we go for. The only time we source from outside the country is if the ingredient is not produced here. This is the ruling that we follow.”
Home-Made Fishballs with Kariton Sauce (P260) is a succulent, high-end version of one of the top Pinoy street foods. The fishballs are made and seasoned in-house and are coupled with the sweet-and-spicy kariton sauce. I particularly liked this dish because it gave off this comforting vibe that I can trace to my college days in Taft where we would gorge ourselves on various street foods.
Tempura Bacon Salad
Home-Made Fishballs with Kariton Sauce
The Steak Platter (P1,490 for Kitayama Wagyu Rib-Eye; P540 for Chuck) has found its place in my list of favourite meat dishes. The meat is cooked to a perfect, tender medium rare and is accompanied by tamarind miso butter and Chef Sharwin’s famous bistek onions, which gives this dish its chef’s signature twist. The Pork Panalo Roll with Guava Labuyo Glaze (P440) is pork tenderloin stuffed with calumpit longganisa and wrapped in smoked bacon. Calumpit longganisa is less garlicky that the usual longganisa variants we are used to, which is key to having its flavour mesh well with that of the pork tenderloin without necessarily overpowering it. With this, we had a cookie butter coleslaw on the side, which was surprisingly a winner.
Pork Panalo Roll with Guava Labuyo Glaze
Finally, as an added bonus, Chef Sharwin had us face the famous Bacon vs. Bacon (off the menu) dish. Here, you have the smoked artisanal bacon plus a thick, thick slab of another variety of bacon to salivate over. Though I have a special love for crisp and crunch, the slab, in all its glorious juiciness, passed my bacon-loving expectations with flying colours.
Bacon vs. Bacon
The Smoked Milkfish Carbonara (P310) is yet another out-of-the-box concoction from Chef Sharwin. I liked it because the texture of the milkfish took away from the typical heaviness and richness of cream-based pastas. “This was actually something that I did on the first season of the show,” he shares. “People have come in here expecting bacon in their carbonara, but here we are, doing something unexpected by adding milkfish instead.”
Smoked Milkfish Carbonara
The Quirky Bacon is also home to some unusual desserts. The Chocolate Labuyo Leche Flan (P245), one of Tee’s oldest creations, is a tiny little fireball encased in sumptuous dark chocolate. The burn is oh-so-good, though. I’ve had siling labuyo in bars of dark chocolate before, and I’ve always found it likable. The Ensaymada Nut (P215) is Tee’s response to the cronut. This 1930s recipe of homemade ensaymada is drizzled with sugar and coco jam sauce, and served with Merry Moo’s Horlicks ice cream, which I love to bits and pieces.
Chocolate Labuyo Leche Flan
This colourful and homey restaurant is highly reflective of its chef and his love for all things quirky. It is no secret that bacon lovers will find a home in here; plenty of the restaurant’s dishes come with bacon in one form or another, which is a huge come-on for happy carnivores. The Quirky Bacon, though, isn’t just about bringing out the best in bacon. As seen on TV, Chef Sharwin Tee’s talent extends to bringing out the best in food by utilising many of our local ingredients. Patrons of The Quirky Bacon now have the privilege to savour and experience his quirky comfort food in a place he can call his own.
Images by Nix De Pano.